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Saving Facebook is very important in Asian cultures

[Remember how the Egyptian generals tried to block the Internet and failed? Now the Thai junta is trying the same thing. You can bet that ambitious putchists world-wide are watching carefully to see how this plays out, and so should you. --lambert]

Asian Correspondent has the background:

The background is that on May 28 that Facebook was unavailable in Thailand for around one hour. This was claimed to be because of technical issues and not that it was specifically blocked, but then mysteriously Facebook was then available again for all.  Most people fell into line and modified previous statements to follow the official story that the problem was because of technical issues.

However, Telenor, which owns DTAC (the 2nd largest mobile telephone operator in Thailand), revealed that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) ordered the block. The Next Web has Telenor’s statement:

Telenor Group can confirm that on Wednesday 28 May dtac received a notification at 15:00 local time from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand to restrict access to Facebook temporarily.

This restriction, which was implemented at 15:35, potentially had impact on dtac’s 10 million Facebook-using customers. Telenor Group believes in open communication and regrets the consequences this might have had for the people of Thailand.

Access to Facebook was restored at approximately 16:30 local time.

Now, Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC’s telecom committee* is quoted by Naew Na as threatening DTAC after the Telenor revelation (it is directly referenced in the first paragraph of the Naew Na article). Below is a summarized translation:

Settapong stated that the statement by DTAC was not appropriate and lacked manners/etiquette in the current situation (โดยพันเอกเศรษฐพงค์ มะลิสุวรรณ…กล่าวถึงกรณีดังกล่าวว่า แถลงการณ์ดังกล่าวของดีแทค เป็นเรื่องที่ไม่สมควรและไม่เคารพในกฎกติการมารยาท ของการกำกับดูแลในช่วงเวลาสถานการณ์แบบนี้). Therefore, the National Broadcasting Commission sees it clear to reconsider the proportion of shares held by foreigners and that it should not exceed 49% of telecommunication operators (ดังนั้น กทค.เห็นชัดว่า ควรจะทบทวนสัดส่วนการถือหุ้นของต่างชาติ ซึ่งจะต้องไม่ควรถือหุ้นเกิน 49 % ในกิจการโทรคมนาคม)

Settapong further stated that the National Broadcasting Commission must be stricter and further examine the shareholding of DTAC and if it finds the proportion of shareholding of foreigners in DTAC is clear that is a breach of the law then the National Broadcasting Commission may not allow DTAC to participate in 4G auction (พันเอกเศรษฐพงค์ กล่าวอีกว่าหลังจากนี้ กทค.จะต้องเข้มงวดและตรวจสอบการถือครองหุ้นของบริษัท ดีแทค มากขึ้น และหากพบว่าสัดสัดการถือครองหุ้นของต่างชาติในดีแทค ชี้ชัดว่าควรแก่การสงสัยเรื่องการละเมิดกฎหมายการถือครองหุ้นของต่างชาติ กทค.อาจจะตัดสิทธิ์ไม่ให้ ดีแทคเข้าร่วมประมูลคลื่นความถี่ 4G บนย่านความถี่ 1800 MHz)

“Now, an investigation committee has been set up to look at the DTAC shareholding and the proportion held by Telenor. If it is found to be contrary to the law then we will immediately proceed under the law; not just that [they] don’t have any rights to the 4G auction” Settapong said (“ ขณะนี้ได้ตั้งกรรมการตรวจสอบการถือครองหุ้นในบริษัทดีแทค ในสัดส่วนของ เท เลนอร์ แล้ว ซึ่งหากพบว่าเกินกว่ากฎหมายกำหนดก็จะดำเนินการตามกฎหมายทันที ไม่ใช่แค่ไม่มีสิทธิประมูลคลื่น 4 จี เท่านั้น “ พันเอกเศรษฐพงค์ กล่าว)

BP: It is telling that he doesn’t deny that the NBTC ordered operators to block Facebook.  He just seems upset it was revealed. Now, it makes sense why others have been quiet. To paraphrase the saying, when you speak truth to power… well be prepared to be crushed….

Well, I guess we'll see how many ants the mannerly elephants can stomp. Rather a lot, I would guess, but enough? Time, and the Thai people, will tell.

NOTE Some people think the shutdown was a test. Maybe so.

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...a very embarrassed response. The 49% (of foreign ownership) rule will be closely scrutinized, as it should be...
Rules is rules...

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

*Settapong stated that the statement by DTAC was not appropriate and lacked manners/etiquette in the current situation*
DTAC/Telenor exect's (Norwegian) need some schooling in Thai etiquette if they expect to have a meaningful dialogue with their Thai counterparts.

Submitted by lambert on

... to Settapong's sensibilities to the reputational damage they'd suffer with their other customers if they enabled his really rather transparent lying. No doubt some other company will step in.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...about what you think you "know" about what's going on here.
Trust me, you do not! You sit in Maine and rely on your shallow relationships here as though they are an accurate window to reality.
You have no context, no relationship, no longevity, no actual ongoing, day to day reality. Which is to restate; you are not here and have no real (REAL) relationship to this culture or it's people (not to be redundant).
This is the all too common mistake by most farang (westerners/Americans).
I'm just blown away by your hubris and totally American ethnocentricity mirroring the ugly American of of movie fame.
You cannot/should not filter everything through your American lens of the world.
You, of all people should recognize this, yet you do not.
Bangkok Pundit? More than eleven years in and I've never heard of him/her.
You are an outsider acting as though you are an, that doesn't work.
Move here, put in the time, then speak up. Until then, you cheapen whatever you think you have to offer.
If this is too much, then so be it. I said what I had to say...

Submitted by lambert on

And I can't speak of the motivation of a Norwegian company?

Here's the guy's bio. Clearly reads Thai, and is not a native English speaker. When I quote tweets, it's from people on the ground (though I think the real story is in the North/Northeast, where the great mass of the people live, and that doesn't seem to be accessible at all).

And do you really think others aren't watching what's happening in Thailand? If the junta (usage) succeeds where Mubarak failed, and Erdoğan failed, that's going to be very interesting to many governments, wouldn't you say? Regardless of the internal Thai context.

NOTE I'll let the comment about shallow relations go. You have, and can have, literally no notion of what they are.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...and the ramifications as you see them.
This country is rife with cronyism, corruption, and general lawlessness across the board.
All of a sudden, the farmers got paid, the police are finding huge weapon caches and yaba busts, the taxi mafia on Phuket has been busted. The rice pledging scheme has been shown for the sham it was. The rice warehouses are being audited as it is suspected there has been grand theft of millions of tons of milled rice.
These actions would/had never been taken in all of the years I've been here. The exception being Thaksin's 2003 war on drugs which saw approximately 2,000 extrajudicial killings and score settling.
There is in fact a lot going on in the north/northeast.
I'm curious how you would even know to whom to listen. And without being here you then have to trust others for your opinion; I can't do that because I do not trust the opinions of others on much of anything. Without firsthand knowledge I can make no claims of knowing anything; just more questions.
I'm seeing some remarkable (apparent) changes I never thought I'd live to see.
The U.S. should shut the fuck up and butt out. There is a decided change here in the way Thais view the U.S. and it is not positive.
As to relationships? You are right, but I'm not wholly wrong in what I said. Relationships here are very complicated and very unlike the west, especially the U.S. Be careful in assuming too much. You'll find time will tell...