“Citizen informants?” & update on Thai censorship
some observers has opined 2 months ago in Cyber-thought crime in Bangkok and Rangoon that Thailand now is no better than Burma in regard to censorhsip:
Although the scale of abuse in Burma and vengefulness of its government far exceed that of Thailand, the computer crime laws in the two countries are not substantively different. They are in every respect an affront to human rights, and in their deliberate indeterminacy run contrary to legality itself. They are un-legal laws. They are an insult to the millions of Internet users who deserve to be treated better…
… newspapers and other media … are now being given strict guidelines and informed how they can cooperate with the government to ensure national security, so the kingdom can achieve reconciliation and harmony. In other words, news reports of government activities, personalities, corruption and the undermining of democratic institutions are likely to diminish, as the new rules will clearly prescribe just how far inquiry can proceed and what scope it will be permitted to encompass. The new rules have already been sharply defined and are being reinforced with criminal law provisions…
More recently the Thai government amazed human rights and democracy watchers worldwide by announcing last week that it would demand the power to approve all programming before it is broadcast. The announcement by Sathit Wongnongtoey, the minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, indicated that new regulations would permit “authorities” to act against broadcasters airing content “deemed” to undermine democracy…
The prognosis for the future of democracy in Thailand is not good. Despite the promises of press freedom, there are rumors of leaders meeting in secret sessions in Parliament and the Cabinet to deliberate how to retain power while keeping the media quiet.
FACT blog reports :
MICT : No budget cuts to censorship-Bangkok Post
Thai govt banned bureaucrats from using cloudmail services such as Hotmail and Yahoo. Most govt officials are still using these services and now MICT will cut development of govt email services! FACT has still not received answers from MICT regarding their annual budget which was variously described as three to seven million baht. Yet this article states MICT is allocating 40 million to some projects and their email project was slashed from 75 to 25 million. So where’s the money coming from? Smells to us like they’re hiding something! We are seeing a smoke-and-mirrors campaign of disinformation about how much MICT is really spending. Of course, there are no cuts to the censorship budget!
Few more websites are now under close watch and possibly will be closed: Eight new police cases include websites-The Nation
so called “Democrat” Abhisit has launched the next level of info-wars. according to Bangkok Post editorial now Ministry of Justice has started a new program to enlist volunteers (snithces) as young as 15 y.o. to inform on their fellow country-men on a large variety of matters – very much resembles Stalin’s regime or what was depicted in movies as sci-fi Equilibrium (“film wherein a dystopic future society surviving the third world war takes an emotion-suppressing drug and where the general public is constantly watched by the government to make sure that no one breaks the equilibrium” – ala STASI-like [see movie “The Lives of Others” ] army of informants or Bush’s “snitch network” / “Operation TIPS” ) and more realistic historical film “The Killing Fields” about Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia – both featuring children–informatns.
May be pretty soon Democrat Abhisit will achieve turning Thailand into something like “Democratic Kampuchea” under Pol Pot ?
so, here is what Voranai writes :
A few days ago on the news, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva presided over the inauguration of the Ministry of Justice’s “Volunteers for Protection of Justice” programme. Citizens at least 15 years of age, who believe in democracy and the Royal Institution, and have good communication skills, may apply.
Your job description? Be on the lookout and inform the ministry of; any wrongfulness against the Royal Institution; and production, distribution and use of narcotics; any money laundering; any threats against the state, environmental and/or financial securities; any corruption; and abuse of human rights; and other unlawful deeds.
This, of course, would seem quite a noble and socially constructive venture by many. But the prime minister is an Oxford man, well read and well educated. What must have gone through his mind during said inauguration those few days ago?
Could it have been: “What am I doing here? My name isn’t Joseph Stalin? I know George Orwell! I read Nineteen Eighty-Four! They even made me read Aldous Huxley! I studied about fascist states and the former communist bloc. Brothers informing against brothers. Neighbours spying on each other. Trust no one! Secret police! Informants! …”
Citizen informants are used under two scenarios: 1) The government wants to spy on you and control you – it’s a disguised fascist measure. 2) The government really loves you and cares for you – it’s an Oprah Winfrey episode. Dear readers, you may choose which to believe…
Satirical rant aside, and taking into account history lessons, we must proceed with this new Ministry of Justice’s directive carefully. Citizens being productive and responsible is a good thing, although by licensing a network of citizen informants we could very well fall into the same trap that so many other countries have stumbled into…
We can talk of new-blood politicians, we can talk of reconciliation and progress and we can talk of change, but it is, as always, all for naught – so long as “old style” dominates Thailand’s political landscape… What PM Abhisit needs to do is to figure out how he can free himself from old politics. If he can’t, then he would become just one of the “good old boys”, at the expense of the entire country. What the rest of us need to do is understand that the enemy of the state isn’t Thaksin Shinawatra, but old-style politics…
although the rest of the article and its title is silly, these quoted passages are quite serious. raise of “Snitch-state” is a very big possibility now with this this new programme officially launched by the “Justice Ministry” and Democrat Abhisit presiding over the inaguration ceremony. (although I hope it is a bit exaggerated – taking into consideration Voranai’s regular sensationalistic style – perhaps the details and correctness of his report has to be checked).
Let’s hope Thailand will not become a place described in one of the many horror stories about Khmer Rouge:
“People say, ‘Why Cambodians kill Cambodians?’ …. We don’t know, either.”
Many of the camps had no buildings or fences. Discipline was enforced through fear, intimidation and the ever-present paranoia that any prisoner could be an informant. “They had a saying, ‘Communist Party has many eyes, like pineapple… Your wife, your children, your best friend — you don’t know who to trust. They didn’t need physical guards because
your brain became your prison
UPDATE May 27th 2009
PAD wants Thailand to become another regime similar to North Korea ?!
here is I think relevant information: during the recent PAD meeting one of its leaders Phipob Thongchai has mentioned N. Korea example in relation to PAD’s own “New Politics”.
quote from Bkk Post article :
Another core leader, Phipob Thongchai, said earlier that under “new politics” there would be radical land reform so that every Thai citizen would own a piece of land and be able to make a living. He cited the case of North Korea, saying that although the country is poor and its people are starving, the North Koreans can pride themselves in owning a small piece of land.
BP blog has interesting comment in this regard :
Given their complaints that Thaksin and TRT are communists, what would we call this land reform with every single person owning land (will we have the state seizing land)? North Korea and the juche philosophy is a prime example of self-sufficiency in practice. It is so scary that anyone would cite North Korea as an example to look at in a positive way. This is what we have to look forward too.