From the word go on trying to find people to lay the blame on for the October 14 market crash has been interesting. And at the time of writing this post, it appears swinging at shadows is the theme.
Connecting the Dots looking at this and rendering our opinion based on actions of the players involved, it is already clear some face will be lost along the way. Who and where that will be is too distant to predict. The range of names stems from The Prime Minister all the way down to the low end of the government food chain. So we look to put together a few dots for you to look at and come to your own conclusions.
The first and seemingly innocent dot is the body language of the arrested and accused. It is not the stare at your feet with a shirt over your head hiding from the camera look. In fact it is a look of bewilderment and curiosity not fearing the camera. The last time this was seen was in 2006 when an American confessed to a high profile murder he did not do. He was ready to grant interviews to anyone who asked. That incident is widely believed to have triggered the crack down on multiple tourist visas to stem undesirables in the country.
The second dot is that according to news reports, the comments in question were simply translations of main stream news like Bloomberg. Now understandably if the translation was done with a service like ‘Google Translate’, the translation can look somewhat gothic. This is because the translation is word for word and does not yet compensate for grammar differences between English and Thai. That level of technology is still being developed. However if it was a manual translation, then grammar would be more correct.
The third dot has to do with making face by solving a heinous crime. So all the media spin and hype by people in various uniforms and positions in the government, they are looking at the proverbial double edge sword as the copy and paste function of computers seems to be a major culprit and may be next in line for arrest.
At this point in time that is how things look. But now digging a bit more we will start to look at the cause and not the effect.
Very simply put, in Our opinion the cause of all of this is the vague official reports on the condition of the King. When you start to add in the duration of time the King’s hospitalization, the natural conclusion is the official reports are deliberately misleading and more positive than the true situation. This in turn spawned not one but many speculative news stories and opinions from the main stream media around the world. Considering that the King is older than the average life expectancy of humans also added fuel. The simple fact there was no solid evidence one way or the other to dispel rumors, and that was the true cause of the market crash.
The significant point is this flaw was recognized and subtly dealt with. Other members of the royal family started providing more detailed information to the media about the King’s condition. Also the King started to make public appearances at the hospital that further quenched rumors about his poor health.
So in the sense of cause and effect, it is very clear that news about the King’s health can no longer be vague. If the King was younger that vagueness would not be an issue. But because of his age there needs to be better information to fend off the next crash that no doubt will happen when the King’s health comes into play.
What will happen to the accused will certainly cause a stir when it comes to censorship and will have major ramifications well beyond the accused copy and paste gang.
Quoting The Nation;
Use of Computer Act questioned
Critics have questioned the use of the Computer Crime Act against two Thais who were charged with spreading online rumors about the King’s health during the panic selling in the local stock market earlier this month.
The two suspects were yesterday said to be avid participants in the websites they posted information on. This weakened the initial claims that the arrests were part of a crackdown on “smash and grab” rumour-mongering intended to reap profits in the stock market.
The Computer Crime Act allowed action against computer users spreading information deemed detrimental to national security or false information that could cause panic among the public.
Invoking the law was unwarranted and violated the freedom of speech, said Sarinee Achavanuntakul, a committee of Thai Netizen Network (TNN). She insisted she was commenting in her personal capacity, not on behalf of TNN.
Thiranan Vipuchanan and Katha Pajajiriyapong, with both backgrounds of brokers, were arrested separately on Sunday for violating the Computer Crime Act, chapter 14 , which forbid the import of false computer data that could threaten national security or cause public panic.
Thai rumors concerning the King’s health condition caused the stock to plunge on October 14. The rumors were mentioned on Bloomberg that day.
Thiranan allegedly posted her translation of the Bloomberg’s piece on the Prachathaiwebboard.com, under the user name “bbb”. The other suspect, Katha, allegedly posted his contentious information on sameskyboard.org .
Both websites are renowned for its constantly critical content to the monarchy institution – especially after the coup. The Nation has learned that both suspects, especially Thiranan, had been active posters for some time before the October incident.
Sarinee said the charge against Thiranan was unreasonable, because it was just a translation of Bloomberg news piece, which has millions of readers.
“We should start from the question: what kind of information is really “damaging” enough to warrant arrest?,… so if someone is just copying news from reliable sources which adhere to professional standards, e.g. identifying rumors as such, not claiming them to be truth, then it is really up the readers themselves to consider the news carefully” Sarinee said.
And as for the stock index fall, Sarinee insisted, the police had to prove if the suspects were really accomplices in manipulating the market. Only then will the arrests be an acceptable use of Computer Crime Act, she said. But in that case the police should have evoked Securities Act too.
From the Google cache of the problematic page of Prachataiwebboard.com, it shows that ‘bbb’ posted the alleged comment on October 14 at 6.09 pm. If this reflected the accurate time of her posting, the market had been already closed for a few hours.
The post combined Bloomberg news in English and the translation in Thai, paragraph by paragraph.
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the webmaster of Prachataiwebboard.com, said “bbb” was the regular poster since the Sep 19 Coup and most of her posts were the translation of English news on Thai politics.
Also on October 17, “bbb” also had a post containing many translation pieces of news from various foreign press agencies related to the rumors of the King’s health.
Chiranuch said the police had never contacted her to ask for any information about the case and she did not delete the post. However, as Prachataiwebbaord.com was under maintenance, the exact page of the post and information about webboard users were inaccessible.
Thanapol Eawsakul, the editor of the “Under the Same Sky” journal said he didn’t acknowledge anything about the post as the smeskyboard.org had been separated from the journal.
“This is nonsense. How could the police prove that the posts were false information anyway as it said that there was a rumor that . . . , not the fact was . . .”
“The government needed to find a scapegoat for this rumor thing,” Thanapol said.