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25 September 2014
Read in Minutes


Bodies seek investigative freedom

Consumer protection institutes are asking the government for protection from potential legal action by policymakers and regulators.

Further action is also needed to encourage consumer protection agencies and the media to devote their full attention to their duty to protect consumers, they said.

“Granting us the authority to investigate management actions in greater detail even before the regulator forms a policy on this is essential,” Duanden Nikomborirak, research director at the Thailand Development Research Institute, said yesterday.

She was speaking at a seminar entitled “Defamation Charges: A Tool Blocking the Investigative Process” hosted by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

The government also needs to amend impractical provisions of the Official Information Act of 1997 to deal more efficiently with future requests, according to Ms Duanden.

The call by consumer protection agencies and academics comes amid criminal defamation charges brought by state authorities and national regulators including the controversial case of analogue Channel 3.

Ms Duanden is being sued by four NBTC members after commenting on a Thai PBS TV programme regarding the regulator’s interim measures to protect mobile operators True Move and AIS subsidiary Digital Phone Co after their concessions ended last September.

Another case came last month, when Bangkok Entertainment Co, operator of analogue Channel 3, filed suit against Supinya Klangnarong and two other NBTC members on grounds of alleged malfeasance and breaching the Computer Crimes Act.

Ms Duanden said the investigative process in Thailand was flawed, as investigators were left with no legal safeguards against lawsuits.

The NBTC must formulate stringent regulatory impact assessment procedures to ensure greater accuracy in introducing new regulations, she said.

“The Frequency Allocation Act gives the NBTC too much power to intervene in its internal audit committee panel,” said Ms Duanden.

Yingcheep Atchanont, communications officer for civil participation at iLaw, said he personally thought policymakers and state authorities should not be able to file suit against those disagreeing with them or expressing different opinions.



First published: Bangkok Post, September 25, 2014