Thai deputy PM: Journalists threat 'not serious'

Thai deputy PM: Growth is picking up   

Comments by Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha that journalists who do not report the truth will probably be executed should not be taken too seriously, the country's Deputy Prime Minister told CNBC.

"He [is] military from the barracks. He is not used to provocative questions like me... sometimes he cannot control his emotions, but it's nothing that serious," Pridiyathorn Devakula told CNBC at the 18th annual Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong on Thursday.

On Wednesday, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, told reporters in Bangkok, that he will "probably just execute" any journalist who does not "report the truth", Reuters reported.

Prayut took power in a coup d'etat on May 2014 and has come under criticism for his record on human rights.

Kevin Winter | Getty Images

The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta "has severely repressed fundamental rights and freedoms that are essential for the restoration of democracy," the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement on March 17.

At least 700 people, mostly political dissidents, have been sent to military tribunals since May 2014, according to HRW.

Stalling economy

Political unrest and slowing global growth have taken a toll on Thailand's economy, which will likely require continued government support.

In 2014, gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by just 0.7 percent, the slowest pace in three years, as the turmoil caused by political unrest took its toll on the economy.

"We are an export led economy and now our major buyers are slowing down," which is holding the economy back, Pridiyathorn said.

Exports dropped 3.5 percent on year to $17.3 billion dollars in January.

As a result, Thailand will likely remain dependent on government spending, he said: "Without the injection of government expenditure, I think our growth would be much lower and we are doing this more and more."