THAILAND: Crackdown on anti-monarchy websites

Authorities also ordered to monitor all provincial community radio and cable TV stations 24 hours a day

Bangkok Post
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Information and Communications Technology Ministry is to introduce an internet gateway system to block websites containing lese majeste content. ICT Minister Mun Patanotai will also hold a meeting with webmasters today to discuss measures to suppress lese majeste material.

The gateway system, which could cost between 100 and 500 million baht, could also be used to block other websites considered inappropriate, such as those of terrorist groups or selling pornography.

However, the ministry will focus first on websites with content deemed insulting to the Thai monarchy, Mr Mun said.

Ministry officials are looking into about a thousand websites, he said.

Mr Mun said the ministry has been working with the National Intelligence Agency and the police in cracking down on these sites.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said yesterday he has assigned relevant agencies, particularly the ICT Ministry, to take strong action against offenders.

Special Branch Police are monitoring five community radio stations that are also airing content that could be considered lese majeste, a source said.

Ayutthaya Governor Preecha Kamolbut has ordered authorities to monitor all provincial community radio and cable TV stations around the clock.

The police yesterday ordered officers to take immediate action against offenders without waiting for complaints.

Metropolitan Police chief Suchart Muenkaew said anybody making speeches against the monarchy in public places or via the mass media, particularly community radio stations, would face legal action without exemption.

He has assigned his bureau's investigation centre to set up a team to monitor all community radio broadcasts.

Members of the public can also report lese majeste by calling 191 or the police station in the area where the offence takes place, said Pol Lt-Gen Suchart.

Lese majeste is an offence under article 112 of the Criminal Code, which states that whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be jailed for three to 15 years.