Thailand’s ‘beer-heiress’ supports crackdown on anti-monarchy websites

Originally published at Siam Voices on August 22, 2o11

Singha Beer heiress Chitpas Bhirombhakdi (front row, right) with then-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (front row, center) at a Democrat Party rally at Central World Plaza in Bangkok on June 23, 2011. (Photo by Saksith Saiyasombut)

Some readers may remember a certain Miss Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, the daughter of Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, executive vice-president of Singha Corporation and thus often-referred to as the “Singha-heiress”. We have previously reported on her and and her campaign for MP during the run-up to the elections, which she lost in her constituency. But she seems to already have a new job post-election and is already making her mark:

The Democrat Party is urging the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to act quickly on closing down websites insulting the monarchy.

Deputy Democrat Spokesperson Ms. Jitpas Pirompakdi has expressed her gratitude towards ICT Minister Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap for taking a serious clampdown on any websites displaying content to insult the monarchy as there are quite a number of them at present.

According to her, disrespectful contents are widespread in social media, cyber space, as well as television and radio programs, and this has raised the question as to where webmasters receive the financial support from. She insisted that she had no intention to intervene in the work of the ICT and she would support their mission. She urged the public to report to authorities if they had seen such websites via email: yeswecan5555 [at] gmail.com

ICT to close down more websites insulting the monarchy“, National News Bureau of Thailand, August 20, 2011

Nevermind the different spelling, Ms. Chitpas Bhirombhakdi is now indeed deputy spokeswoman for the Democrat Party. And while a spokesperson is primarily there to tout the party’s line, which is without a doubt a very difficult one to take a different side on, she made sure to also add in a little bit of herself into this statement. Here’s from the official website of the Democrat Party:

สมัยที่ทำงานในกระทรวงกระทรวงเทคโนโลยีสารสนเทศและการสื่อสาร ได้เคร่งครัดดูแลเรื่องนี้อย่างสม่ำเสมอ พร้อมทั้งได้ดำเนินการภายใต้กรอบกฎหมายของประเทศไทย ตนเชื่อว่าคนไทยทุกคน ไม่ต้องการเห็นสถาบันสูงสุด ถูกใส่ร้าย โจมตี ในข้อมูลอันเป็นเท็จ และไม่เป็นธรรม” นางสาวจิตภัส   กล่าวและว่า วันนี้พรรคประชาธิปัตย์ ขอเป็นกำลังใจให้  รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงเทคโนโลยีสารสนเทศและการสื่อสาร (ไอซีที)  ให้หนักแน่น และดำเนินการกับกระบวนเว็ปไซต์หมิ่นสถาบันอย่างจริงจัง และขอประชาสัมพันธ์ไปยังคนไทยทุกคน หากพบเห็นการกระบวนเว็ปไซต์หมิ่นสถาบัน  สามารถแจ้งมาได้ที่ yesmecan5555 [at] gmail.com

When I worked at the MICT, I eagerly took responsibility over this matter [regularly] [by] enforcing under the legal framework of this country. I believe, no Thai should see harm done to the highest institution by wrong and insidious information,” Ms Chitapas said, “today, the Democrat Party wishes to express their great gratitude to the Minister of ICT for his mission to clampdown on websites insulting the monarchy. We want ask to all Thais if they come across any websites that are insulting to the royal institution, they can inform at: yesmecan5555 [at] gmail.com*”

“จิตภัส” ให้กำลังใจ รมว.ไอซีที ดำเนินจริงจังและเด็ดขาด กับกระบวนการหมิ่นสถาบัน“, Democrat Party, August 20, 2011 – translation by me

Chitapas has worked as a secretary at the MICT in 2009 (see here again), I do doubt however that she already took charge over such a high profile task. She refers to a statement of the new Minister of the ICT Captain Anudith Nakornthap (as previously reported), who said that his ministry will be even more vigilant pursuing anti-monarchy offenders and punish with the full force of the law – practically breaking nearly all hopes that the new government will reform the draconian Article 112 of the Crminal Code and the equally controversial Computer Crimes Act, which undoubtedly has been used in the past to silence political opponents or simply those challenging the official narrative.

Even though Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra publicly stated she wants to see the misuse of this law reduced and will review it, it remains to be seen if the new government will do anything about it without being branded by their enemies as anti-monarchy, thus eliminating desperately needed rational discussion about the state and the future of the royal institution.

*P.S.: Anybody noticed the two different, equally unprofessional looking email addresses to denounce incriminate inform anti-monarchy websites?

Saksith Saiyasombut is a Thai blogger and journalist currently based in Bangkok, Thailand. He can be followed on Twitter @Saksith and now also on his public Facebook page here.