Thai junta goes to war with the Internet

SAMANTHA SIN/AFP For Thailand’s “Council for Democratic Reform”—that is, the military junta that seized control of the country last September—no politics is good politics, it seems. Last week, the Thai government, no doubt nervous about widening opposition to military rule, banned Google’s YouTube because of a video mocking King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The latest shoe to ...

602728_070409_youtube_05.jpg
602728_070409_youtube_05.jpg

SAMANTHA SIN/AFP

For Thailand's "Council for Democratic Reform"—that is, the military junta that seized control of the country last September—no politics is good politics, it seems. Last week, the Thai government, no doubt nervous about widening opposition to military rule, banned Google's YouTube because of a video mocking King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The latest shoe to drop: Temporarily banning politics from Pantip.com, the country's top chat site, after it made the mistake of hosting chatter about the YouTube ban. Al Jazeera reports:

The site initially posted a notice saying that its political forum, known as the Rajdamnoen Room, was suspended at the ministry's request for "national security" reasons. The notice was later withdrawn. [...]

SAMANTHA SIN/AFP

For Thailand’s “Council for Democratic Reform”—that is, the military junta that seized control of the country last September—no politics is good politics, it seems. Last week, the Thai government, no doubt nervous about widening opposition to military rule, banned Google’s YouTube because of a video mocking King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The latest shoe to drop: Temporarily banning politics from Pantip.com, the country’s top chat site, after it made the mistake of hosting chatter about the YouTube ban. Al Jazeera reports:

The site initially posted a notice saying that its political forum, known as the Rajdamnoen Room, was suspended at the ministry’s request for “national security” reasons. The notice was later withdrawn. […]

[O]n Monday, pantip.com urged members to post messages condemning Google for not removing the video clips that mocked the king.

More than 1,000 people had posted messages, including one that said Google’s reaction had “really hurt the people of Thailand” and showed a lack of respect for the country’s culture and traditions.

No doubt Pantip.com is hoping to avoid sharing the fate of the 45,000 other sites (most of them pornographic, but some political) that are reportedly blocked in Thailand. Ultimately, this all raises the question: If the Thai government intends to make good on its (shaky) promise to hold parliamentary elections in December, how is campaigning supposed to work in such a chilly media climate?

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.