Junta asks Google to block content 

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a 1970s documentary. Source: YouTube

Bangkok’s junta has met Google bosses amid growing calls from royalists to arrest those who insult the monarchy.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death on October 13 has led to the emergence of royalist mobs enforcing rough justice on anyone who appears to be mourning insufficiently.

Meanwhile, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has led mourners at an event to commemorate his father.

No date has been set for cremation, which will probably take place after a year of mourning.

On Saturday, thousands of mourners sang the royal anthem, known as Sansoen Phra Barami, which is played before every Thai movie in cinemas.

Audiences stand in respect for the king as pictures of his life and work are shown.

Saturday’s singing was reportedly recorded for use in cinemas.

President Tony Tan of Singapore is arriving in Bangkok today (Monday) for a two-day visit to pay his respects to the late king at the Grand Palace following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Friday visit.

Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong said he was assured by Google bosses in Bangkok that it would remove offending YouTube videos.

“If any website is inappropriate they said to get in touch with them and inform them of the URL and the time the content was found,” Prajin announced.

Google said this was standard practice, telling Reuters: “We have always had clear and consistent policies for removal requests from governments around the world and we continue to operate in line with those policies. When we are notified of content that is illegal through official processes, we will restrict it in the country where it’s illegal after a thorough review.”

The Economist argued that the level of state intrusion was unseemly. “The foreign ministry … has issued a huffy statement complaining that foreign media are wilfully underestimating the crowds mourning the king. Such petty defensiveness is neither a fitting tribute to King Bhumibol nor a good way forward for Thailand,” the magazine wrote.

The junta said it was monitoring the internet for anti-royal content and would request extradition if offenders were living overseas, some of whom have been exposed as targets on Thai social media.

Some Thais not wearing enough black have been publicly jeered at. The demand for black clothes is so great that dyeing shops have been set up.