Saturday, January 12, 2013

Soldiers' protest against paper raises questions

A group of soldiers gathered in front of the office of ASTV Manager Daily for the second time today, prompting the Reporters Association of Thailand to issue a statement condemning the move as an intimidation against press freedom. The soldiers were demanding an apology from the newspaper's editors for what they claimed to be the paper's "unfair and biased" criticism against their boss, Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-Ocha. The army chief had earlier criticized the paper for having published articles critical of his work. The paper subsequently ran a page-one article hitting back at the army commander-in-chief. A group of about 50 soldiers in full uniform gathering in front of the paper's office on Friday. The paper published more critical articles against the army chief. Today, the soldiers came back for the second time to repeat their demand. Army Chief Gen Prayuth defended the soldiers' action, arguing that they had not violated the army's regulations. "They were defending the army's dignity, not mine," he declared. Sondhi Limthongkul, the paper's owner, was quoted by Manager Online as stating that he would not apologize to the army chief. "Soldiers should protect the people's interests and not any individual's," Sondhi was quoted as saying. Things will get hotter before they cool down.

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