Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thailand's opposition party moves to clamp down on free speech

The Nation reports:
A group of MPs from the opposition Democrat Party Tuesday proposed a draft legislation that would penalise people spreading defamatory remarks or contemptuous tones against the monarchy on the Internet or via computers.

The proposed law would also punish those who wrongly accuse or attempt to frame up others of such a wrongdoing.

The Democrats' move followed an increase in content on the Internet deemed defamatory or in contempt of the monarchy.

The law's proponents explained that at present there is no law that deals with offenders of lese majeste through modern electronic means, such as on Internet websites and in computer systems.
Bangkok Pundit rightly calls the move to increase the breadth and penalties (to 20 years from 15) of lese majeste "insane." He notes that the lese majeste law is already draconian, and harsh computer crime laws are already on the books. In addition, the blogger observes that similarly excessive laws now protect the judiciary -- laws royalists have actively promoted.

Some enterprising graduate student ought to do a comparative study on the administration of lese mageste in Thailand to the application of liable law in Singapore which has served to shield the city state's leaders from criticism.

Thais enjoy various freedoms than the people of Singapore can only dream about, but for how much longer?

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