By The Nation
Chakkrish was speaking in response to the latest resolutions by the National Reform Steering Assembly committee, which has been pushing media reform via a new draft law on regulating the sector and will finalise its proposals today, before forwarding them to the NRSA for endorsement.
The committee is maintaining its position of having a media licensing system in place, which will see penalties imposed, and a new media professional council with two state officials sitting on the panel.
Chakkrish said it was also regrettable that the committee was paying no heed to media professionals who had raised concerns over the move, arguing that no other country in the world would do such a thing.
The new penalties proposed by the NRSA panel are “unprecedentedly peculiar”, he added, referring to the proposal for a two-year jail term or a fine of up to Bt60,000 for those failing to register with the media professional council.
Chakkrish said that even during an authoritarian era, no such penalties had been imposed against the media.
“Reporting is not a crime,” he insisted, adding, “It’s performing a duty as a watchdog. In fact, there are a number of criminal laws that already keep media performance in check, without the necessity to have such a direct criminal offence waiting for them like this.”