November 19, 2010

Thai government bans goods that "cause disunity"; will jail violators for 2 years

[Update: Following this ban there was significant public and media outcry, and the Prime Minister, who had no prior knowledge of the ban, also joined in condemning it. CRES initially defied Abhisit's urgings, and claimed ex post facto that the ban only applied to items in violation of Thai LM laws, a claim which is not readily supported by the language of the actual ban.

According to media reports (e.g. Bangkok PostPrachatai), CRES lifted this ban on Friday 11/26. CRES spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd claimed that the ban was lifted because no violations were found, despite media reports of the seizure of flip-flops bearing Abhisit's likeness.

Sansern also stated the ban could be re-imposed in the future.]

Today, Thailand's CRES* ordered a ban of subversive goods within Bangkok and adjacent provinces still under an official State of Emergency. The ban includes clothing and all consumer goods deemed objectionable.

While not targeting the "red shirt" protesters explicitly, this ban is apparently in response to rallies in the capital today to observe the six-month anniversary of the violent end to the protests-turned-riots of April and May. Clothing and other accessories sold at these rallies often express opposition to or contempt for PM Abhisit Vejjajiva and his government.

Red shirts for sale. [Photo from Flickr]

Bangkok and other provinces have been under emergency rule since April 7. This represents the longest State of Emergency in Bangkok in more than a quarter century. (Prior to this, after the Thammasat Student Massacre of 1976 the Thai military maintained a State of Emergency in Bangkok for nearly 8 years, until 1984.)

The following is a translated excerpt from the ban, which took effect immediately:
Item 1: Individuals are forbidden to have in their possession, or possess with intent to sell or otherwise distribute, products, clothing, consumer goods, or any other objects that contain printing, writing, drawing, photography, or any other method that conveys a meaning which provokes, incites, agitates, or causes disunity in the general populace, or acts or supports acts which cause a state of emergency.

Item 2: Authorities are authorized to order the seizure or confiscation of products, clothing, consumer goods, or any other objects as outlined in Item 1, and are authorized to act as necessary to maintain the security of the state or the safety of the public.

Item 3: These orders are to be made by authorities of commissioned officer level or equivalent.

Item 4: Any person violating this order is subject to up to 2 years imprisonment or a fine of up to 40,000 baht, or both. This order is enacted under Article 18 of the 2005 State of Emergency Administration Act and is effective from 19 November 2010.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha
You can read the full Thai text of the ban here.

* CRES is the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situations, a military-headed organization that assists in governing the country after a formal State of Emergency is declared.


  1. What if a naked person parades in front of, let's say Government House, tattoed with "subversive messages"? As we say in spanish: hecha la ley, hecha la trampa.

  2. FWIW: Some of those shirts for sale had some good 'slogans'. Although their choice of super stylized font (almost always used on ad-type stuff) leaves something to be desired for the casual thai reader.
    Even down loading and enlarging the picture you used, I had to struggle to get some of them right. Still good reading practice!

    This is what I gleaned from them;
    (Feel free to correct any that are spelled wrong)or even delete the entire post if it violates the CRES order!!

    ห้ามฉันพูด ฉันก็จะพิมพ์
    ห้ามฉันพิมพ์ ฉันก็จะเขียน
    ห้ามฉันเขียน ฉันก็จะคิด


    ตาย 10 เกิด 100
    ตาย 100 เกิด ล้าน

    1 ประเทศ
    2 มาตรฐาน


  3. Rikker,

    I see that Thai Visa as well as other publications have reported that the ban has been lifted. See .

    Unless your blog is a one-sided, political polemic, you should be fair in reporting both the imposition and the removal of the ban.


  4. @Anonymous:

    With the combination of Thanksgiving and being out of town this weekend, I had not heard the news, so I appreciate the pointer. I've updated the post to reflect events following the original ban.

    I don't appreciate the jab, though. Though I regularly express my opinions, this particular blog post is entirely factual and does not directly express my opinions on the matter at all.

    I fail to see how the burden of proof lies on me to show that a factual report is not a polemic against government suppression of its citizens rights. But happy to oblige anyway.

  5. Way to go … Riki, factual and dynamic information due unfolded over time; we appreciate your blogs and intention to report the facts.

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