Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Is Malika Boonmeetrakul Using Facebook & Google Before She Censors Facebook & Google?

There's a damning post on the "Democrat" opposition party's deputy spokesperson Mallika Boonmeetrakul (or มัลลิกา บุญมีตระกูล in Thai) at New Mandala. It was cogently and elegantly written by Dr.Pavin Chachavalpongpun at Prachathai originally and is a show of journalistic courage often absent in Thailand.

The question this raises is whether the likes of Google should withdraw the free Gmail they provide to allow people to snitch on the harshest and most sensitive political issue in contemporary Thailand? 

It's only right for digital giants to stay out of domestic political issues. But  should they facilitate censorship like the recent 20 year jailing of a 61 year old Thai man for sending rude SMS messages to Mallika Boonmeetrakul's Democrat Party that contravene Lese Majeste laws?


Some of the comments at New Mandala are well informed, astute and insightful:

Andrew Spooner writes: 

A week ago I wrote about the start of Mallika's pro-censorship campaign. What Pavin has missed out in his excellent piece is that Mallika announced her campaign at the exact same time as Ar Kong was being sentenced (see my piece here)

She also threatened to prosecute Anudith and MICT under article 157 if they didn't prosecute every single LM case.

Yet, at the same time, pro-Democrat voices in the Bangkok Post (Voranai etc) and Amnesty's pro-royalist Ben Zawacki are mouthing, for the first time, more liberal sentiment and condemning LM.

Personally, I sense a political strategy of pinning PT down from both sides. One pushing them towards more illiberal policies the other condemning them.

Remember that the Dems are utterly unelectable and completely incapable of forming policies that would be attractive to the Thai electorate. The only way they can ever get back into power is by destabilising the country.

I see Mallika wanting to make a name for herself, gaining coverage and attempting to set herself up as an arch defender of the "faith" and am certain Abhisit feels that there is a lot to gain from Mallika's stance.

SteveCM writes:

Abhisit is today tweeting that Ms Mallika’s proposal is not Democrat party policy – that’s fully four days after she (an official spokesperson for the party, remember) came out with it.

What to make of this belated input from the party leader? Did Mallika “go off the reservation” – or was she “flying a kite” for the leadership? One way or the other, it appears that she or it has now been hauled back in.

Ynot Writes:

Below is a copy of my response as appeared in Prachatai per Dr. Pavin’s open letter to Mullika, one of too many appalling Thai politicians.

It is very hard to shut down the internet. As soon as one site is shut down, another will arise.

I have one proposal for you (Khun Malika) that I think might help. Why don’t we stop teaching people to read and write? It seems the main problem is that people are using their reading and writing skills to spread their ideas.

Another idea might be to ban computers. We got along very well with typewriters just a few years ago. I don’t remember having any problems with people stating their unacceptable ideas to others.

As George Orwell said in the book 1984:

Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.