Be very careful what you say next, especially when it comes to the government, the internet minister has warned celebs and influencers.
Teen rapper Danupha “Minnie” Kanateerakul, better known as Milli, today became the first celebrity to be charged with a serious crime for criticizing the government on social media.
With public confidence withering amid a spiraling public health crisis, the nation’s top internet warden, Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, said Tuesday that public figures who harm the government’s reputation face prosecution under the Computer Crimes Act.
“Please don’t just look at one side of the story,” Chaiwut said.”Actors, celebrities and influencers are public figures that people love and have faith in, so please don’t use this as a political movement to attack the government, because it’s an act of distorting information and inputing fake news onto social media.”
His language was calibrated to fit the definition of a computer crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
The man also referred to recent protests by pro-democracy groups, saying there were at least 147 accounts on Facebook and Twitter that have violated the cybercrime law. Under Section 13 of that law, anyone who posts information that harms national security or causes public panic is subject to imprisonment of up to five years and a fine not exceeding THB100,000 (US$3,000).
Milli, the singer, said she will report to the Nang Loeng Police Station at 10am tomorrow. #SaveMilli became a top trending hashtag on Twitter in Thailand today.
Chaiwut went on, asking for understanding from the public as the government tries to rein in the current out-of-control outbreak.
“The government has tried everything in its power to obtain an adequate number of vaccines. If you look at other neighboring countries, Thailand is now ranked as the second-most vaccinated country in ASEAN,” Chaiwut said. “We have done everything we can to control the rising cases. But we need everyone’s support and encouragement in combating this disease.”
His comments only drew further ire from netizens.
“If you look at what the government has provided us recently — be it lockdown restrictions, some petty money that people cannot use freely, or vaccine delays — I don’t think what people are saying is fake at all,” said Purim Rattanaruangwattana, a Thai singer and actor whose Twitter account has over 400,000 followers.
Another online influencer, Peachii, a London-based YouTuber, also made a statement saying that the Thai government must take action very soon or resign.
“The government must look at the situation from the other perspective as well. Stop treating people who question your policy as enemies,” Peachii said. “Acknowledge your mistakes and try to fix them. If you can’t, then swallow your ego and let other more capable people do the job instead.”
Today Thailand again shattered its daily record of COVD-19 cases with 13,002 while tallying 108 deaths. Meanwhile, the country has administered over 10 million jabs, far short of the 100 million it is estimated the country will need to reach the uncertain threshold of herd immunity, in which around 70% of the population is fully vaccinated.
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