If the Navy does not withdraw its action for criminal defamation, Phuketwan journalists Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison are likely to choose in principle to go to jail rather than seek bail when they face court as early as next month.
The Committee to Develop Regional Stability, Thai Royal Navy 3 Area, meets in Andaman provinces in rotation every three months. About 25 representatives gathered today at the Royal Phuket City Hotel.
The governor is the chairman of the Internal Security Operations Command on Phuket. He said the stability committee was concerned about the ''transfer of humans, the transfer of goods and the transfer of news.''
He said committee members should always consider morals and human rights. A key consideration was ''safety and security for everybody.''
He urged Navy officers to always let him know first before commencing new undertakings.
During a break in proceedings, Chutima Sidasathian presented the governor with a snapshot summary of the case and some samples of the widespread international criticism of the Navy for using criminal defamation and the onerous Computer Crimes Act for the first time.
A covering letter from Alan Morison read as follows:
Dear Governor Maitree,
The recent use by the Royal Thai Navy of criminal defamation and the Computer Crimes Act to sue journalists from Phuketwan and Reuters news agency has brought widespread international condemnation. As much as we admire the Royal Thai Navy, we cannot accept this action as being the right thing to do. If the Navy has a problem with the media, it's possible for officers to make a telephone call or issue a press release, or hold a media conference. This would be a normal, proper reaction. By defending the reputation of the Navy instead of defending and upholding the truth, the Navy will completely destroy its reputation in the eyes of the world if it does not withdraw this foolish law suit.
The two journalists were told by police yesterday that they are likely to have to appear in court early in January. A similar case against two Reuters journalists, authors of the one single paragraph cited in the action, is proceeding more slowly.
Khun Chutima is due to give a speech tomorrow at a ''Freedom of the Media'' seminar at the Thai Journalists' Association office in Bangkok. Academics, lawyers, media rights representatives and human rights advocates will be attending.
If the Navy proceeds with the action, street protests are planned for the Thai Consulate in Melbourne, Australia, where Mr Morison once lived, and outside the Royal Thai Navy Base on Phuket's Cape Panwa.
Present at today's stability committee meeting were:
Maitree Inthusud, Phuket governor
Captain Kritsada Rattanasupa, from Phuket ISOC
Arun Singsutthi, from DDPM Phuket
Captain Panlop Komlotok, from Committee of Integrative Provincial Administration Phuket
Supatcharapong Worrapradit, from DDMP Krabi
Satjaporn Jansrinuan, Or Bor Jor Krabi
Captain Pratchaya Poyoy, from Committee of Integrative Provincial Administration Krabi
Satorn Naravisut, Trang vice governor
Commander Narong Ornpakdi, from Committee of Integrative Provincial Administration Trang
Captain Kanokpon Pimtong, from ISOC Phang Nga
Taratip Tongjerm, from Or Bor Jor Phnag Nga
Lieutenant Commander Apichat Nimnet, from Committee of Integrative Provincial Administration Phang Nga
Petty Officer First Class Wuttisak Kaewsawi, from Committee of Integrative Provincial Administration Phang Nga
Surin Damkam, from DDPM Ranong
Commander Kampanat Sangtongjeen, from Committee of Integrative Provincial Administration Ranong
Samat Suwannamanee, form DDPM Satun
Commander Rewat Tabsang, from Committee of Integrative Provincial Administration Satun
Rosi Baikatem, Or Bor Jor Satun
Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (Southern Region)
Yuttana Wongsanupat, special plan and policy analyst
Office of the Nation Security Council
Montip Wongkulruedee, plan and policy analyst
Captain Choochar Towprayoon
Armed Forces Development Command
Lieutenant Colonal Kanchat Petjan
Personal Division of 4th Army Area
Major General Srisak Lertlam
Personal Division of 1st Army Area
Captain Krit Kluabmas
Personal Division of 2nd Army Area
Commander Prajak Jenthaisong
Phang Nga Naval Base
Captain Somchai Tannin
Naval Operations Department
Commander Warodom Jiansakul
For information about the ''Freedom of the Media'' seminar, e: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 085 0440234.