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08BANGKOK3374 THAI WEBSITES, RADIO FACE LESE MAJESTE SCRUTINY

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“178290”,”11/14/2008 8:27″,”08BANGKOK3374″,”Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”

 

“08BANGKOK1662|08BANGKOK1949|08BANGKOK2344|08BANGKOK3350″,”VZCZCXRO0868

PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #3374/01 3190827

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FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5031

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 6509

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 9200

RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 5361

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 5055

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 2509

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 5844

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003374

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP, DRL, IO; NSC FOR PHU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/04/2018

TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, KPAO, KJUS, TH

SUBJECT: THAI WEBSITES, RADIO FACE LESE MAJESTE SCRUTINY

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 3350 (QUESTIONING THE UNQUESTIONABLE)

B. BANGKOK 2344 (FURTHER LESE MAJESTE ACCUSATIONS)

C. BANGKOK 1949 (LEADING UNIVERSITY)

D. BANGKOK 1662 (LESE MAJESTE ACCUSATIONS)

 

BANGKOK 00003374 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: ADCM Robert Griffiths, reason 1.4 (b, d)

 

Summary and Comment

——————–

1. (C) The Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Ministry and the Ministry of Interior (MOI) joined recent

Army and Police efforts against lese majeste in late October.

The ICT Ministry sought the cooperation of website editors

in self-censoring content and announced an effort to create

an expensive gateway to filter anti-monarchy postings. The

MOI directed provincial governors to monitor leaflets and

community radio stations for anti-monarchy material. Online

posters and editors skirt the limits of lese majeste by using

euphemisms to refer to members of royal family. Note: This

cable is the second in a series of three looking at lese

majeste, or offense to the monarchy, at a time at which

increasing attention is being paid to the institution and its

future. Ref A examined public reaction to recent

controversial moves by the Queen and response by the army and

police; septel will provide an update on a number of high

profile lese majeste cases.

 

2. (C) Comment: The recent move by the ICT Ministry to

further scrutinize anti-monarchy Internet chatter reflects a

government response to perceived more widespread criticism of

the royal family, particularly of the Queen (ref A).

Operators of websites and other online media are increasingly

concerned about measures the RTG might take against them and

are self-censoring site content to pre-empt future lese

majeste charges. As a result, critics of the monarchy are

finding less open space to voice their opinions, even

anonymously — precisely what defenders of the monarchy

intend through more aggressive implementation of lese

majeste. End Summary and Comment.

 

Ministries on the Alert for Lese Majeste…

——————————————-

 

3. (SBU) Ministry of Interior Permanent Secretary Phiraphon

Traithotsawit on October 26 directed all provincial governors

to monitor community radios and leaflets. Phiraphon urged

governors to prevent any negative action against the

monarchy. ICT Minister Mun Patanotai told the press on

October 28 that he was considering spending between $2.9

million and $14.6 million to build a \”gateway\” to monitor and

block anti-monarchy websites. In a press statement, Mun

refused to reveal the offensive sites, explaining that doing

so would encourage visitors to the sites.

 

…Ask websites to Self-Censor…

———————————-

 

4. (C) The ICT Ministry, the Communications Authority of

Thailand (CAT), and the Royal Thai Police (RTP) assembled

website managers of SameSky.com, Prachathai.com, Pantip.com,

Serithai.com, Chuphong.com, and nine other sites on October

30 to request their cooperation in monitoring website content

critical of the monarchy. A XXXXXXXXXXXX representative said

authorities asked website owners to be \”cautious and

watchful\” about content posted to their sites, urging them to

use their own judgment to determine whether or not content

was appropriate. Ministry officials warned that the RTG

would monitor content and would instruct the webmasters to

delete inappropriate content; government officials reminded

the website owners that the 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA)

permits police to enforce Internet censorship.

 

5. (C) Reaction of those in attendance was mixed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX told

us on November 7 that a XXXXXXXXX employee had asserted to

ICT Ministry staff that website managers may not share the

views of people who post to their websites. In addition, an

employee of XXXXXXXXXX complained that a recent court order

to block that website was based entirely on criticism of

Manager Media owner Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of the

anti-government People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), and

 

BANGKOK 00003374 002.2 OF 002

 

had nothing to do with the royal family. XXXXXXXXXXX saw a

positive side to the meeting, however, noting XXXX now had a

contact point at the ICT Ministry, and her cooperation might

protect her somewhat from future allegations of lese majeste.

 

6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX attended similar

meetings in the past, though not the October 30 session. He

told us that during earlier meetings, ICT Ministry officials

had required him to pledge: to co-operate with the ICT

Ministry; to delete any content offensive to the monarchy;

and to delete any content that is critical of any \”third

party.\” He did not resent the ICT officials\’ action because,

in his opinion, the RTG, military, and anti-government

protestors forced them to hold such meetings. XXXXXXXXXX

server is based abroad, and he remained confident that his

readers would be able to utilize proxy sites to circumvent

any future ICT Ministry blocks to the site.

 

…And has court orders in hand

——————————-

 

7. (C) An ICT Ministry official announced at the October 30

meeting that a total of 1,500 court orders existed to block

websites, and they were awaiting an additional 600 court

orders, XXXXXXXXX noted. (Comment: We presume that these

totals include orders to block pornographic websites and

others that may be banned for reasons other than offense to

the monarchy. End Comment.)

 

Euphemisms Enable Online Critique of Monarchy…

——————————————— —

 

8. (C) Articles on the XXXXXX website utilized the moniker

\”XXX\” to refer to the King, \”Mama Blue\” for the Queen,

alluding to her rumored ownership of a stolen Saudi blue

diamond, and \”O\” to refer to the Crown Prince, drawing from

the Thai word for his official title. XXXXXXXX believed such

thinly veiled references kept him on the safe side of a fine

line that United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship

(UDD) supporters have crossed in recent public comments.

\”UDD publicized in speeches, without self-censorship, what

has been spoken privately for years,\” XXXXX added, saying

that he would delete any UDD speeches posted to his site.

 

9. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX indicated XXXX

also relied heavily on shifting euphemisms to retain a

modicum of ambiguity/deniability. References to Queen

Sirikit \”went from \’Queen\’ to \’Q\’ to \’Mama Blue\’ to \’Fat\’ and

now \’Jie\’ (from the Chinese word for older sister),\” XXXX

explained.

 

…But Constant Vigilance Required

———————————-

 

10. (C) XXXXXX told us that after the 2006 coup d\’etat,

daily online visitors to XXXXXXXXXincreased from 1,000 to

10,000, and that the October 7 clash between PAD protestors

and Thai police drove an increase from 15,000 to 30,000

visitors. The surge in posted comments, similar to what

XXXXXX experienced (ref A), required significant additional

hours of \”eye-ball\” scans to purge their sites of potentially

offensive comments.

 

11. (C) XXXXXXXXXXX edited conservatively just \”to be

safe\” during the current political climate, using direct

quotes as much as possible and deleting even remotely

controversial content that had nothing to do with the

monarchy. XXXX request for assistance yielded 50 volunteers

who now worked in shifts to monitor the website 24-hours a

day; regular readers also alert XXXXX to suspicious first time

posters who might be provocateurs. \”We shouldn\’t have to do

this,\” XXXXXX added, calling the current climate \”a violation of

freedom of expression.\”

JOHN

Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 1:01 am

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