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Thai PM not fazed by Facebook lawsuit threat

Maya Taylor

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Thai PM not fazed by Facebook lawsuit threat | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Morning Brew on Unsplash
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The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, says he is prepared to take on Facebook in the courts if necessary, while refuting an accusation from the social media giant that he used dictatorial power to have an anti-Monarchy group shut down.

The PM says everyone in Thailand is obliged to follow Thai law and as the Facebook group in question violated the country’s strict lese majeste law, which prohibits defamation of the Monarchy, he was acting in accordance with the law in having it shut down.

He has taken aim at the group’s founder, Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who has long been critical of the Monarchy and has lived in exile in Japan since 2014. He remains wanted in Thailand on lese majeste charges. The Thai historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who lives in exile in France, and is also wanted on lese majeste charges, has also been singled out by the PM.

“No need for me to name names or to choose whether they will sue us. They are from the same group, called ‘Royalist Marketplace’, with Somsak and Pavin being the driving force.”

The PM accuses both academics of stirring up trouble in Thailand while living overseas, insisting that the move to shut down the Facebook group complied with Thai law.

“You know who and where these people are. Do they take responsibility for the damage to our country? No matter what happens in Thailand, they are not affected at all. The trouble is in Thailand. All actions against offending pages comply with Thai law. I do not use any dictatorial power that I no longer have to close them. These actions are based on court orders. We confirm that we are acting in accordance with Thai law.”

Deputy PM and Foreign Minister, Don Pramudwinai, echoes this sentiment, saying the government reserves the right to act against social media content that contravenes Thai law, adding that Facebook is normally cooperative.

“Freedom under international laws is another matter. Whether it can apply to what happens in Thailand depends on the quality of the websites concerned, whether they present what is beneficial to Thai people and society or not. Otherwise, they cause problems. Whatever violates Thai law is not right. Whenever there is wrongdoing in Thailand, we seek cooperation from Facebook Thailand, and it always cooperates.”

Meanwhile, the Digital Economy and Society Minister, Buddhipongse Punnakanta, says any breach of Thailand’s laws cannot be ignored and action must be taken.

“We do not ignore violations of the law. This is the first time we are taking action against a platform owner that does not comply with Thai court orders. If they do not respond, we will take action against the platform. We are acting in accordance with law. We are not abusing any party, because all actions are based on court orders. Actions respond to court orders. It applies to all platforms, not only Facebook.”

For its part, Facebook says it plans to mount a legal challenge against the government’s order, saying it was forced to remove the Royalist Marketplace group after being threatened with legal action and describing the order as a violation of human rights law.

“Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people’s ability to express themselves.”

The social media giant also points out that the government’s actions may impact on its ability to invest in the country, protecting its local employees, and supporting businesses that rely on the platform.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Pavin has already created another Facebook group, which garnered over half a million followers in one day. He says each time his group is closed down, he will start another one.

“If you want to close it down again, then I’ll set up another group. To promote freedom of expression, I would do it.”

Yesterday, a pro-monarchy group calling itself a Group for the Nation, Religion and the Monarchy, submitted a letter to the Japanese embassy, calling on officials to stop Pavin’s actions and extradite him to face charges in Thailand.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World | Bangkok Post

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Oyakodon

    August 27, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    Multinational companies should not be able to interfere in country politics. Facebook is a breeding ground for soft political power and global changes.
    Smart governments like Chinese ousted their influence accordingly. They will keep on pushing to get what hidden powers in America want for South East Asia. Don’t let them do this

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Protests

5 protesters to be charged over a rally in front of the Thai Army’s headquarters

The Thaiger

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5 protesters to be charged over a rally in front of the Thai Army’s headquarters | The Thaiger

With impeccable timing, Nang Loeng police have summoned 5 protest leaders to appear before the Special Prosecutor’s Office at the Dusit District Court in Bangkok. They will be formally charged over their roles in a protest in front of the Army’s headquarters on July 20. At the time it followed an online exchange from an Army official criticising the students who had been protesting at the Democracy Monument days before.

The protest targeted Colonel Nusra Vorapatratorn, deputy spokesperson of the Army. Posting on her Facebook page about the Saturday protest, the Colonel said that rally’s participants should “focus on doing their jobs rather than joining the protest.” The Colonel later deleted the social media post.

Another army spokesman, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, spoke to the media at the time and stated that Nusra “had expressed her personal opinion” and that “she is no longer the deputy spokesperson”.

After protesting outside the Army over the contents of the post, 5 protest leaders face official charges of “violating the Emergency Decree, the Traffic Act and use of loudspeakers in public without permission. The 5 protagonists facing charges are human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Piyarath “Toto” Jongthep, Suwanna Tarnlek and Panupong Jardnok (Mike Rayong).

All 5 deny the charges and say they will defend their roles in court.

The charges follow a weekend of protests, with up to some 30,000 people gathering in the Bangkok rain to rally against the government and confirm a 10-point manifesto which includes demands to reform Thai politics and the country’s monarchy. Specially the demands include the dissolution of the Thai parliament, standing down of the current PM and a new constitution to replace the 2017 Thai charter.

Today the Fine Arts Department has also says it will file charges of “trespassing on an archaeological site” after protesters yesterday embedded a symbolic brass plaque to replace another plaque that dates back to the 1932 Siam Revolution (when a bloodless coup overthrew the ‘absolute monarchy’ in Thailand). That plaque mysteriously disappeared in 2017.

The protesters responded this afternoon by saying that Sanam Luang is not an archaeological site, but a “public space for recreation and for vendors and hawkers”.

Following on from the support of the crowd over the weekend, the protesters are planning to stage another protest in front of Parliament this Thursday. A House debate on constitutional amendments is due to start this Wednesday.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Protesters’ plaque damaged historical site – Thai Fine Arts Department

Caitlin Ashworth

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Protesters’ plaque damaged historical site – Thai Fine Arts Department | The Thaiger
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The Thai Fine Arts Department claim the pro-democracy protesters, who installed a symbolic brass plaque in an area next to the Grand Palace yesterday morning, broke the law. The department filed a complaint saying the installation of the plaque damaged a historic site, a violation of the Archaeological Site Act.

Protesters cemented the plaque in the perimeter of the Royal Field, known locally as Sanam Luang. It read “At this place the people have expressed their will, that this country belongs to the people and is not the property of the monarch as they have deceived us.”

Sanam Luang is a registered archaeological site. Entering the area to install a plaque without permission is an offence under the Historical Sites, Archaeological Objects, Art Objects and National Museum Act 1961, according to the department’s director general Prateep Phengtako.

“Those who invade a historic site or destroy or depreciate it can face up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to 700,000 baht.”

The department says since the plaque was illegally installed at Sanam Luang as part of the weekend’s protests.

“It is considered destruction and depreciation of a historic site.

Less than 24 hours after the plaque was installed, it was removed and covered with concrete. The plaque was to replace a brass plaque that commemorated the end of Siam’s absolute monarchy and the introduction of constitutional democracy for Thailand in 1932. The original plaque mysteriously disappeared in 2017 and was replaced with a new plaque with a pro-monarchist slogan.

The Fine Arts Department made no comment at the time of the removal of the old historical plaque in 2017.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Protesters place plaque declaring Thailand “belongs to the people”

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Protesters place plaque declaring Thailand “belongs to the people” | The Thaiger

Protesters today have placed a plaque, in the area next to the Grand Palace, declaring Thailand “belongs to the people”. The declaration comes after anti-government sentiment has risen prompting rallies to take place in the capital hoping to oust the government and demand constituional changes. The plaque was cemented in the perimeter of the Royal Field, known locally as Sanam Luang, reading, “At this place the people have expressed their will: that this country belongs to the people and is not the property of the monarch as they have deceived us.”

The provocative wording is likely to elicit a response, probably much the same as the commemorative plaque it replaced, which mysteriously vanished in 2017. The missing plaque, embedded in the Royal Plaza, commemorated the 1932 Siam Revolution when citizens led a bloodless coup against the out-of-country monarch, and declared the new “Thailand” as a constitutional democracy.

The removed plaque was replaced with one bearing a pro-monarchist slogan and remains in place now.

The protests and plaque come despite a long-standing lese majeste law which makes it illegal for anyone to criticise the monarchy or the Royal Family. However, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri noted that the police would not use violence against the protesters, but it was up to them to determine and prosecute any illegal speech.

The protesters swarmed Bangkok’s historic Thammasat University Tha Prachan Campus yesterday calling for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, former coup leader and now current PM.

Police stayed back from the protest and didn’t intervene. Police and security wore coloured bandanas tied around their necks and were reportedly unarmed. Neither the police or the Palace has issued a statement in regards to the current events as of yet.

The Thaiger will have a full video report in tomorrow’s Thailand News Today. Here’s the most recent episode.

SOURCE: VOA News

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