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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!"
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More Websites Offending Thai Monarchy Blocked

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  • by Dionysus (12737) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:27AM (#26662785) Homepage

    If CNN had refused to report on Iraq or any other such nation, they would be harshly criticized.

    Maybe because American don't find "proper" reporting on Iraq offensive. OTOH, CNN (and American media) don't show flag draped coffins of Americans being flown home, or American soldiers suffering on the battlefield. Few people are criticized for that, and those are considered "anti-American" for mentioning it.

  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:29AM (#26662797)

    Get a grip, AC. It is not remarks about political forces that get censored, but remarks such as that made by Stormwatch about the Thai monarchy.

  • by julian67 (1022593) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:47AM (#26662887)
    The Thai king is very old and very fragile. Succession is imminent. In Thailand you probably won't hear a bad word about the king but you seldom hear a good word about the crown prince. The current king has taken the royal family from penniless pawns of the military elite (ethnic Thais) and business elite (Chinese/Thai)to being phenomenally wealthy and arch manipulators of everybody and everything; politics, politicians, the army, the courts, markets, property deals and so on. He is also one of the few uniting factors in a nation horribly divided by religion, ethnicity, class and money, rural vs urban. When he dies there's a very good chance that Thailand will descend into a bloody mess. The recent more robust (than usual) prosecution of lese majeste cases probably has many causes but surely one is the stark realisation by the current self appointed government that when the monarchy ceases to be universally respected it must at least be prohibitively risky to criticise it. If the majority of Thais, who are very poor and have seen the only politician who ever gave them anything deposed and then the next government they elected dissolved in a de facto coup, one day cease to be blinded by their adoration of King Bhumibol, if they finally see how the royal family and the urban rich are ceaselessly getting richer while the poor stay poor and are also disenfranchised....maybe they won't be too happy...and there are plenty of them. Thaksin might even be able to exploit the situation by being the only person capable of quelling a serious threat akin to the communist insurgency of the 70s. The current rulers of Thailand would go to almost any lengths to keep Thaksin out and he and his supporters will be very interested in opportunities to foment a volatile and frightening climate. It would be extremely ironic if the next king found himself asking such a bitter enemy to save his skin. Thailand is a very fucked up country and I would hate to be there when the king dies. There will be a few weeks of mourning and then anarchy.
  • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:57AM (#26662923) Journal

    the monarchy is a figurehead and the military likes using "offending the monarchy" as a good way to crack down.

    The king is actually very well liked, and the people take it quite seriously when someone offends him. For instance, I was playing golf there and on the 18th green I had a putt to win a bet. My opponent took out the amount of the bet and placed it just behind the hole. Well, the money has the king's picture on it, and the caddies were horrified that his image had been placed on the ground.

  • by Spasemunki (63473) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:28AM (#26663065) Homepage

    Yelling 'free hugs' in an airport would probably get you in trouble. On the other hand you can- and in fact someone has- publish a book suggesting that Lincoln was secretly gay without getting in any meaningful trouble. Do the same thing in Thailand with a member of the royal family, and you're in a lot of trouble.

    More importantly, despite the official legal story about the Thai king being 'powerless' according to the law, there have been suggestions that the monarchy exerts a great deal of influence over Thai politics through indirect channels. At least one author has suggested that this interference is one reason why democratic governments tend to be so fragile in Thailand, and why there have been so many coups and revisions to the constitution. This kind of discussion about the interests and actors who influence government affairs is vitally necessary to the functioning of a democracy, but the lese majesty laws guarantee that this won't happen in an open and honest way in Thailand.

    Interestingly, everyone always talks about how the king is 'universally beloved'. The Economist was almost certainly banned for an article published recently where they pointed out that the recent government crisis has started to put some dents in this image. They interviewed rural Thais (anonymously, of course) who felt betrayed that the monarchy was quietly supporting a political movement that seems intent on disenfranchising rural and ethnic minority Thais. The monarchy has been able to preserve its prestige by depicting itself as the protector of all Thais- as rescuing the country when things go badly out of kilter. During the most recent crisis, their support for a vocal minority over a very popular elected government who has catered to people outside of the Bangkok elite has damaged that perception.

  • by julian67 (1022593) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:09AM (#26663239)
    They forgot to mention the part about him and/or his mother the queen shooting his older brother dead and thus guaranteeing the succession of a hard nosed and ambitious leader instead of a sickly youth. Thais just love that story, start telling it as soon as you're through immigration, or maybe even right there at the desk while the happy cop checks your passport.
  • by TheMCP (121589) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:28AM (#26663339) Homepage

    "Thailand is ramping up their media wide censorship of anything that remotely offends Thai royalty."

    Uh, no. Thailand is ramping up their media wide censorship of anything that remotely offends the kind of obnoxious people who think censorship is a great idea, are looking for something to get offended about, and don't mind using the king's good name as an excuse.

    There's a difference.

    The actual king says that people should be permitted to criticize him, and I believe he has not expressed that he's in any way offended by any of the stuff people are being jailed for.

  • by julian67 (1022593) on Friday January 30, 2009 @11:17AM (#26666505)
    Hmmm...a brain washed Thai speaks? No I didn't make it up. It definitely wasn't suicide, nobody of any persuasion has ever considered that to be a possibility because of the nature of the fatal wound. Some innocent palace servants were eventually executed many years later. The two prime suspects with motive, opportunity etc are clearly the current King and his mother. I'd suggest to anyone interested that they do their own research because it's a really remarkable event. If you're in Thailand don't do it, do what everyone else does which is pretend it never happened and refuse to acknowledge the event (another they pefer to overlook/deny occured is the Japanese occupation...a trifling matter, an agreement between friends *cough*). If you're in Thailand and do attempt to research this event you will be jailed if caught by the MICT censorship machine. If you discuss this event you have a very good chance of being jailed. If you write about this event your writings will be banned and you will be jailed. If you're considering discussing it with a Thai then reconsider. They are not allowed to know their own history and even when it stares them in the face they are so perfectly imbued with blind nationalism, ideas of racial superiority and so perfectly conditioned in their adoration of their masters that they are in fact unable to address many subjects with any kind of rationale.
  • by meringuoid (568297) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:57PM (#26668771)
    You have to ask why a monarch who is such a great guy needs the law to protect him from insults anyway. If I want to call Queen Liz an old hag, I can. That's freedom. The Thai monarch can't take it like Liz can?

    It doesn't appear to be the king's doing. The king of Thailand is enormously popular, and prosecutions under these laws are well supported by the public. I gather that the king usually pardons offenders, and seems to think the whole thing rather silly.

    As for insulting Queen Elizabeth - she is also extremely popular, but not to the same extent. You'd still be safer insulting her children, whose private lives have become a national joke over the last couple of decades. And when you do so, be careful around the UK's notoriously plaintiff-friendly libel laws.

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