|11th November |
Thai politicians unimpressed by Times interview of Thaksin
Based on article from timesonline.co.uk
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
|9th November |
Thailand ranked 130th in press freedom league
Based on article from nationmultimedia.com
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
|23rd September |
Big Trouble in Thailand programme maker flees to the UK
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 |
Thai authorities to prosecute TV company for revealing Phuket scams
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 |
Thailand tries to stop Bravo TV series highlighting tourist scams in Thailand
Based on article from
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
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.
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
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 |
Thailand to punish ISPs who don't implement the extensive blocking list
Based on article from
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.
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 |
Thailand censors ban 10 movies in the first year of 'classification'
Based on article from nationmultimedia.com
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 |
Thailand publish film certificate designs
Interesting to note that the ages are written on the symbols in Thai script rather than in internationally understood numbers that are usually used in Thailand
Based on article from nationmultimedia.com
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
- 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 |
Reporters Without Borders criticises Thai TV political censorship
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 |
Thai political groups on satellite TV
Based on article
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 |
Thailand's film censors cut Crank: High Voltage
Based on article from
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
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 |
Human rights groups call on Thailand to revise lese majeste laws
Media caught in the middle of Thai conflict from cpj.org by Shawn W
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 |
Zack and Miri can't make a porno in Thailand
The uncut region 2 DVD is available at
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.
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 |
Police raid radio and TV stations supporting Thaksin
Based on article from
The Thai government has begun forcibly dismantling red shirt networks by raiding and closing down community radio stations.
Police raided the pro-Thaksin DStation in Bangkok and, in central Chiang Mai, police raided a community radio station
operated by the anti-government Rak Chiang Mai 51, which is known to support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Police seized transmission equipment against a backdrop of angry protests by more than 200 red shirts who gathered outside the
hotel. Chiang Mai provincial police chief Sommai Kongwisaisuk said the station was told to stop broadcasting after 6pm on Monday.
Provincial branches of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) also asked community radio operators not to
use their stations to incite unrest.
In Udon Thani, police raided a pro-Thaksin community radio station run by the Khon Rak Udon group. Police seized transmission equipment. Wachira Khamsueb, a radio host, was charged with operating radio
equipment without a licence and released on bail. More than 100 members of the Khon Rak Udon group turned up at the police station to protest the police action.
A team of 30 police officers raided DStation, the satellite TV station run by the
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, based in Bangkok. The UDD used DStation to broadcast protest activities and air Thaksin's speeches.
Troops seized control of the Thaicom satellite station in Lat Lum Kaew, Pathum Thani, used by
DStation to broadcast reports to UDD supporters in Bangkok and around the country.
|17th April |
More self censorship of The Economist magazine in Thailand
Based on article from
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.
|15th April |
Web forum moderator faces 50 years for not deleting posts quickly enough
Based on article from
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of independent Thai online news portal Prachatai, was arrested March 6 under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act. Her charges resulted from allowing comments posted by readers of Prachatai’s online discussion fora alleged to
be lèse majesté.
On April 7, Chiranuch was called to Royal Thai Police headquarters for further investigation. Thai police laid nine new charges against Chiranuch resulting from the information she herself gave them after her
Police claim the alleged illegal postings were allowed to remain on Prachatai for periods of one to fifteen days. Police consider each posting to be a separate violation of the computer law even though these were removed promptly after
notification by Thailand’s ICT ministry.
None of the webboard posters have been arrested possibly as it is beyond the data retention period when IP addresses can be traced.
Additional charges under the cybercrime law mean that Chiranuch
is facing 50 years in prison for comments she did not create and not self-censoring webboard posts fast enough for government censors.
Police also told Chiranuch that six more persons will be charged later this month under the computer act.
|4th April |
Than internet user jailed for 10 years for posting insulting pictures of king
Based on article from
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
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
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 |
The latest amongst a dozen cases of lese majeste
Based on article from
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 |
Arrest for senior reporter over 5 year old Swiss TV documentary
Based on article from
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 |
Office of Thai online news website, Prachatai, raided by police
Based on article from
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
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
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 |
Thais have to be 20 years old to watch softcore sex
article from facthai.wordpress.com
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 |
Thai critics complain of grizzly newspaper images
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.
as well as other media outlets need to lift their standards and put journalistic ethics before profits, he said.
|27th February |
Herdict Web lets users keep track of blocked sites
Based on article
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 |
Harry Nicolaides pardoned by Thai king
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.
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 |
Thai Minister for film censorship announces new scheme for May
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
|9th February |
British professor flees Thailand after lese majeste charges
Based on article from
A leading Bangkok-based professor who has joint British and Thai nationality fled Thailand at the weekend in the face of a lengthy sentence under the country's draconian lese-majesty laws, which forbid criticism of the king.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn
arrived in England at the weekend after being charged under the laws. He had been due to present himself to the police in Bangkok today and could have faced 15 years in jail if found guilty.
I did not believe I would receive a fair trial, said Ungpakorn, an associate professor of political science at Chulalongkom University and a contributor to the New Statesman and Asian Sentinel.
Ungpakorn is the author of A Coup for the Rich , in which he criticises the 2006 military coup. He said that the charges arose out of eight paragraphs in the first chapter deemed insulting to King Bhumibol. He claimed that the director of
a university bookshop stocking his book had informed the special branch that it insulted the monarchy. The offending paragraphs deal with incidents around the coup.
The English chapter of PEN, the international writers' organisation, has
written to Bill Rammell, the UK Foreign Office minister who is due to visit Thailand, urging him to make representations to the Thai government.
Carole Seymour-Jones of PEN said: We remain deeply concerned by the increased use of lese-majesty
laws in Thailand. Giles is the second New Statesman contributor to have faced such charges in recent months, the first being the Australian writer Harry Nicolaides, sentenced to three years in prison on 19 January.
Academics from the UK,
India, South Africa, Turkey, France, Greece, Poland, Canada, Australia and other countries have also protested. A group, including Professor Alex Callinicos, Susan George and Dennis Brutus have signed a petition expressing deep concern. In a
letter to the Guardian recently, more than 30 academics urged that charges be dropped.
|7th February |
Via VPN and the Thai Netizen Network
Based on article from
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.
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 |
Thais asked to inform on anyone criticising the monarchy
Based on article from
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 |
Student sex for sale websites added to Thailand's banned list
Based on article from nationmultimedia.com
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
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 |
Third issue of The Economist withdrawn from Thailand
Based on article from iht.com
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
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
|31st January |
Thai campaigners challenge TV companies over gruesome news footage
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
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
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 |
Another issue of The Economist withdrawn from Thailand
Based on article from
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 |
Australia asks Thailand to pardon Harry Nicolaides
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 |
Thailand to launch PR campaign to 'educate' foreigners about its lese majeste law
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 |
Academic calls for abolition of L่se Majest้ law
Based on article
See interview from
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.
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.
elected Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has promised to take all measures to prevent people from defaming the monarchy.
|11th January |
Thai society passes harsh judgement
See article from prachatai.com
|8th January |
Thailand sets up war room for internet censorship
Based on article
See also Web censoring needs a debate from
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.
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
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 |
Thai Journalists Association define their 2008 intimidation top 10
Based on article from
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:
- The murder of two Matichon reporters. Athiwat Chainuwat was gunned down on Aug 1, while Jaruk Rangcharoen was shot dead on Sept 27
- Unkind words against political reporters from Samak Sundaravej were a daily dose for those hounding
him for news when he was the prime minister
- 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.
- Intimidation and physical assaults against journalists covering protest rallies of rival political groups.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lawsuits demanding 100 million baht
compensation from two columnists of Krungthepturakij newspaper filed by Ek-Chai Distribution System, operator of Tesco Lotus in Thailand.
- 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.
- Banning of several TV broadcast programmes.
- 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.