Close down websites critical of Royal Institution

22 05 2008

Recently there has been a call for certain websites like midnight university, prachathai etc deemed inappropriate by the government and the opposition to close down. They claimed that some of the contents of these sites have unfairly criticised the Royal Institution, the most respected insitution in Thailand.

Right from the start, I thought how come this wrong government has made such a wrong move at this critical period of time. The websites they are targeting at are considered by netizens as an alternative media channel – a voice of a voiceless. I myself have been using a few articles from midnight university and have frequently visited prachathai site to read about their critiques on current issues.

As mentioned in previous entries, I think people can make their own judgement whether to believe or not to believe in what they read on the internet. They do not need advise or guideline of people in power. The more the people in power deter them from consuming news/information on the internet the more they will search for such news and information that deem inappropriate by the government and the opposition, in this case.

One of the views against this move of the government is expressed in his forward email to circle of friends and networks shown below.

The Thai Democrat Party backs authoritarian measures against freedom of speech

Teptai Sepong, Assistant General Secretary to the Democrat Party, shows the Party’s utter contempt for basic democratic principles and freedom of speech in urging the Samak government to close a number of websites. These include the respected Prachatai, Midnight University and Same Sky websites, which have always been independent of either, Thaksin, the military junta or the present government. These three sites are Thailand’s only alternative civil society media sites which have consistently opened their pages to free debate at a time when the mainstream media has either been controlled by Thai Rak Thai, Right-Wing media tycoon Sonti Limthongkul, the military or Peoples Power Party . Other mainstream Thai media has shown a spineless attitude and adopted self-censorship for the past 5 years.

The lame excuse of the so-called “Democrat Party” in calling for websites to be closed is lèse majesté.

There are two main points to conclude from this attack on basic human rights. Firstly that the Democrat Party stands on the side of dictatorship against democracy. Remember in this context, that during the 19th September 2006 coup, deputy party leader Korn Chatikavanij expressed full support for the military. The Democrats have long been unable to gain public support from the majority of the electorate and are now sinking into the gutter to make common cause with dictators and authoritarians.

Secondly, it is high time we scrapped the lèse majesté laws which are merely being used by politicians of various parties, in order to attack their political opponents and silence alternative independent media.

I call on all foreign media workers human rights activists and academics to condemn the Democrat Party. Write to the party leader at 67, Setsiri Road, Samsen, Payatai, Bangkok 10400.

Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Faculty of Political Science

Chulalongkorn University

Bangkok 10330



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