The military dictatorship has presided over the shut down 1,370 websites in October. That’s more than the 1,237 they had blocked over the previous five years.
The past month reflects the junta’s efforts to allegedly “protect” the dead king’s “reputation” as a “great” king. The crackdown is doubly significant as it is also meant to “protect” Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn as he unsteadily moves towards accession to the throne.
Thai authorities are thought to be particularly concerned with websites with content about Vajiralongkorn, the 64-year-old designated heir to the throne who lacks the popularity of his father. The public at large has long traded rumors about Vajiralongkorn’s finances, hot temper and other matters. Three stormy marriages are a matter of public record. But critical news reports from abroad about Vajiralongkorn are commonly blocked in Thailand.
The third significance is in protecting the military junta, which has tied its tank to the prince’s succession.
The report states that the military junta has purposely used the king’s death to eliminate “online remarks” about the late king and members of his remaining family and “[s]ince the king’s death, Thailand has charged more than 20 people with making anti-royalty statements [lese majeste], requested deportations of suspects from at least seven countries and attempted to wipe out content it finds offensive from websites and social media.”
Junta members and Deputy Prime Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Junthong tong “explains” the situation using one of the junta’s “Thainess” cliches: “Thais have been attacked by websites that twist the truth…”.
The junta’s “truth” on the monarchy is usually a treacly fairy tale.