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Proposed Thai law gives police power to shut news media

By Voranai Vanijaka / 7 November, 2011

Anti-free speech legislation is used as a weapon in the ongoing political war between the Thaksin Shinawatra political machine and the Democrat Party. Voranai Vanijaka reports


On October 18, while Thailand was locked in its worst flood disaster in nearly 30 years and as the northern runoff made its way down to the capital of Bangkok, the cabinet managed to sneak through the anti-free speech proposal without much notice by the local media.

The proposed amendment to the Printing Act of 2007, if passed by parliament into law, will give the national police chief the power to close down any news media with impunity. Key issues in the Printing Act amendment are Articles 10, 18/1 and 27. The National Police Chief will have power to prohibit publication, distribution, import, or import for distribution of printing material deemed offensive to the monarchy institution or undermining national security, public order, or good morals.

Violation of the National Police Chief’s order will result in three years’ imprisonment, a fine no more than 100,000 baht, or both. This amendment will add further punishment to what stipulated in Article 112 (lese majeste) and Article 116 (sedition) of the Penal Code.

With Pheu Thai party having an absolute majority in parliament, the legislation is expected to pass into law with little problems. But as parliament has been suspended indefinitely, until the flood crisis comes to an end, the law will not be enacted for at least another month.

Thailand’s current national police chief is Police General Priewpan Damapong, who is the former brother-in-law of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Pol Gen Priewpan was officially appointed on October 19. The incumbent police chief Pol Gen Wichien Poteposree was earlier transferred to take the position as the head of the National Security Council, which is thought to be an inactive post.

Pol Gen Wichien was himself handpicked as the national police chief by the previous Democrat-led government. The appointment followed criticisms over ineffective police handling of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship’s (UDD, also known as the red shirts) protests in April and May of 2010. The UDD is a political movement working on behalf of Mr Thaksin.

Pol Gen Wichien attempted to fight for his job by allegedly appealing directly to Privy Council President General Prem Thinlasulanont, but to no avail.

Censorship is a tool used by both sides of Thailand’s political divide in their ongoing conflicts for power and control.
The interpretation of what is deemed offensive to the monarchy institution or undermining national security, public order, or good morals are often dubious and plagued with political agendas.

Previously, the Democrat-led government used emergency powers to make hundreds of arrests and ban publications associated with the UDD, such as “Voice of Thaksin” and “Red Power”, as well as numerous websites and community radio stations.

Prime Minister Thaksin was notorious for his harassment of the media during his Thai Rak Thai (TRT) government regime from 2001 to 2006, most famously for his feud with the National Multimedia Group and for appointing the Media Monitor and Control agency.

Mr Thaksin is seen as the de facto leader and power behind the Pheu Thai government. He allegedly handpicked his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as the prime minister.

Since the Pheu Thai government took office in August, there have been several transfers of key government and state enterprise positions previously held by those thought to have close ties with the Democrat regime. Including the post of national police chief, they are replaced by individuals with close ties to Mr Thaksin.

The amendment of the Printing Act is viewed as another step to consolidate power and influence public opinion in a bid to pave the way for the return of Mr Thaksin to Thailand and, eventually, to power.

Voranai Vanijaka is a columnist at the Bangkok Post

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111 Responses to Proposed Thai law gives police power to shut news media

  1. Pingback: The Bangkok Post’s Voranai has some explaining to do – update. | Asian Correspondent

  2. Pingback: The Bangkok Post’s Voranai has some explaining to do. | Asian Correspondent

  3. Andrew Spooner

    14 November at 13:28

    Anybody with any questions regarding my wife’s employment should ask her. She’s a private citizen who is absolutely entitled to her privacy.

    Previously the anonymous cyberstalkers behind the “armchair network” (I like the Americanisms in their comments) claimed she was a prostitute and a bar girl. They also distributed photos of mutilated corpses with my wife’s name attached to them. I guess they have a thing for stalking women. Probably why they always post anonymously and without ever providing evidence. However, we’re now pretty certain we know who the person is behind the hate crimes against my family. Watch this space.

    Dan, while I thank you for not falling for “Armchair Network’s” usual trick of cyberstalking my family, I’m sorry but your personal abuse really prevents any further rational discussion. I’ve made my points several times to you and your retort is always an abusive rant coupled with wild claims about me being part of plots or totalitarian agendas followed up by fact-free accusations which now appear to be based upon the fabrications put out by anonymous cyberstalkers and trolls.

    As for contacting Index I was in touch with them the moment I saw this article last week.

  4. Dan White

    14 November at 08:49

    Well I have nothing but contempt for Robert Amsterdam and his client Thaksin Shinawatra, but I would personally prefer that no one would bring Mrs Spooner or any member of his family into this. My beef with Andrew personally is with him alone over what he has done on this thread and his general approach of using browbeating and intimidation as a tool of political debate. Mrs Spooner has my very best wishes whoever she may or may not work for. In the same way Andrew can attack me as much as he likes, but it would reach a different level if he attacked any member of my family. It is simply not on. I would hope that Andrew has afforded the same respect to the victims of his cyber bullying in the past although I have no way of knowing if he has or hasn’t since it was only yesterday that I was alerted to the fact that this whole history existed although he wildly accsused me and two other media workers of having instigated it respectively, assuming of course that we are time lords and we went back one year in time in our tardis.

  5. Dan White

    14 November at 04:34

    Andrew

    “I thought I was Goebbels? Now I’m Stalin? I’m confused?”

    And you think you are Desmond Tutu…. And yes…. You are most certainly confused.

    “My original argument (and one I’ve repeatedly attempted to pull you back to) was “is Voranai pro or anti-lese majeste?”

    Good for you Andrew. It is your attempts to have him censored that are more worrying. He is on the record as roundly condemning the application of the lese majesté laws. The fact that he has also expressed affection for his monarch puts him in the same bracket as the vast majority of Thai people including those in red shirts.

    “I’m also not sure how discussing Voranai’s views can end up with anyone being “brutally stifled.” Even in Thailand.”

    Interesting…. Personally I think the laws of censorship in Thailand are draconian and their application is unpredictable. You are welcome to disagree.

    “The debate you claim is “brutally stifled” is already happening.”

    Oh…. You just claimed that debate was not subject to being brutally stifled…. Confused indeed.

    “Anyone reading this thread would see the repeated personal and abusive comments you’ve made.”

    They are personal, as I have said, because you are personally guilty of willful and poisonous fabrications towards three media workers living in Thailand of whom I am one. It is disgusting and shameful and reveals very well the methods you are in the habit of employing. Given the calculated nature of your actions, you now compound your peddling of contemptible untruths with yet more squirming and hypocrisy …. If you think that is personal then suck on it. You have exposed yourself as a hypocrite, a liar and a fraud.

    “Couple them with your accusations about my being “anti-monarchy” and yep, you sound exactly like a hate-filled PAD supporter.”

    There is no accusation, simply a passing comment that you are at liberty to refute if you wish. Giles won’t need to since he is honest about what his views are and paid a terrible price. He continues to add to the debate from abroad and although I don’t agree with what he says all the time I have huge respect for his integrity. As for the PAD…. There is nothing really to say except that empty jibes of this sort are not really very constructive although many of the lesser minds in the Red faction call anyone who criticises them PAD. It is a bit sad. The brighter ones don’t do this. Thankfully most of the ones I know are in the brighter bracket, which like Giles, is why they garner respect.

    “Not only that, I also drew attention to the fact that his piece was out of date before it was published. There was no amendment and the proposal Voranai wrote about was binned 3days before publication. “

    As already stated to Emilio, this is a point to be addressed to the editor who schedules the pieces at the Index on Censorship. Anyone who has done any newspaper work of any sort would or should know that…. It wouldn’t suit your polemic though would it Andrew?

    “You’re right, Index does have some responsibility to fact check. But so does the contributor. “

    Then you will be contacting the editor before your move forward with your righteous wrath and if your findings prove that the editor is at fault you will righteously smite him or her?

    “Maybe he thought he’d get away with his misrepresentation? Etc etc etc”…..

    More speculation and insinuation before the fact. Again the act of a polemicist and not a journalist. No surprise there.

    “Or maybe he is so desperate to be get his byline into the “Western media” he’ll just make stuff up?”

    He seems to get in the Western media rather more than you do with no effort at all…. Hardly surprising given your reputation in the western media amongst anyone who knows anything about Asia… One not helped by your wild and fanciful ravings on this thread as well your unprincipled and calculated fabrications against other media workers.

    “I don’t know and until he answers why he allowed his story to run days after the amendment had been binned, nobody can know.

    Here is a thought Andrew. Maybe he won’t answer you. Maybe he considers you to be a well-known quantity with zero credibility so there would be no point….

  6. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 22:43

    Dan

    I thought I was Goebbels? Now I’m Stalin? I’m confused.

    My original argument (and one I’ve repeatedly attempted to pull you back to) was “is Voranai pro or anti-lese majeste?”

    My view, based on his previous work, is that he is pro-lese majeste but with a couple of minor caveats. A few quotes from Voranai’s work were provided here and clearly proved my point.

    I’m also not sure how discussing Voranai’s views can end up with anyone being “brutally stifled.” Even in Thailand.

    In fact my point wasn’t that Voranai wasn’t expressing an anti lese majeste view (something he has never done) but that, actually, he was expressing a pro lese majeste view. He could, of course, have chosen to just say nothing about lese majeste. Instead he chose to make pro comments, something he is absolutely entitled to do. But please remember there are some groups publicly campaigning against lese majeste whilst the Thai Foreign Ministry recently admitted lese majeste hindered freedom of expression. The debate you claim is “brutally stifled” is already happening.

    As for sidestepping – not at all. Anyone reading this thread would see the repeated personal and abusive comments you’ve made. Couple them with your accusations about my being “anti-monarchy” and yep, you sound exactly like a hate-filled PAD supporter.

    My attempts to dissect and draw attention to Voranai’s credibility to hold forth about censorship while he writes opeds supporting other censorship laws is entirely justified. Not only that, I also drew attention to the fact that his piece was out of date before it was published. There was no amendment and the proposal Voranai wrote about was binned 3days before publication. I knew that when I read this piece as did several others judging by the comments on twitter that sprang up at the time of publication.

    You’re right, Index does have some responsibility to fact check. But so does the contributor. If Voranai knowingly placed a misrepresentation on this website without informing the editor then he quite clearly needs to have his judgement questioned. As Voranai hasn’t explained why he failed to do the necessary fact checking before he placed this piece then we can only guess as to the reason why he then failed to ask for it to be withdrawn despite his very obvious and quite glaring denouement. Maybe he thought he’d get away with his misrepresentation? Maybe he just thinks he’s above doing the necessary leg work to double check his sources before submitting his writing? Or maybe he is so desperate to be get his byline into the “Western media” he’ll just make stuff up?

    I don’t know and until he answers why he allowed his story to run days after the amendment had been binned, nobody can know.

  7. Dan White

    13 November at 20:39

    Andrew (and his straw men)

    “You then falsely claimed if you or he did express an anti-lese majeste you’d be thrown into prison.”

    No…. I pointed out that one would be unable to continue the debate unfettered and given your irresponsible nature that was a not a risk worth taking. And assessment of all those risks amount to a personal decision on whether to engage. One that you should respect given that you know the unpredictable a minefield the LM laws represent.

    “You further falsely claimed that I was trying to induce you to make anti-lese majeste comments so that you and Voranai would be incarcerated.”

    Nope….. I was saying (as you can see if you read back) that you were relentlessly provoking a discussion on those issues…. Read your own words…. A discussion that could have consequences in a country where debate of those issues are brutally stifled. I further stated that you could not be trusted to be responsible to respect the sensitive nature of the issues given that your main aim is a spiteful assasination of Voranai….. The basics of which have been fully refuted by him but (not surprisingly) ignored by your in your ever more shrill attempt to pursue your tired and ill informed agenda…. Agenda…. Agenda… Agenda…. Yawn.

    “I am not part of any conspiracy to get you or of a “ruthlessly underhand and inhumane totalitarian agenda” as you describe me above.”

    I disagree…. I also note that you sidestep the rather important issues of your inflammatory accusations of a ‘PAD hate squad’ that ‘started here’ whilst naming people who you knew to be innocent of any such thing and neglecting to mention your long running dispute with God knows who over someting entirely different….. Highly manipulative Andrew…. Certainly ‘totalitarian’ methods… Stalinist in fact. Manipulative and false accusations have been the lifeblood of totalitarian regimes all over the globe for generation…. As so with undignified ‘sidestepping’ when they are inconveniently highlighted…

    But you will just keep on steaming on won’t you big boy?…. Avoiding the inconvenient when it suits you…. Attacking the innocent…. Lying about the unwary…. Really quite nasty.

  8. s.a.spooner@gmail.com

    13 November at 20:12

    Dan

    I’ve never asked for you or Voranai to be anti-lese majeste.

    I simply pointed out Voranai is pro-lese majeste. Which is, in my view, an accurate assessment.

    In fact, I wrote several times above that I understand if you don’t want to make anti-lese majeste statements,

    You then falsely claimed if you or he did express an anti-lese majeste you’d be thrown into prison. So I pointed you towards evidence that reveals that this claim doesn’t stand up. People in Thailand are openly calling for reform of lese majeste. You further falsely claimed that I was trying to induce you to make anti-lese majeste comments so that you and Voranai would be incarcerated.

    Dan, I am not part of any conspiracy to get you or of a “ruthlessly underhand and inhumane totalitarian agenda” as you describe me above.

  9. Dan White

    13 November at 19:20

    Emilio

    “Yes, why did Voranai publish this article 3days after the amendment had been passed?”

    Voranai didn’t publish it. The Index on censorship did…. Normal procedure would dicate that you direct this question to the editorial team who are charged with timing when articles get published and checking their continuing validity. It is a question worth asking tough since it does appear to be a bit of a cock up…. Although the fact that the legislation was tabled at all is interesting in itself evemn if it turns out that Vorania’s take ws behind the times.

  10. Dan White

    13 November at 19:04

    Andrew

    “Are you aware there was a public anti-112 campaign launched by a group of Thais? A few expats were involved as well.”

    Fab!…. What is your point?…. That I should be forcibly conscripted?

    “To be honest the only consequence I have suffered is you accusing me of being “anti-monarchy” and some PAD supporters attacking me after you made that accusation (these attacks were brand new and nothing to do with the previous abuse).”

    Who cares?… So what?…. Correct them if you think they are wrong…. The passing comment of one foreign travel writer on an internet thread hardly constitutes a mortal threat….. Nor, given your humungously long running feud with God know s who is it of any consequence…… PAD supporters accuse people of this crap left right and centre… Including me. S =o cut the trembling virgin routine. It doesn’t suit you.

  11. Dan White

    13 November at 19:02

    Andrew

    “Are you aware there was a public anti-112 campaign launched by a group of Thais? A few expats were involved as well.”

    Fab!…. What is your point?…. That I should be forcibly conscripted?

    “To be honest the only consequence I have suffered is you accusing me of being “anti-monarchy” and some PAD supporters attacking me after you made that accusation (these attacks were brand new and nothing to do with the previous abuse).”

    Who cares?… So what?…. Correct them if you think they are wrong…. The passing comment of one foreign travel writer on an internet thread hardly constitutes a mortal threat….. Nor, given your humungously long running feud with God know s who is it of any consequence……

  12. Dan White

    13 November at 18:52

    Andrew

    “I know dozens and dozens of Thais and expats who live in Thailand who have come out against lese majeste and not one has been arrested.”

    Fine. Speak to them. Get them to contribute to this thread. Again it is not up to you to force me or any other Thai resident to engage with you on the issues of lese majesté. My views on the existence of 112 are very clear. I am simply not obliged to tell you what they are on the world wide web and you should respect that given the circumstances. I CAN tell you that I think that the application of lese majesté in my opinion has never once in its history been of any benefit to anyone ever in the whole history of its existence. The situation after the coup got worse with increased accusations of lese majesté and a resultant increase in kafkaesque fear mongering. I do not believe any of this can possibly be of any positive benefit to a society that aspires to be democratic. Abhisit himself was on record pre his premiership as saying that LM laws were not of benefit to anyone as they existed, including the institution they exist to supposedly defend and they needed reform, yet when in power he oversaw a massive increase in the LM project and even boasted about it. Similarly Thida has endorsed more stringent reporting of LM infringements and the new Deputy PM of Thailand, the gangster beast of Thonburi, Chalerm, has also said that the increase of LM prosecutions is a worthy priority…. Chalerm’s present position is the product, largely, of UDD actions over the last few years. The revered monarch of Thailand himself is on record as questioning the laws of LM. That is a matter of record.

    “I myself have spent over 3months in Thailand this year alone without any consequence whatsoever. In fact I was in government house interviewing a Democrat Party government minister only 5months ago without any censure or threat of arrest. My views on lese majeste had been repeatedly expressed before that.”

    Good for you old son…. That is your personal decision to make…. It is not one you have the right to universally force on others who are free to make their own choices according to the way the perceive the dangers.

    “If you don’t want to speak out on LM fair enough. But your excuse as to why Voranai is unable to state he disagrees with lese majeste is complete and total nonsense. This is even more bizarre given that Voranai is on record stating he supports lese majeste.”

    He is under no obligation to discuss it with you given your record of misrepresentation, untruths and unprincipled behavior…. Something that is writ large all over this thread as well as elsewhere. Plus there is no point. You are a known bombastic polemicist, if a bit inept. Why on earth would he bother descending to your level?… I do so because I know you are British…. So as a fellow Brit I feel some responsibility to counter your poison and underhand methods.

    “And, once again, rather than coming up with a coherent argument you launch into a highly personal and abusive rant.”

    No rants Andrew. You are on record here with your knowing falsifications of a so called “PAD Hate squad”…. (“And make no mistake that hate campaign was begun here by Lowe, White and Voranai”). A knowingly constructed lie. This in the full knowledge that you were manipulating an already existing and long-running situation that had nothing to do with the people you named and accused. That is a direct accusation that I am personally making against you. You are an unprincipled liar, a tendentious manipulator of evidence and a disgrace to the British media… And God knows they take some disgracing.

    I have no idea if the contents of that open letter against you published here are true of false, nor do I much care. But what is most certainly true is that you are essentially proefssionally and personally dishonest. The evidence is right here.

  13. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 18:31

    Dan

    Are you aware there was a public anti-112 campaign launched by a group of Thais? A few expats were involved as well.

    Not one person was arrested as a result of this campaign.

    Some details of it are here

    http://hirvikatu10.net/timeupthailand/?p=955

    Then there is a letter sent out on two occasions this year by 112 academics calling for a reform and rethink of lese majeste.

    http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/254594/rethink-lese-majeste-law-academics-say

    Not one of those Thai-based persons have been arrested either. And the first letter was sent in February 2011.

    To be honest the only consequence I have suffered is you accusing me of being “anti-monarchy” and some PAD supporters attacking me after you made that accusation (these attacks were brand new and nothing to do with the previous abuse).

  14. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 18:18

    Emilio

    Yes, why did Voranai publish this article 3days after the amendment had been passed?

    I think it is more likely lazy and poor journalism than evidence of an agenda.

    The conspiracy theory in Voranai’s piece is certainly evidence of an agenda though.

    No problem with that – just wish he’d admit it.

    And Voranai has written about lese majeste before – he supported it. That’s very different from keeping quiet.

    Andrew

  15. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 18:09

    Dan

    You’re talking complete nonsense.

    I know dozens and dozens of Thais and expats who live in Thailand who have come out against lese majeste and not one has been arrested.

    I myself have spent over 3months in Thailand this year alone without any consequence whatsoever. In fact I was in government house interviewing a Democrat Party government minister only 5months ago without any censure or threat of arrest. My views on lese majeste had been repeatedly expressed before that.

    If you don’t want to speak out on LM fair enough. But your excuse as to why Voranai is unable to state he disagrees with lese majeste is complete and total nonsense. This is even more bizarre given that Voranai is on record stating he supports lese majeste.

    And, once again, rather than coming up with a coherent argument you launch into a highly personal and abusive rant.

  16. Dan White

    13 November at 17:58

  17. Dan White

    13 November at 16:44

    Hi Emilio

    I am afraid that discussing 112 on an open internet forum is simply too dangerous for anyone living in Thailand to engage in. Really. One slip and you could be facing years of jail time. It simply is not worth the risk.

    It is true that “I don’t think this is unreasonable or dangerous for Voranai because there is no law in Thailand that says that Thais can be sent to prison for saying that lese majeste law should be abolished.”

    But there is way more too it than that.

    Have you ever heard of a man called Akbar Khan. This is a professional blackmailer who uses the LM laws at the behest of some truly shady forces. This is really scary stuff……

    When you talk about ‘challenges’ you are, if you do not live in Thailand, doing it from a position of impossible advantage.

    To actually be challenging people to debates on Article 112 under these circumstances is neither reasonable nor fair.

  18. Dan White

    13 November at 16:31

    Andrew

    Let me remind you of your words:

    “As predicted Dan White, Greg Lowe and Voranai’s PAD hate squad have now begun to threaten me.
    It seems if you try to engage a royalist like Voranai in a proper debate you will be targeted for a hate campaign.
    And make no mistake that hate campaign was begun here by Lowe, White and Voranai.”

    Well it (although it didn’t exist) wasn’t was it? You were telling poisonous porkies weren’t you? It turns out that you have been involved with a long running dispute with some other people entirely and this issue of you and your trouble has been going on for over a year. A fact which you failed to mention. This manipulative, dishonest, sinister, menacing and borderline psychotic behaviour is simply not healthy. Nor is it of benefit to the ’cause’ you claim to represent. It is an embarresment to those who sincerely pursue that cause…. Many of whom, both farang and Thai are my good friends. Some of my friends are also subject to formal accusations of LM. If you had done all of these things in a British publication, that publication would be open to legal action and you would have been sacked immediately.

    The accusation that we are a PAD ‘hate’ squad did give me a chuckle however…. the only thing worse than being accused of being PAD (hate squad or otherwise) is to be accused of being a fan of the Scorpions. Please don’t go there.

    As to your question…. Voranai is on record as strongly condemning condemning the rank abuses of the Lese majesté laws by all factions fo their own personal and political gain. Your attempts to draw people who live in this country on to the subject of the existence of those laws themselves is futile. Given your known agenda, you are not someone who could be trusted on any level to respect the truly frightening restrictions that the laws of this country would put on their ability to conduct that debate. Some people, like the highly professional journalist Andrew Macgregor Marshall understand this and know when to recognise that limit has been reached. You do not.

  19. Emilio Esteban

    13 November at 16:27

    The amendments to the Print Act were rejected on 4th Nov and Voranai’s article was published on the 7th, it’s true. I’d like to hear Voranai’s explanation for this.

    I’d also like to hear from Voranai himself if he thinks Art. 112 and the Computer Art should be abolished.

    I don’t think this is unreasonable or dangerous for Voranai because there is no law in Thailand that says that Thais can be sent to prison for saying that lese majeste law should be abolished.

    At worst Voranai may make a few enemies, but he would win the argument against Andrew flat out by speaking out against lese majeste here and now.

    Voranai, you don’t have to take up this challenge, unless of course you want to convince Andrew and the rest of us that your stance on the Print Act and lese majeste law is not hypocritical.

  20. dave the rave

    13 November at 16:16

    May i suggest a new title for Voranai’s article?

    “Non-existent Thai law gives pretentious censorship-supporting pundit opportunity to create rambling conspiracy theory backed up by his certifiable expat pal”

  21. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 15:53

    Dan

    Bit of a Freudian slip there…

    And after all your abuse and bizarre accusations you still haven’t dealt with the main argument – Voranai is on the record as supporting lese majeste and wrote a piece about an amendment that doesn’t exist.

    Best wishes

    Andrew

  22. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 15:46

    Nope, not a regular contributor to PPT. Never have been.

    Just to bust another lie.

    Contributed one article that was also recycled by Prachatai.

    Like the blog though.

  23. Dan White

    13 November at 12:18

    By ‘the piece makes a fatal error’ I mean the one you posted… Not Voranai’s original oped.

  24. Dan White

    13 November at 12:14

    Thanks Armchair….. The piece makes a fatal error by mixing up entirely separate and different targets. So whatever impact it night have is by diluted since none of them are properly addressed. Concerning the burning of Central World etc, Voranai is making bog standard commentary and speculation on the tactics chosen by the Democrat party. In describing the mood at Rajaprasong he is very accurate. I know. I was there. Fun people. Great music. Terrible hate filled rhetoric from a stage peopled by vicious, hypocritical, cynical and dishonest men and women (with the exception of Sean who is super cool and poor old Veera).

  25. Dan White

    13 November at 12:03

    Found it…. here you go.

    http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/241780/do-we-remember-the-burning-of-thailand

    “It’s not about reconciliation it never has been. For the establishment, it’s about preventing Thaksin from returning to rule Thailand no ”ifs”, ”ands” or ”buts”. For Thaksin, it’s about returning to rule Thailand no ”ifs”, ”ands”, or ”buts”.

    Anyone who says anything else is just repeating political propaganda. And we know both sides are willing to kill, bomb and burn to achieve their goals.”

  26. Armchair Network

    13 November at 12:02

    It was posted on the Political Prisoners in Thailand website. A website that has been banned in Thailand numerous times for hosting lese-majesty content. Andrew Spooner is a major contributor.

  27. Dan White

    13 November at 11:56

    Oh… And it would also be helpful to know where this rebutttal was published and who was the author…. Assuming it was published.

  28. Dan White

    13 November at 11:47

    There is not much point in posting a rebuttal to a piece (even a confused one peopled with straw men) unless you post the original piece itself. So, whoever you are, would you be kind enough to post or link to Voranai’s original piece here so as people have the full story.

    Thank you.

  29. How many political prisoners?

    13 November at 11:19

    A devastating put down of Voranai, the Democrats and The Bangkok Post in the run up to the Thai Election in July 2011.

    “When the big red shirt rally began in Bangkok in March 2010, one of the first events was the “caravan” around the city. This parade was chilling for the establishment and for the Abhisit Vejjajiva government because it showed that the red shirts had huge support in the city. The mainstream media estimated the caravan and supporters in the tens of thousands. At the time, PPT had a report, and while we didn’t nominate a figure, we reckon there must have been hundreds of thousands throughout the city. We had another post of the fallout from the caravan.

    Now the Democrat Party has had a micro-caravan in the city. The Bangkok Post reports that the aim of this parade, which included Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, was to remind “voters of last year’s political violence in a bid to stem the Pheu Thai Party’s fast-rising popularity.”

    On the morning of the event, the Bangkok Post had an op-ed that also sought to remind Bangkok’s English-language readers of 19 May. Its title was “Do we remember the burning of Thailand?” No coincidence there as the Post has become, like its elite brethren, increasingly panicked by the polls that appear to show Puea Thai taking a lead even in Bangkok.

    This op-ed begins, explaining the surprise of “many” – PPT assumes that author Voranai Vanijaka means those he knows, and many of these are likely to be establishment figures: “Many people have expressed bewilderment. How is it that Pheu Thai Party’s popularity is at a high? How is it that they are leading the Democrat Party in poll after poll? Sure, Yingluck Shinawatra is a hot item right now, but that can’t be the sole reason, can it?” It goes on to admonish the Democrat Party for not reminding people of these “heinous and treasonous” acts.

    Astonished, he asks: “How many of us actually remember the burning of Thailand? How many of us still talk about it? Is the atrocity still alive and vibrant in the consciousness of the Thai Kingdom? From what I’ve observed, most people have pretty much forgotten.” Perhaps with Army urging, or Newin Chidchob’s base political instincts at work, or even with the urging of others who compare this arson to the sacking of Ayudhya, the Democrat Party has responded.

    Voranai makes some pretty basic errors. Take this as an example: when referring to the arson in Bangkok and provinces he says: “Of course, no one has been found guilty of any crimes, as yet.” Doesn’t he read the press or the blogs? Doesn’t he know that there are plenty of red shirts still locked up over these events?

    But back to the Democrat Party micro-caravan.

    The Democrat Party’s strategist Korbsak Sabhavasu is not as negative as Voranai. He believes that “the majority of the public still have bitter memories of the unrest and the burning of Bangkok.” The Post helpfully explains that the Democrat Party is “changing election campaign tactics to cut the ground from under Pheu Thai by reminding voters that key figures of the red shirt movement who are now running for the general election under the party’s banner, are alleged to be involved.”

    Korbsak explained that “the violence in April and May last year stemmed from the red shirt movement led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, which is aligned with Pheu Thai…. [M]any top figures of the red shirt UDD are now running for the election on Pheu Thai’s party list and some of them are likely to be given cabinet portfolios if Pheu Thai wins the election and forms the government…. The public should be able to imagine what kind of government they would get…”.

    How was the micro-caravan received? There’s not a lot in the report, but the accompanying photos tell a story. In Samrong, Puea Thai supporters held up anti-government and pro-Puea Thai placards and lifted their index fingers to signify their support for Puea Thai. Maybe the Democrat Party was lucky to avoid a different finger. Suthep had to avoid eggs thrown at him.

    In a related move, Abhisit has gone back to Facebook to defend “his government’s crackdown on red shirt protesters in April and May last year.” This is something also seen in Voranai’s op-ed, where he claims that the red shirts are always reminding people of “their” deaths. He urges Abhisit to do the same. And he does.

    Abhisit apparently claims that “persistent efforts have been made to raise the issue of the 91 deaths to step up a hate campaign against him ahead of the general election.” As in our earlier posts, here and here, Abhisit is again self-serving and self-centered.

    In fact, there has been a consistent effort to raise these deaths – and the actual figure now seems to be 93 – since May 2010. There’s nothing new. Indeed, even the panel Abhisit himself appointed has not been able to resolve anything because state officials and agencies are blocked from providing evidence.

    Abhisit’s post refers to “mysterious armed groups who mingled freely among the protesters.” Indeed, they do seem mysterious for none seem to have been arrested and charged.

    The premier promised to post more comments soon “to explain top red shirt figures could have prevented the deaths.” He says that “they opted for more deaths so they can press the charge of killing people against me…”. Now PPT thinks this is a new take. Again, very self-centered, but Abhisit is claiming that the red shirt leadership decided to “sacrifice” its supporters. This is an arrogant claim and by preventing independent investigation of events, Abhisit can pretty much make up any story he wants. As he does so, it is me, me, me. In fact, those who recall the last hours of the rally will know that those defiant demonstrators who remained wanted no capitulation and even jeered the leadership when it surrendered.

    PPT agrees that the election is not over yet and that predictions are pretty much useless. What we do know is that Army-commanded Internal Security Operations Command has deployed 17,000 of its spies throughout the country to collect “evidence” of Puea Thai misdeeds for changing any narrow election victory by that party. We also know that the Election Commission is considering issuing red cards even before the election day. If we were betting people, we’d be wagering that, if this comes about, these cards will overwhelmingly target Puea Thai.

    Why are we confident on this? Just look at what happened in 2007. Almost all the disqualifications were of People’s Power Party victors. Even if Puea Thai scrape in, we don’t think that a judicial coup is out of the question. And even if Yingluck has been “cleared” by the SEC, PPT expects this “perjury” allegation to be pursued further. And, we believe that the establishment is up for another party dissolution case.”

  30. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 09:58

    Oh, someone has posted the “infamous” and completely fabricated letter.

    The opening line is very revealing -

    “The hate campaign against you”.

    Glad that is admitted from the start.

    I posted a death threat? To whom? Where? When? What evidence is there?

    Doesn’t exist, never has existed, completely false.

    In fact, I call the person out to show the evidence it exists.

    People also overestimate my powers – I can’t wage a McCarthyite campaign as I am not a government – just some blogger. If people involved in threatening my family get reported to their employers, too bad. Maybe they shouldn’t do it in the first place?

    What is also missing from this letter is the cyberstalking of my family, the death threats to both me and my wife, the hacking of my wife’s personal photos and the 9months of racist and sexist abuse that was directed at her. The author of this letter was the perpetrator of most of that. We provided our evidence to the police. It’s on the public record. Where’s yours?

    I will let others judge the author’s credibility as well given that he is on the record not only trying to smear me for lese majeste http://bit.ly/sxxVao but has also made 100s of racist comments including ones that Arabs should be killed like pigs and Muslim women should be crushed like rats – http://bit.ly/rMlyQW

    Nice.

  31. Dan White

    13 November at 09:45

    WTF!… I am I guilty of Lese-Spooner?… Is he going to contact MY employers?…… Holy camoley!… The plot thickens!

  32. Armchair Network

    13 November at 09:36

    <a href="http://bkkbaseface.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/an-open-letter-to-andrew-spooner/"http://bkkbaseface.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/an-open-letter-to-andrew-spooner/

    An Open Letter To Andrew Spooner
    Posted on August 10, 2011 by bkkbaseface

    Hello Andy,

    The hate campaign against you wasn’t in response to anything you did towards myself. It wasn’t in response to you ‘exposing me as a racist’ or any other such nonsense you tell people. It never had anything to do with me. It was in response to the way you treat others.

    Many innocent people online have suffered torment from you. The bitterness towards you came from watching how you treated others. Dwight Turner is a man trying to make the world a better place through a children’s charity and because of it suffered your endless taunts and accusations. Many others suffered similar abuse through your attempts to manufacture a news story you could publish.

    Attacking you wasn’t done to intimidate you or cause you personal problems, it was simply a hope that you might see the errors of your ways and act civilized towards others. In that respect it worked since you abandoned your old targets. Instead you picked a new set of innocents such as the US Ambassador, Kristie Kenney. This culminated in you filing police charges against a twitter user and having them arrested in the UK. (I am sure this person will clarify his situation himself so there is no reason for me to go into the details of what happened here.) All the while you continued, and continue, to somehow
    portray yourself as the innocent victim.

    Many could file police charges against you for your activities online but nobody has and they will not. It is not the way adults act. Adults discuss problems and find solutions. Not once in the past months have you ever asked me to stop or taken any efforts towards accepting any of my numerous offers to stop. You call me an anonymous racist troll but have both my twitter ID and my email address and you could have contacted me at any time to discuss this. You did not.

    Your only actions towards me have been a steady stream of threats of intimidation, filing lawsuits and police charges. You have contacted the employers of numerous people online and attempted to get them fired from their jobs when their only crime was corresponding with me. Even now after you have had one person arrested you continue to file threats of police charges against others.

    You claim threats to yourself and your family but you yourself tweeted a very hostile death threat towards me. Unlike you, I laughed it off.

    You campaign against Lese Majesty laws in Thailand and in favor of freedom of speech but you are a total hypocrite. You have done everything in your power to attempt to create McCarthy style social blacklists for people you disagree with. Your latest Facebook post even publicly acknowledges this when you say, “including reporting people to their employers.” While you disagree with Lese Majesty you wish to create a new category of Lese Spooner laws aimed at anyone who holds a viewpoint contrary to your own.

    It is quiet clear your public Internet persona is manufactured by yourself in order to turn you into some sort of ‘shock journalist’ and make a name for yourself. You attempt to promote yourself as a champion of the Thai lower class and work to right the injustice against them. Instead of bringing attention to a cause, your writings come off as infantile attempts at cheap tabloid journalism and completely disrespect those you care so passionately about. If you really want to be a journalist you should open up and use your energy to effect something positive. Try offering constructive solutions to problems instead.

    I seriously doubt you will be able to pull yourself away from your downward spiral of threats and personal attack based gutter journalism but it is up to you. Prove me wrong.

    Yours truly,

    @BKKBase

  33. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 09:33

    Greg

    And to just return to my very original point regarding this article.

    Voranai supports lese majeste.

    Therefore his credibility to comment on censorship while supporting censorship is questionable.

    Furthermore Voranai’s theory in this article is completely flawed as the amendment was abandoned before he published the piece. This is something he acknowledges himself.

  34. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 09:27

    Greg

    Thanks for your comments regarding the hate campaign against my family. Apologies if I confused you with Dan White there – you’re right you didn’t accuse me of being anti-monarchy.

    Yep, the Post do publish the occasional oped that goes against their editorial grain. Nothing particularly original about that and nothing that then means the 95% of the rest of what they publish is suddenly “balanced” or that their news reporting suddenly loses its pro-Democrat Party tone. Ken Livingstone still writes columns for the Sun I believe.

    I agree wholeheartedly that the UDD should move on from Thaksin and PTP. And I know significant elements within the UDD who are certainly hoping that will be the case.

    Some elements in the present PT government are also pushing for Thailand to sign up to the International Criminal Court.

    I think such an effort has to be supported and applauded as does the present government’s admission after the recent UN human rights review in Geneva that lese majeste is affecting people’s freedom of expression.

    I am also very aware that their are “liberal” elements in the Dems. In fact, I had a big argument with my UDD friends when I suggested they need to reach out to the progressives in the Dems.

    As for the War on Drugs, yep, investigate them all and throw those responsible in prison. But have you have wondered why there was no proper investigation, even though Thaksin is on the run? Think you might find his War on Drugs had very wide support.

    And none of that prevents Abhisit, the Army and the Dems being called out for last year. In my opinion it was a straight-up crime.

  35. Dan White

    13 November at 09:23

    Andrew

    Be quiet. You are boring.

  36. Dan White

    13 November at 09:22

    Greg:
    “They may in the coming years emerge into a progressive social movement (they have more progressive potential than the PAD)”

    Indeed…. That is because the only direction in which the PAD can progress is in the direction that takes them even closer to Nuremberg than they already are….. There are people amongst the UDD with noble aspirations and a genuine democratic drive. The problem is that they form a very small part of the movement which as we both know is a patchwork of often entirely contrary aims. In assessing the rough percentage make up of the UDD as pure Thaksin cheerleaders as opposed to those with more worthy and wider constitutional our Scottish friend Bonnie wee Nic McNostitz puts the full on Thaksin agenda at about 85% of the UDD support. That is just a guess but being that he is the Red Baron it is a pretty educated one…. And of course the actual upshot of the ‘Red’ PT victory is that we have a government headed by the Thaksin family receptionist and the less than delightful father of a Ratchada cop killer… The fragrantly cute Chalerm Yubamrung… Hardly a step forward sadly, but inevitable in a country where the main opposition is as lame, out of touch, complacent and corruption riddled as the Democrat Party…. Fancy a drink?

  37. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 09:07

    Dan

    Err, thanks for the advice.

    I can only infer you are being ironic given that you falsely accused me of being “anti-monarchy” above.

    Andrew

  38. Greg Lowe

    13 November at 09:04

    Andrew

    Where did I call you anti-monarchy on this site?

    Also, you are now side stepping the other issue. You draw light to differences between the PAD and UDD in terms of their demands (I wholly agree, calling for a coup is a disgrace). Initially you criticized Voranai should be criticized for not surmising that the Village Scouts and Khrating Daeng were precursors to the PAD. Now you seem to agree that both mass movements have members of such organizations among their elements.

    Streckfus has written for the Post and Chris Baker reviewed his book on LM for the paper. So it’s clearly not all pro-PAD/establishment opinion expressed in the paper.

    What you and your wife have been through is terrible. You have fallen victim to the thuggish fanaticism that permeates the entire spectrum of Thai politics, both red and yellow.

    I think it’s a huge stretch to call the red shirts the most progressive social movement Thailand has seen. The majority of it at the moment is predominantly about the returning to power of Rhaksin: hardly a progressive in terms of human rights, freedom of expression, anti corruption, social policy development or real political enfranchisement.

    They may in the coming years emerge into a progressive social movement (they have more progressive potential than the PAD), especially as they move away from Thaksin and react to the selling down the river of their movement and sacrifices by Puea Thai’s deal with the military. There will be no holding to account of those in power for what happened last year. That doesn’t happen in Thailand. Too many vested interests to take care of.

    However, you always seem to position these events as the sole work of Abhisit/Dems and admonish the influence of Thaksin and his cronies as if the end result would have been any less bloody if the tables had been turned and he was well aligned with the military.

    Anyone for a War on Drugs… Have to beat 2,700 dead to knock Dr T from pole position.

  39. Dan White

    13 November at 08:56

    Good to hear Andrew…. You might now like to start putting that assertion into practice.

  40. Dan White

    13 November at 08:56

    Good to Andrew…. You might now like to start putting that assertion into practice.

  41. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 08:37

    Dan.

    Your question is “So you see defamation as a recreational pursuit Andrew? In addition to the advocation of censorship, manipulation of the truth and a cavalier disregard for the sensititivies and civil liberties of those living in societies where freedom of speech is curbed by draconian legislation?”

    My answer is “no”. To all of that.

    Thanks for asking though.

    Andrew

  42. Dan White

    13 November at 08:33

    So you see defamation as a recreational pursuit Andrew? In addition to the advocation of censorship, manipulation of the truth and a cavalier disregard for the sensititivies and civil liberties of those living in societies where freedom of speech is curbed by draconian legislation?

    You are quite a pice of work…. Simply shocking.

  43. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 08:19

    Dan,

    You wrote “But if you push it much further then you may be in receipt of legal communications if only to serve you with information on how the law works.”

    Hahahahahaha.

    Can’t wait.

    When will they arrive?

    Andrew

  44. Dan White

    13 November at 08:15

    Andrew:

    And at what point had the threats against you abated in the past? Given that your interlocutors are already familiar to you, you are playing a dangerous game (in terms of the laws of defamation) by slyly trying to unload your stalkers onto me… You do understand the UK laws of defamation don’t you?…. As a believer in freedom of speech I am unlikely to employ them against you… But if you push it much further then you may be in receipt of legal communications if only to serve you with information on how the law works. Your very own loony crew are your very own affair…. Although I do feel for you on this one issue alone since it is utterly creepy. However obnoxious and ill informed the idiocies that you have spent the last few years smearing across the world wide web may be, I would always defend your inalienable right to continue smearing them…. That is what freedom of speech is about.

    Bucio.

    Write in English.

  45. Bucio Diculo

    13 November at 07:58

    Daniele Bianco, sono le tue parole pagate dall’fondo antidemocratico Thailandese che pesano d’ invettiva. Perche’ gli insulti alla coda di tutte le tue lemme? Sei senz’altro un ipocrita eppure un’ vigliacco che perde male il suo argomento fallito. Perche’ non stai zitto, e continua a baciare il sedere elitario che ti fa’ mangiare gl’avanzi invece di cacare sul popolo che ti ospita con grazia.

  46. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 07:55

    Dan

    Are you suggesting I can control people’s minds now and force them to write and say things they don’t want to?

    My powers are extraordinary and unknown even to me.

    And yep, threats started up again yesterday after you posted your “fact” that I was “anti-monarchy”.

  47. Dan White

    13 November at 07:46

    “Despite your dismissive tone, the death threats to me and my family over the last year have been very real.”

    Over the last year?…. So not only a you slyly trying to provoke people into writing things that you know may see them arrested and encourage censorship of legitimate media workers… You have also put it on record that two media workers who live in Thailand, myself and Greg Lowe, are responsible for death threats against you and your family because of things that have been written on this tread over the last 36 hours?…. Now you reveal this is a distressing situation that has been your lot for a whole year already…..

    How many more lies are you going to peddle Andrew?…. How many more false accusations are you going to make?…. How many more underhand tricks are you going to pull?….. Just how low are you prepared to sink?

  48. Armchair Network

    13 November at 07:42

    If you really want to know about Andrew Spooner, listen to him describe himself in his own words:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?2lnhi2zoeqrt6fv

  49. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 07:33

    Dan

    There was no amendment. It doesn’t exist. Voranai’s theory here is pure fantasy.

    Where I have said censorship isn’t an issue? I’ve published two in-depth articles in conjunction with the highly regarded freedom of expression NGO, ARTICLE 19 in the last 6 weeks looking at censorship laws in Thailand. These articles appeared on Prachatai and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s websites.

    Despite your dismissive tone, the death threats to me and my family over the last year have been very real.

    The only person making accusations that could result in prison, harassment or violence is, as you know full well, yourself.

    My point regarding Streckfuss was that some people are brave enough to take a stand against lese majeste from within Thailand.

    If you don’t want to take that stand, that’s fine.

    But if you are supporting people who support lese majeste and attacking those who are against it and accusing them of being anti-monarchy, well, it is quite revealing.

  50. Dan White

    13 November at 07:19

    “David Streckfuss lives there and wrote an entire book condemning lese majeste.”

    Indeed he did. He is an authority on the matter. Your point is?

  51. Dan White

    13 November at 07:18

    “We gave a lot of evidence to the UK police who arrested an expat returning to London. The expat admitted the whole thing, took a charge of criminal harassment. My wife was targeted after a group of expats realised they couldn’t shut me up by only threatening and harassing me.”

    All in the last 36 hours?

  52. Dan White

    13 November at 07:17

    Andrew

    “I would also add, as I have pointed out above, that as the amendment was withdrawn before the article was published”

    So call the editor….

    “Exposing his hypocrisy will do.”

    You haven’t. You have exposed your own.

    “My opinion has no power to throw anyone in prison”

    No. But your actions do and your actions are unconscionable.

    “Voranai’s entire and bizarre conspiracy theory that some draconian new censorship (non-existent) law was going to pave the way for Evil Thaksin’s return is also exposed to be just plain nonsense.”

    So you don’t think the issue of censorship in Thailand is either an issue or a conspiracy under both the Thaksin and his nominee governments and the Democrats?……. You are a tad naive aren’t you Andrew?

    “So we have Voranai, a man fashioning a conspiracy theory out of thin air”

    Tell that to Ji and Joe Gordon…. Joe can walk out of prison and Ji can get on a plane to Bangkok. Censorship is a pivotal issue in modern Thailand.

    “He has zero credibility.”

    Thank you Mr Goebells.

  53. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 07:11

    Dan

    I agree, the UDD should’ve taken the offer of the election if only to save lives.

    Made that point repeatedly at the time and still argue about that with my UDD friends now. Weird how you missed that.

    As for death threats. Yep, they have been very real. They included my wife being targeted with pictures of mutilated corpses and almost 1000 graphic racist and misogynistic sexual comments. I’ve even had HRW contact me and express their concern.

    We gave a lot of evidence to the UK police who arrested an expat returning to London. The expat admitted the whole thing, took a charge of criminal harassment. My wife was targeted after a group of expats realised they couldn’t shut me up by only threatening and harassing me.

    I’ve been in Thailand for 16weeks this year. David Streckfuss lives there and wrote an entire book condemning lese majeste. You only have excuses Dan.

  54. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 06:59

    Dan

    I don’t think Voranai should be censored.

    Exposing his hypocrisy will do.

    My point is that Voranai is not credible to write for an organisation such as Index while he continues to support lese majeste. His previous views on lese majeste endorse that point.

    That’s not “censorship” – it’s an opinion. My opinion has no power to throw anyone in prison or control the printing presses.

    I would also add, as I have pointed out above, that as the amendment was withdrawn before the article was published, Voranai’s entire and bizarre conspiracy theory that some draconian new censorship (non-existent) law was going to pave the way for Evil Thaksin’s return is also exposed to be just plain nonsense.

    So we have Voranai, a man fashioning a conspiracy theory out of thin air based on a non-existent law lecturing all and sundry about censorship while he has previously written, at length, about why he supports the very draconian lese majeste law.

    He has zero credibility.

  55. Dan White

    13 November at 06:52

    Andrew:
    ” The UDD called for an election.”

    Which they were duly offered and they refused. Their political arm then went on to win the election that was scheduled anyway…. Not really worth 91 dead souls was it?…. Funnily enough the whole skulking band of Thaksin henchmen who make up 80% of the Red leadership ran away and emerged entirely unharmed!….. Such was their concern for the ‘little people’ they encouraged into the line of fire. What wonderfully principalled and brave people they are!

  56. Dan White

    13 November at 06:48

    Andrew…. I very much doubt if you have received threats because of what you have written here (although I don’t doubt for a moment lying and untruth is in the lexicon of most drama queens)…. You have been receiving death threats for years I heard…. mainly from sub-editors charged with the thankless task of knocking your copy into shape…. Its the alliteration that makes them so bitter you know.

    What is rather more disturbing is the sly cyber manouvering you employ when addressing those in Thailand who live under some of the most Kafakaesque laws on earth and attempting to draw them into conversations that may have the consequence of forcing them to leave the country (like poor Ji) or incarcerated in prison like Joe Gordon. It is unspeakable and part and parcel of your ruthlessly underhand and inhumane totalitarian agenda. You should be ashamed of yourself. Not only do you advocate censorship of legitimate media workers, you also play corrupt incipient fascists in funny shirts… Not on big boy.

  57. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 06:44

    Greg

    You seemingly forget the huge differences that exist between the PAD and the UDD.

    The PAD called for a coup. The UDD called for an election.

    The PAD wanted a return to military officers appointed to parliament. The UDD called for a return to the 1997 People’s Constitution.

    Or did you forget all that?

    What was Thaksin’s reaction to the PAD protests in 2005 & 2006?

    He called an election and when that was annulled called another one.

    What was Abhisit’s reaction to the UDD in 2010? 10,000 heavily armed troops and snipers.

    Those are the historical and inescapable facts.

    The UDD remain the largest and most progressive social movement in Thailand’s history and has the support of millions of Thais. I have no doubt there are some ruthless, reactionary assholes amid that movement – in fact, when investigating extra judicial killings in the north, I met some very creepy people – but I certainly don’t make the mistake of dismissing the large majority of that movement because of a handful of people.

    But then again I don’t have to rationalise and make excuses for my support of a massacre of UDD supporters that happened on my doorstep and which I didn’t unequivocally condemn.

  58. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 06:28

    Dan, Greg

    Re: Threats.

    After your personal abuse and accusations here I started to receive threats because I am “anti-monarchy”.

    You threw that accusation out there as a “fact” knowing full well the consequences of doing so.

    As I said before, it is shameful.

    Andrew

  59. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 06:23

    Greg,

    I have written about every single issue you mention there.

    Seh Daeng’s links to the anti-communist death squads, the fact that he supported violence, Samak’s links to Thammasat and you can also find my opinions about Thaksin in print in bookshops.

    You very obviously criticise my work without actually reading it.

    Andrew

  60. Dan White

    13 November at 06:21

    So Andrew… Even if that were true (which it isn’t) you would still want to see Voranai and other media works of your choice (or your nameless buddies) be subject to censorship on this site and presumably elsewhere?

  61. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 06:18

    Dan,

    Do you think someone who supports one of the most draconian censorship laws on earth has the sufficient credibility to be writing articles on the evils of censorship?

    Can’t you see the hypocrisy?

    Andrew

  62. Andrew Spooner

    13 November at 06:15

    Emilio

    The amendments to the law Voranai is writing about were rejected before this piece was published.

    If Voranai had done some very basic journalism he would have found that out.

    And there is a huge huge difference between speaking out in support of lese majeste and saying nothing.

    Voranai has written supporting lese majeste.

    Andrew

  63. Dan White

    13 November at 05:25

    And also “suck puppet with no name”

    To requote on the Bangkok Post the writers of which you think should be banned from a website devoted to free speech:

    “Both the former spokesperson of the Thai rak Thai government and the former editor of prachatai.com write for the newspaper.”

    Would you have them chucked off this website as well? Can you name all the other media workers and media organisations you would like to censor?

  64. Dan White

    13 November at 05:08

    Bucio:
    No hay ninguna razón para la invectiva. No es constructivo.

    ‘Man with no name’ who is also ‘not impressed’:

    “And as for the general premise that there’s some kind of moral continuity between the PAD/สลิ่ม and the Red Shirts, I think that’s best forgotten. “

    That must be highly convenient for you.

    “He’s a terrible journalist who has an ideological axe to grind but since everybody knows that the Bangkok Post is a dreadful third-rate rag which exists solely to promote the nonsense you obviously so admire, let him confine himself to that.“

    No he isn’t…. And you obviously have not read The Nation which might put your ill informed ravings into an even more surreal perspective that the one you have already provided.

    “A defender of LM should absolutely not be allowed to use an organization such as the Index on Censorship for domestic political purposes. It’s shameless and unforgivable.”

    So ‘man with no name’ , it would appear that you are against a free press?…. Would you also ban contributions from a writer for the Daily Telegraph?…. Which newspapers make your ‘approved’ list?

  65. Not Impressed By This

    13 November at 00:26

    “Well this clown thinks if you are looking for a clear long and articulate look at the PAD try reading this (but please make sure you take off your ‘happy face’ and ‘funny green wig’ first)

    The Plague of Fanatacism
    http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/220087/the-plague-of-fanaticism

    Like its author, if that’s your defence, you’ve only condemned yourself. So what if he’s not as crazy as the craziest of the crazy? What does that prove? Let me answer that for you: nothing at all. And as for the general premise that there’s some kind of moral continuity between the PAD/สลิ่ม and the Red Shirts, I think that’s best forgotten. He’s a terrible journalist who has an ideological axe to grind but since everybody knows that the Bangkok Post is a dreadful third-rate rag which exists solely to promote the nonsense you obviously so admire, let him confine himself to that. A defender of LM should absolutely not be allowed to use an organization such as the Index on Censorship for domestic political purposes. It’s shameless and unforgivable.

  66. Bucio Diculo

    12 November at 22:10

    Che’ buffone e’ questo Daniele Bianco, che insulta i progressivi ma’ bacia il culo ai sovversivi contro reame. Sembra che non capisce un cazzo. Che’ ipocrita. Crepi.

  67. Dan White

    12 November at 19:56

    Hola Emilio :-)

    Viva el pensamiento claro!…… El control está más allá de nosotros, que vivimos en el país.

    That’s not excusing sanctimonious British people who never understood it in the first place by the way….. Pero su significado es correcto :-)

  68. Emilio Esteban

    12 November at 19:05

    If Voranai had written: “This amendment will (unjustly) add further punishment to what stipulated in Article 112 (lese majeste) and Article 116 (sedition) of the Penal Code” it would demonstrate his political stance on lese majeste clearly.

    But the word “unjustly” does not appear, thus by expressing it in a neutral way, Voranai knowingly or unknowingly manipulates readers on both sides, pro and anti lese majeste, against the Print Act.

    What bothers Voranai about the Print Act is probably not the lese majeste element, but the journalistic restrictions this law would bring.

    Perhaps Voranai is in favour of lese majeste and may be acting “on orders” to discredit the the Yingluck government, but he is against the Print Act which is a foul law that adds to the misery of Thai people.

    Andrew, ease up a little. You know, not everybody in Thailand can say what they really think. If they did they would join Uncle SMS in prison.

    Not everybody can be verbal criminals like you and me Andrew. Not with evil laws like lese majeste on the statute books.

    Abolish lese majeste law!

  69. Dan White

    12 November at 19:04

    He is isn’t he?… Very odd….. Who ‘threatened’ you Andrew?…. Unless the ‘threat’ of the popping of fragile, ill informed and overblown egos counts as ‘assault’ or something approximate… Or maybe it was the ‘Blood soaked, Bastard, Barbarian, Butcher of all things that begin with B’… maybe he was ‘Climbing on a Cataclysmsic, Catastrophe of Corpses’…….. etc etc etc

  70. Greg Lowe

    12 November at 18:16

    Andrew, sorry to bother you again, but can you point out where I have threatened you. You’re making stuff up again.

  71. Greg Lowe

    12 November at 18:14

    Sorry to clarify the people evoking the spirit of 76, I mean those who did or would have supported the Thammasat students. Not those supporting the murderous mobs.

  72. Greg Lowe

    12 November at 18:12

    Andrew

    “He could have looked at what many consider to be the forerunners of the PAD, the Village Scouts and the Red Gaur from 1976, no? As you know they butchered and slaughtered the Thammasat students, burning them alive, raping them.”

    There were former Khrating Daeng (Red Gaur) among the UDD at Ratchaprasong, that would be alongside people evoking the spirit of ’76. The tahaan prahn or black rangers, some of which provided security at the red shirt demos, others who may have been the so-called men in black, we’re established by Chavalit as an anti-communist paramilitary force. Seh Daeng who ran the security for the UDD led anti-communist squads. Panlop Pinmanee who ran anti-communist death squads and was involved in the Khru Sae massacre and was (I think) a young Turk (pro Prem, pro Chamlong), switched side to Thaksin/PPP/PT and provided some strategic guidance to the UDD.

    There are a lot of former RCP cardres and trade union activists among both the PAD and the UDD.

    So the above quote from you is a quintessential example of your one-sided agenda driven “analysis”.

    There are plenty of vile people and groups among both movements, as there are people with righteous anger… UDD who opposed Thaksins ouster by the coup and the judicial activism that led to the banning of the TRT/PPP and the installment of the Democrats, and those in the PAD who were sickened by Thaksins largesse and corruption.

    The situation is far more complex than two legs good, four legs bad. It defies the somewhat polar division of left wing/right wing or rich vs poor… (old amart vs new amart may be more accurate in terms of who is pulling the strings on either side).

    Also, don’t forget that the PPP prime minister Samak Sundaravej also had a role to play in the Oct 6 Massacre, whipping up anti communist, pro royalist feelings and actions via his radio show which some have said catalysed the killing of students, though his part has probably been over emphasized.

    So returning to the Village Scouts, Red Gaur eyc who some say were a precursor to the PAD in terms of their thuggish activities, which is probably true, are we only supposed to look at those on the Yellow side of the fence, or should we also look at the Samak’s, Seh Daeng’s, Chavalit’s, Panlop’s, tahaan prahn etc who joined the red shirts?

    Would that not be more accurate and more honest. Perhaps there were a lot more of these vile types on the side of the PAD, but the only way to know is to inquire properly.

    Balanced investigation could help correct your one-eyed myopia…

  73. Dan White

    12 November at 16:46

    “And make no mistake that hate campaign was begun here by Lowe, White and Voranai.”

    You are having a giraffe aren’t you? Put ‘Not the Nation on Standby’…. As idiotic, self regarding bombast goes this is truly hilarious…. Unless, of course you are actually Desmond Tutu…. In which case you might think about having a nice cup of tea and a lie down….. Don’t mess up your frock sweetie.

  74. Dan White

    12 November at 16:42

    Andrew

    “He could have looked at what many consider to be the forerunners of the PAD, the Village Scouts and the Red Gaur from 1976, no? As you know they butchered and slaughtered the Thammasat students, burning them alive, raping them etc.”

    He could have… But you try and get that down in 1200 words… It was addressed at the right time and the right place…. As for the murderers of ’76…. Their cheerleader (Samak) ended up being a Thaksin sponsored PM before the man was left with no option but to despoil his own fragrant sister, the General who ran anti-CPT forces (Chavalit) was another crony who ended up snout-in-trough and a good number of loyalist rangers and ‘Red Gaur’ ended up as Red thugs beating up passing illegal Khmer immigrants and intimidating the dying in public hospitals…. The games amongst ALL sections of the elites never change….And no, the PAD were no better…. The same…. Both are incipient fascist movements that we hope won’t fully blossom… The Reds are ahead of the yellows right now in as much as they were more effectively used by the faction of the elites that run them…. Capiche?… Your ‘Red’ heroes have feet of clay and your ‘masses’couldn’t give a shit since they never supported them in the first place. They support Thaksin. They always did….

  75. Andrew Spooner

    12 November at 16:34

    As predicted Dan White, Greg Lowe and Voranai’s PAD hate squad have now begun to threaten me.

    It seems if you try to engage a royalist like Voranai in a proper debate you will be targeted for a hate campaign.

    And make no mistake that hate campaign was begun here by Lowe, White and Voranai.

  76. Andrew Spooner

    12 November at 16:13

    Dan

    I’m sorry but that Voranai article you link to is, in my opinion, overwritten pretentious nonsense.

    There is not even any analysis of how the PAD’s “fanaticism” was historically contextualised in the Thai context

    He could have looked at what many consider to be the forerunners of the PAD, the Village Scouts and the Red Gaur from 1976, no? As you know they butchered and slaughtered the Thammasat students, burning them alive, raping them etc.

    A look at who supported, funded and helped them would’ve been a great start to see how Thai “fanaticism” has been shaped and formed, historically.

    Or how about the lynching and murder of the young man with mental health issues at the Erawan shrine a few years back? That was certainly an expression of a form of religious fanaticism.

    Or maybe Voranai believes that Thai fanaticism has no historical precedent and is not constructed by historical forces?

  77. Andrew Spooner

    12 November at 16:02

    Dan, Greg

    Can’t you please both disagree with me without becoming personally abusive or making stuff up.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  78. Andrew Spooner

    12 November at 15:55

    Greg

    There are quotes here from Voranai’s own work that fully support my argument that Voranai is not fit to be criticising censorship while he supports censorship laws like lese majeste.

    If your only response is to then launch into a bitter and lengthy personal attack against me then I can only assume you really have no meaningful counter to my argument.

    In fact the only counter to my argument from both Dan and yourself has been multiple ranting personal attacks.

    Voranai is pro-lese majeste. That is very very clear from his previous work.

    As for absurd bombastic and ludicrously one-eyed accounts of what happened last year, Voranai’s “Do we remember the burning of Thailand?” sets a whole new benchmark.

    The Burning of Thailand?? A bit of an overblown hyperbolic title, no?

    And in that piece Voranai places shopping centres above the murders of nurses and school children as he gives his readers a lesson in “morality”.

    It is completely odious.

    As for you, Dan’s and Voranai’s endless reference to some kind of giant Thaksinite conspiracy, well, maybe you need to try getting hold of some actual evidence rather than just making up stuff in your heads?

    So far you guys, amid all the abuse, have repeatedly accused me of being part of some Thaksin-led agenda and of being anti-monarchy. It’s like you see “Reds under bed” everywhere.

    As you’re a journalist based in Bangkok who is very concerned with issues regarding censorship I take it you have been to Khlong Prem prison to visit the lese majeste prisoners and tell their story to the world? If not, why not? And if not, when?

    Or is it all really down to you keeping hold of your “media visa” as you inferred above?

  79. Dan White

    12 November at 15:49

    “Not impressed with this ) i.e yet another “man with no name” writes:

    “the fact that this has come from someone who has in the past concocted excuses for the semi-fascist PAD”……

    And then

    “that way, you can entertain clowns like Dan White, whilst the rest of us will be saved from your poison.”

    Well this clown thinks if you are looking for a clear long and articulate look at the PAD try reading this (but please make sure you take off your ‘happy face’ and ‘funny green wig’ first)

    The Plague of Fanatacism
    http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/220087/the-plague-of-fanaticism

    As for tired old Spooner and his awful old dreary, Stalinist rants…. The fun of reading them has gone out of it once we realised he was actually real and wasn’t another comical creation of ‘Not the Nation’.

    We also thought that when he wrote, “in a country where the consequences for expressing any anti-monarchy thought can land you in prison for decades”… That he really shouldn’t be trying to provoke those conversations with people who DO actually live here since he knows the legal consequences of discussing those issue freely… Dire consequences of incarceration…. Andrew’s hypocrisy is almost worse than his bombast…. Except that both are overly cumbersome… Its like dodging a speeding tortoise….

  80. Dan White

    12 November at 15:42

    “Not impressed with this ) i.e yet another “man with no name” writes:

    “the fact that this has come from someone who has in the past concocted excuses for the semi-fascist PAD”……

    And then

    “that way, you can entertain clowns like Dan White, whilst the rest of us will be saved from your poison.”

    Well this clown thinks if you are looking for a clear long and articulate look at the PAD try reading this (but please make sure you take off your ‘happy face’ and ‘funny green wig’ first)

    The Plague of Fanatacism
    http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/220087/the-plague-of-fanaticism

    As for tired old Spoenre and his awful old tired and Stalinist rants…. T

  81. Greg Lowe

    12 November at 15:19

    To, er, The Man With No Name

    Regarding this statement: “It is because of our love and reverence for the King and our duty to the constitution that we do not wish to see traitors defile the royal family in such a way.”

    Isn’t it entirely possible that Voranai includes people who level les majeste complaints against people to silence debate. Having had such an unsubstantiated complaint levelled against me and my fellow board members of the FCCT by some PAD supporters, I certainly wouldn’t take the one-eyed perspective which you have adopted which assumes Voranai supports the imprisonment of 61-year old cancer ridden
    men.

    Such assertions are juvenile in the extreme.

    You’re doing a research masters or PhD right? I hope you have a good tutor. The problem with pretty much everything you write, apart from it reading like a bad impersonation of the first exercise in Agitprop for Dummies, is that you are totally agenda driven. You clearly have a stance — nothing wrong with that. But you appear to write from an omnicogniscent position from where you already know everything. You find information to support what you already think, rather than to look at things more objectively. You shy away from honest inquiry and indulge in the worst excesses of student politics/tub thumping. It’s quite shocking and intellectually dishonest.

    You hammer Voranai for not attacking LM on every detail, when you know the full spectrum of issues surrounding this debate for people living and working in Thailand.

    You venture into the bounds of extreme hyperbole and make ludicrous accusations about Voranai’s opeds or assumed political position, simply because every column he writes doesn’t include the Spooner-approved caveat: ‘in 2010 the evil Democrat Party, led by Eton and Oxford educated PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, brutally murdered scores of people and injured thousands in a military crackdown against peaceful working class pro democracy protesters. The protesters were poor and righteous, always. There were no armed elements and claims that a legitimate social movement was being funded and hijacked by former PM Thaksin Shinawatra as a bargaining chip in his plan to return to power are utterly risable.”

    I also assume that you weren’t at the event I moderated at the FCCT prior to this year’s election where Voranai spent most of the time criticising the military, the 2007 Constitution and LM.

    I think you should not be worried about any supposed witch hunt. At worse I would assume its just a bit of numpty baiting. I don’t know many people who would find problems with your basic political positions — especially regarding free speach and the fact that people like Giles have had to flee Thailand — it’s your ludicrously poor analysis, rationing of the truth, general myopia and offensiveness that are the problem.

    Most of the time it’s actually quite amusing — you’re kind of like Rick from The Young Ones, though clearly without his wealth of knowledge or oratory skills — but then it always ends up dull and tiresome.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

  82. Not Impressed By This

    12 November at 15:00

    Voranai:

    “For your further enjoyment, try google my column ”In the name of the King” where the abuse of lese majeste law as a censorship tool is discussed.”

    If that’s the best evidence you can come up with to convince others that you’re a defender of freedom of speech, you’ve convinced me that you are nothing of the kind. Your article (that should probably be in the plural, but let’s leave that, eh) is farcical and the fact that this has come from someone who has in the past concocted excuses for the semi-fascist PAD and for the LM laws is, frankly, obscene, as is the fact that you are shameless enough to use an organization such as the Index on Censorship for party political purposes. I’ve no doubt that you’ve convinced yourself that your columns really are fair and balanced (that has a ring to it, don’t you think) but they’re neither, as would be immediately obvious even to you if you were just to take off your ideological blinkers. Given that that’s not going to happen, perhaps in future you could restrict yourself to the august pages of that paragon of journalist virtue which is the Bangkok Post; that way, you can entertain clowns like Dan White, whilst the rest of us will be saved from your poison.

    Just saw this:

    “And then your question a website on free speech about how dare they let someone (me) practice freed speech on their website. Isn’t this dilemma mind existentially mind boggling?”

    That rather depends on the mind in question, doesn’t it? Perhaps it’s confusing for you but it’s really very simple. If that mind (no need for insults) comes attached to an apologist for censorship (try googling an article titled ”In the name of the King” if you’re not sure why someone might think that), the Index on Censorship is clearly under no obligation to provide a platform to you. Does that boggle you? I hope not.

  83. Dan White

    12 November at 10:36

    Are you ‘frothing’ yet Andrew?…. Don’t worry. Matron says she will be along with the medication shortly.

  84. Dan White

    12 November at 10:08

    Well just deny it then if you feel you were misrepresented…. No need to make a meal of it. You have the freedom of speech to express your unbounded love for anything you like old son…. Even your rather odd self-delusion that you are a bit like Desmond Tutu…

  85. Andrew Spooner

    12 November at 10:04

    Dan

    You claimed the following as fact with no evidence knowing that numerous consequences such as hate campaigns, harassments, arrest, violence etc can flow from such accusations.

    “The fact that Andrew (and maybe you) have an anti monarchical agenda.”

    There is no “fact” and no evidence for your completely false and made up allegation.

    Please withdraw it.

  86. Dan White

    12 November at 09:55

    Nameless

    “Of course, anyone who questions lese majeste is immediately deemed “anti-monarchy” – as you have just done to me above. ”

    Very funny Andrew…

    “Of course, anyone who questions lese majeste is immediately deemed “anti-monarchy””

    No they arn’t. The law is rightfully questioned across the spectrum…

    “You should be utterly ashamed of yourself Dan.”

    Nice bit of pompous and manipulative sanctimony Andrew but, no… You should be contrite for
    a.Putting words into my mouth.
    b. Wantonly extrapolating meaning beyond the words I actually used.

    These are the methods of totalitarian propaganda and YOU should be ashamed of employing them on a website devoted to freedom of speech. I have neither endorsed nor not endorsed the LM laws. My freedom of speech decrees that I should not have to do so unless I wish to. Your freedom of speech does not stretch to putting words into my mouth which is actually a VERY dangerous thing to do to people who live subject to the laws of lese majesté…. Again, a form of totalitarian behaviour and cyber bullying on your part…True to form as ever. Tiresome, but true to form…..

    “You’re engaging in a witch hunt here Dan and are making completely false accusations against myself that could end up with me going to prison for, basically, questioning Voranai. You know full well that is one possible outcome of your accusation and also know full well that it has no factual basis though claim it does.”

    Could you be just a little bit more pompous Andrew?…. Go on… Give it a go.

  87. Andrew Spooner

    12 November at 09:26

    Dan

    Still no answer to the original point.

    Which was that Voranai clearly supports lese majeste and therefore is unfit to write for a website dedicated to ending censorship.

    Of course, anyone who questions lese majeste is immediately deemed “anti-monarchy” – as you have just done to me above. And this line of argument, in a country where the consequences for expressing any anti-monarchy thought can land you in prison for decades, is incredible on a website dedicated to fighting censorship. You should be utterly ashamed of yourself Dan.

    You’re engaging in a witch hunt here Dan and are making completely false accusations against myself that could end up with me going to prison for, basically, questioning Voranai. You know full well that is one possible outcome of your accusation and also know full well that it has no factual basis though claim it does.

    Utterly disgraceful in fact.

  88. Pingback: Curbs on Press Freedom Proposed in Thailand |

  89. The Man with no Name

    12 November at 07:10

    Dan

    Comparing Vlad the Impaler and Pol Pot to both Andrew Spooner and Tutu followed by admonishments that Spooner is a wild-eyed overblown polemicist is actually quite funny in that you do so with no self-awareness whatsoever.

    Ok – here are three quotes from Voranai’s In The Name of the King oped. In this piece there is not one single call for lese majeste to be abolished or properly reformed. Nor does Voranai make any call for a reduction of the law’s punishments, mention the fact that some LM trials are held in secret, or does he namecheck or refer to any lese majeste prisoner or the special treatment they receive. All Voranai is concerned about is that, in his view, some applications of this law have been “politicised”. He also makes zero mention of the fact that lese majeste arrests increased hugely under Democrat Party rule despite much evidence existing that was the case at the time he wrote this piece.

    Voranai writes –

    “There’s a long list of reasons why King Bhumibol Adulyadej is loved and revered – by this writer and a tremendous number of Thais and foreigners.”

    and then

    “With our personal love and reverence for the King and our legal obligation to protect him, should we take issue with those who manipulate the position of the royal family for their own advantage?”

    In these two sentences he is already claiming an absolute – all Thais love/revere the King. He repeats that statement 3times in the piece (for luck, maybe?), the obvious implication being that that is not up for debate. In Voranai’s world it is a cast-iron certainty. Then comes the “legal obligation to protect the monarch. By throwing harmless, cancer-ridden 61year old men into prison for allegedly sending an insulting SMS message? As Voranai makes no mention of sentencing or the fate of political prisoners in this article or any of the other opeds he has written since or before we can only assume Voranai is happy with that part of lese majeste’s application.

    Then we have this –

    “It is because of our love and reverence for the King and our duty to the constitution that we do not wish to see traitors defile the royal family in such a way.”

    Oh my. It is now very clear that Voranai reveals that anyone who “defiles” the monarchy is a “traitor”. Very liberal. Very pro-freedom of expression. I think not.

    He ends with this.

    “As long as we have a lese majeste law in the Kingdom of Thailand, this sort of traitorous betrayal should be viewed as the worst of lese majeste crimes and the false accuser should be punished appropriately according to the fullest extent of the law.”

    Nice. A neat payoff. Of course this paragraph refers to those who use lese majeste for what Voranai considers “politicised” ends. But he clarifies nothing. Does he think Da Torpedo should remain in prison? What about Ar Kong or Somyot? Maybe, as they are very likely “Thaksin apologists” or, even worse, “Thaksin supporters” they deserve prison?

    I don’t know.

    But seeing as Voranai refuses to either explain or defend that oped it is very hard to say.

  90. Dan White

    11 November at 10:32

    Andrew

    “I’m very proud I’m not neutral. The same as Bishop Tutu when he said, “Those who are neutral in the face of injustice are on the side of the oppressor.”

    Yes…. I am sure both Vlad the Impaler and Pol Pot made the same proud boast…. If all this makes you feel like Desmond Tutu, so be it…. Anyway, we didn’t need you to confirm the fact that you are an avowed polemicist who makes absolutely no attempt to assess the facts or realities from anything other than a narrow minded, pre-defined and tendentious perspective…. But good of you to confirm categorically that this is in fact the case.

    “As for my ignorance – what do you know about the lese majeste and political prisoner Ar Kong? Tell me about his health condition and his extended family.”

    Only if you tell me about a small corner shop in Mukdahan run by a midget called Poo and his auntie Nut who has type 1 diabetes.

    “ Can you remind me who is ignorant again?”

    A couple of prison visits to a convict of your choice (unjustly incarcerated or not) doesn’t make you knowledgeable Andrew.

    “Do you and Voranai think Giles’ should be allowed to express and organise republican thought? “

    From my point of view, yes. Absolutely….. But why do you think Peua Thai sponsored further restrictions on a free press in an already over censored society will further enhance his liberty to do that in his own country is beyond me.

    “Previously Voranai wrote a piece supporting 95% of the lese majeste law and expressing his unbounded love for the Thai monarchy.

    Can you provide a link to the piece here? …. And just as a matter of interest what do you believe was the 5% that didn’t? Can you highlight the particular words or sentences of which you approved?

    “Do you and Voranai accept that Thaksin-aligned parties are massively popular in Thailand and have won the last 5 elections, in 2001, 2005 (single party parliamentary majority), 2006 (single party parliamentary majority), 2007, 2011 (single party parliamentary majority)?”

    I can. For sure, yes. It is a matter of historical record.

    “You live in a country where 10s of millions of people love Thaksin. Recognising that simple fact doesn’t make me an apologist for him, it just makes me someone who realises the reality of the situation.”

    That is your ignorance and simplicity showing again Andrew. I once lived in a country run for 11 years by a democratically elected prime minister called Margaret Thatcher. At no point did the fact the majority of Britons voted for her convince me that she was a good thing for the British Isles. In fact I think that the UK still lives with her poisonous legacy today. In the same way, the present government of Thailand overseen by the Shinawatra political mafia clan in alliance with comparably evil sharks and political warlords such as Chalerm Yubaumrung and Banharn Silpa Archa does not represent political or democratic progress. Peua Thai are however the elected government.

    Is the Thonburi mafia of Chalerm or the Suphan mafia of Banharn better or worse than the Surat mafia of Suthep or the Buriram mafia of Newin?….. No…. They bare the same. That’s why this government does not represent progress. It represents cronyism and stagnation with all the same old faces…. Same old, same old….

    The situation is both feudal, territorial and rather more complex on many levels than your two dimensional definitions allow. A correct analysis of power and the abuse power here is something that is quite obviously way beyond your grasp…. It is not, however, beyond the grasp of Voranai…. Which is why his columns are both apposite and thought provoking, whilst your selective, noisy and tendentious polemicising isn’t.

  91. Andrew Spooner

    11 November at 06:46

    Dan

    I don’t have a problem with Voranai’s (or your) bias and lack of neutrality.

    I have problem when you and he pretend you are “neutral” (read Voranai’s comments above) when you clearly aren’t.

    I’m very proud I’m not neutral. The same as Bishop Tutu when he said “Those who are neutral in the face of injustice are on the side of the oppressor.”

    As for my ignorance – what do you know about the lese majeste and political prisoner Ar Kong? Tell me about his health condition and his extended family. Tell me what terrible and painful action lese majeste and political prisoner Da Torpedo had to take to carry on eating? I’ve been to visit Da and know, for a fact, neither you or Voranai have. Can you remind me who is ignorant again?

    Do you and Voranai think Giles’ should be allowed to express and organise republican thought? Do you think Giles should be threatened with 18years in prison for writing a book?

    Previously Voranai wrote a piece supporting 95% of the lese majeste law and expressing his unbounded love for the Thai monarchy.

    But do Voranai and you accept that other Thais may hold different views and opinions different to the widely perceived though never tested dominant “norm”?

    By making these points and raising these questions here does that make me a Thaksin apologist?

    Do you and Voranai accept that Thaksin-aligned parties are massively popular in Thailand and have won the last 5 elections, in 2001, 2005 (single party parliamentary majority), 2006 (single party parliamentary majority), 2007, 2011 (single party parliamentary majority)?

    You live in a country where 10s of millions of people love Thaksin. Recognising that simple fact doesn’t make me an apologist for him, it just makes me someone who realises the reality of the situation.

    Why won’t Voranai answer my questions on his views on lese majeste?

  92. Dan White

    11 November at 05:20

    Hi Giles and Andrew

    Either of you accusing anyone else of bias of any sort is bit rich given the wildly partisan nature of your regularly peddled polemics (Giles’s come with knowledge, erudition and historical context, whilst Andrew’s come with bombast, vitriol and ignorance). Indeed Voranai’s columns are expressly oped and billed as such and the common thread that runs through them all is a condemnation of the powerful on all sides of the political divide and their selfish and brutal manouverings…. The idea that he is some kind of an establishment mouthpiece is laughable. He was as hard on the previous government as he is on this one. In terms of the PAD and the UDD he is justifiably hard on both, although he took apart the leadership of the PAD with particular relish I am glad to say.

  93. Andrew Spooner

    10 November at 21:04

    Giles,

    Agree with almost everything you write.

    Voranai, like most oped writers, is selective on what bits of evidence he uses.

    I have no problem with that. He has his bias and opeds are the home of that.

    What I loathe and think is one of the most appalling facets of the discourse surrounding English language media in Thailand is the supposition that if you adopt a Voranai type position you are “neutral”. It is, of course, a complete fallacy.

    For some reason the Bangkok elite’s version of Thai history and events has become the “objective” reference point. As soon as one argues against it you are accused of “bias”.

    Voranai writes opinion pieces not straight reporting.

    His opinions reveal his bias. Fine. No problem

    But, as you know, that certainly isn’t “neutral” anymore than being supportive of the Red Shirts is.

    From the meeting of those two points is where debate emerges not from a Voranai-esque “when you’re as neutral as me then you’ll be ok” type nonsense.

  94. Andrew Spooner

    10 November at 20:51

    Voranai,

    Still avoiding the questions. No surprise there.

    Why do you support lese majeste? One of the most draconian censorship laws on earth. Your article In the Name of the King clearly reveals you support it. How then are you a credible voice to write about how terrible censorship is while you support such a law? Have you even heard of Ar Kong the sweet little harmless old man rotting in a Bangkok prison for allegedly sending SMS messages? Why not write about?

    Oh, I forgot, he’s facing LM charges and you support LM, don’t you?

    Furthermore, why did you spend almost 1000words condemning those who set the fires in Bangkok but not those who shot and massacred people? Does Nurse Ked and her family even exist for you? What about the fact that her killers are still evading justice? And that those killers were acting under orders from the unelected military-imposed Abhisit regime. Yet you now believe that those actions are irrelevant. What kind of justice do you believe in? The kind where soldiers can shoot kids and medical workers?

    My point it that you are not a credible commentator on human rights or censorship. Calling you out on that is absolutely accurate however much slipperiness you evince.

    Your previous work reveals that shopping centres are more important to you than human lives and that you only seek tiny, meaningless reforms to lese majeste. Those imprisoned under those laws are an irrelevance to you and deserve no comment from you. It’s probably accurate to say you believe it is right that they are incarcerated. Particularly the guilty ones, right?

    As for your neutrality. This is the endless refrain from Dem Party and establishment voices like yours – anyone who supports the status quo is neutral; anyone who expresses a different opinion is biased.

    And your support for the establishment and elites, going on your previous work, remains undimmed.

    Finally, anyone who disagrees with you or your expat buddies who showed up here, is always painted with the Thaksin brush.

    Well, I paint you with the brush that you said nothing while your fellow citizens were being gunned down like animals on your own streets and that you support lese majeste.

    A fake liberal, with fake credentials and zero credibility. It’s a complete joke Index published your fake article based on an amendment to a law that never even got past the proposal stage.

  95. Andrew Spooner

    10 November at 20:25

    Greg Lowe,

    Please point to one single article where I have apologised for any abuse that occurred under Thaksin’s rule. Doesn’t and never has existed. But what is certain is that you and your other expats are on record as being apologists for the massacre that occurred in Bangkok last year.

    16year old kids and nurses were murdered on the streets where you live and you still can’t bring yourself to condemn what happened.

  96. Dan White

    10 November at 06:25

    Andrew Spooner… Did you bother to read Khun Voranai’s 2 pieces excoriating General Chamlong, a leader of the PAD?…. As he also points out “Both the former spokesperson of the Thai rak Thai government and the former editor of prachatai.com write for the newspaper.”

    This doesn’t mean that the Bangkok Post is necessarily a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ newspaper, but it does mean that, just for once, it might be advisable for you to start dealing with established (and indeed ‘googleable’) fact rather than issuing your usual litany of tired, bizarre, bombastic and ill informed polemics. Voranai has a published record of holding politicians from ALL sides of the political divide to account. If only, Andrew, one was able to say the same thing about you.

  97. Greg Lowe

    10 November at 05:52

    Andrew

    If Voranai should “explain in full the Bangkok Post’s direct connections to the Democrat Party.” Isn’t it about time that you finally admit to being an apologist for Thaksin?

    You know, pot calling kettle and all that.

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  100. westerner

    8 November at 09:25

    “The proposed amendment to the Printing Act of 2007, if passed by parliament into law, will give the national police chief the power to close down any news media with impunity.”

    “The amendment of the Printing Act is viewed as another step to consolidate power and influence public opinions in the bid to pave the way for the return of Mr Thaksin to Thailand and, eventually, to power.”

    Whatever the reason, this stinks to high heaven.

  101. Giles Ungpakorn

    8 November at 08:44

    The new Thai printing law is yet another draconian law which will further reduce the freedom of expression in Thailand. It should be vigorously opposed. We should also call for the total scrapping of both the lèse majesté law and the computer crimes law which have contributed to the terrible atmosphere of censorship and repression in Thailand. The lèse majesté law has not been “abused”. The law itself is “an abuse” of human rights. So is the status of the Monarchy. It is certainly true that the democratically elected Taksin government harassed the press and committed human rights abuses in the South and in the war on drugs. The problem with Voranai Vanijaka’s article is that he chooses to ignore the role of the Military. Since the 2006 military coup, the Military and the military-installed Democrat government dramatically increased the use of lèse majesté and the computer crimes law. Many people are in jail. Some are refused bail before trial. Others, like me, have had to leave the country for writing an anti-coup book. Added to this was the Military and Democrat Party’s deliberate murder in cold blood of unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators in 2010. This was clearly a gross abuse of the freedom of expression. Voranai distorts the facts by claiming that the Red Shirts are merely a tool of Taksin. In fact it is the largest social movement for democracy in Thailand’s history, containing many political currents. What Voranai fails to grasp is that the new Yingluk government has done a dirty deal with the Military behind the backs of the Red Shirts. In practice this means the continued use of the Monarchy to give legitimacy to the Military and the continued use of censorship and lèse majesté.
    Voranai cannot be held responsible for the editorial position of the Bangkok Post. But a few years ago the paper asked me to write an article about the 6th October 1976 bloodbath. They refused to print the article because I mentioned the role of the King in encouraging the violence. I was told at the time that the Palace had shares in the paper. The editor even tried to sue me for stating that the Bangkok Post had had a role in the violence too. At the time, many people including myself and my father believed that the paper had either touched up a photo or announced that the students were staging a mock play to hang the Prince. This was not actually the case. But it remains true to this day that the paper has never been interested in printing the whole truth about the 6th October events.

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  103. voranai vanijaka

    8 November at 05:46

    Update: the legislation has been withdrawn.

    When reporter asked if the cabinet will submit a redraft, the cultural minister said let’s worry about the flood now first and talk about the amendment later.

    Uncork the champagne.

  104. voranai vanijaka

    8 November at 02:29

    Mr Andrew,

    I have the exact same argument with you as I do with supporters of the Abhisit Government.

    One even wrote to the editor saying my criticisms of Mr Abhisit stemm from jealousies.

    If supporters on both sides of the political divide actually recognize how much alike you guys are, then perhaps reconciliation is a real possibilities.

    *** and if this amendment to the Printing Act do not pass, I would be all the happier for it.

  105. Voranai vanijaka

    8 November at 01:55

    As for the balance of the Bangkok post.

    Both the former spokesperson of the Thai rak Thai government and the former editor of prachatai.com write for the newspaper.

    That’s factual evidences that the post stands for free speech.

  106. voranai vanijaka

    8 November at 01:32

    Mr Andrew and Mr Protus,

    This is exactly the problem. Your issue here is not the balance of my work, but that I do not share your same politics.

    I have provided you with factual evidence that I do criticize all abuse of freedom.

    Your argument is that I don’t attack the democrats enough, or that I don’t attack them exactly how you would.Or that I did not mention this and that name.

    Nothing I write would please you, because you are a fervent supporter of Mr Thaksin & Co and hater of Mr Abhisit & Co.

    I am neither. I only stand for freedom and rule of law.

    But the point is, I criticize the abuse of free speech, from all governments. I criticize corruptions, from all governments. Such is my job.

    Make google your best friend and look them up.

    You have yet to show any proof as how I favor one government over the other.

    There are only two things you have done here:

    First, is to make claims that I am bias without any evidence.

    Second, is to make suggestions of exactly how I should criticize in order to meet your approvals.

    Your argument is not based on reasons, but based only on your utter incredulity of how I do not share and express your same politics, in the same way that you would.

    But here’s the stinker:

    And then your question a website on free speech about how dare they let someone (me) practice freed speech on their website.

    Isn’t this dilemma mind existentially mind boggling?

  107. Protus

    7 November at 16:49

    Khun Voranai,

    I am sorry but Khun Andrew is correct.

    You have written nothing about the lese majeste prisoners, such as Da Torpedo, Somyot, Surachai, Joe Gordon.

    I think you don’t like those people cos you see them as Red Shirt Thaksin supporters so you don’t care about them.

    Please don’t lie to people here.

    Thanks you.

  108. Andrew Spooner

    7 November at 16:41

    Voranai

    Here’s some “facts” for you.

    It’s very clear in your In the Name of the King that you don’t attack the extent or provisions of lese majeste.

    In fact, while you condemn its politicised use you defend, at length, its other applications.

    You don’t call for the law’s removal and any reform you suggest is not based on reducing length of sentences. It’s very clear you support much about lese majeste.

    For Index on Censorship to publish a contributor who defends such a law as lese majeste is utterly bizarre.

    For you to then write a piece attacking the present government for possibly creating anti-freedom of expression laws while you defend a law deemed one of the most draconian censorship laws on earth reveals a level of one-eyed hypocrisy that shreds any remaining credibility you may have had.

  109. Andrew Spooner

    7 November at 16:20

    Voranai

    Ok – here’s some facts you might want to clear up.

    Please explain in full the Bangkok Post’s direct connections to the Democrat Party.

    Please explain why you failed to mention that these proposals are now very unlikely to happen.

    Please explain why you and your paper failed to call for the resignation of PM Abhisit while his regime was gunning down nurses and children on the streets of Bangkok?

    No, Abhisit’s government is not old news. And it won’t be until it is held to account for the bloodshed on the streets of Bangkok last year.

    Or are you suggesting that such crimes should be forgotten?

    Millions of Thais beyond your own pampered Silom/Sukhumvit Road existence certainly believe Abhisit’s Democrat Party government should be held to account.

    Or do you dismiss their cries for justice – as previous Thai regimes did for the victims of the Thammasat and other massacres?

    There’s also no need to apologise to me. Apologise to the families of the dead and imprisoned who have been traumatised by the previous Democrat Party regime who you have just completely dismissed with one arrogant word after another.

  110. voranai vanijaka

    7 November at 15:35

    Mr Andrew,

    Perhaps you forgot to read the paragraph about the censorship under the Democrat regime.

    If so, it’s understandable given the anger and frustrations in your post. It’s common enough. I myself only read when I have a clear mind.

    For your further enjoyment, try google my column ”In the name of the King” where the abuse of lese majeste law as a censorship tool is discussed. This was written when the democrats were in charge.

    If you find that the article above focused too much on the Yingluck government and not enough on the Ahbisit government, I do sympathize.

    But please allow me to explain that it is simply because the Yingluck government is today’s news, the Abhisit government is yesterday’s news.

    That’s what news is, even if you may disapprove of it. You have my condolences for your disappointment.

    I also entirely agree with the findings of the international indice on freedom of expression. Censorship was at its worst under the Abhisit regime in modern Thai history.

    Shooting in the streets and emergency decree do terrible things to free speech, as bias and prejudice do terrible things to the mind.

    I hope ”factual evidences” help to clear things up for you.

    I also would like to apologize for any misinterpretation you may have had, and will continue to have.

  111. Andrew Spooner

    7 November at 14:19

    What isn’t mentioned here is that Voranai writes for a newspaper which is very very closely associated with the Thai Democrat Party.

    He 100% fails to mention in this piece that according to every single available international indice on freedom of expressionHe 100% fails to mention in this piece that according to every single available international indice on freedom of expression, from Freedom House to Reporters Without Borders Thailand was better under Thaksin than the previous Democrat Party regime that Voranai and his paper are so fond of.

    The likes of Voranai have a very poor understanding of democracy. Many wealthy Bangkokians like Voranai just simply can’t accept that the majority of Thais have repeatedly elected a Thaksin-aligned govt.

    It is a real shame and quite an embarrassment to see an organisation like Index being co-opted by a deeply politicised Bangkok Post op-ed writer in this manner.

    Also, make no mistake. The Thai Democrat Party have done more to abrogate democracy in Thailand than any other political party in recent years. They took power in 2008 after supporting actions staged by the PAD – an organisation described as “neo-fascist” by the Asian Human Rights Commission – and then relied on a brutal massacre of 90+ Thai civilians (including nurses and children) last year to keep power. The Democrats then unleashed a wave of censorship, imprisonments and a deeply politicised use of Thailand’s lese majest laws that have never been experienced in that country before.

    The likes of Voranai and his associates in the Bangkok Post were almost silent throughout all of this.

    Their credibility to comment on any issue regarding human rights and censorship is almost zero.


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