Thai junta furious over cartoon in paper

Thai junta furious over cartoon in paper
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Political cartoonist Sakda Sae-Iew, aka Sia, will be sued if he continues to publish work that distorts the truth, he was told yesterday by the National Council for Peace an Order (NCPO).

Sakda, who works for Thai-language paper Thai Rath, was summoned by the junta on Saturday to explain his cartoons, which the NCPO's committee on media conduct considers to have misrepresented the facts.

The conversation remained smooth and non-threatening during his incarceration, according to Sakda. The NCPO officers allowed him to explain his work and did not suspend him from expressing his opinions. He was also not required to sign any agreements. But they warned him that he could be sued if he produces any distorted work in the future.

"From now on, I will have to adjust my working style," he said, "because my organisation may be affected if I don't. If I alone will be affected, then it's okay."

Despite the warning, he felt comfortable to continue producing work based on facts in papers. He said his work are a goodwill gesture toward the country.

Thai Journalists Association (TJA) president Wanchai Wongmeechai said that although the talk between Sakda and the NCPO was settled, the TJA is still worried about people's rights and freedom of expression regarding the matter.

TJA, together with other media organisations, will discuss how to create a better environment for freer expression. Outcomes from discussions will be proposed to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Wanchai said. "The premier assured the international community during his speech at the UN General Assembly last week that we'll be back to democracy soon, so I expect him to be more open. If one has to be sued, it has to be done by law. If it's simply an alternative set of thoughts then it shouldn't be wrong."

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