Wednesday 29 April 2009

Censorship and promotion

When will the Ministry of Truth learn that in today's connected world, the best way to promote something is by banning it?

Take, for instance, Giles Ungpakorn's Red Siam blog. It is banned in Thailand and going to will instead take you to or a fake 404 page depending on the time of day it seems. Yet that has not stopped a lot of relatively low tech people I know using their email to forward his blog entries out of curiosity.

I recently received Giles' scathing attack on the NGO movement on its support of the Yellow Shirt movement. That was one of his more reasonable (read: less crazy) and well written blog entries it must be said.

However, dear Abhisit, might I suggest that the best way to get rid of him, politically speaking, is to unblock his blog and let everyone see for himself how insane some of his ideas are? By blocking it, the government is tantamount to admitting it is fearing him and giving him an air of mystique that he does not deserve.

Take, for instance, his recent post regarding the Swine Flu. A short excerpt follows:

5. ยาฆ่าไวรัสที่ใช้ได้มีแค่สองชนิด ที่รู้จักกันดีคือ Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) ซึ่งรัฐบาลไทยสะสมไว้ไม่พอ รัฐบาลตะวันตกสะสมไว้สำหรับ 25% ของประชากรและกำลังผลิตเพิ่ม แต่ในไทยไม่ได้เตรียมการถึงขนาดนี้ (ประเทศไทยจะต้องมียานี้อย่างน้อย 175 ล้านเม็ดถึงจะเพียงพอ) และคนที่จะได้ยาคงเป็นพวกอำมาตย์และผู้มีเส้นสาย นอกจากนี้ถ้ามันระบาดร้ายแรงในไทย มันจะกลายเป็นอีกข้ออ้างหนึ่งที่จะใช้อำนาจเผด็จการและทหาร อาจมีการล้อมปิดหมู่บ้านหรือชุมชน

Apologies that it is in Thai. However, despite his protests and passport that purport otherwise, Thai seems to be his first language.

In a nutshell, Giles says that Thailand is not stocking or producing enough of the medication needed to combat an epidemic, thus it will be the elite who gets the medication and that the government may use the epidemic as an excuse to send the army in to take care of small remote villages.

Er yes, I am sure that the government would use the epidemic as an excuse to let only the rich survive and send the army in to sterilise and kill all the poor red-shirt villagers. That sounds so reasonable. Maybe Giles' has been watching too many zombie movies now that he lives in exile there.

Or take Giles' take of the 6 October student protest massacre in his blog entry of 15 April. Let's just say that repeating what he has to say will probably land me in jail and therein lies another point to ponder. By censoring Giles' website, the government is effectively protecting him for further lese majeste lawsuits. The point whether such a lawsuit is good or bad notwithstanding, censorship protects the writer from further lawsuits. Think about it.

Censoring of views and opinions is bullying. It only creates sympathy for those on the receiving end, it does not work anyway and besides, with comments like this, Giles is probably his own worst enemy.

Finally, on a side note, it is odd to see Giles name himself wdpress. Wordpress is the name of a popular blog engine and host. Was he naive enough to think that a generic blog name would keep his Red Siam (as he signs himself) entries off the radar? If so, we are truly witnessing a war of the ancients; of an Orwellian Ministry of Truth and a communist-era misinformation insurgent. Which perhaps is indeed what this war is all about.

Don Sambandaraksa

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