Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Government News Politics

More Websites Offending Thai Monarchy Blocked 220

Posted by timothy
from the really-could-skip-the-whole-prison-thing-altogether dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Thailand is ramping up their media wide censorship of anything that remotely offends Thai royalty. In the last three weeks, another 2,300 websites have been blocked. Another ~4,000 are soon expected. And not just websites, but books as well as the Economist have been blocked. And anyone caught publishing such material, including foreigners, will get 3 to 15 years in a Thai prison. You don't want to be in a Thai prison!"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

More Websites Offending Thai Monarchy Blocked

Comments Filter:
  • by G-Man (79561) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:23AM (#26662771)
    Actually, they did the same thing in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. [nytimes.com].
  • by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:28AM (#26662787)

    From what I remember, the Thai monarchy takes a dim view of the whole "oppress people for offending the monarchy" idea. I seem to remember reading something about their king taking it all in good stride, but the monarchy is a figurehead and the military likes using "offending the monarchy" as a good way to crack down.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:34AM (#26662829)
    Or the Thai monarch, its a problem with the Thai elected government. Well minus the elected part, they took power in what pretty much amounted to a coup.

    The current government is in a precarious position and are attempting to use the Thai peoples reverence of the king to increase their own popularity. The current government will not be re-elected if general elections are called as they are favoured by the Thai upper and middle classes and disliked by the lower classes which make up the majority of the Thai people.

    Despite outward appearances to us Farang tourists (Farang: Thai-white skinned foreigner) Thai people are quiet conservative but their religion (Bhuddism) teaches them to be open and accepting of others even when they do something rude.

    Meanwhile their Royal Family becomes less and less atuned to the sentiment of their populace.

    As I said before, its not the Thai monarch, they have no real power, the king is king in name only (a rich land owner that holds no real political power much like the queen of England). It's Thailand unstable democracy that keeps producing these laws, not its monarch, they chose to pick emotional subject like the king to rally around to gain popularity. The king is very popular amongst Thai's, he was responsible for implementing education amongst even the poorest Thais and is respected for this. The Thai royal family holds as much political power these days as the house of Windsor (England's royal family).

    It's pretty hard to be convicted of Leste Majesty in Thailand and that law is only ever used for political gain. The Thai king himself has tried to get the law struck down on several occasions but he is a constitutional monarch and failed. The King has pardoned almost everyone charged with leste majesty in recent years (since Thailand returned to democratic elections in the 80's).

    I've been very careful but does the above paragraph mean it's no longer safe for me to travel to Thailand?

    Do my posts critical of the Bush administration make it dangerous for me to travel to the US? Thailand is a great holiday destination and is not dangerous to go to so long as you have half a brain. Insulting the king is like insulting the founding fathers, everyone knows whilst you're in the US you just don't do it. The most dangerous things in Thailand are the wild life, corrupt cops and falling in love with a Thai girl and for the first two, you can just avoid them.

  • by WittyName (615844) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:32AM (#26663079)

    read it here: http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12724800&source=hptextfeature [economist.com]

    Quote:
    Bhumibol's tale, even if stripped of the mythology his courtiers have spent decades constructing around him, is exceptional. The American-born son of a half-Chinese commoner accidentally inherits a throne close to extinction and revives it, creating one of the world's most powerful and wealthy monarchies, and surely the only one of any significance to have gained in political power in modern times. The king's charisma, intelligence, talents (from playing the saxophone to rain-making, a science in which he holds a European patent) and deep concern for his people's welfare make him adored at home and admired around the world. His image perhaps reaches its zenith in 1992, after the army shoots dozens of pro-democracy protesters in Bangkok, when television shows both the army leader (and prime minister) Suchinda Kraprayoon and the protest leader, Chamlong Srimuang (now a PAD stalwart), kneeling in an audience with him. Shortly afterwards General Suchinda resigns, and the king is given credit for the restoration of democracy.

    I can see how this might piss of the Powers That Be..

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:36AM (#26663107) Journal

    From what I remember, the Thai king often pardoned people for that. If so, good move -- harder to say bad things about someone who just saved you from 15 years in a Thai prison.

    Also, I seem to remember hearing how much the Thai love their king.

    If these are true, I wouldn't say they're less attuned to the "sentiment of their populace", but to the rest of the world, and to the realities of an information age.

    That "rising tide" of anti-monarchy sentiment would be, at least at first, no more and no less sentiment than was already there.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:43AM (#26663131)
    In the recent troubles, the royal consort (Queen) was seen at the funeral of a PAD (Peoples Alliance for Democracy, the anti-elected government faction). The Rural Thais would not act against the king. The Economist was attempting to draw conclusions without a sufficient understanding of the people (Thai culture is far more complex then western culture). The king was attempting not to take sides this was exacerbated by his health issues.

    The king has a great deal of influence with the people but he cant dictate policy directly or indirectly and stays out of politics for the most part. The King is the only part of political stability the nation has and I'd hate to think what will happen when he dies. Thailand has had as many coups as the US has had democratic elections since 1932 (when the monarch gave up absolute power) 20 to be exact, make no mistake, this act was in no way ordered by the king as unlike the semi-elected government has no need to silence critics.

    The king has pardoned almost anyone convicted of Leste Majesty in recent years, Thai and Farang alike. With how tolerant the Thai people are you have to deliberately insult the king to get them to act on it. Being rude is easy, for example pointing at a picture of the king with your forefinger is rude (you are meant to use your palm) but if you do it the vast majority of Thais will say nothing.

    It's bash censorship week on slashdot, same as every week but Thailand is not the worst censor and censorship is not the act we should chastise Thailand about, their treatment of Burmese refugee's is appalling, but this is done by the military, a political force in their own right (19 coups and not all of them bloodless).
  • by Spasemunki (63473) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:15AM (#26663267) Homepage

    In the recent troubles, the royal consort (Queen) was seen at the funeral of a PAD (Peoples Alliance for Democracy, the anti-elected government faction). The Rural Thais would not act against the king. The Economist was attempting to draw conclusions without a sufficient understanding of the people (Thai culture is far more complex then western culture). The king was attempting not to take sides this was exacerbated by his health issues.

    The notion that Tha culture is 'more complex' and therefore somehow incomprehensible to Westerners is just an old orientalist canard. Rural Thais might not act against the king directly, but if they continue to feel that their interests are being denigrated in favor of the interests of the Bangkok elite, it will have significant consequences for future governments, and for whoever takes the throne after the current king.


    The king has a great deal of influence with the people but he cant dictate policy directly or indirectly and stays out of politics for the most part. The King is the only part of political stability the nation has and I'd hate to think what will happen when he dies.

    The idea that the king 'stays out of politics' is a common aphorism, but it's hard to say how true it really is. It's very hard for writers in Thailand to say anything about the role of the king in politics. The Economist and other Western journalists have written about how the king has likely taken an active hand in several of the coups- essentially overturning the democratic system when it's felt by members of the aristocracy that a democratic movement has gotten out of hand and needs to be reigned in. Publishing these kind of works basically guarantees that they will lose the ability to report from inside Thailand.

    It's true that respect for the king has been a stabilizing factor in many cases, but the thesis put forward by some of the critics is that overall his interventions in politics have prevented the development of a more robust and stable democracy in Thailand- rather than coping with short-term crises through democratic means, royal and military intervention have been used. It means that after the king passes away, Thailand will be in much worse shape than it would be if they had been force to deal with these sorts of issues directly. Of course, these sorts of counter-factuals are easy for historians to make, but hard to prove.

    With how tolerant the Thai people are you have to deliberately insult the king to get them to act on it.

    To me, the insults or criticism is less significant than the fact that it's not possible to write honestly about politics in Thailand. Looking critically at the role the monarchy plays is simply not possible from inside Thailand, or in the Thai press. This also prevents criticism of other political groups that have ties to the monarchy. It's certainly true that the king isn't responsible for the lese majesty laws, and that he has pardoned those who have run afoul of them; on the other hand, there was talk at one point that Thaksin would be charged with lese majesty (before the coup and the trial in absentia). I have little faith that he would have been pardoned if it had happened.

  • by raju1kabir (251972) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:41AM (#26663755) Homepage

    All the stereotypes about Thailand are true.

    Pattaya is hardly typical Thailand. It's like going to Las Vegas and drawing conclusions about the USA.

    Thailand is a conservative country, but their idea of conservative is different to yours. Furthermore, it's not a rich country, so the prospect of extracting a lot of money from foreign douchebags is able, in some places, to supplant traditionally (and universally) conservative values like keeping the exploitation of women behind closed doors. Hence Pattaya, Patong, Patpong, Nana, etc.

    Recently a Thai friend of mine was supposed to go to Patpong Road (in Bangkok) in the evening to make some observations, as an assignment for her postgraduate degree studies. She didn't feel comfortable going on her own, and couldn't find anyone else who was willing to go with her. Most Thais find that stuff as objectionable as anyone else would if it were in their country. They're just good at smiling and pretending it's okay.

  • by Atario (673917) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:43AM (#26663775) Homepage

    I hate to break it to you, but the traditional media is also filled to the brim with repetitions of news written by others.

  • by theskunkmonkey (839144) on Friday January 30, 2009 @08:38AM (#26664887) Homepage
    Are you really sure those were females?
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @09:28AM (#26665255)

    King Bumibol is NOT an arsehole. I will not go into detail on this, because I found out that it is very difficult to point out to people who haven't experienced that "Thai King Thing" that this is actually a king who tries to care for his people. Without taking himself too seriously... (some say that he is himself not entirely innocent when it comes to offending Thai royalty, criticizing the crown prince for example).
    The fact that his reign survived a series of coups might show that even within the country he has a significant moral impact (very little political power though...).
    As far as I know, he is an intelligent man (yes, also an engineering degree, so he might read /. after all... ) who likes to joke from time to time, even about his own position as a half-god.

    The problem with this royalty offences thing is that other people in Thailand are using these laws to restrict information, as threads below point out.

Make headway at work. Continue to let things deteriorate at home.

Working...