By all means, blame the foreigner

20 Aug 2013

Thailand’s crackdown on freedom of expression on the internet continues in top gear, with the Department of Special Investigations taking on a case against an opposition MP who re-shared a photoshopped picture of the Prime Minister implicitly comparing her to a rhinoceros.

Never mind the fact that many questioned why a normal libel case even fell under the jurisdiction of the DSI, or the fact that no mention was made of the original editors of the picture, or how the last person to make such an implication ended up dead. The director general of the DSI said that his department had the duty to prosecute and he would not let such an attack on the head of state go unpunished.

Of course there is the little tiny detail that the Prime Minister is not the head of state in Thailand.

Also in the news was the case of a government MP caught browsing pictures of scantily clad young women on his iPad while parliament was in session. The MP blamed the tablet for going there by itself despite a series of pictures of him ogling those models making rounds on social networks.

The chair of the house ethics committee deflected calls for an investigation and said that old MPs would need training on how to use new technology like the iPad lest these accidents happen again.

One measure for opposition MPs and one for government MPs, methinks.

This is against the backdrop of a Google StreetView car driver being arrested for spying up north (and then released) and how two weeks ago, Thai PBS television political desk editor Sermsuk Kasitipradit was summoned by the technology crime suppression division for posting an analysis of a coup on his Facebook page.

The TCSD commander Police Major-General Pisit Pao-In said that anyone spreading rumors of a coup or anyone liking rumours of a coup can and would be arrested.

Pisit then one-upped himself by saying that he was going to listen in on popular IM app Line and other channels of communication on the smartphone for reasons of national security. This has caused an uproar among the general public (who all seem to use Line) to which Pisit then told reporters that Line was already secretly cooperating with Thai police in providing chat records.

He also claimed that Line’s denials were just PR spin to protect their business in Thailand which has over 10 million users.

I emailed Naver asking for them to comment on Pisit’s new claims of their secret cooperation. Naver’s PR responded simply that they could not comment as they had not been approached by the Thai police yet.

Obviously one of them is lying. I wonder who.

When things are going badly in the country (Thailand’s economy has formally entered recession and public debt is skyrocketing) it is always easy to blame foreigners for the situation.

By all means blame news editors, Facebook and Line for being a threat to national security, blame Google for espionage, blame the evil Telenorweigians at Dtac for overcharging subscribers while turning a blind eye on transgressions by the Bhumiputra.

Go ahead and blame everyone except yourself. That always works well.

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