Silencing dissent

13 07 2021

Several outlets have commented on and criticized the regime’s new effort to silence criticism using the pandemic as an excuse for further repression.

Prachatai notices that, in addition to “curfews and lockdowns in many locations, the 27th regulation under the Emergency Decree also imposes a 2-year jail sentence and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht for anyone who spreads information or news that causes public fear or affects national security.”

This effort by the regime to silence dissent and criticism goes along with the militarization of the lockdown.

In its broadest effort to prevent criticism, the regime’s decree states:


© Shutterstock

The presentation of news or dissemination of books, printed matter or other media containing information that may cause fear among the people, or with the intention to distort information or news to cause misunderstanding under the state of emergency in such a way that affects national security or public order or the good morals of the people throughout the kingdom is an offence.

Earlier regulations “issued during the state of emergency in 2020 which outlawed only incorrect information.” iLaw points out that with “incorrect information” now “removed from the current regulation, it raises questions about the prosecution of information distribution regardless of its validity.”

In other words, this decree potentially makes the truth illegal.

Thai Enquirer argues that “this new emergency decree has been passed by the government because it has been under pressure for its poor Covid-19 response.” So bad has that response been in this recent period that “instead of trying to do a better job, the government thinks that the best course of action to ease the pressure that it is feeling is to pass a decree that will muzzle the public’s free speech.”

It concludes:

The government, unable to figure things out with the pandemic, is reverting to the one thing it does know, authoritarianism.

Because the passage of this decree is exactly what a military government would do. Unable to fight the rising tide of public dissatisfaction, the government is pursuing the heavy-handed, intellectually-stunted approach that all military men eventually fall back on.




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