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back to article Flinging Facebook insults at Thai monarchy earns fat jail terms

Facebook users in Thailand, who take to the site to grumble about the Thai monarchy, have been warned that tough lese majeste laws will be brought against them. The country's Information and Communications Technology minister, Anudith Nakornthap, said that if such users "share" or "like" articles on Facebook that are considered …

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Devil

An insult to human rights

The Thai lèse majesté laws have been making headlines for many years now. Every time another heavy-handed conviction comes, I am sorely tempted to start my own anti-Thai-monarchy webpage.

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Anonymous Coward

Happy Birthday King!

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Mushroom

The living <ehm>

Insulting a (barely) living god gives you prison time. Insulting a non-existing god would result in burning (not too long ago; I think it is still practiced somewhere).

So, I hereby instate, as the only real god, that anyone mocking me, in any way or form for any reason, will we flogged and his/her entire family killed up to the seventh degree.

When we're done, we at least solved overpopulation.

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Big Brother

Islam

Insulting a god (either fictionary or not is out of the scope of this comment) will get you beheaded in A LOT of places today.

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All gods are fictional (or 'fictionary' if you prefer).

You are quite right that insulting non-existent sky-fairies will get you a lot of grief in a lot of countries. At least it helps to highlight the countries that are totally f*cking clueless.

Oh, there were proposals for anti-blasphemism laws here in the UK too - our lovely politicians attempt to make us as bonkers as the rest of these regimes who don't like their special celestial-superbeing-felatio-fest criticised.

My take on this is that if grown ups choose to believe in fairytales. that's up to them. For governments to impose such utter shit on their people is both scary and laughable.

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Mushroom

First thing I did after reading this was insult the Thai royal family.

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Silver badge

An insult button?

"First thing I did after reading this was insult the Thai royal family."

Perhaps there should be another button - right beside the "like".

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Pirate

That buttone should be marked.......

Behead the Thai royal family......................might catch on with patriotic merkins

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Show trial

In Thailand, the government uses the charge of high treason against all of it`s political opponents. A kind of witch hunt is going on there now. It is enough to say that somebody insulted the royal family, and can be prisoned immediately.

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Silver badge

I have it on good authority that the Thai royal family smell of elderberries, and that their combined rectal hamster budget exceeds 2.9 Million Baht a year.

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Anonymous Coward

"Rate this Article?"

Sorry, I'm not brave enough.

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Coat

The Power

Insulting the Power is not safe anywhere really, and where insulting the royal family is safe it is only because they have lost the Power. Better that way.

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Anonymous Coward

Ho hum

So much for freedom of speech!

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Trollface

So, what if I was to get a PAYG phone and SMS random Thai phone numbers? With comments like:

The Kings and Queen Smell of Poo and wee, LOL!!!

My inner troll is telling me to do this. An international SMS is only 20p!

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Silver badge

The writing on the wall

I suppose the royal family, or perhaps rather the nomenclature around it, is just seeing the writing on the wall.

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Thumb Down

Buncha losers

Can't earn the respect of your citizens? Legislate the respect of your citizens.

Royal family should be ashamed of itself. Thailand is a decent country, but this type of behavior is more in line with Saudi Arabia. All the king has to do is to remove those laws - if he actually has the power to do so, rather than being a figurehead.

Mine's the coat without the airline ticket to Bangkok.

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Big Brother

It's a bloody good job...

...that we don't have a similar law in the UK about our royal family. There would be an awful lot of people behind bars for a very long time!

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Anonymous Coward

Not all bad

lese majeste in the UK would have been used to lock up Murdoch years ago, so now I'm feeling a bit conflicted

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Anonymous Coward

Monarchies in 2011? Surely you jest.

Isn't it time we abolish ALL monarchies?

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Anonymous Coward

Could we terminate our failed experiment with democracy instead?

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Angel

To be fair, in 2005, the King said during his birthday address: ""Actually, I must also be criticized. I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know.... the King can do wrong.".

Equally, since the Thai Constitution doesn't provide the right for the royal family to defend themselves, they also cannot file charges on their own behalf - and in fact, no member of the Thai royal family has ever done so.

The King has also regularly pardoned those foreigners who have been convicted for lèse majesté - e.g. Oliver Jufer (sentenced March 2007, pardoned April 2007), Harry Nicolaides (Septemeber 2008),

The Thais are currently on the 17th version of their Constitution since 1932, but successive governments have declined to review the clause that says that "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action" and that " - including those who drew up the post-coup 2007 Constitution.

One reason for this is that the habit of believing in the divine ancestry of the monarch is quite hard to shake off. It's not just the lawyers and government who get upset by nasty comments about the monarchy - a lot of Thais-in-the-street do, too.

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FAIL

To be fair...

Aw, bullshit.

The king pardons foreigners because foreign governments, especially rich countries', can apply pressure. End of story.

I would be ashamed if someone whose only crime was calling me a dolt was put in a jail for years.

Anybody who does not and does not act to repeal those laws, if they have the power to do so, is despicable.

You can dress that pig up with all the political analysis lipstick you want, but the reality is innocents in jail. No, that doesn't mean Western countries are perfect either, but this particular issue is pretty black and white.

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Nearly every nation in the world has had to shake off the "divine ancestry" of the monarch, or, if not divine ancestry then certainly his "divine mission" or "divine appointment", as our own pre-enlightenment rulers used to possess. Needless to say they sometimes shook it off by deposing the monarch at the same time, but nearly every monarchy that did survive did manage to at least remove any such clauses from their constitution and body of laws. The only remaining exceptions, I would wager, are very small principalities in South-Africa and the Pacific Ocean.

Hell, even the pope was smart enough to let go of his infallibility clause at least.

The point is that taken in context, Thailand is now a very ugly aberration. Whether the monarchy is popular or not with the Thai people (although how would you know for sure, if the participants of surveys are afraid that the survey could be just a front to flush out dissenters??) has no bearing on this fact.

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Anonymous Coward

It is nice to see comments that are derogatory of the Thai King here. Have you talked to Thai people about how they see those that disparage their royal family? The general Thai population revere their king, so why try and offend many Thai people? I guess it is the same way many here love to offend Muslims and Christians. It is very easy to hide behind usernames and become a troll and make fun of people and their culture. Let's see how you react when everyone else makes fun of the British way of life. You were not happy when the Welsh were singing "As Long as We Beat the English, we don't care.", because you found it offensive! Double standards indeed!

Disclaimer, I am British, through and through. However, I am someone that loves to mingle with people from other cultures.

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"Let's see how you react when everyone else makes fun of the British way of life."

Surely making fun of the British way of life is an essential part of the British way of life?

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Holmes

Don't be silly!

/Everybody/ "makes fun of the British way of life," starting with the British themselves. That's the main reason that we (well, apart from you of course!) can't understand why others should be touchy about it.

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Anonymous Coward

The general Thai population revere their king? when sober, maybe

Well, blind and absolute respect for the king is planted in the brains of the Thai children before they even start learning the alphabet. Moreover the Thai educational system bans any form of critical thinking, so yes, you end up with a large part of the uneducated masses having a blind faith for whom they've been taught to regard as a semigod. With a few beers however, quite a few people I've known would admit that it's a bit weird that their king is the richest living monarch in the world, in a country where many live on less than 3 pounds per day.

Let them drink a few more beers and they'll start saying (or whispering if they don't trust everyone around) that the king himself, despite stealing so much money from his people, isn't a bad guy, but that they hate the queen and even more his son, the heir of the throne.

A/C because I live there.

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Anonymous Coward

just wondering, there is a "Like" button for Facebook and G+... is there a "Dislike" button?

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But that would infer than Facebook had content on it not worth reading!

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Gold badge

Oh, so a "state the bleedin' obvious" button would be more appropriate then?

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Anonymous Coward

So, if I were to insult the Thai monarchy would the anti Gary McKinnon mob be demanding I be extradited to Thailand?

It is a crime there after all and we do have an extradition treaty.

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@Jean Luc

While I don't agree with the lese majeste laws, I wouldn't suprise me if a lot of Thais do.

Generally speaking if there are some things you really shouldn't do over there insult the king to the average Thai in the street is a good way to get yourself in some real trouble.

I don't think the Thai royal family has much influence over the laws.

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@Triggerfish

I understand and agree with both your points. And I would understand if someone got punched in the face for ranting about the Thai king. But surely you are not saying it's OK to throw people in jail for saying things that are unpopular? That's an entirely different kettle of fish.

A monarchy, even a nominally powerless one, has plenty of power to suggest change. _Especially_ when governments go out of their way to claim to respect the royal institution and act on its behalf.

cf. Hirohito, Juan Carlos. They will be remembered as having made a real difference, albeit a bit tardily in the case of Hirohito. How will this monarchy be remembered?

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Anonymous Coward

@Triggerfish

>While I don't agree with the lese majeste laws, I wouldn't suprise me if a lot of Thais do

Maybe when they have full control over what they're saying and they don't trust people they're talking too 100% (see my post above on the effects of beer). Quite recently a very sick old man (61 years old, has face cancer) has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for sending _four_ SMS that were disrespectful to the queen. Not even to the king himself. How's that for making people think twice about these laws?

>I don't think the Thai royal family has much influence over the laws.

Each and every law must be endorsed by the king and published in the Royal Gazette. Although I'm not sure he has the legal power to reject it, no law that goes against the interests of the royal family will ever be submitted.

One of the very last official appearances this dying king has made was to name judges of the High Court. I think that's rather meaningful. He must value this right very much.

A/C because in the floods.

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Anonymous Coward

The Chakri dynasty of the Thai royal family will meet its demise once the Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and his wife Princess Srirasmi takes the throne.

The current old Thai King Bhumibol at least has a good reputation and most Thais adore him. You can see his face printed on Thai money. His son Vajiralongkorn, on the other hand, is a womanizer and a wastrel. Srirasmi was an ex-porn star before she married into the Thai royal family. Scandalous.

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Thumb Down

Well how'd you become king then?

The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

etc, re all monarchys..

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Silver badge

I'm glad I live in Australia.

Where insulting our Majesty the Prime Minister is a national passtime.

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Anonymous Coward

Their country!

Their beliefs!

Their laws!

You would have to be a born-again imbecile to publicly insult King Bhumibol (or Lord Buddha) in Thailand!

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Anonymous Coward

@A/C

> Their country! Their beliefs! Their laws!

Sure they are. However there's a tiny thing called "human rights", and one can say that they are being trampled over when and old man is being sent to jail with a very high chance of him not making it through alive just for 4 SMS. This and similar abuse cases certainly won't be enough for the busy world-savers like Sarkozy to send their troops to Thailand, but it's abuse nevertheless.

> You would have to be a born-again imbecile to publicly insult King Bhumibol (or Lord Buddha) in Thailand!

As a matter of fact, it's certainly much less risky to insult Buddha than the King.

Also, there's a wide range of different things to say between mild and polite criticism and insult. However even the former can get you thrown to jail for 5 years per offense.

A/C because.

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Anonymous Coward

Their country! Their beliefs! Their laws!

Do you think the Thaksin-authorized TWEPing of drug dealers or on-the-spot summary execution by police of three brothel thugs who kidnapped a young Hmong girl and forced her into prostitution "trampled over human rights"?

Those are just two examples of what you would probably consider unfair and unjust in your own country, but they are not viewed in the same light by most Thais.

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@ Jean LUc and AC

@ Jean Luc

No I do not, as I said in my post I do not agree with the Lese Majeste laws.

And being from the UK I grew up with programmes like spitting image and feel that we should be able to poke fun at our royal family or politicians as much as we like.

@AC below Jean Lucs post.

I will defer to you if you live over there, but have spent a fair bit of time over there myself and have a few friends over there, expat and Thai and have never heard any Criticism of the king, in fact they always seemsed pretty royalist over there with pictures etc. However I have to say its not often been the sort of subject brought up when we are sitting round having a few drinks either, politics yes but the royal family has not seemed the sort of converations where you solicit the info and criticism has never been volunteered in those circumastances.

This is mostly the impression I get though however we don't often tend to have many political discussions either when we are all hanging out.

However I will agree even I dont get the impression from old hands over there that his son gets the same reverence as Bhumphonol (sic).

Got to admit I thought the kings role was more figurehead when it comes to laws rather than ultimate veto.

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Anonymous Coward

@Triggerfish, @A/C above

@Triggerfish: well, the pictures of the king found in each and every household in Thailand mean nothing. It's a social norm, it's more or less mandatory, just as is posting the national and the king's flags in front of the house on Dec 5th. If you don't have them, you won't go to jail but this will be frowned upon. So everyone complies. So do I.

As for the differences between your Thai friends and my own family I don't know. Maybe I'm closer to them. People certainly need to trust whomever they talk to about the king, if deviating from the mandatory stance.

Also with the deep political divide this country has recently gone through, causing wounds that certainly aren't healed yet, I find it that people talk much more about politics than before.

I don't know if we're allowed to post links here, but one of the two main English-speaking newspapers, the Bangkok Post, has published yesterday two very courageous and interesting articles advocating a revision of these lese-majeste laws in the light of the case I've mentioned earlier. And quoting king Bumiphol himself as saying "the king can do wrong". This is a very new move for a newspaper there. I hope they won't get in trouble.

@A/C: yes, prince Vajiralongkorn will likely be the last king if he gets the crown. He does things that would make Berlusconi ashamed, and is silly enough to let them be filmed. Of course the video has leaked and it's been passed under the table for several months. Many of the Thai people I know would openly admit having seen it and being extremely shocked by what they've seen. He's definitely lost the very little remaining respect the Thai people could have had for him. I think that a majority of Thais dream of seeing Princess Sirindhorn who is loved and respected making it to the throne. This probably would be the only thing that could save the Chakri dynasty at this point. Unfortunately that won't happen.

A/C ... well, you know.

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AC 16:46

TBH I have known them for a while but usually its not a topic of conversation that comes up. Usually we are catching up and swapping the shit since its sometimes a good gap between actually getting to visit them. My limited use of the language probably doesnt help either, and like I say always had the perception it was bit of a taboo topic that I would never have thought of bringing up myself.

I may have to ask some of the expat friends now and see what they say, always can learn something new.

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