The phrase, “asking for cooperation” carries a clear meaning in itself, and needs no translation at all, CNS chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said on Thursday.
The general made his remark in response to widespread criticism following Wednesday’s meeting between key CNS members and some 50 broadcast media executives in which the CNS asked broadcasters not to air news about Mr. Thaksin and his close associates since their movements appear to create confusion and division among the public.
Some CNS members were said to have suggested that any programmes failing to cooperate should be removed. The CNS suggestion was viewed by some critics as intimidation of the media, not a request.
Gen. Sonthi explained that the CNS wants to see unity and reconciliation in Thai society, and wants the media to “lend their hands” in order to achieve that goal.
“If the media cooperate, we’re okay. If not, we won’t get anything from you (the media). That’s what it’s all about,” he noted.
He stressed that the CNS did not intend to curb the media freedom since the request for the media’s cooperation is based on the voluntary basis. It’s up to each of the media to consider whether they will cooperate or not.
“We can’t force anyone because our society is democratic,” Gen. Sonthi said, adding that the interim constitution presently in use already ensures media freedom.
Despite living in self-imposed exile abroad after the September 19, 2006 coup that forcibly removed him from office, Mr. Thaksin is seen, especially by the CNS, as remaining an active threat to the stability of the CNS and the interim government which it installed.
Mr. Thaksin has made statements, through his aides, criticising the two governing bodies on several occasions, including his harsh criticism recently made following the New Year’s Eve bombings in Bangkok and Nonthaburi, for which he denied any involvement.