Bangkok Post editor sacked over criticism

The editor-in-chief of Thailand's Bangkok Post newspaper has been sacked after refusing to tone down anti-military government news stories.

The editor-in-chief of Thailand's biggest English-language newspaper has been removed from his position over the paper's continuous criticism of the ruling military government.

Bangkok Post's board of directors dismissed Umesh Pandey from his position on Monday with immediate effect, he said in a Facebook post.

"The hard-hitting news that we have produced in the 22-months of my leadership is a testament to what we as a team that is down by nearly 60 people have managed to achieve," Pandey said late Monday.

"But when asked to 'tone down', I did not budge and was blunt in letting those making the decision know that would I rather lose my position than bow my head," he added.

Political analysts see Pandey's removal as a sign of declining press freedom in Thailand.

"The case at the Bangkok Post yet again proves that the freedom of press is experiencing a freefall," according to Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a political science lecturer at Kyoto University and a prominent critic of the Thai junta.

"Either journalists are risking becoming a target of state, or have to practice self-censorship for their own survival," he added.

Pandey's removal came one week after local broadcaster Peace TV was shut down for 30 days for provoking anti-junta sentiment, and amid declining press freedom throughout South-east Asia.

Last week, Human Rights Watch proclaimed "the end of independent local newspapers in Cambodia," after the Phnom Penh Post, the country's last independent English-language daily, was sold to a Malaysian investor with links to the government.

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