Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bangkok Post: Documenting Sitthichai's Idiotic Lawsuit Against YouTube

Sitthichai to sue YouTube in Thailand

Bangkok Post

Information and Communications Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said he will press a criminal lawsuit against Google Inc at the Bangkok criminal court on Friday.

The suit will charge that, owned by Google, hosted video clips offensive to the monarchy. It was not clear where Mr Sitthichai will charge the American company with lese majeste, defamation or a cyberlaw violation.

Google has no office in Thailand, although it does business with many Thai-based websites and businesses. The California company established an office in Singapore late last week to try to expand its advertising profile in Southeast Asia. has no offices in Thailand.

A ministry statement on Tuesday said the suit will take the form of "a petition to the criminal court for emergency protection," according to official Thai News AGency.

Mr Sitthichai added that the ministry is studying the case to determine if the lawsuit can be filed in an international court.

YouTube has reportedly asked the Thai government "by e-mail" to send the controversial clips deemed insulting the King as evidence so it will remove them as requested by Thailand.

Sitthichai said the request showed that YouTube was "playing a game".

Sitthichai has argued that Google had bowed to China's requests to block certain topics deemed politically sensitive, such as all references to democracy, so he saw no reason why it could not act similarly over Thailand's sensitivities over its revered monarch.

Of course, the dishonest reporter of this article won't point out the difference between Google and YouTube, refusing to acknowledge that the two companies have different editorial policies.
Google's struck a deal with China before Google bought YouTube. And Sitthichai refuses to state what evidence it has that YouTube bows down before China over politically offensive clips to the Chinese Communist Party.

The ministry has attempted to block all access to YouTube from Thailand since April 4, shortly after the first offensive clip appeared on the popular website which relies on contributions from the public at large.

That clip has long since been removed, and the surfer who uploaded it has been banned by YouTube. But because of the high profile publicity of Mr Sitthichai's censorship, at least a dozen other offensive video clips have been uploaded to

Increasing government censorship of websites was cited as one of the reasons Thailand was downgraded earlier this month to 127th place out of 195 countries on the Freedom House ranking of press freedom.

Last year Thailand ranked 107th in the same listing.


Somebody in the government needs to pull Sitthichai to the side and tell him that he is making a mockery out of the Thailand with this stupid lawsuit.

Here is what blogger Emil Steiner over at the Washington Post had to say:

As a result[of banning YouTube], satirists of varying talent from across the web have since posted new videos mocking Bhumibol including digitally altered clips in which he resembles "a monkey." Seemingly insulted beyond the mollification of mere censorship, Thailand now plans to sue YouTube, owned by searching monolith Google, under a charge of lese majeste.

The irony of course is that whether Thailand likes it or not, their lawsuit is guaranteed to get millions more people checking out the "insulting" YouTube videos. And though it certainly is not my place to tell a country I know little about how to legislate, is it not equally out of place for such a country to take legal action against an American company, for not capitulating to its archaic sensitivities? Moreover from a global perspective, the censorship of mockery only serves to bolster the negative image (and fuel further mockery) of a nation perceived by many to be deficient in the protection of human rights.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sitthichai's awesome!

The more he tries to stop YouTube, the more "insulting" videos get put up! Sitthichai is single-handedly making the monarchy and its defenders the laughing stock of the internet community. Thus begins the slow but inevitable destruction of the Chakri. Go Go Sitthichai!