A letter from occupied Thialand

August 11, 2010

In Thailand, freedom of speech is a severe danger to the ruling class

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Tantawut Taweewarodomkun (¸Ñ¹Âì°ÇØ²Ô ·ÇÕÇâôÁ¡ØÅ), U.D.D. USA’s web designer, known as “Red Eagle”, who was arrested on 1 April 2010, on “Computer Crimes” and lese majeste charges, has been remanded in custody until February 2011, when the court has set a date to interrogate prosecution and defence witnesses. That means that Red Eagle will be detained in prison for at least 10 months BEFORE being tried in court. He has only just had access to his lawyer. Red Eagle has not been charged with any crime of violence or charged with committing any physical act. He is accused of looking after a website which had comments which the royalist elites do not like (see http://www.norporchorusa.com and http://www.norporchorusa2.com).

Da Torpedo or Daranee Chancheangsilapakun (´ÒÃ³Õ ªÒ­àªÔ§ÈÔÅ»¡ØÅ) who is in jail serving an 18 year sentence for lese majeste, has again been denied bail pending an appeal. The judge claimed that hers was a “very serious crime” and that she would escape if given bail. Her brother has started a fund to support her. Anyone interested in donating should read the article in Prachatai. http://www.prachatai3.info/journal/2010/08/30636

Once again, echoing the Cold War era of Thai dictatorships, Thai university authorities have sent out a letter saying that all student activities must be closely monitored, including plays. This is because they don’t want any “political activities” on campus, except of course, the constant attempts to promote the Monarchy and the ruling elites…. which everyone knows are “not political”. Most Thai academics believe that the 2006 military coup was a “democratic coup” and that it is possible for the present junta to sponsor “political reform” under the guidance of a former unelected Prime Minister who served the military.

Earlier in 2008, fascist PAD leaders (who are backed by the army, the Monarchy, and the present Government) were given immediate bail over charges of occupying Government House. During the occupation, the PAD used violence and destroyed public property. After being granted bail, the PAD leaders immediately returned to the occupation, but no one was punished. They then went on to cause violent incidents outside parliament. In December 2008 they then seized the two international airports, preventing all flights in and out of Thailand. More recently have been busy trying to cause a war with Cambodia. Their latest gathering, which breaks the Government’s emergency decree, was blessed by military backed Prime Minister Abhisit.

The PAD leaders have used violence against other citizens, have damaged property and they have re-offended repeatedly. Yet they are all free.

There is also a great deal of evidence that millions of baht are being used in a corrupt manner to buy MPs and get them to change parties to join Pumjai Thai Party, which is in coalition with Abhisit’s so-called Democrat Party. These manoeuvrings are designed to “fix” any future elections because the Democrats and Pumjai Thai have never won a majority in a democratic election. Naturally, there are no charges being brought against Pumjai Thai, either for corruption or for electoral irregularities.

Queen Sirikit has once again violated the Constitution and intervened in politics by praising a letter which criticises CNN’s coverage of the Thai political crisis. Earlier Sirikit showed her blatant support for the PAD by attending the funeral of a PAD demonstrator. The PAD have made no secret of their aim to drastically reduce the democratic space in Thailand. Sirikit is celebrating her birthday in mid August. She will be called “the Mother of the Thai Nation” by toadies of the royalist elites. Yet, her mothering skills are highly questionable if the Crown Prince is anything to go by. Sirikit may not be the Mother of All Thais, but she is the initiator of the “mother of all squandering of public money”. In 1980 she spent 100 million baht on a 67 day holiday in the U.S.A.

King Pumipon has failed to carry out his duty as Head of State by remaining silent when the military –backed Government shot dead nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians between April and May 2010. In fact Pumipon has never done anything other than to support the ruling elites. Occasionally he preaches that the poor must be content with their poverty, while he, his family, and his cronies live in luxury.

But in Thailand, citizens are not allowed to speak these truths….. This is because the Monarchy has been deliberately been built into a sacred institution above criticism. A false image of its power has been deliberately fostered so that the army generals and the conservative elites can do as they please and destroy democracy, all in the name of the King.

Eye candy: where’s the real target, Janet?

July 18, 2010

The opinions of bloggers make news. Welcome to News 2.0.

Former TV reporter, now media trainer, Janet Wilson, caused a small fuss when her blog post Eye Candy was reported in Saturday’s New Zealand Herald by James Ihaka. Of course one could observe (a tad cynically) that the story made it onto page 2 only because it could legitimately get the phrase ‘tits and teeth’ into the headline.

While the Herald story is not entirely sympathetic, no doubt Janet Wilson will be pleased, working on the principle that being talked about is better than not being talked about.

I for one made some effort to track down Janet’s blog; which incidentally doesn’t appear in the results of the Google search I conducted using ‘Janet Wilson Adjust your set’. I found it thanks to  Ele Ludemann  at homepaddock who had thoughtfully linked from her blog because the ‘adjust your set’ search term takes you to this post.

Anyway, in a round-about way that brings me to the point: Janet gives a spray and takes exception to the young, female faces on television because – in her opinion – they are all ‘tits and teeth’ and know nothing  much about journalism.

The implication is that they’re hired by middle-aged men who merely want ‘eye candy’ to a) decorate the newsroom and b) attract viewers to the evening news broadcast who share their taste in nubile wenchy-things who are ‘loved’ by the camera.

I’m not sure who the target of this diatribe is, but there’s plenty who can take offence. Read the rest of this entry »

Harry Nicolaides comes home

February 22, 2009

Author Harry Nicolaides is back in Melbourne after being granted a royal pardon by the Thai king.
Harry spent six months in jail for the crime of les majeste – insulting the Thai royal family.

Full story in the Melbourne Age. [Tx Medusa for the tip-off]

Pardon Harry – no slight to the King intended

February 18, 2009

The ABC has reported that Harry Nicolaides, the Australian writer jailed for insulting the Thai royal family has been recommended for a King’s pardon. That’s good news, but Harry’s not free yet.

Meanwhile, for another good source of material about censorship in Thailand, try FACT.

Free Harry – offer not available in Thailand

You might also be interested in this story about a British author who has been banned from appearing at a literary festival in Dubai. Her book apparently contains references to homosexuality and was deemed by the organisers as too controversial.

British author Geraldine Bedell says her upcoming book has been banned in the United Arab Emirates, and she was dropped from a literary festival in Dubai because her novel contains references to homosexuality and was deemed critical of Islam.

Bedell, a journalist with the Observer newspaper, said she had been in talks with the organizers of the first International Festival of Literature in Dubai about launching The Gulf Between Us, which is set in the Gulf region

It’s a worry that this stuff is going on today, I guess it always has, but we have to keep reminding ourselves that Enlightenment is only skin deep in some parts of the world.

Free Harry – offer not available in Thailand

February 11, 2009

A couple of my very good Aussie friends were visiting Aotearoa this week and we caught up last night for yakitori at Tanuki’s Cave. Unfortunately Tanuki’s is not really a cocktail bar, so I never bother ordering a Martini there. Instead I go for the ice-cold Kirin.

I love Tanuki’s, it has a great jazz soundtrack, the food is fantastic, there’s a good Sake menu and the atmosphere is probably among the coolest in town. As usual the conversation with P&P flowed with the beers and they told me the disturbing story of Harry Nicolaides.

I haven’t come across any coverage of Harry, though I was on my “OE” when most of the drama was taking place. It certainly didn’t make much of a splash in the UK media.

Poor old Harry is festering in a Thai jail for insulting the Thai king in one line in a self-published novel that has sold seven copies. It seems that at least one copy found its way into the hands of the Thai secret police, because  in August 2008 Harry  was arrested and charged with the crime of “le majeste”.

The Thais take their royal family very seriously – we’ve all seen those fading colour prints in Thai restaurants all over the world – and Harry Nicolaides is now paying the price.

It’s a shocking way to treat anyone, but Harry did not set out to offend the Thai king and he’s also issued a sincere public apology. Unfortunately, he’s now in prison serving a three-year sentence.

A website and campaign has been established to bring Harry home. Read the rest of this entry »