Suspended Sentence for Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn

The AP says:

A Thai court sentenced a local webmaster Wednesday to an eight-month suspended sentence for failing to act quickly enough to remove Internet posts deemed insulting to country’s royalty.

The ruling showed leniency against Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who faced up to 20 years in prison for 10 comments posted on her Prachatai website, but still sends the message that Internet content in Thailand must be self-censored.

Elsewhere, @Saksith has more details in his live-blog of the verdict.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a story headlined “Google and Rights Groups Condemn Thai Court’s Conviction of a Webmaster.” It says:

Google and human rights groups reacted strongly on Wednesday to a Thai court’s decision to convict the webmaster of an Internet message board for comments posted by users that insulted the Thai royal family.

Courts in Thailand have with increasing frequency jailed people convicted of lèse-majesté, as royal insults are known. But the verdict on Wednesday was different: Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who was sentenced to a suspended one-year prison term, was not the author of the offending comments. She managed the Web site that hosted them.

Taj Meadows, a spokesman for Google, said in an e-mailed statement that the verdict was “a serious threat to the future of the Internet in Thailand.

“Telephone companies are not penalized for things people say on the phone and responsible Web site owners should not be punished for comments users post on their sites — but Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act is being used to do just that,” Mr. Meadows said.

The Computer Crimes Act is controversial in Thailand partly because it was enacted by an unelected government installed after the military coup in 2006. The act also has a far-reaching extraterritorial feature built in: an American citizen was sentenced to two and a half years in prison last year for uploading from his computer in the United States a translation of a book banned in Thailand. He was arrested during a visit to Thailand.

There’s also an updated AP story. And coverage from VOA, Reuters, and more.

Thailand News: The Week Ahead

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There’s lots on tap here in Thailand over the next few days:

  1. Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in Bangkok tonight on what will be her first international trip in 24 years. Reuters has a scene-setter. Suu Kyi will be speaking at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, which runs from tomorrow (Wed.) through Friday. Here’s the gathering’s program of events (PDF file).
  2. A verdict is due tomorrow (Wed.) in the lèse-majesté case against Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn. Al Jazeera has a video report on her case and the lèse-majesté issue. Chiranuch faces 20 years in jail.
  3. The yellow shirts‘ People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), according to The Bangkok Post, will rally tomorrow (Wed.) against the government’s reconciliation bill. The Post says: “The government is confident that this week’s World Economic Forum on East Asia will proceed smoothly despite the spectre of mass street protests…” (For the record, it is unclear how many supporters might turn out for this rally.)
  4. Also tomorrow (Wed.), a five-year ban on 111 ex-Thai Rak Thai politicians expires. Al Jazeera has a story. More on the subject in my next post.
  5. And finally, there’s this: The Bangkok Post says Thailand’s intellectual property department “will submit a letter to the US ambassador in Bangkok voicing its concern over pop princess Lady Gaga’s tweet about buying a fake Rolex in the city.”

Stay tuned…

(Image: Reuters.)

A Few Odds and Ends

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Here are some items from the last several days that I wanted to point out, at least belatedly:

  • On Aung San Suu Kyi and reforms in Myanmar:

    The AP provides the context on Aung San Suu Kyi’s parliamentary swearing in today:

    Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in to Myanmar’s military-backed parliament Wednesday, taking public office for the first time since launching her struggle against authoritarian rule nearly a quarter century ago.

    The opposition leader’s entry into the legislature heralds a new political era in Myanmar, cementing a risky detente between her party and the reformist government of President Thein Sein, which inherited power from the army last year.

    Meanwhile, representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have an op-ed in today’s WSJ headlined “Burma’s Reform Is Still on Parole.”

  • On Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn:

    The AP says:

    A Thai judge postponed a verdict that had been expected Monday for a webmaster accused of failing to act quickly enough to remove Internet posts deemed insulting to Thailand’s royalty.

    Judge Nittaya Yaemsri said more time was need to process documents in the case, which has drawn global criticism because many see it as an assault on freedom of speech. A new court date was set for May 30.

    Here’s more from the Bangkok Post

  • On David Thomson and Bangkok’s Nahm restaurant:

    Australian Chef David Thompson’s restaurant here in Bangkok, Nahm, has come in at number 50 on the newest list of the “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.”

    (Previously at Newley.com: Here’s an earlier post on Thompson and the issue of foreigners cooking Thai cuisine. And here’s an audio slide show I made about Thompson in 2009.)

  • And finally, speaking of Thai food:

    Thanks to my good friend Dan S. for Tweeting the photo, above, of Bangkok Center Grocery in New York City.

    If you’re interested in the Thai language, you might like to know that the image prompted a a back-and-forth on Twitter, embedded below and on Storify here, about the establishment’s name and its spelling in Thai:

(Image: @NewYorkFitness.)