Censorship News


 2009   2010   2011 

11th November   

Update: Thai Censorship Makes the News...

Thai politicians unimpressed by Times interview of Thaksin
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

A group of Thai politicians and generals have accused a Times journalist of insulting the country's monarchy by reporting comments by Thaksin Shinawatra — an offence that carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

The complaint against Richard Lloyd Parry, the Asia editor of The Times, derives from an interview with Thaksin that was published in Monday's newspaper and on Times Online the day before.

According to the Bangkok Post, members of a group of Thai monarchists called Siam Samakkhi (United Siam) have made an allegation of lèse-majesté against Thaksin and  Lloyd Parry. The Government blocked parts of Times Online from being accessed within the country.

Kasit Piromya, the Foreign Minister, said: Thaksin's interview is a violation of the monarchy, which is the country's core pillar and a highly respected institution. It is unacceptable and should have never taken place.

It is not clear which parts of the interview led to the complaint by four members of Siam Samakkhi. They include Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn, a critic of Thaksin, and General Somchet Boonthanom, the former head of the Thai Council for National Security.


9th November   

Relegation Zone...

Thailand ranked 130th in press freedom league
Link Here

Latest rankings for press freedom leave Thailand and all other Asean countries with nothing to shout about

Thailand, at number 130, has regretfully joined the ranks of Singapore (133) and Malaysia (131), which are traditionally known for their control of the press.

The Kingdom was ranked at number 66 only seven years ago. It has fallen so spectacularly because of the curbing of press freedom by ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters, then by the military junta which ousted Thaksin, and now by the Democrat-led government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, which cracked down mightily on the so-called red media in the aftermath of the April riots this year.

Then there is the lese majeste law, used with increased frequency as His Majesty advances in age. As RSF notes: The Thai media has been buffeted by repeated political crises. Several journalists have been assaulted by demonstrators, and scores of media have been censored for openly supporting the red shirts .

But it has been the crackdown on Internet users and intellectuals - for alleged crimes of lese-majeste - that poses the greatest threat to free expression in the country: Most Thai journalists voice the same reverence for King Bhumibol as the vast majority of the population. The others are forced into self-censorship.

Indeed, the Index might do well to rethink the direction Thailand and most of Asean is heading, especially when we can't fall much lower than this.


23rd September   

Update: More Trouble in Thailand...

Big Trouble in Thailand programme maker flees to the UK
Link Here

A British producer cameraman has had to flee Thailand after filming a sequence in which British Royal Marines were held at gunpoint by Thai mafia after hiring a Jet Ski on a Phuket beach.

The cameraman Gavin Hill was today back in London, after fleeing Bangkok, as his Thai crew faced up to a year in jail. They stand accused of assisting in the filming of a sequence which could damage the country's image .

A battle with the Thai authorities has raged for two weeks. Hill said : I've made a tactical withdrawal and am in London to discuss how we can help our Thai colleagues. But yes, I did not wish to argue my case from prison.

We filmed the mafia but suddenly we are the criminals apparently. The atmosphere is a little bit hysterical. The Marines are behind me thank god.


19th September   

Update: Bigger Trouble in Tourist Thailand...

Thai authorities to prosecute TV company for revealing Phuket scams
Link Here

The Thai television company responsible for producing the Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand series, which featured footage of an alleged jet-ski scam on Phuket, is to be prosecuted, the Bangkok Post has reported.

The managers of Black Sheep Productions, which produced the show, could face 12 months in jail and fines of up to a million baht (£18,000), the report said.

The first episode of the series showed a Patong jet-ski operator, Winai ‘JJ' Naiman, extracting 35,000 baht (£630) from a group of British Royal Navy Marines in compensation for ‘damage' to one of his vehicles. At one point, Winai was shown holding an air rifle as he argued aggressively with the men, who denied damaging the jet-ski.

As well as being broadcast on British TV, the show has been uploaded to YouTube, causing uproar among those who say jet-ski scamming is rife on Phuket's beaches.

In today's Bangkok Post report, Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Thailand Film Office, is quoted as saying those responsible for the show had violated Article 34 of the motion picture law by failing to submit the footage to the Tourism and Sports Ministry for approval before its broadcast abroad.

Director-general of the Office of Tourism Development, Seksan Nakawong, reportedly said the film-makers had violated Article 23 of the same law for making a film damaging to Thailand's reputation.

Gavin Hill, the British producer of the series, denies the allegations, saying the show was neither fake nor stage-managed.

Meetings at Patong Municipality offices are ongoing with the aim to hammer out details of a compulsory insurance scheme for the island's jet-ski industry. It is hoped such a scheme will put a stop to rip-offs and disputes on the island's beaches.


15th September   

Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand...

Thailand tries to stop Bravo TV series highlighting tourist scams in Thailand
Link Here

The  second episode in the controversial Big Trouble in Tourist Thailan d television series has just been broadcast in Britain on Bravo - but Thai authorities are now trying to prevent the rest of the eight-part series from being completed.

Producer-director Gavin Hill says the Thailand Film Office has sent a letter asking the British production company, Bravo, not to screen any more episodes.

Episode Three, being edited in Britain, is in rough-cut form. The show can only go on with permission from all the people shown on-screen. That includes Winai ''JJ'' Naiman, the now-notorious Phuket jet-ski operator, who signed a release form so that his actions could be displayed to viewers with his approval.

Hill said tonight's second episode does not reflect badly on Thailand. That was never the intention of Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand, he added.

I don't know what's going to happen now with the series, he said. The Thailand Film Office has 'pulled all the releases and permissions that are required to complete the series. He has been told there is the likelihood of a complaint being made to the British embassy. At least one volunteer expat tourist policeman in Pattaya had also expressed concern.

In some ways, it's very positive for Thailand, he said: The young lady who was in trouble on Koh Phangan in the first episode is fined 50 pounds, she gets her bail money back, and she is allowed to go, with the only real penalty being an extra three weeks in Thailand.

By coincidence, authorities on Koh Phangan have announced a plan to make the island, noted for expat full moon rave parties, drug-free as fast as possible.

Episode One of Big Trouble screened last week, revealing footage of what appeared to be an extortion bid by ''JJ'' with a gun in hand, and it came just before a planned summit on jet-ski scams on Phuket. The Jet Ski operators demand enormous compensation for unlikely damage to the jetski.

Nationwide, crackdowns are underway on crimes against tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok as part of a push against corruption by the Prime Minister.

The jet-ski crackdown on Phuket came after the Deputy PM met with the Australian ambassador. Other ambassadors later echoed their increasing concerns about jet-ski scams to the Phuket Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob.


8th September   

Gambling with Freedom...

Thailand to punish ISPs who don't implement the extensive blocking list
Link Here

Thailand's Ministry of Information and Censorship Technology (MICT) is seeking more cooperation from relevant agencies and business groups to prevent supposedly inappropriate content on the internet.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) says the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) is authorized to withdraw or suspend the licenses of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who do not cooperate in blocking inappropriate web pages.

On 3 Sept, Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee, spoke at a seminar on blocking inappropriate and illegal websites, saying that the Ministry would work more closely with the NTC which has the authority to provide licenses to ISPs and providers of internet gateway service.

The MICT alone cannot handle the blocking of the websites, because there must be various agencies working together and inappropriate websites, including those which are subversive to national security or the Nation, Religion and King, quickly spread on the internet. the Minister said.

According to Ranongrak, the MICT has set up the Operations Centre to Monitor the Threat of IT Crimes. The MICT is also seeking cooperation from about 100 companies which provide internet-related services, the Thai Internet Association, the Thai Webmasters Association, the NTC, the police and the DSI to monitor and block supposedly inappropriate or illegal websites.

The seminar was attended by about 180 representatives of these companies and agencies.

Pol Col Suchart Wonganantachai, Deputy Director-General of the DSI and chair of the committee overseeing the blocking of websites, said that currently the most dangerous were gambling websites which were the most easily accessible. He called for cooperation from all parties, especially the NTC which he said is authorized to revoke or suspend the licenses of internet-related service providers.

Pol Col Suchart said that to deal with inappropriate websites a filtering system must be in place, which required a budget of about 100 million baht. The filtering system is already in place in the US and Israel. The DSI is now developing such a device, but the details cannot be revealed for now. He believed that the device would improve the effectiveness of the blocking by 90%.

So far the MICT has blocked 18,390 web pages of which 10,578 are considered as affecting national security, 7,690 contain pornographic content, 50 advertise drugs, and 72 offer gambling services.


10th August   

Update: Against Good Virtue...

Thailand censors ban 10 movies in the first year of 'classification'
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

A year after the new film-censor law came into effect, ten movies were banned from theatres, including Frontiere , Halloween , Funny Games , Zack and Miri Make a Porno and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane , as they were deemed violent and against good virtue, a senior official at the Culture Ministry revealed.

Director of the misleadingly named Film and Video Classification Office Pradit Prosil also urged movie theatres to apply for operation licences by September or face up to 1 million Baht in fines.

Pradit said that the new Film and Video Act 2008 has been in effect since June 2008 but its five subordinate laws were delayed and had just been all approved by the Cabinet, leading to many problems. However, since it came into effect, ten mostly foreign films were banned from being screened in Thailand because most of them had violent and amoral content, he said. He cited a film about a male house guest who later killed the homeowner as an example that went against the Thai value of gratitude.

Pradit also said the 2008-issued ministerial regulations on theatre licences came into effect from July 27 this year, so operators must apply for a license within 60 days. He warned that those who failed to meet the deadline might be subjected to a fine ranking from Bt200,000 to Bt1 million and a Bt10,000 daily fine until the theatre obtains a licence.


7th August   

Update: Ageless Ratings...

Thailand publish film certificate designs
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

The Thai cabinet have approved further regulations concerning film ratings.

Culture Minister Teera Salakpetch said there were seven categories:

  • educational films people are encouraged to see
  • films suitable for the general audience
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 13
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 15
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 18
  • films restricted for persons under 20, age limits enforced by cinemas
  • films banned from being screened in the Kingdom.

Teera also said that the ministry has finished making the six rating symbols and would submit them to the National Committee on Film and Video in mid-August before they are implemented.

The symbols are:

  • Sor (from the Thai word song serm that means "promoted") for educational films people are encouraged to see
  • Thor (from thua pai meaning "general") for films suitable for the general audience
  • " Nor 13+ " (Nor is from naenam meaning "advisory") for films suitable for those over 13
  • Nor 15 +
  • Nor 18+
  • Chor 20+ (Chor is from chapor that means "specific") for films restricted for persons under 20.

The regulations should take effect in mid-August.


21st May   

Update: Another Fatal Blow to Free Expression...

Reporters Without Borders criticises Thai TV political censorship
Link Here

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by a government announcement on 14 May that it will introduce new regulations for community radio stations and cable and satellite TV stations aimed at controlling programme content. Broadcasters would be required to seek permission for each programme being aired, the government said.

The adoption of these regulations would deal a fatal blow to free expression in Thailand, which is already heavily restricted on the Internet, Reporters Without Borders said. The government will have the power to ban programmes that question their policies and legitimacy. We urge the authorities to scrap this plan.

Sathit Wongnongtoey, the minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, said: Once the regulations take effect, any broadcast station airing content deemed to be politically incendiary will not be allowed to operate.


14th May   

Update: What's Red and Yellow and All Blacked Out?...

Thai political groups on satellite TV
Link Here

Political content on community radio and satellite TV stations will be banned under proposed regulations issued by Thailand's National Telecommunications Commission.

The government said it would enforce the changes evenly against any broadcaster which offends, including the red shirt-run DStation and yellow shirt-owned ASTV satellite TV stations.

Prime Minister's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said the regulations would allow the NTC to take action against community radio and satellite TV stations which air content deemed to undermine democracy.

The regulations require cable TV and satellite TV channels to seek permission for each programme being aired, Sathit said: Once the regulations take effect, any broadcast station airing content deemed to be politically incendiary won't be allowed to operate.'


5th May   

Update: Cranks...

Thailand's film censors cut Crank: High Voltage
Link Here

The frenetically paced, ultra-violent Hollywood action comedy Crank: High Voltage has been snipped by Thai censors, who objected to a sex scene that takes place in view of a crowded grandstand at a horse-racing track.

In this sequel, hitman Chev Chelios' (Jason Statham) heart has been stolen and replaced with a battery-powered ticker, so he needs to generate electricity from friction to keep pumping.

In the censored version, the sex scene at the race track simply cuts to the crowd's excited reaction of seeing the couple copulate in the dirt. And then Chev and the dishevelled Eve are on the run from the police.

Earlier in the film, Chev meets his girlfriend at a go-go bar, where other dancers are topless, and naked breasts are clearly seen. But Smart's character, who has become a go-go dancer since the first film, has black electrical-tape X's over her nipples.

In the US, Crank: High Voltage is rated R (admission to viewers under 17 only with a parent or guardian) for frenetic strong bloody violence throughout, crude and graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language.

The UK's film censor, the BBFC, explains its 18 uncut rating more fully

CRANK 2 is the sequel to an American action film about a man involved with a crime syndicate who has an artificial heart that requires regular doses of electricity to keep working. It was passed '18' for strong and brutal violence, gory moments, sex and very strong language.

Violent scenes include a man having the barrel of a rifle pushed into his anus as a means of interrogation; and frequent shoot-outs with generous spurts of blood. Violent and gory scenes include partially graphic sight of a man slicing off his own nipples and a man having the skin on his elbow sliced off. Such scenes go comfortably beyond what can be accepted at '15' under BBFC Guidelines which state, 'Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction off pain or injury'. However, the exaggerated and rather unrealistic treatment of the violence, coupled with the intended black humour, mean this does not raise harm concerns which might have prevented it being passed for an adult audience.

Very strong language is used clearly at least four times and this also requires restriction to an adult audience.

There are also scenes showing sexual activity, the strongest of which is a sex scene at a race-track which features full body shots of various sexual positions with naked buttocks. Pixelation masks the strongest detail.


30th April   

Update: International Criticism...

Human rights groups call on Thailand to revise lese majeste laws
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

I posted a video of the king on the Internet, Suwicha Thakor told Reporters Without Borders from behind a plexiglas screen in Bangkok’s Klong Prem prison on 20 April. The police should have told me what I was doing was wrong. It is not right to be sentenced to 10 years in prison for this. I am not a problem for the country or its security. I am in prison for nothing.

Suwicha was given the 10-year sentence on 3 April on a charge of lese majeste. Reporters Without Borders wrote to the king yesterday asking him to grant Suwicha a royal pardon.

Reporters Without Borders and 31 other human rights, press freedom and journalists organisations have issued a joint appeal to the Thai government for a revision of article 112 of the Thai criminal code on lese majeste.

Since a new government took over last December, the authorities have stepped up enforcement of the lese majeste law and the Internet has been one of the leading victims. Access to more than 50,000 websites is currently blocked because of content critical of the monarchy. Around ten people are being prosecuted (or have been prosecuted) for lese majeste and two of them have been convicted. The crime of lese majeste is punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

Call to the Prime Minister to review the lese majeste law:

We, human rights groups, journalists and the victims of arbitrary lese majeste prosecutions appeal to Thai authorities to review criminal code article 112 on national security offences, under which any defamatory, insulting or threatening comments about the king, queen, crown prince or regent is deemed to be a crime of lese majeste punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

Access to more than 50,000 webpages has been blocked because of content critical of the monarchy, some 10 people are currently being prosecuted on lese majeste charges, at least two are in prison, and more held without bail.

This situation has gone unresolved far too long.


22nd April   

Update: Easily Led Astray...

Zack and Miri can't make a porno in Thailand
Link Here

The Thai film censors have banned the US comedy: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

The screening of this film may encourage copycats here, Thai Culture Ministry permanent secretary Vira Rojpojchanarat claimed.

The film's distributor, M Pictures, argued that Zack and Miri Make a Porno was a satirical take on contemporary US society and was suitable for viewers aged over 18.

When the National Film Board decided to ban the film during its meeting on Monday, M Pictures appealed and a panel was set up to review the board's ruling.

After viewing the film, the panel upheld the decision to ban Zack and Miri Make a Porno from Thai screens.

The film is rated as 18 for adults only in the UK and R in the US meaning that children can view at cinema only if accompanied by responsible adults.


17th April   

Another Economist Goes Missing...

More self censorship of The Economist magazine in Thailand
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

The Economist has again decided not to distribute its magazine in Thailand this week because of coverage of the Thai monarchy.

In an email to subscribers the magazine confirmed: Due to the sensitive nature of our coverage on the Thai monarchy, we decided not to distribute the April 18th 2009 issue of The Economist in Thailand.

This week's magazine appears to have two Thailand related articles although the sensitive article is entitled The trouble with Thailand's King . It is sure to thrust Thailand's lese majeste laws into the global spotlight once again.

This is the third edition of the magazine this year to suffer distribution problems this year.


4th April   

Update: A Bad Image...

Than internet user jailed for 10 years for posting insulting pictures of king
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

A Thai internet user has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for violating strict laws against insulting the monarchy.

A court in Bangkok said Suwicha Thakho digitally altered images of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his family and posted them on the internet.

The court did not say how the pictures were changed or where they appeared, but local media cited YouTube.

Thailand's royal family is sheltered from public debate by some of the world's most stringent lese-majeste laws, as the police and army try to suppress what they fear is a rising tide of anti-monarchy sentiment.

Now up to 7000 blocked pages or websites

Based on article from prachatai.com

On April 1st, Aree Jiworarak, of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, said the Ministry's recently established Internet Security Operations Centre (ISOC) had blocked over 7,000 improper URLs or web pages, which included 1,403 culturally and morally offensive pornographic pages.

Now the Ministry is investigating the case of the pornographic animation clip Ninja Love which was posted at mthai website, and is trying to find the poster for prosecution.


2nd April   

Update: Expressing an Opinion...

The latest amongst a dozen cases of lese majeste
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Suwicha Thakhor has spent two months in a Thai prison, accused by police of insulting the royal family. He says he should be allowed to express an opinion.

Arrested Jan. 14 and charged in connection with material posted on the Internet, the 34-year-old oil engineer said: We have to be able to think freely. They cannot stop ideas by sending people to jail.

More than a dozen similar cases are pending under Thai law as a widening political divide prompts discussion on the future role of the monarchy.

The lese-majeste law is no different from contempt-of- court laws where you protect institutions that are neutral, that have no self-defense mechanism, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva claimed, he told reporters the law would be reviewed to make it clearer.

Suwicha, wearing a prison-issued yellow shirt emblazoned with a royal insignia, said his views on the monarchy changed after the coup that deposed Thaksin. Police tracked his Web postings, which he wouldn’t discuss, and read his e-mails, he said. He was arrested after dropping his kids off at school.

In the past, people fled to the jungle to share their political beliefs, Suwicha said, referring to a Communist insurgency in the 1970s that was suppressed by the government: Now we have Web sites. If they want to stop it, they must stop the technology itself.

Suwicha, who has twice been denied bail, said he’s hoping for a miracle. If freed, he plans to work on a farm and live a private life. Still, he makes no apologies for his beliefs.


8th March   

Dangerous Thailand...

Arrest for senior reporter over 5 year old Swiss TV documentary
Link Here

A leading Swiss TV reporter arrested nine days ago has described the defamation action bought against him by a local Aids charity over a documentary made six years ago as bizarre.

Christoph Muller the head of documentary programmes at the German-language SF (Swiss National) TV broadcaster, was arrested and handcuffed on Feb 27 at Suvarnabhumi airport and taken to Bang Lamung police station in Chon Buri.

Muller was held in custody for 24 hours and granted bail after appearing in a Pattaya court. His passport has been confiscated. At the time of his arrest, Muller said he had no clear idea what the charges against him were as the court documents and arrest warrants were in Thai.

After consulting his lawyers, he learned that a defamation charge had been brought by the charity C.Care Asia International over a documentary aired in Switzerland in December 2002. The documentary, which investigated a Swiss man associated with the charity, was never shown outside Switzerland, but the defamation complaint was lodged with Chon Buri police on Aug 28, 2005.

The documentary was released on the 6th of December 2002 and you get sued four or five years later? It's bizarre, said Muller.

The offence carries a maximum jail term of two years and a fine of 200,000 baht. Muller, who heads a team producing four-and-a-half hours of programming a week, could be forced to spend up to one year in Thailand while the case is processed.

SF TV described the measures as a 'judicial farce' and 'out of all proportion to his apparent offence' . The authorities have not told Muller exactly why he was arrested, but it appears to have been the result of a 2006 complaint about a report by Muller in 2002 about a bogus Swiss doctor based in Thailand ... the station said in a statement.

The editor of current affairs, Ueli Haldimann, said: We don't understand the arrest of our head reporter and we demand instantaneous clarification from the Thai authorities. We protest against the method of the arrest. The film Muller made was only shown in Switzerland. That's why we don't understand why a Thai court stood up the complaint.'

Reporters Without Borders have called on Thai authorities to immediately rescind the order banning him from leaving the country and to return his passport.


7th March   

Update: Unmoderated...

Office of Thai online news website, Prachatai, raided by police
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

On the same day that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told a meeting of news editors of his intention to restore Thailand's press freedom reputation, police officials raided the offices and arrested the executive director of a popular online news site, Prachatai.

Prachatai's executive director Chiranuch Premchaiporn was arrested when a group of five or six Crime Suppression Division police officials entered the Web site's Bangkok offices. Officers also took copies of the hard drives of some of the office's computers. Chiranuch was later released on bail.

The director was charged under national security-related articles 14 and 15 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act for postings apparently critical of the Thai royal family made on one of the site's boards, according to Prachatai. It is unclear if Chiranuch would also be charged under the country's lese majeste law, which criminalizes any criticism of the royal family. Guilty convictions are punishable with a maximum of 15 years in prison.

We call upon the relevant authorities to immediately cease and desist from harassing all online journalists and commentators like Chiranuch Premchaiporn, said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia Program Director : Thailand has unleashed one of the most aggressive crackdowns on Internet freedom seen anywhere in Asia and we strongly urge them to reverse course.

Prachatai has developed a reputation for independent reporting, particularly through its hard-hitting reports on the conflict between government forces and Muslim rebels in the country's three southernmost provinces. The site was threatened with closure last year because of comments deemed harmful to the monarchy posted to one of the site's online public forums.


28th February   

Update: Old Age...

Thais have to be 20 years old to watch softcore sex
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

Thailand's first film-rating system will be up and running in May after the Cabinet approved four draft regulations.

Films that authorities deem to offend the monarchy, threaten national security, hamper national unity, insult faiths, disrespect honourable figures, challenge morals or contain explicit sex scenes will be banned from Thai screens.

The ratings are:

  • General Audiences This category is for films with no sex, abusive language or violence.
  • 13 This category excludes violence, brutality, inhumanity, bad language and indecent gestures.
  • 15 The '13' rules are relaxed slightly.
  • 18 Films can explore the darker side of human nature but must not show scenes of exposed genitalia, crime or drugs.
  • 20 Sex scenes are allowed here but only if viewers don't get a peek of genitalia.
  • There is an extra category for films that should be promoted on cultural or artistic merit

Thai Film Director Associa-tion chairman Yongyoot Thong-kongtoon said the regulations would give a framework for film directors. One positive side is that it might encourage less low-grade comedies and more movies with substance, he said.

Director and producer Prachya Pinkaew, who sits on the panel that prepared the draft regulations, said he was happy to see the system sail through the Cabinet. The regulations have been dogged by criticism since they were first unveiled.


28th February   

Update: Grizzly News...

Thai critics complain of grizzly newspaper images
Link Here

Representatives of lecturers and students from six Thai universities have asked the print media to be socially more responsible and stop presenting pictures of grisly and violent scenes that can put the public off.

Yubol Benjarongkij, dean of Chulalongkorn's communication arts faculty, said that since the beginning of the year there have been many newspapers, including the market leaders, which have frequently published photographs whose subject matter included badly burnt victims of the Santika pub fire, bloody crime scenes, dead bodies of accident victims, and the latest, the head of a foreigner dangling from the Rama VIII bridge.

In Thai culture, prior permission from the relatives of the dead is considered necessary, as it is another way of showing respect to the dead.

She said since newspapers were media for all ages, not only for adults, pictures could be worth a thousand words. Too much exposure to such pictures could induce children to imitate violent behaviour, thinking that those crimes and violent scenes were just normal behaviour.

Udomsak Yoothanaraweesak, a professor at Huachiew Chalermprakiet University, said that more importantly such pictures also reflect the standard of newspapers. He said in the case of a girl who was raped, some newspapers did not publish her picture but named her parents, school and home address, which made it obvious who the victim was without intention. This made the girl nearly die of embarrassment.

Newspapers as well as other media outlets need to lift their standards and put journalistic ethics before profits, he said.


27th February   

Is This Site Blocked?...

Herdict Web lets users keep track of blocked sites
Link Here

Herdict Web crowd sources reports from users to discover, in real time, what users around the world are experiencing in terms of internet website blocking.

Herdict is a named coned from joining ‘herd' and ‘verdict.'

Using Herdict Web, anyone anywhere can report websites as accessible or inaccessible. Herdict Web aggregates reports in real time, permitting participants to see if inaccessibility is a shared problem, giving them a better sense of potential reasons for why a site is inaccessible. Trends can be viewed over time, by site and by country.

Herdict Web is the brainchild of Professor Jonathan Zittrain (The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It) and is part of The Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

The project ended in 2019.


21st February   

Update: Free as a Butterfly...

Harry Nicolaides pardoned by Thai king
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

The Thai king has pardoned and freed an Australian writer jailed for on lese majeste charges.

Harry Nicolaides was last month sentenced to three years in jail by a Bangkok court after pleading guilty to lese majeste.

Canberra had lobbied intensely for a royal pardon, and Australia's foreign affairs department said Nicolaides had been freed this week.

I can confirm that the King of Thailand has granted a pardon to Mr Nicolaides, a spokesman told AFP.

The writer's barrister, Mark Dean, said Nicolaides walked free late Friday night. He was expected to arrive in Australia on Saturday, he added.

Nicolaides' brother Forde Nicolaides said the family was ecstatic at the outcome.


18th February   

Update: Coming of Age...

Thai Minister for film censorship announces new scheme for May
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

Starting this May, film-rating system will come into effect in Thailand for the first time.

The Cabinet has just approved four draft regulations on the system.

We should be able to enforce the regulations from May onward, Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch said.

Thailand's system will classify films into 5 age groups, plus a category for films that should be promoted on merits of cultures, arts or traditions. And of course there is the ever popular option to ban a film entirely.


7th February   

Update: Fighting Back...

Via VPN and the Thai Netizen Network
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the Official Censor of the Military Coup, has blocked  at least 17,775 websites which, along with blocking by the Royal Thai Police, resulted in more than 50,000 websites blocked in Thailand. Public webboard discussions, circumvention tools, voices from Thailand's Muslim South and critical commentary of Thailand's monarchy were particularly targetted for censorship.

Thailand's military government also passed a Computer-Related Crimes Act with draconian penalties and onerous data retention provisions abnegating privacy and anonymity and chilling public discussion of vital issues among Thais. The result of this cybercrime law was to criminalise circumvention with one notable exception, the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) relied on by business to create a secure, private, encrypted channel.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has now provided links to easy tools for private citizens to legally ignore Thailand's Internet censorship. Virtual Private Networks have been complicated to set up and difficult to maintain. However, with these two free, public tools, VPN is available to everyone.

Fighting Back

Based on article from cpj.org

Thailand's Internet--once open and free--is fast morphing into one of Asia's more censored cyberspaces. But a new group of concerned Thai citizens, known as the Thai Netizen Network (TNN), is bidding to turn back the tide of government censorship through advocacy and monitoring.

Web sites that have posted materials deemed potentially offensive to the Thai royal family have been blocked by successive military-appointed and democratically elected Thai governments. And the campaign of censorship is accelerating under new Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Beginning last year, a group of academics, activists, journalists and webmasters held informal meetings to discuss the emerging threat to Internet freedom in the wake of the passage of the 2007 Cyber Crime Act and the intensified use of lese majeste charges against journalists, commentators, and everyday Internet users. Both laws give Thai officials the authority to censor news and opinions that could be deemed a threat to national security or the monarchy.

TNN coalesced into a formal organization soon after several local Web sites, including news and commentary outlets Prachathai and Fah Diew Kan, were threatened with closure last year by officials for posting materials offensive to the monarchy. Fah Diew Kan's site was eventually blocked in January after officials threatened the site's ISP administrator.

TNN coordinator Supinya Klangnarong told CPJ that the new group's main missions are to keep Thailand's Internet open and free, to monitor government surveillance and censorship, and to provide moral and legal support to Internet users and writers who encounter harassment for their postings.

Currently, TNN is publicizing the case and arranging legal representation for Suwicha Thakor, an oil-rig engineer who was arrested and held without bail on January 14 for posting materials onto the Internet considered offensive to the monarchy. They have also taken up the case of BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, who faces three different lese majeste complaints filed by a senior Thai police official.


6th February   

Update: War on Criticism...

Thais asked to inform on anyone criticising the monarchy
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

The government in Thailand has set up a special website urging people to inform on anyone criticising the monarchy.

It has also established a war room to co-ordinate the blocking of websites deemed offensive to the monarchy. On its first day of operation the centre banned nearly 5,000 websites. The Ministry of Information had already blocked many thousands of sites, but that work is now being accelerated by the new centre.

Internet users are being urged to show their loyalty to the king by informing via a new website called protecttheking.net (Thai language), which has been set up by a parliamentary committee. It calls on all citizens to inform on anyone suspected of insulting or criticising the monarchy.

The new website appears to be part of a concerted effort by the government and its conservative supporters to stifle any debate on the future of the monarchy, before it can gather momentum, our correspondent says.

The War Room

Based on article from prachatai.com

The committee formalized the Internet Security Operations Centre (ISOC), formerly known as the ‘War Room', to monitor inappropriate content on the internet, with officials from the ICT Ministry and other relevant agencies keeping watch 24 hours a day. A special call centre is being set up for the public to give information on inappropriate websites.

In the ISOC room, staff will be divided into three sections to monitor three categories of inappropriate websites: (1) those which offend the nation, religion, and monarchy, (2) those which affect tradition and culture, such as Hi5, or advertise abortion pills, and (3) those which provide gambling and dangerous online games such as the GTA game, said the ICT Minister.

According to the minister, the MICT has requested court orders to close or block 4,818 URLs which include 4,683 web pages offensive to the monarchy, 98 pages offering pornography, and 37 pages containing false advertisements.

The MICT and the Ministry of Culture have also been monitoring the postings of pictures of female students with phone numbers for the purpose of prostitution, and have found an increase in online advertisements for abortion pills and sex gear.


3rd February   

Update: Wrong Values...

Student sex for sale websites added to Thailand's banned list
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

The increasing censorial Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has said that he had instructed the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to crack down on websites, which allow students to post messages soliciting sex clients.

Abhisit said the ministry was taking actions against the sites. He said the prostitution by students was influenced by wrong values so there should be campaigns to have students change their values. He said the government is launching the campaigns through education as well.

Previously the issue had been identified by colleges and universities who sought action against students found to have engaged in direct-sale prostitution via social-network websites like Hi5.

Assoc Prof Sukhum Chaloeysap of Suan Dusit Rajabhat University said all institutes of higher learning should admit the problem existed and join forces to combat it.

Some students are said to have touted sexual services on Hi5, which has links to more than 1,000 other websites that openly post students' pictures, many in uniform, and suggestive messages. He urged the principals of colleges and universities to investigate.

Many students' part-time jobs are affected by the economic slowdown, driving some to prostitution to earn extra money, he said.

He blamed the online student sex trade on youth's faulty values and overspending on luxurious and unnecessary items that drove young people to such lengths to get quick cash. He called for strong families and proactive educational and religious institutions to counter the trend.


1st February   

Update: Thailand Cast Adrift...

Third issue of The Economist withdrawn from Thailand
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

The latest issue of The Economist will be withheld from distribution in Thailand for the third time in two months because of its coverage of the country's monarchy, the magazine said.

The British magazine's Thai distributor, Asia Books, refused to deliver copies of its Jan. 31 issue because the article might break the country's strict law against insulting the royal family, the magazine said in an email to subscribers.

The Jan. 31 issue contains an article, entitled A sad slide backwards, that criticizes Thailand for alleged abuse of Muslim migrants from Myanmar known as the Rohingya.

Their plight gained international attention after several boats carrying around 1,000 migrants were intercepted in December by the Thai navy. Human rights groups allege that Thai officers detained and beat them before forcing them back to sea in vessels with no engines and little food or water. Hundreds are believed to have drowned. Thai authorities have repeatedly denied the allegations.

The article's criticism was largely directed at the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Thai military in its handling of the migrants. It made only passing mention of the taboo subject of royal involvement in Thai politics.


31st January   

Violent News...

Thai campaigners challenge TV companies over gruesome news footage
Link Here

Graphic television footage of violent and cruel acts should be banned, a group of angry Thai parents says. Members of the Network of Family Watch and Creative Media are demanding that television stations put a stop to repeated images of horror that they claim could harm children and instil violent tendencies.

Twenty members of the group submitted an open letter to Thai Broadcast Journalists Association president Korkhet Chanthalertlak urging his association to investigate what the group calls violence-condoning footage.

Campaigner Anya-orn Panichpuengrat said parents were concerned children watching the news would be disturbed by horrific scenes being played and re-played. She said footage aired in recent weeks showing people being beaten and even shot dead should not have been broadcast. Most of the offending footage was obtained from surveillance cameras. She said ugly scenes were broadcast repeatedly during news segments and it felt as though the violence was never ending.

The campaigners plan to visit television stations to inquire into their reasons for running such footage. Anya-orn said one case involved the shooting to death of a security guard and then a woman by her jealous boyfriend in Prachin Buri. Another showed a vocational student being gunned down during a fracas connected to inter-school rivalry near Kasetsart University. This week footage of a teenage boy being brutally beaten by a gang of teenagers in Ayutthaya was aired on television repeatedly.

Korkhet said the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association was aware of the potential for problems and would write to television stations to ask for their cooperation in being mindful of the content they broadcast. The association is drafting a code of ethics for broadcast journalists, he said.


27th January   

Update: Safety First...

Another issue of The Economist withdrawn from Thailand
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Another edition of UK-based current affairs magazine The Economist has been withdrawn in Thailand, amid local fears over its coverage of the royal family.

The Economist's Thai distributor held back Friday's issue - which contains an article about an Australian writer who was jailed for allegedly slandering the monarchy.

Last month another edition was banned because of an article questioning the Thai king's role in public life.

The Economist sent an e-mail to its Asia subscribers stating: This week our distributors in Thailand have decided not to deliver the Economist in light of our coverage relating to the Thai monarchy.


26th January   

Update: Pardon Harry...

Australia asks Thailand to pardon Harry Nicolaides
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Australia asked Thailand to pardon a writer from Melbourne who received three years in prison for insulting the royal family in three sentences of a novel that sold seven copies.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith made the request in a letter to his Thai counterpart after Harry Nicolaides pleaded guilty this week to defaming the head of state, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and his son.

Now that the legal processes before Thailand’s courts have concluded, Australian officials have advised Thai officials that the Australian government strongly supports Mr. Nicolaides’s pardon application, Smith said in a statement.

The government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, which took power last month after backing a royalist protest group, is cracking down on Web sites that insult the king, a crime punishable by as many as 15 years in prison.

Thailand has received the pardon request from Australia’s government and will process it in a timely manner, Tharit Charungvat, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said.


25th January   

Update: An Education...

Thailand to launch PR campaign to 'educate' foreigners about its lese majeste law
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thailand's Senate has resolved to set up an extraordinary committee to strictly enforce laws in the name of protection of the monarchy following an increasing number of websites found to be offensive to the royal institution.

The Senate voted 90 to 17 to set up an extraordinary panel to follow up on the enforcement of laws and articles relating to the protection of the monarchy is to be headed by national police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan.

Currently, there are over 10,000 websites deemed offensive to the monarchy. The Information and Communication (ICT) Ministry has been able to block only 2,000 sites.

The Justice Ministry will coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to launch a campaign among foreigners to educate them about lese majeste laws.

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said he would coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to instruct all Thai embassies abroad to launch public relations campaigns about lese majeste laws which impose harsh punishments on those who insult the Thai monarchy.


14th January   

Update: Insulting Law...

Academic calls for abolition of L่se Majest้ law
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

A Thai academic who is facing charges of insulting the monarchy called for a campaign to abolish the law under which he could be jailed for 15 years.

Ji Ungpakorn, a prominent activist and political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said police have asked to question him over a book he wrote about Thailand's 2006 military coup.

His case is the latest sign of ideological struggle over the role of the monarchy, a subject that was once taboo. There has been a recent spate of complaints and prosecutions for lese majeste — as the charge is called — and increased censorship of Web sites allegedly critical of the institution.

Ji said at a news conference that the lese majeste law, which mandates a jail term of three to 15 years for defaming the king, the queen or the heir to the throne, restricts freedom of speech and expression and does not allow for public accountability and transparency of the institution of the monarchy.

He charged that it is used as a tool by the military, and other authoritarian elites, in order to protect their own interests. He claimed he was being targeted for political reasons because he criticized the military and its coup.

Newly elected Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has promised to take all measures to prevent people from defaming the monarchy.


11th January

 Offsite: L่se Majest้...

Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime
Thai society passes harsh judgement

See article from prachatai.com


8th January   

Update: War Against the Internet...

Thailand sets up war room for internet censorship
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Thailand has blocked 2,300 Web sites and is establishing a war room for future crackdowns, which critics say threaten free speech.

Authorities are seeking a court order to shut 400 more sites and will spend 45 million baht ($1.3 million) to create a 24-hour center to police Internet material, Information and Communications Technology Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee said in a statement posted on the ICT’s Web site.

The ministry is investing a lot of money to buy expensive software to block Web sites, but actually it’s very contrary to international standards, said lawyer Paiboon Amonpinyokeat: The government has to understand the nature of the Internet and the concept of freedom of speech.

Under the 2007 law passed after the military seized power in a coup, authorities can’t block Web sites without a court order. The law was designed to prevent abuse of power by giving judges the final say on whether to shut down an Internet site, Paiboon said.

The ministry plans to introduce heavier fines and prison terms for anyone who supposedly insults the king via the Internet, Ranongrak said in the statement. She also plans to target inappropriate online games and casinos. And of course there are plenty of porn sites on the censored list.


7th January   

Intimidating Acts...

Thai Journalists Association define their 2008 intimidation top 10
Link Here

The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) says the year 2008 was the most challenging year for mass media professionals as they faced various forms of intimidation from different interest groups.

The TJA panel on rights, liberties and media reform idntified the 10 most serious media intimidation cases that occurred during 2008:

  1. The murder of two Matichon reporters. Athiwat Chainuwat was gunned down on Aug 1, while Jaruk Rangcharoen was shot dead on Sept 27
  2. Unkind words against political reporters from Samak Sundaravej were a daily dose for those hounding him for news when he was the prime minister
  3. A call from Samak urging journalists to side with the then PPP-led government after anti-government protesters, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), on Aug 26 laid siege to the state-run NBT television station and later stormed and occupied the Government House.
  4. Intimidation and physical assaults against journalists covering protest rallies of rival political groups.
  5. Renaming of the state-owned Channel 11 to NBT by the Samak government in a bid to make the station look more independent, but in fact serving as a propaganda tool for the government.
  6. Street protesters' browbeating of television stations on various occasions. Threats to the NBT, a station that was briefly seized by PAD, the surrounding of the TPBS by the pro-PPP Rak Chiang Mai 51 group, and the ASTV station that was attacked by war weapons.
  7. Lawsuits demanding 100 million baht compensation from two columnists of Krungthepturakij newspaper filed by Ek-Chai Distribution System, operator of Tesco Lotus in Thailand.
  8. Thai Rath newspaper's tragic loss of six staff members in Narathiwat. Chalee Bunsawat, a Narathiwat-based reporter for the newspaper was killed in an insurgent bomb attack. Then, a van carrying 10 members of its newspaper's deep South bureau and heading for Chalee's funeral in Sungai Kolok district crashed and caught fire, killing five of them at the crash scene and seriously injuring five others.
  9. Banning of several TV broadcast programmes.
  10. The banning of the TJA shirts by Government House media officers. Journalists entering the compound were requested not to wear shirts bearing the message Intimidating Media, Intimidating the People distributed by the TJA on World Press Freedom day.

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