July 5, 2009

ilovethailand.org ... or else!

So this is strange... the new website ilovethailand.org aims to ease the country's massive political, socioeconomic, and cultural divisions by bolstering national unity.

But wait until you see the actual terms and conditions that one agrees to when signing up for the site:
  1. สำหรับคนไทยทุกคน
  2. ต้องเป็นข้อความที่แสดงถึงความรัก และปรารถนาดีต่อประเทศไทย
  3. การแสดงออกความคิดเห็นต้องไม่กล่าวล่วงละเมิดหรือหมิ่นประมาทบุคคลที่ 3
  4. แสดงความคิดเห็นด้วยสำนวนและวาจาที่สุภาพ
  5. ต้องเป็นข้อความที่ไม่กระทบต่อชาติ ศาสนา และพระมหากษัตริย์
  6. ต้องเป็นผู้ที่ รักประเทศไทย ยิ่งชีพ
  7. ผู้ใดแสดงความคิดเห็นใดๆก็ตามที่ผิดต่อข้อตกลง/เงื่อนไข ผู้นั้นต้องเป็นรับผิดชอบแก่ข้อความนั้นๆ
And my translation:
  1. [This site is] for all Thai people.
  2. Comments must show your love and respect for Thailand.
  3. Expression of opinions must not violate or slander others.
  4. Express opinions with polite language.
  5. Comments must not disparage the nation, religion, or king.
  6. You must love Thailand more than life.
  7. Whoever expresses an opinion in violation of these terms and conditions must accept the consequences of that opinion.
Looks like this site is a national "stimulus" program of a non-economic variety. A government-sponsored website on which only those who admit that they love the country more than their own lives are allowed to come and express nothing but adulation and praise for the country.

I'm sure this will do wonders for encouraging open and thoughtful dialogue. Especially that veiled threat at the end. Just lovely.

[Hat tip to Bangkok Crimes.]


  1. Thank you for translating the agreement. Ouch. I'd like to know what Thais think of it.

  2. I agree with your impression of the thought-stifling ilovethailand.org; however, I think your translation of the last point exaggerates the veiled threat.

    Instead of:

    "...must accept the consequences of that opinion."

    I would have said:

    "...will be responsible for that particular opinion/post."

    I think the rule-makers are simply covering their own bums.

  3. Rick Bradford7/08/2009 6:24 PM

    The country has already been united. Long Live Panda Noi!

  4. @aanon That's a fair critique of my translation. I was in an ornery mood. I still find it ominous, though.

  5. An understanding of the laws of Thailand regarding libel and slander makes it clear that this sort of user agreement must be made. Otherwise anyone could post anything, and the website admins would be responsible. It is best to have an open mind when considering why rules or certain communication takes place in a country, and not try and interpret those items through the lens of a different language culture and understanding.

  6. Thanks for that counterpoint, Anonymous. What you say regarding libel is true, and it's too bad that Thailand does not have laws protecting website proprietors from liability from user-written or user-uploaded content. Maybe some day they will.

    But I don't agree with the implication that I have a closed mind.

    And I also disagree that it's "best to [...] not try and interpret [rules or certain communications] through the lens of a different language culture and understanding." If there is something deserving of attention or critical commentary, whether positive or negative, then how can anyone but a native possibly interpret those things? For example, this website is not intended primarily for native Thais, and the readership has varying levels of understanding of the Thai language and culture.

    Not everything can be explained or justified through relativism. Otherwise we would just say "Oh, that's just how [group X] is. We can't interpret anything they say or do through lens of our own language culture and understanding."

    Ultimately I'd like to see Thailand in a condition where such warnings are *not* necessary on websites. I'm aware of the laws, and I chose to portray this agreement in a particular way to achieve a particular effect.

    In this case I was trying to show that I find its presence ominous, as a government-sponsored website. Not inexplicable.