Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has been heavily criticized for suggesting that transistor radios may be the best means to keep people informed during floods.
Discussing measures to tackle the flood problem during a teleconference with provincial governors and state agencies, General Prayut said it would be difficult for the government to spread information to keep people informed if power and telephone systems failed.
However, in that situation, Thailand residents could get updates via transistor radios, as happened during the massive 2011 flood when the power went out, he said.
While it is unclear how the prime minister’s comments were leaked, the critics’ response came swiftly, with many saying transistor radios were obsolete.
Prominent lawyer Paisal Phuetmongkol shared a message through his Facebook page saying that although he was an ancient man, he considered General Prayut’s idea implausible.
“When I was a child, I liked transistor radios. But, now, in the age of modern technology, I don’t even know where to buy one,” Mr. Paisal added.
A person who owns a transistor radio shop in Chai Nat spoke to reporters and said they were only selling one or two devices a month for 590 baht each or 690 baht with batteries. Most buyers are elderly people or farmers.
Journalists interviewed vendors at the fresh markets on the matter, but all said they hadn’t listened to either AM or FM radio for at least ten years, explaining that they often got information through their mobile phones.
However, government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri defended the prime minister’s comments.
According to Mr. Anucha, the radio and television broadcasting policy office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission and the Thammasat Institute for Area Studies surveyed 3,655 radio listeners.
The results showed that 68.9% listened to radio programs using home, car, or pocket radios. The rest listened to the radio on their mobile phones or desktop or laptop computers.
Furthermore, 95.9% of those surveyed listened to local FM frequencies, Mr. Anucha revealed.
The government spokesman also showed figures obtained by the audience measurement, information, and data analysis firm Nielsen. According to the report, radio remained a popular communication means among people of all generations, especially the Gen X generation (40-59 years old).