The Information Minister of Thailand, Anudith Nakornthap, warned the people of Thailand that if users on Facebook so much as even like or share any kind of information insulting the monarchy, the consequences would be severe. Such a person could be charged with violation of the lese majeste laws of the country, and could serve up to 15 years in prison. He also advised people to ‘unlike’ any pages and remove any comments made on similar lines. In a world where democracy and freedom of speech are taken for granted in most countries, this news might come across as quite surprising. I mean, we’ve lost count of the number of jokes made online at the expense of Bush, Palin and the likes. Thailand however, has always been strict in enforcing laws that protect the dignity of the sovereign.
This is completely regardless of nationality. A Swiss citizen in 2007 and an Australian writer in 2009 were arrested for similar reasons. The Swiss gentleman had spray painted the King’s image, and he was sentenced to 10 years for that. Fortunately for him, the King pardoned him after a few months. The Australian was lucky too; he was pardoned after being sentenced to 3 years for writing offensive content on the royal family in his novel. So if you’re ever in Thailand, watch out, you might want to keep your comments and observations to yourself!