From today’s Bangkok Post:
A media rights group criticised the government’s decision to ban video-sharing website YouTube over an insulting clip of His Majesty the King, saying that such an act showed a growing crackdown by the military junta against political comment online. The Southeast Asian Press Alliance said that although the subject of HM the King was culturally sensitive in Thailand, blocking the entire site raised serious concerns. “Thais are now deprived of a popular and accessible medium that can accommodate alternative and independent voices,” it said in a statement. “There is a growing spectre of intolerance toward web-based media as a whole. The Internet is vulnerable in Thailand, and not just when it comes to material pertaining to the king,” it said. Information and Communication Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said he ordered a block of the entire site from Thailand after Google (which owns YouTube) has rejected the minitry’s repeated requests to withdraw the clip, and that the ministry has filed to block the offending page last week. “We have told them how deeply offended Thais were by the clip, but they said there was much worse ridicule of President Bush on the site and they kept that there,” Mr Sitthichai told Reuters. “Since Google has rejected our repeated requests to withdraw the clip, we can’t help blocking the entire site in Thailand,” said Mr Sitthichai. He added that the government would decide to withdraw the ban when they withdraw the clip.
The offending clip, made famous by the Thai government’s action, now appears to have been withdrawn from YouTube.[UPDATE: here is a report on the removal.] [FURTHER UPDATE: here is a Sydney Morning Herald report on new video clips that have appeared on YouTube. And here is the latest report from the Bangkok Post:
A new video slideshow attacking His Majesty the King indicates that the dispute, fanned into worldwide front-page headlines by a Thai government ban on YouTube, may have only just begun. YouTube and Google wiped out the last remnants of the offensive video slideshow which was uploaded last Sunday to demean the monarch. The offensive slideshow video of His Majesty the King that triggered the government ban on YouTube disappeared from the video-sharing website on Thursday afternoon, and the anonymous user who posted it was banned. Some time early this morning Thailand time, the last remaining photo of the video in YouTube’s search engine archive of the original video had disappeared from view. But within an hour of the disappearance of the first video and its uploader, a subscriber using the name “thaifreespeech” and claiming improbably to live in Iceland had placed an all new video on YouTube, containing even more offensive images of His Majesty the King than the original. “Thaifreespeech” also added an attack on Thai lese majeste laws and asked rhetorically if “US people in the US (should) respect Thai traditions and rule of law”. In an hour, the number of views of the video rocketed from 122 to 7,856 and going up. Comments in the same hour early this morning Thailand time rose from nine to 160. As before, most commenters attacked the video, often in rude terms. The ban on YouTube by Information and Communication Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom now seems to have touched off a firestorm of web-based retaliation that could see rapid escalation of offensive references to the monarchy on the Internet. As of this morning, there was no record on YouTube that either the original video, or the anonymous user “paddidda” who uploaded it, ever had existed. Both have been completely whitewashed. There were many text references and descriptions of the video on Google, which owns YouTube. But Google Images shows no part of the video, and Google Video – a separate, but aligned service with YouTube – had a record of the video but no image. The YouTube whitewash was the minimum demand of Mr Sitthichai to give the order to restore direct access to YouTube by Thai Internet users. The new video, and the likelihood that many will follow, on YouTube and on dozens of other video services, raises the stakes hugely.]