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Court denies request to remove online footage of Thanathorn’s criticism of vaccine rollout

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PHOTO: Wikimedia

The Criminal Court has rejected a bid by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to remove a piece of online footage that criticises the government’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout. The former leader of the Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, took to Facebook to live stream his thoughts on the government’s handling of the national vaccination programme, criticising officials for procurement decisions and referencing the Monarchy.

Thai firm Siam Bioscience, which is owned by the Crown Property Bureau, has been given sole rights to manufacture the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine in the Kingdom. Production is expected to begin in mid-2021. The government had attempted to use the country’s strict lèse majesté law as grounds to remove Thanathorn’s footage. The law prohibits criticism or defamation of the Monarchy.

However, in its ruling, the court says most of Thananthorn’s criticism was directed at the government’s handling of the vaccine rollout, with little mention of Siam Bioscience. As such, the video could not be considered a violation of the lèse majesté law or a threat to national security. The finding comes following Thananthorn’s appeal of an earlier ruling that saw the livestream removed from Facebook. The opposition politician has come under fire from staunch royalists, who accuse him of dragging the Monarchy into the debate on vaccine rollout.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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