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Thai Court Upholds Freedom Of Speech

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing freedom of speech here in Thailand. A recent article, this is from the Bangkok Post print edition and this is Saturday, August 7th 2021, the article's title is: Civil Court Rules Against Première's Media Gag Order. For those who recall, we have done a video tangential to this where we have discussed, a new order came out that basically was trying to restrict any speech that might cause fear or panic. There are a number of organizations that had major issues with this and as I noted in the video, if the fear and panic was fear and panic that could be caused as a result of reporting on for example the situation with respect to the pandemic in Thailand, I took note of the fact that "Hey maybe actually looking at the numbers might be a good idea. That probably is a better remedy than anything." 

That said, the Courts here in Thailand, specifically the Civil Court in Bangkok have gone ahead and they didn't tend to agree with the provisions of this order and have gone ahead and overturned it. Quoting directly from that article, again this is Bangkok Post print edition, August 7, 2021, article is titled: Civil Court Rules Against Première's Media Gag Order. Quoting directly: "The Civil Court in Bangkok yesterday put the brakes on a Prime Ministerial order issued against the media under the Emergency Decree saying the order was ambiguous and broad in nature and deprived people of their rights and freedom." Quoting further: "One regulation banned distribution of information that might 'frighten the public’ and the other involves suspension of internet services to IP addresses that propagated information that may ‘frighten the public’. Quoting further: "In its order, the Civil Court said the regulation which banned the dissemination of information having a risk of frightening people was ambiguous and broad. The ban was not limited to false information and therefore restricted the rights and freedoms of the 12 signatories and the public in general, it said." There were a number of journalistic groups, Press Freedom groups that came together to go ahead and file that request for relief from the Courts and the Courts have gone ahead and granted some relief.

This is certainly, I think as I have said before in previous videos, censorship is never a good thing and I think it is definitely a positive development. I think it is also interesting that "the order was broad and ambiguous". That seemed to be the main issue with the Court which that has always kind of been the main attack on freedom of speech restrictions at least for example in the American jurisprudence on the topic. Things being over broad or things that may have a chilling effect; it is so ambiguous that it may result in all speech being chill that you go ahead and see these kind of things get struck down for that. It is definitely not only is it interesting but I think again it is a positive thing to see the Court go ahead and say "yeah, we are dealing with this under the Emergency Decree. We get it but there is a certain point where it sort of stops." They went ahead and drew that line in the sand for lack of a better term. Now I thought it was interesting that "the order was ambiguous and broad in nature and deprived people of their rights and freedom." I would be curious to see if we could maybe see any challenges to some of the lockdown provisions because you know "ambiguous and deprivation of freedom" I think there may be some arguments to be made with respect to that. Also as we have discussed another videos on this channel, I personally question the efficacy of that particular initiative and I know that reasonable people disagree on that but I frankly think at this point it is rather self-evident. 

The point and the point of this video is freedom of speech. I definitely think overall, I think it is probably a moment, maybe an inflection point for lack of a better term or maybe just a notable point in time with respect to jurisprudence in Thailand regarding freedom of speech so it definitely will be something that we will keep our eye on, on this channel as the situation evolves.