Banpot and Thaksin

15 02 2015

As we often do, below PPT reproduces a recent post by Giles Ji Ungpakorn. In it, Ji comments on the recent arrest of “Banpot” or Hasadin Uraipraiwan.

Unfortunately, Taksin is a royalist

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Thai police have arrested a man that they claim to be “Banpot”, the famous internet alias, who regularly published audio clips criticising the Thai Royal Family. The suspect has been identified as Hasadin Uraipraiwan. Earlier, an extremist media channel tried to falsely claim that “Banpot” was the Chiang-Mai academic Professor Tanet Charoenmuang.

The military junta is desperate to link Banpot to Taksin and they are making remarks about a “big capitalist” who is funding these activities. This is not the first time that the anti-democrats and the military have tried to accuse Taksin of wanting to overthrow the monarchy. They believe that it would help legitimise their destruction of democracy.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, Taksin is a royalist.

Taksin has often been accused of wanting to usurp the monarchy and become president. There is absolutely no evidence for this. In fact, throughout the period when Taksin was Prime Minister, he promoted and was seen to be servile to the King, just like the conservative generals who are his rivals. His government paved the way for and participated in the lavish royal celebrations on the 60th anniversary of the King’s accession to the throne in 2006.His government also introduced the “Yellow Shirt Mania”, where we were all told to wear yellow royal shirts every Monday. Both Taksin and his conservative opponents are royalists because they seek to use the institution of the monarchy in order to stabilise the status quo and class rule in a capitalist society.

Following the July 2011 election we saw Prime Minister Yingluk’s Pua Thai Government making it clear that they were royalists. If we look at the use of lèse majesté, the Pua Thai Government’s record of abusing freedom of speech was just as bad as Abhisit’s military-backed Democrats. The Minister for Information Technology and Communication Anudit Nakorntup showed himself to be a rabid royalist censor, threatening Facebook users who so much as clicked “like” in response to a post deemed to be insulting to the monarchy. Worse still, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung was appointed as “lèse majesté supremo” to hunt down dissenters.

The reason why Taksin will not lead an all-out struggle for democracy against the dictatorship is linked to Taksin’s royalism, or more importantly, to his commitment to defending the status quo and the Thai ruling class in its present form. He and the generals are merely rivals for power. Taksin wants to re-join the elite club at some point in the future. He is desperate to prevent radicalisation of the democracy movement. But we must do everything to encourage such radicalisation and the struggle for a democratic republic.


Updated: Busy day in Bangkok II: reform, rice, old kings, censorship and impunity

10 08 2013

As we noted in the first part of this post, it has been a busy few days in Bangkok, with more stories than PPT can possibly comment on, so we are now posting a second  combination of stories.

In another story that cites PPT, Asia Sentinel had a story a couple of days ago regarding the politics of amnesty. PPT is cited as an “NGO,” which is probably rather too much of a grand title for our small effort to shine a light on aspects of politics and political prisoners in Thailand. The story also seems to erroneously suggest that Thaksin Shinawatra put the 1997 constitution in place. Even so, it is true that: “Any time amnesty or constitutional reform looms, the protesters take to the streets. Pheu Thai leaders have been waiting for almost three years to attempt to push through a series of constitutional reforms…”. It would be even more accurate to notice that when the military junta’s 2007 constitution was put in place, all of the old conservatives said it could be changed by elected governments, and even made this an article of the constitution. Since then, this pledge has been shown to be a lie. In fact, then, elected governments have been waiting six years to make changes.

Also worth reading is Robert Amsterdam’s post on the Wat Pathum inquest findings. This note caught our attention:

Without truth there is no justice. And without justice there can be no real workable amnesty. Some might argue a de facto legal amnesty already exists for the extremist anti-democratic People’s Alliance for Democracy and the groups aligned with them, including Abhisit’s Democrat Party. Abhisit and his former deputy PM, Suthep Thaugsuban, have both been charged with the murder of civilian protesters in 2010, yet arrogantly strut around, even dismissing the court’s bail conditions, assured of their own impunity.

Prachatai has a post regarding censorship of books – an unofficial removal from sale – at Asia books. Of course, the books relate to the monarchy. But not the current king. These two books relate to past kings and the royalist response to the 1932 revolution. Prachatai says: “The books concern the history of the 1932 revolution and the controversial relationship between King Rama VI and his palace servants.” So why the “ban”? Asia Books withdrew the two academic titles reportedly for reasons of “political sensitivity” but declined to comment further. The book by Dr. Nattaphol Chaiching studies the “counter-revolution led by the royalists” following the 1932 revolution. Readers without Thai skills can get an idea about the book through the author’s chapter in Saying the Unsayable. The book was published by Fa Diaw Kan as part of its “Monarchy Studies Series.” The second book by Chanun Yodhong is about “Gentlemen-in-waiting”, and deals with the relationship between the gay King Vajiravudh and his palace flunkies. Prachatai states that the book “poses questions about King Rama VI and his projects such as the Boy Scouts and Vajiravudh College, a private boys-only boarding school he founded in 1910.” It is published by Matichon.

While on censorship, we feel compelled to add to the outcry about the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology’s continuing stupidity regarding Facebook posts and its use of the draconian Computer Crimes Act. Minister Anudith Nakornthap has lost his marbles if he thinks social media users should be charged and locked up for “sharing and clicking ‘Like’ on social media posts, since they could be deemed as damaging to the country’s security.” His view that “postings that are political in nature or meant to stir up public confusion might be in breach of the Internal Security Act and Computer Crime Act” is utter nonsense but clearly neanderthals can use the law to censor and stifle. Interestingly, the cyber-cops have declared the warning as a successful scare tactic. Update: Asked if clicking “like” is now against the law, Police Maj Gen Pisit Pao-in, commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division, says: “It will be if you ‘like’ a message deemed damaging to national security. If you press ‘like’, it means you are accepting that message, which is tantamount to supporting it. By doing so, you help increase the credibility of the message and hence you should also be held responsible.” Officials like this are appallingly dull and through their dullard actions, dangerous to Thais and their rights to free speech.

PPT also wants to draw attention to a couple of posts at Bangkok Pundit. The first is not that different from what PPT said on the story/retracted Bangkok Post story on Anand Panyarachun. The second explains what happened, and comes from a source that we also had, but since Pundit has it posted, there’s no need for us to do the same.

Finally, we want to give a few lines to a report in The Economist, which identifies the rice policy as an economic millstone for the government. We agree, but then the politics of reducing the guaranteed price saw farmers protesting just a few weeks ago. An economic millstone is becoming a political millstone, and the government’s policy wonks need to find a way out.

Panic, coups and courts

9 05 2013

It is difficult to miss the increase in political panic attacks on the two main sides of the political contest in Thailand.

As PPT has already posted, the yellow-hued opponents of the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra have had multiple panic attacks that have caused them to shout their real political views out very loud. When Yingluck speaks to a meeting on democracy, the royalists and anti-Thaksin Shinawatra coalition has its leading figures shout about treason, selling out the country and greater “crimes.” The main “crime” seems to be Yingluck’s failure to again kowtow to the old men who think they run Thailand and continue to concoct a royalist version of the country’s recent political history. A few statements by a younger woman about political reality suggest to the geriatric royalists that their presumed control of her has weakened and that she does not “know her place.”

The tried and royalist trusted method for attacking elected governments, apart from the military coup, is judicial harassment and intervention. And so it is that as the political temperature rises ever more panicked and preposterous royalists charge off to their buddies at the Constitutional Court seeking judicial interference.

At the Bangkok Post it is reported that the latest move is appointed senator  – that is, unelected senator – Paiboon Nititawan who “represents” something called “other sectors,” which really just means he’s an unelected spawn of the military junta, has begged the kangaroo court to consider Thaksin Shinawatra’s alleged “order for Pheu Thai to amend the constitution,” which the senator claims “violates Section 68 of the charter, pertaining to acts that could undermine the constitutional monarchy or grab power through unconstitutional means.”

The Post states that some yellow-shirted intellectuals think the “Constitution Court is likely to take up a complaint…”. At the same time, “Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, a political science lecturer at Sripatum University, said the allegation that Thaksin’s Skype call breached Section 68 is far-fetched.” That won’t bother the court or the royalists.

Somchai reckons that a more likely constitutional court intervention is over the “MPs and senators [who] have declared they will not accept the authority of the charter court…”. He says: “Such an announcement is bound to be a violation of the law…. Many MPs and senators may realise their action carries a risk.”

Panic has also set in on the government and red shirt side. PPT has already posted on the political foot-in-mouth calisthenics by Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap. Equally panicky seems to be red shirt supporters claiming that a coup is in the offing. The clearest English-language statement of this was at New Mandala where Jim Taylor makes this claim:

The army, if a little confused about royal futures, are talking about a coup (yes, yet again) among themselves and many senior army officers (including Prayuth Chan-ocha) dropping strong hints in the media…

Several readers have emailed PPT with similar claims. We don’t doubt that the military brass around boss Prayuth Chan-ocha were shocked by Yingluck’s Mongolia speech, but we have yet to see any strong evidence of the tanks warming up. We would expect to see and hear a lot more from the top brass if they were at any serious level of plotting. That said, Yingluck’s speech and the failure of the king and queen to appear as scheduled probably mean that the military men have the coup jitters.Red shirt protest

Meanwhile, while red shirt anger over the Constitutional Court shenanigans saw a mobile protest. Reports from the protest site are mixed, with some saying the protesters preparing to leave and others reporting an expansion of the protest (both in the same newspaper on the same day….). The very same newspaper is back to its old tricks of producing material filched from yellow-shirt sites and dressing it up as an op-ed rather than concocted propaganda.

The latter report also refers to:

hundreds of yellow-shirt Thai Compatriots and Territory Protection Front members, gathering since Tuesday at Sanam Luang, are refusing to clear the site.

They say they will stay until Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is ousted and that their presence won’t interfere with Royal Ploughing Ceremony on the grounds next Monday…. They are also demonstrating to offer moral support to the Constitutional Court judges and oppose the Preah Vihear court case.

The Bangkok Post, which says the rally is called off, has a spurious headline at its website, seems to say that the red shirt protest at the Constitutional Court was all Thaksin’s doing, when the story itself implies something else again, even suggesting that the Puea Thai bosses and Thaksin were out of sync with the protesters. Apparently the protest was called off:

after losing the backing of Pheu Thai, other red-shirt groups and, more importantly, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, sources say.Thaksin did it

Some ruling party MPs initially sponsored the protest by the Radio Broadcasters for Democracy movement formed by some red shirts, the Pheu Thai sources said.

Apparently, the MPs got cold feet when the rallies turned to those close to the palace:

The MPs had also joined the protest in front of the Constitution Court on Chaeng Watthana Road in Bangkok.

But they later withdrew their support after demonstration leaders ignored their warnings and attacked Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda, threatened Constitution Court judges and used obscene words.

The MPS and Thaksin apparently worried that the rally could destabilize the government. If Thaksin is the ring master in all of this, he seems to have been unable to control the situation or to fathom the impacts of his sister’s speech or the red shirt rally against the hopeless bunch at the Court. Always murky, the arm wrestle continues.

Panic, censorship and the Democrat Party

8 05 2013

W e have already posted several times on the continuing and seemingly heightened political struggle as disgruntled royalists seek to undermine the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra. Part of the increase in political tension revolves around issues such as constitutional reform and amnesty. The most recent panic for royalists was Yingluck’s speech in Mongolia airing several truths about the anti-democrats who oppose her. That panic attack saw some nasty and deeply sexist remarks and crazy incantations of treason. At the same time, PPT indicated its position on the defamation regime.

So we are dismayed to read at the Bangkok Post that Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap has said that he will seek “to silence websites that allow criticism of the prime minister.” This is dumb politics and a stupid over-reaction that allows the yellow-hued lot to prance about talking about “democracy” and “freedom of expression.” Of course, these elitists have no ground to stand on these issues but the minister has allowed them to make these claims.

That the Democrat Party has jumped on Anudith’s silly statement with glee is to be expected. However,  it is more than a little nauseating to listen to its leader Abhisit Vejjajiva claim that Anudith’s statement is a “violation of democratic principles…”. That it might be, but for Abhisit to lecture anyone on democracy is an affront.

Neither the Democrat Party nor Abhisit know anything at all about democracy and their track record is of undemocratic action.

When Democrat Party deputy spokeswoman Mallika Boonmeetrakul lectures that the “minister had no power to close websites, which could be shut down only by a court order…”, this is a practices that her party repeatedly flouted when in government.

When she says that “Users of social media, along with the press, have the right to freedom of expression and to comment on and criticise public figures, including the prime minister,” Mallika ignores the Abhisit regime’s massive censorship of all opposition media.

The Abhisit regime was undemocratic at birth and its time in government was the most repressive for three decades.

Anudith needs to be criticized, but not by a Democrat Party that is disingenuous and pathetic.

Further updated: True, CP and the Abhisit government

30 03 2012

When the Democrat Party was the Army’s surrogate ruling political party it often alleged that business deals done by Thaksin Shinawatra and his various governments wreaked of cronyism. There was certainly some of that.

But of course, so does the Democrat Party smell on these things. Worse, it had an enormous credibility problem in its arranged marriage of coalition parties with yet another Army crony party,  Bhum Jai Thai. That party managed a range of crony relationships while in government. In order to stay in power, the Democrat Party was complicit in a range of cosy deals.

One that has recently come to light is reported at the Bangkok Post. In this report, Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap has intimated that:

True Corp’s 3G network deal with state-owned CAT Telecom has been found to have been tainted with irregularities which could result in the 6 billion baht agreement being scrapped….

The True-CAT network deal was signed during the Abhisit [Vejjajiva] administration, and through True’s purchase of  Hong Kong company Hutchison’s (Hutch) operations in Thailand, gave True the right to use the Hutch network and to aggressively market 3G wireless while “its major competitors _ Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Total Access Communication (Dtac) _ are still awaiting a decision on whether there will be a 3G licence auction this year.”

The ICT made “five points in its investigation of the True-CAT contract that raised questions about the legality and legitimacy of the deal” that were listed by Anudith:

First, the “panel found there had been an indirect political instruction on April 7, 2010” when former ICT minister Ranongruk Suwunchwee under Abhisit “for CAT to buy Hutch’s network in 25 provinces in the Central region from Hutch. Under a later ICT minister for the Abhisit government, Juti Krairiksh, the CAT-Hutch deal collapsed. “The collapse of the CAT-Hutch deal enabled True and CAT to enter quickly into a deal under a new business model drawn up by True and the state firm.” The contracts were “rapidly signed” on 26 January 2011.

Second, “CAT had bypassed the cabinet and the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) in terminating the CDMA mobile service in 25 central provinces with Hutch and its affiliate to enter into the new deal with True.”

Third, “CAT had violated the ICT Ministry’s work procedures in going ahead with the deal with True.”

Fourth, CAT didn’t consult the NESDB and the Council of State as required following “the go-ahead for its request to enter into a business deal with True on Dec 28, 2010.”

Fifth, CAT “asked the ICT to scrap the state enterprise’s original CDMA investment plan, and it switched to a new rental equipment agreement with True worth 12 billion baht.” It is stated that “CAT had no authority to enter into the new agreement. It could also be a violation of the 1992 Public-Private Joint Venture Act, which requires scrutiny of any public-private venture worth more than 1 billion baht.”

Not unexpectedly, True has “denied any wrongdoing.” The company’s vice-chairman Athueck Asvanund, said “the ICT report did not identify any specific points in the contract that violated the law.” he added: “The issues raised are political…”.

While PPT knows little about all the technical material, since the True representative raises “politics,” it is probably worth looking at this a little more.  At True’s website, the company describes itself in this manner:

Backed by Asia’s largest agro-conglomerate, the Charoen Pokphand Group (“CP”), with a shareholding of 30.02% as of December 2007, True has expanded its business from being a fixed-line provider to a total communications solutions provider, offering consumers, small and medium enterprises, and corporations a full range of voice, video and data services in solutions customized to meet their needs.  We are Thailand’s largest provider of Internet, consumer broadband Internet and pay-TV services, as well as the largest fixed-line service provider in the BMA, a leading online game provider and the number three mobile phone operator in Thailand.

True’s board, apart from being dominated by the Chearavanont family and a swathe of directors with long links to CP, includes some significant family names: Vejjajiva, Tulanonda and Srisa-an.

The Vejjajiva link is interesting, especially as Vitthaya Vejjajiva has a link to the Bangkok Post and projects like this one that brings together major royalist groups:

The project is advised by Visanu Krue-ngam (chairman), Borwornsak Uwanno, Tongthong Chandrangsu and Vitthaya Vejjajiva. It is sponsored by Bangkok Bank, the Central Group, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Jim Thompson, PTT, the Crown Property Bureau, Ch Karnchang Plc, Bangkok Expressway Plc and Thai Tap Water Plc.

True is part of the sprawling, patriarchal giant of a conglomerate known as CP, which at its website states it has:

businesses and affiliates operating within the agribusiness, retail and telecommunications markets, we currently employ over 250,000 people whom conduct our investments, operations and trading at factories and offices worldwide. Our sales at the end of 2010 were USD30 billion.

CP has three companies listed at the Stock Exchange of Thailand: True, Charoen Pokphand Foods and CP ALL. Directors at the latter two companies add to the significant names: Asa Sarasin is probably the most notable, as the king’s Principal Private Secretary, and mentioned in several Wikileaks cables around the time of the 2006 coup. Another is Police General Kowit Wattana, a Puea Thai big shot associated with the royalist Village Scout movement, who stepped down from CP when he became Deputy Prime Minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

The point is that CP is very well connected. Most of its links, Kowit not withstanding, are with the royal establishment. In line with this, one website notes this for Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, saying he:

… has served as a director and advisor for numerous large Thai companies. In early 2007, he resigned as chief adviser of the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group in order to distance himself from a junta-led corruption investigation. The investigation concerned alleged bid rigging in a para rubber saplings supply contract granted during the Thaksin government when Prem had still held his position in the Group.

The resignation refers to the case – eventually dismissed – that involved Thaksin Shinawatra minister Newin Chidchob, who had flipped his support to the Democrat Party in 2008.

In this political context, was the deal done by the Abhisit government an example of cronyism?

Update 1: A regular reader has sent us two links that seem highly relevant for this post- see here and here. That the king receives Dhanin Chearavanont and other CP executives who are handing over money to be used at the royal pleasure is significant the task of gathering the money is usually assigned to other members of the family. The recognition that Dhanin deserves an audience with the king is exceptional and carries great meaning. The royal news at ASTV is also worth watching as it is something of a record at almost 37 minutes and after the king, features the women of the court on royal travel and others doing their local duties.

In addition, that reader points out another potential link to our post in the recent Democrat Party attacks on Minister Anudith, seeking to have him investigated for “unusual wealth.” Is this a pre-emptive strike against the minister?

Update 2: Another regular reader points out that in listing the Vejjajiva connection with CP, we should have pointed out that Abhisit’s father, Athasit, is a board member at CP Foods (see link above).

With a major update: ASTV/Manager as lese majeste vigilantes and purveyors of concocted nonsense

28 01 2012

PPT has noticed that much of the excitement and agitation associated with Nitirat’s proposals has been stirred by the ASTV/Manager, the mouthpiece of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and Sondhi Limthongkul. It seems that the mainstream media is generally ready to take up the PAD claims and run them as if they were from a reliable news source.

It is thus useful that the ASTV/Manager surrogate channel in English, TAN Network has produced a translation of a column that has been central to the most recent case of a cameraman working for the red shirt-supporting satellite-based Asia Update TV channel being investigated for alleged lese majeste.

The ASTV/Manager account states that it has, since the Yingluck Shinawatra government won the election in July, a focal point for “numerous complaints about controversial comments made on social networks and the cyber world … comments that could be deemed as violating lest majeste laws.”

As self-appointed cyber vigilantes, ASTV/Manager reports that a “recent incident involves an individual who calls himself ‘Tanan Maneewong’ on Facebook.”

Reporters at he Government House are said to have “received complaints” – probably from the Manager itself –  about controversial statements on Facebook. Unnamed sources are said to have seen that some of these comments “could be deemed to violate lest majeste laws and Thailand’s Computer Act.”

Somehow it came to be known that the Facebook page belonged to “a cameramen employed by the Asia Update television station and [who] is assigned to cover the prime minister’s beat.”

Conspiracy! Up goes the shout! “The station is operated by Democracy News Network Company Limited and is widely known for its support of the Yingluck administration and the red shirt movement.” The Facebook poster is then anonymously claimed not to “have a very good opinion of the institution of the monarchy and has been known to make several strong criticisms in the past.”

Of course, this is inciting hatred against the unfortunate cameraman with not a named source in sight. The conspiracy angle is meant to show the government is somehow implicated in the whole thing. As we noted above, this is vigilantism, not journalism.

The ASTV/Manager report claims the “controversial post was made on his Facebook wall on the night of January 22, but was later erased on the 23rd when his associates warned him that it could be against the law.” But this person is seen to be insincere because he commented “I can’t even have an opinion. This is so Thai.” Indeed it is, but truth is not a factor here.

And, of course, it is all reflective of the fact that the Yingluck government is “disloyal.” This alleged crime is further “evidence” for ASTV/Manager maniacal claims about “the failure of government officials to curb the anti-monarchy movement.” Note that the idea that there is a “movement” is taken as a given for the vigilante media. Even Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung is not doing enough.

And it is all to clear for the PAD that this is a pattern of behavior by the hated red shirts because Asia Update television is not only red shirt but is claimed – no evidence presented – that it was “founded” by now Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Anudith Nakornthap,with red shirts also involved.

The implication is that the an anti-monarchy conspiracy is proven. We assume that investigations of the cameraman is being undertaken based on ASTV/Manager’s accusations.

Update: At the Manager, the ever more bizarre Sondhi Limthongkul has yet another “plan” revealing how Thaksin Shinawatra is allegedly to take over Thailand and overthrow the monarchy. Prachatai has a summary of this truly deranged concoction.

In essence, Sondhi plagiarized the nonsensical ideas of “Tony Cartalucci” who runs a pretty much unknown blog that draws on anti-globalist ideas and marries them with U.S. Tea Party, libertarian and  ideas that originate in extreme right-wing conspiricist groups that Sondhi has long been connected, including  Lyndon LaRouche.

“Cartalucci” is a frequent “commentator” posting at Prachatai, continually posting essentially the same “comment,” attacking Prachatai as part of a Thaksin-U.S. conspiracy. “Cartalucci” modus operandi is to “discover”  well-known facts from the web and builds them into a global conspiracy. He is connected with, amongst others, Sam Bushman’s Christian conspiracist Liberty Round Table, which invites “all Liberty-Loving Americans to join with us to restore the principles of our Founding Fathers and promote God, Family and Country in the media and our lives!”

“Tony Cartalucci’s” take on Sondhi’s bizarre rant is here.

Yellow-shirted activists have been circulating “Tony Cartalucci” material for some time and it seems that the heightened political temperature around the Nitirat, lese majeste and “loyalty” issues has given Sondhi and opportunity for these more extremist claims. Sondhi’s hope is such a concocted threat can provoke a response from ultra-nationalists. He apparently believes that the great fear will mean that royalists will grasp even extreme conspiracy nonsense more palatable. Remarkably, he’s probably right as the level of hysteria is truly amazing.

Enhancing the infrastructure of lese majeste repression

4 12 2011

As the king’s 7th cycle anniversary approaches and with the royalists rabid on lese majeste, Prachatai reports that on 1 December 2011, the “Ministry of Information and Communications Technology inaugurated the Cyber Security Operation Centre (CSOC) to suppress cyber crimes, including in particular offences against the monarchy.”

The Centre was inaugurated in the presence of representatives from the major agencies of the repressive state apparatus: “all the armed forces, the National Security Council, the National Intelligence Agency, the Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice.”

ICT Minister Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap explained that the new center represented and upgrading of an earlier cyber-snooping outfit set up in 2010. The new center will expand its staff by 20.

The CSOC will “employ up-to-date technology in dealing with inappropriate content on the internet, especially social media such as Facebook and Twitter, through which offensive materials can be distributed more easily and quickly.”

Anudith apparently explained the government’s “duty” to protect the throne: “To worship and protect the monarchy is an important duty of the government which has been announced in its policy statement to Parliament. So it is the main duty of the Ministry to pursue the government’s policy to protect the monarchy, particularly in online social networks by using up-to-date information technology to control crime with the utmost efficiency…”.

We get the feeling that, in part, Anudith is responding to opposition claims that the government is “disloyal.” This is further evident when the minister proudly proclaimed that between September and November, “the ministry had blocked over 60,000 URLs or pages, compared with over 70,000 during the previous three years. This shows the intention of this government to demonstrate its loyalty to His Majesty the King…”.

Anudith seems to be saying: “See, we are better at protecting the monarchy than the royalist regime!” This is a dangerous development as the government’s agenda is driven by royalist desire. But Anudith is a proud royalist himself.

He said the increased numbers of blocked URLs was due “to the increasing use of social media which allows users to distribute and share information at a more rapid rate and on a wider scale, in contrast to previously when offensive content was largely restricted to webboards.”

MICT is now seeking to have “ISPs or website owners abroad directly for cooperation. With tip-offs from the public, the Ministry’s officials would collect information and send it to them together with an explanation in English making comparisons to similar crimes in that specific country. Anudith said that this method had the merit of ‘making other countries understand the importance of the monarchy and suppressing inappropriate content at the source’.”

Worringly, it seems MICT is going to amend the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.

The minister also states that “MICT sent information about offences against the monarchy on the internet to police at the Technology Crime Suppression Division to make arrests.” Anudith proclaims: “It is expected that soon there will be good news about the arrest of culprits who distributed inappropriate information offensive to the high institution…”.

It is looking increasingly like the long winter of lese majeste repression is set to become colder and bleaker.

Like? 15 years in the slammer

25 11 2011

Ludicrous is a word with several synonyms: absurd, ridiculous, preposterous, nonsensical, stupid and farcical. All seem to apply with equal validity as a descriptor for the sentence of 20 years for a man claimed to have sent four SMSs that may have defamed Thailand’s queen and sentenced under the draconian lese majeste and computer crimes laws that protect a monarchy that royalists consider can accept no criticism.

So what word do we use for the statement by Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap who threatens those who use the “like” or “share” buttons on Facebook with years in prison? “Bizarre” perhaps? Or maybe just “authoritarian.” Anudith has advised Facebook users that “by pressing the ‘like’ or ‘share’ button included with posted comment on anti-monarchy messages…” on Facebook, they risk being “arrested on charges of violating the Computer Crime Act and committing lese majeste because the law prohibits the dissemination of content deemed insulting to the monarchy…”.

In any other country on the face of the Earth save North Korea, Anudith would sound deranged. But not in Thailand where royalists believe they are in a battle to save the monarchy and all it stands for. Anudith “urged the users to press the delete’’ button if they receive messages defamatory to the revered institution [sic.], to avoid breaking the law.”

Anudith implied that there must be huge numbers of anti-monarchy statements getiing even more “likes” when warned that: ‘”Any user not deleting it may risk being prosecuted under the Computer Crime Act, because they will be seen as having a role in indirectly disseminating an unlawful message…”.

Sounding simply royalist peculiar, Anudith said that clicking “like” could allow “anarchists to use their personal information to create a fake Facebook account to support their cause.” Yep, that is the word, “anarchists.”

How more absurd is the “protection of the monarchy” going to become? Enough well-meaning people have pointed out that “protecting the monarchy” in mindless campaigns involving repression, spies and prison have actually undermined support for the monarchy. These campaigns are now so puerile that the beggar belief.



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