Prayuth warns media to behave

The coup leader turned his attention to the media on Friday with a stern reminder of the consequences of any ill-intended attempts to create rifts in the country.

"If any media still continue groundless reports or reports that damage the country, you have to take responsibility because the media are under your supervision," army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a message to editors and news directors.

Gen Prayuth made clear in his weekly televised speech that his statement applied to all forms of media - from print to television, satellite broadcasting, cable stations, radio, community radio and even social media.

He even observed that some community radio stations were not playing the national anthem, and said they had better start or he would shut them down.

"Our country is not in a normal situation. [We] have to call your attention to limit reports which stir or widen conflicts including those [reports] for which the facts are not verified," he said.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) last month set up five panels to monitor the mass media. They have been told to immediately inform Gen Prayuth about any content they believe to be false or damaging.

Media organisations have expressed concern about having their work shadowed, that the panels' mandate is too broad, and that there is no clear definition of what constitutes harmful content.

The NCPO chairman defended the move saying: "We still allow freedom of the press, probably too much [freedom]."

His reiteration of his concerns underlines the junta's determination that its reform plans must not be obstructed or questioned as it goes about setting up an interim government.

It also underscores Gen Prayuth's determination to avoid a return of the discord that existed before the May 22 coup when, he said, the media played a part in spreading public confusion and hatred.

Gen Prayuth also defended the decision to transfer more senior officials, saying the moves were made to improve the performances of state agencies and boost the morale of dedicated officials. There was no intention by the council to use the transfers as a way to build a base to hold on to power. He also indicated more transfers were in the pipeline.

"We have to give good officials a chance to work. We will change until we find good, honest officials," he said.

Gen Prayuth began moving senior officials immediately after he announced the coup. Most of those shifted to inactive posts had close ties to the former Pheu Thai Party-led government.

The army chief also pledged protection for all legal migrant workers after the council gave them an opportunity to register with officials.

The first office for illegal workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia was opened in Samut Sakhon province on Monday.

The coup-makers announced on Friday after Gen Prayuth's speech that one-stop-service offices would be introduced on Monday in another seven provinces: Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Ayutthaya, Rayong, Songkhla, Samut Prakan and Surat Thani.

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