Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha trended on social media on Friday, with the hashtag #ไล่ประยุทธ์ (Ousting Prayut), as netizens criticized his government for its repeated attempts to suppress free media and called for the PM to be removed from office.
This came after the government passed a decree banning “fake news” or any information that can cause public fear, regardless of factuality, across all media platforms. It was, the government said, an effort to curtail any disinformation that may undermine its handling of the Covid-19 situation in Thailand. The announcement was published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday and issued in compliance with Section 9 of the emergency decree.
The announcement also included a clause stating that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) is required to inform service providers to check IP addresses and suspend services immediately for anyone who is found to be spreading “false content” online.
Over the past week, Thailand has continuously seen new record-high Covid-19 case numbers and death tolls replacing each other day by day as well as videos of the healthcare system being completely overwhelmed and people literally dying on the streets.
Understandably, netizens have been up in arms about this new development and have begun calling the PM and his government out even more for their failure to manage the pandemic properly, which has again led to their poor attempts to suppress truth and people’s voices.
“The Thai government has propagated that people dying from Covid-19 on the sidewalks are fake news and are set up to discredit them,” wrote one Twitter user. “How inhuman do you have to be to even muster up the thought?”
“Shouldn’t you be trying to get us vaccines that actually work and taking care of our healthcare workers instead of trying to suppress our voices over and over again? You’re acting more and more like a dictatorship every day,” wrote another netizen.
Many have also retweeted a video of Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul claiming back in February that Thailand will have more than enough vaccines to go around in the third quarter of 2021, something that hasn’t matched up with reality, quoting it “fake news.”
“You want to take legal action against us for calling you out by calling it spreading ‘fake news.’ Well, isn’t this literally fake news as well?” rhetorically questioned a Twitter user.
“You can’t stop us from sharing the truth. It’s time for [Anutin] and Prayut and all of you to get out,” concluded the user.
Today, Thailand saw 17,345 new Covid-19 cases along with a death toll of 117. Only about 5% of the Thai population has been fully vaccinated so far, according to inoculation data from the CCSA.
The hashtag #ไล่ประยุทธ์ has garnered more than 381,000 tweets at the time of writing.