Like a Facebook post about a military coup in Thailand and you could get arrested
Freedom of speech in Thailand doesn’t really exist, we all know this. Known as one of the world’s worst countries for freedom of speech (it’s currently 137th out of 179 countries on the Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders), if you’ve spent time in Thailand or live in the kingdom, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear if you agree with or ‘like’ a post about a possible military coup in Thailand on Facebook, you could be arrested and imprisoned. Lovely, eh?
Apparently, the Thai government (and the military) are worried about posts circulating on Facebook that there may be a military coup in Thailand in the coming weeks. The posts are warning people to “prepare for a military coup” and “stock up on supplies”.
So worried are the Thai government and police, they are now warning Thais, if you ‘like’ or ‘share’ political rumours on Facebook (or anywhere else online for that matter), you will be arrested and imprisoned.
Who is currently being investigated in Thailand over coup rumours?
There are currently four people Thai police are investigating, including Sermsuk Kasitipradit, the political editor of public television channel TPBS, as they say they have been “causing panic” with their Facebook posts.
Police Major General Pisit Paoinadded has also warned, via the news media in Thailand, anyone ‘liking’ these people’s posts on Facebook, or any other similar posts anywhere else, will face arrest.
Will there be a military coup in Thailand?
There are two things I can say to this:
First, Thailand has become a scarier country than the one I came to 10 years ago when it comes to freedom of speech and basic human rights. Although I do still love Thailand, the direction this country is taking in these two areas is more than a little troubling.
Secondly, as for a possible military coup in Thailand in the coming weeks, do I believe there will be one? No, not for a second.
In fact, although there always seems to be some kind of political upheaval going on in Thailand, and it has been ongoing for most of the time I’ve been here, I actually believe the country is much more stable than it was just a couple of years ago. It just feels that way and a huge percentage of Thais I know believe the same thing.
I do think, however, those spreading rumours about a possible military coup in Thailand are often anti-government, anti-Pheu Thai, and most definitely anti-Thaksin (the former Thai prime minister who was ousted in a military coup) and so are desperate to cause some kind of panic, with the hope that it will unseat the government. (But no, I don’t for a second believe that will ever happen either).
Is Thailand currently more stable or more unstable politically?
Now, I’m not a big Yingluck Shinawatra or Pheu Thai fan at all. But I do have to say that, under their governance, Thailand has become much more stable than it was under the former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Sure, there are still problems, (the rice debacle being one of the current ones) but, overall, Thais seem happier and less worried about political upheaval, the economy is doing well, and tourists and businesses are coming to Thailand in their millions. And that’s a good thing.
Unfortunately, that’s often when anti-government forces try to upset the apple cart and cause as much trouble as they can, as can now be seen by these ridiculous Facebook posts.
However, threatening to arrest people for ‘liking’ a Facebook post about a possible military coup in Thailand is hardly the right way to deal with it either. At least in my opinion. As it does nothing but cause more animosity towards those in power and to the Thai military and police. And that benefits no-one.