Junta pushes online fear

23 12 2015

red candleAs would be expected with all of the recent sedition and lese majeste charges under the military dictatorship, as TelecomAsia.net has it, “netizens of Thailand are living in a climate of fear with no rule of law and self-censorship everywhere…”.

It quotes Assistant Professor Dr Pirongrong Ramasoot from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Journalism who uses a line PPT has also used, saying: “the military government was engaging in rule by law, not rule of law.” In other words, the junta is using the computer crimes and sedition law “to crack down on all dissent and free speech online.”

Pirongrong states that since the 2014 coup, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission “has issued orders to its licensees to block certain sites.”

She adds that: “Since 2008 [following the 2006 coup], CAT has had an internet filtering system.” MICT have told her that “they are not worried about data in the country, but they are concerned with information flowing into the country…”.

Pirongrong also notes “a marked rise in vigilante groups such as the so-called garbage collection and cyber scouts that scour the internet for dissidents to turn over for persecution.”internet-monitoring

The article also indicates the increased use of law suits by the junta to eliminate “negative” stories. Chuwat Rerksirisuk, editor-in-chief of the Prachatai explains that “instead of simply blocking news pages that they did not agree with as the previous Democrat [Party] government kept doing, the junta is bombarding him with criminal defamation lawsuits.”

Sasinan Thammditinan of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said that “since the [2014] coup … [sedition and lese majeste] cases are tried in military courts without any appeal and the courts refuse to take into account the defence that the chain of custody in computer forensics has been broken.

Sasinan states that those arrested “are regularly forced for their Facebook and LINE passwords and their phones and notebooks taken.” The report continues:

Sasinan also pointed a finger of blame squarely at Microsoft Thailand for divulging users’ private or identifying information in many of her cases. “The prosecutors love Microsoft as they give them all the information they ask for,” she said.

Facebook was also a problem, not officially, but there were enough Thais working inside Facebook for a steady stream of information about dissidents to make their way to the military prosecutors, she asserted.

Arnon Chalawan from iLaw said that “17 people had been prosecuted for article 112 of the criminal code for their Facebook activity.” In many cases this means that pressing “like” rather than any re-sharing of an offending post. He states that “Facebook sometimes promotes liked tweets to third parties and therein lies the problem.” Arnon adds:

Criminal culpability requires intent and Facebook is the one promoting those posts in order to sell more online advertising, not the user who simply clicked like usually to just bookmark that post for future reference. However, that line of defence does not work in the military courts….

Thailand is in a deep and dark place where the military dictatorship is determined to expunge all opposition to itself as the self-proclaimed protectors of country and monarchy. Because the junta is intolerant and fearful for “its” monarchical regime, it will get worse.





The lies of dictators

4 10 2015

Every dictator is overcome by the words of sycophants and assorted hanger-on. Politicians have spin doctors so that the best can be made of the uncomfortable. General Prayuth Chan-ocha hs liked to speak for himself, often appearing angry, testy, short-tempered and ignorant.

In recent posts, PPT has wondered whether The Dictator is delusional or an inveterate liar. We now have the answer.

Khaosod reports that, for all of these foibles, Prayuth has now shown that he is more of a liar than delusional.

Some weeks ago it became clear that the military dictatorship was seeking to “funnel all internet traffic through a single, government-managed choke point…”.

After much criticism and an extensive denial-of-service-like attacks on state websites, the military dictatorship has denied that it plans a single gateway and “insists the project has not been initiated despite evidence to the contrary.”

The Dictator himself has lied:

I have not ordered [the government] to go ahead with this. I merely told them to study it, but there has been some misinterpretation…. Right now, this matter is only under study. There’s nothing.

A bunch of junta members, ministers and assorted mouthpieces also lied.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology Uttama Savanayana lied:

Let me insist this is just an idea…. Since I took up the post a month ago, there has been no policy plan, no conclusion of what it will look like, and I have not yet proposed anything for the prime minister to deliberate.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Panadda Diskul lied. He fibs that “the prime minister merely told us to study the facts…”. Of the single gateway panic, he declared: “This is fabricated news created by those who are selfish…”.

Government spokesman Major-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd lied, “saying the project was only ‘noted’ in cabinet minutes to acknowledge its study.” He fibbed: “I insist that all of these are just studies…. It is not a project yet yet. It is not happening. Will it happen or not, I cannot answer.”

Khaosod doesn’t call these liars by that name. However, it points out that:

Weeks after the cabinet ordered officials to “speed up” development of the single-gateway project, officials from the top down have done an about-face after internet users banded together to bring down at least six government agencies’ websites to protest the plan.

It points to The Dictator’s efforts to accelerate the project:

Prayuth … raised the project as a priority in June, according to minutes of his cabinet meetings. In subsequent meetings in July and August, the cabinet stepped up orders for officials to urgently expedite the project.

It even produces legal evidence to demonstrate the lies:

Section 1.2 of the June 30 Cabinet Resolution, a legally binding document, includes this section: The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology must also work with related agencies, such as Ministry of Justice and Royal Thai police, to proceed with implementation of a single gateway to be used as a device to control inappropriate websites and flow of news and information from overseas through the internet system.

If that isn’t sufficient evidence of deliberate fabrications, the report says:

… at least four published Cabinet Resolutions indicate that Prime Minister Prayuth and his military regime have not only finished discussing and studying the feasibility of a single gateway, but had made it an urgent matter for implementation.

On 30 June, Gen. Prayuth was quoted in the cabinet minutes urging administrators to solve the problem of youth addiction to online games and “access to inappropriate media” by “proceeding to implement a single gateway to be used as a device to control inappropriate websites and flow of news and information from overseas through the internet system.”

On 21 July, Prayuth instructed the telecommunications ministry and “related agencies to urgently speed up the implementation of a single gateway to be used as a device to control inappropriate websites and flow of news and information from overseas through the internet system in accordance with 30 June, 2015, Cabinet Resolution.”

On 4 Aug., the ministry and other related agencies were again instructed to “report about development in implementation of a single gateway.”

Three weeks later on 25 Aug., the cabinet – apparently still waiting for a response – gave a September deadline for the MICT to report back and once again ordered it to “speed up its work on the issue.”

That all seems pretty clear. Prayuth, Sansern, Panadda and Uttama are lying.

In this case, lying might be a way to drop the project.





Crushing the internet for the monarchy

24 09 2015

While The Dictator trots off to New York to tell ever more fibs about his military dictatorship, like other base authoritarian regimes and some base “democratic” ones, Thailand is seeking to further limit expression by censorship of the internet.

At Prachatai it is reported that the junta “has ordered relevant agencies to speed up the process to reduce multiple internet gateways to a single one in order to increase the efficiency of the state’s surveillance system.”censorship-for-the-internet

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) must “implement a single gateway internet system before the end of the 2015 fiscal budget.”

The plan to reduce internet gateways is said to have been proposed by Police General and busineman Somyos Pumpanmuang. With a “single gateway system, it will be much easier for the state authorities to monitor, filter, delete, and intercept information on the internet that could be deemed inappropriate.”

As everyone knows, “inappropriate” means anything that is critical or truthful about the monarchy.

 





Lese majeste farce continues

13 06 2015

In an earlier post on Montri Sotangkul‘s fate, caught up in the future monarch’s purge of the royal household staff considered close to former wife Srirasmi, we predicted that, like the other couple of dozen similarly purged, Montri will plead guilty in order to avoid a lengthy trial and will get 4-5 years, reduced by half for the guilty plea.Montri - Copy

By late on 12 June 2015, Montri had moved down this path. At Khaosod it is reported that the “former chamberlain to ex-princess Srirasmi,” confessed that he had “exploited his position as a senior official in the Royal Household Bureau to win seats on the executive boards of several state enterprises, and to secure the rights to buy and sell land in Bangkok.” Montri told reporters: “I have indeed committed the wrongdoing…. I confess to all charges. Now I feel repentant. I regret what I have done.”

Montri, who has no lawyer, will now complete the walk down the now well-worn path to jail time in record time. This process is now a modern ritual of succession. In the Ayudhya period of Thai history, these people would have been executed.

As part of the royal ritual, the compliant police, demonstrating their loyalty to the throne, engaged in a farcical ritual of their own by re-enacting the “crimes.” These police re-enactments are usually peculiar in themselves but this one was even more ridiculous than usual. Astoundingly, Montri was taken to the offices of both PTT, the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology and CAT Telecom to point at chairs in meeting rooms. This ridiculousness was apparently meant to be a “crime reenactment.” As Khaosod put it, “[a]t each building Montri pointed to the seats in the meeting rooms where he allegedly pressured officials into appointing him as an executive board member.”

The police sent along their top brass for a photo opportunity.

The police stated that “Montri will be held at an undisclosed location – and not Bangkok Remand Prison – while he awaits trial ‘for the sake of safety of the suspect’.” This is part of the secret deal for the guilty plea and the quick trial that will soon come, as early as next week.

Montri’s assets are likely to be frozen or seized.

Police General Somyos Pumpanmuang “told reporters that former Princess Srirasmi personally appointed Montri to her entourage, and that the Crown Prince was not involved in her decision.” Of course, this must be true in maintaining the palace farce.





Preparing the anti-democrats

16 01 2015

Thailand’s Constitutional Court is a political instrument of a royalist elite that rejects notions like electoral democracy.

Not for the first time, it is demonstrating a detachment from justice and democracy in a report of one of its activities that can only be described as bizarre. Khaosod begins its report by stating:

The Thai court known for ousting a string of democratically elected political parties is now offering a course titled “Good Governance For Democracy.”

PPT won’t go through all of the anti-democratic actions of the Constitutional Court over recent years. Rather we just point to a few earlier accounts of these actions: here, here, here, here and here.

The bastion of anti-democracy trumpets that its “democracy” program is “open to members of the state and private sector who want to improve their ‘conscience and behaviour’…”. Apparently some of the corrupt and politicized judges, who have repeatedly demonstrated not only a disdain for democracy but even for constitutions, are “teaching” the course.

During the opening class it was revealed that the class included 52 “students,” many of them with unblemished track records of opposing democracy, elections and elected politicians.

Some of those named in the report are: disgraced and disgraceful boss of Thailand’s failed National Human Rights Commission Amara Pongsapich, Pornchai Rujiprapa, the Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology who is one of the most vigorous users of the lese majeste law and a proponent of illegal internet surveillance, Vicha Mahakhun, former constitution drafter for the military junta in 2007 and a member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission who not that long ago stated, “We all know elections are evil…”, adding that “[p]eople, especially academics who want to see the Constitution lead to genuine democracy, are naïve…”, and Surachai Liangboonlertchai, a dedicated anti-democrat who The Dictator made deputy chairman of the puppet National Legislative Assembly.

PPT an only imagine that this is an opportunity for these anti-democrats to slap each other on the back, work out future strategies for limiting democracy and ensure ideological oneness.





The most significant “crime” II

23 12 2014

The military dictatorship continues to threaten and repress through the use of lese majeste.

Khaosod reports that the military regime has made the unsubstantiated claim “that it has the ability to search for anti-monarchy remarks on private chat messages” such as LINE.

We say this is unsubstantiated because the claim has been “refuted by South Korea-based parent company Naver.” LINE is operated by a subsidiary based in Japan.

The junta’s Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT), Pornchai Rujiprapa said that his Ministry is “currently monitoring more than 40 million messages sent via the popular chat application LINE each day.” He added: “We can see what type of messages are being forwarded…. We focus especially on those that are libelous, anti-monarchy, or threatening national security.”

In making this claim, the military dictatorship threatens more than 24 million users.

The threat is a particular specialization of this royalist military dictatorship. The aim is to repress and frighten.

Pornchai stated the obvious when he stated that MICT and the “police have the authority to identify, locate, and prosecute senders of anti-monarchy on lese majeste charge[s]…”.

Pornchai, like the other members of the military dictatorship are desperate to shut down the widespread discussion of the monarchy as the king nears his end and succession is taking place.

The Minister also “vowed to seek IP addresses and other information about anti-monarchy websites from foreign companies that host their servers, though he admitted that the process could take a long time.”

What will the military dictatorship do when it gets an overseas IP address? Threaten? Hunt down with assassination squads? Seek out proxy servers and destroy them?

Homer-Simpson-DohPornchai repeatedly demonstrates that he is a dolt. The lack of some basic commonsense and normal intelligence in the military dictatorship is stunning.

Pornchai demonstrates that he is a simpleton when he states: “It could take a long while because there needs to be a negotiation. Some countries have cultures that are different to Thai…”. Only some!

There are many synonyms for dolt, all of which seemingly apply to Pornchai and his ilk.

By threatening LINE users, Pornchai is likely to reduce LINE use. One wonders if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing in the junta when Pornchai’s own military government has released a set of dorkish “stickers” that “depict the moral teaching of junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha for the chat application LINE.”

While no one could ever consider that a murderous military dictator could have anything “moral” to say, the great fear that there is a threat to the existing social order. If this lot weren’t such a bunch of dunces, they’d realise that the existential threat is inside the regime itself.





Harsher still on lese majeste

16 12 2014

The Dictator is reported at Prachatai as ordering the “Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) to deploy harsher measures on lese majeste websites.”

Self-appointed prime minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha wants MICT to be even more vigilant in monitoring websites and social media “that might affect public morale…”. He wants this regime in place in part for his own political reasons and in part because he wants to dampen criticism as the crown prince moves to prepare for succession. As PPT has noted previously, many of the current lese majeste cases are about a palace cleanout by the prince.

We are watching to see when Prem Tinsulanonda gets some marching orders, the Privy Council is cleaned and/or the Crown Property Bureau get some attention.