Prayut troubled by fake news

Prayut troubled by fake news

Cops, military must work as one, says PM

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha blows into a breathalyser as he kicks off a road safety campaign at Bangkok's Mor Chit bus terminal on Thursday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha blows into a breathalyser as he kicks off a road safety campaign at Bangkok's Mor Chit bus terminal on Thursday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the military to be more proactive in tackling fake news online.

"Gen Prayut has ordered the Defence Ministry's directorates and the armed forces to increase monitoring and examination of fake news and step up its response to the distortion of facts in online media to prevent misunderstanding or damage to agencies and society in the broader scope," Defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said after a meeting between Gen Prayut and the military top brass on Thursday.

"[Gen Prayut ordered] the agencies to clarify fake news so that people do not fall prey to conflict. Meanwhile, we also have take legal action against people who release such information," he said. Last Tuesday Gen Prayut said he felt "sorry" to learn of fake news that came from a politician -- Puea Chat spokeswoman Ketpreeya Kaewsaenmuang -- about a tampon tax. The prime minister is worried that misinformation will cause a negative impact on the public who are not aware of the credibility of stories.

The premier and defence minister also urged the military top brass to closely observe "situations" which he claimed "are not quite peaceful".

Exchanging New Year wishes with the military top brass, however, the premier admitted he was not happy with many circumstances.

Gen Prayut did not elaborate on what kinds of "situations" he was referring to but asked his colleagues to help him to keep a close watch.

This year, violence in the South erupted from time to time, leading to concerns over the role of insurgency in a series of bombings in Bangkok and Nonthaburi on Aug 2.

On the political front, Gen Prayut was frustrated by a "flash mob" organised on Dec 14 at the Pathumwan Skywalk in Bangkok by Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit after the Election Commission (EC) decided to ask the Constitutional Court to dissolve his party over its controversial 191-million-baht loans.

Gen Prayut also told military officers on Thursday to work with the police and state agencies to ensure better road safety during the five-day vacation period which will start tomorrow.

While Gen Prayut was giving away travel kits as part of the road safety campaign, he said to a woman whose looked bored, "You are bored with the PM, aren't you?"

She nodded. "Okay, that's fine. No matter how bored you are with me, I cannot be bored with you as you are a Thai. Please remember, that's fine. Thanks for being bored," he said.

Meanwhile, in the restive South, authorities received moral support and advice from His Majesty the King.

His Majesty the King offered counsel to officials in the South and advised them to work in harmony out of love for the nation, religion and the monarchy, and without seeking recognition.

Representing His Majesty in granting gifts to officials in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, Privy Councillor Paiboon Koomchaya said the King feels sorrow each time he learns of lives that have been lost there. As a result, he wished to offer moral support along with three items of advice to officials.

First, he advised agencies to integrate their work to ensure it is done to secure national peace. Second, he gave counsel that love for the country, religion and the monarchy will bring prosperity to the country and to the residents of the South. Lastly, he said work should be done without boasting or excessive ambition.

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