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Thailand Blocks 2,300 Web Sites It Says Insult King Bhumibol


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From Bloomberg

Thailand Blocks 2,300 Web Sites It Says Insult King Bhumibol

By Rattaphol Onsanit and Daniel Ten Kate

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand has blocked 2,300 Web sites it says insult King Bhumibol Adulyadej and is establishing a "war room" for future crackdowns, actions 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 Paiboon Amonpinyokeat, the founder of the Bangkok-based P&P Law Firm, who helped draft the country's cyber-crime law. "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 insults the king via the Internet, Ranongrak said in the statement. She also plans to target "inappropriate" online games and casinos.

Strictest Laws

Thailand has some of the strictest lese majeste laws in the world, which carry a sentence of up to 15 years for insulting the king.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took power last month after backing anti-government protests from demonstrators who claimed the old ruling party wanted to end the country's monarchy.

During his six decades on the throne, 81-year-old Bhumibol has achieved near god-like status. The public-relations campaign to deify him extends from history books to nightly newscasts.

Thailand's constitution says the king "shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated." A cabinet minister was forced to resign in May over lese majeste charges.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok //e-mail address removed as per forum rules//

Last Updated: January 6, 2009 03:12 EST



Edited by Tywais
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How sad to see this money spent it this way, when there are so many other worthwhile things that public funds could support. I suppose that it shows that a certain section of Thai society feels vulnerable at a time when the reign of a popular monarch may be drawing to a close due to advanced age.

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As this topic is a valid news report it is permitted to stay on the forum, for members to view and make up their own opinions.

But... in accordance with the Forum Rules... "Discussion of topics concerning the King or other current or deceased members of the Thai Royal Family is forbidden."

Regretfully, this topic must be closed to prevent any further discussion.


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