General Prayut Chan-o-cha further stated that legal action would be taken only against those who had violated the law. The prime minister was referring to the detention of a man who was to be primarily detained for seven days on charges of stirring unrest in the country, which was a normal term of punishment related to this kind of offence.
The man was considered to have expressed his opinion and criticisms which were likely causing misunderstandings, and that he did not have respect for the law.
Another man had also recently been detained for making the same offence a number of times.
The August warning about ‘false’ messages in social media came from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), with its spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree saying it was mulling legal actions against netizens who posted such messages.
Taking into account these warnings, in the current situation it would probably be the wiser course of action not to post messages or other comments in online discussions and/or social media outlets which might be seen as seeking to incite public confusion, panic or unrest.
That’s the advice from at least one law firm in Thailand, which expanded on this with a definite ‘no’ to the posting of any message or comment that blatantly or in no uncertain terms was aimed at inciting confusion, panic or unrest.
There are many a Thai and international law firm in Thailand which can offer valuable and well-founded advice in such a situation.
These are firms which offer a range of Thai law, legal, accounting, immigration, auditing services and other general services. Some specialize in assisting foreigners in obtaining a Thai visa and/or Thailand work permit, in tax consulting and filing of personal income tax and in starting a business in Thailand.
A number of foreigners will turn to a Thai or international law firm in Thailand to assist them in filing their personal income tax return each year, which foreigners working in Thailand are required to do the same as their Thai colleagues.
The recent warnings about ‘false’ social media postings and intentions of citing unrest and public confusion are similar to warnings issued just days after the May 2014 coup, in which the military junta that came into power stated that members of social networks were told to stop using social media to incite unrest.
The days leading up to the coup, when Thailand was under Martial Law, also saw announcements made which requested cooperation from social media to spread news of all events straightforwardly and without bias, which might otherwise cause misunderstandings.
At that time a leading newspaper in Thailand mentioned in a story that, according to the Martial Law in effect, entrepreneurs or participants in social networks were prohibited from broadcasting to incite, or provoke violence, including resistance to the junta’s performance of duties and that commentators who violated the regulation would be suspended and prosecuted without further notice.