Thanathorn asks court to restore his online comments on govt’s COVID vaccine program
Thailand’s Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit attended a hearing at the Criminal Court on Thursday morning to support his petition asking the court to rescind its order to remove, from social media, his comment criticizing the government’s vaccine procurement plan, via Siam Bioscience, which allegedly referred to the monarchy.
The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society had previously secured an injunction, in the Criminal Court, to remove Thanathorn’s livestream comment from Facebook and YouTube.
Before attending the hearing today, Thanathorn insisted that, since the monarchy is a part of Thai society, it is the right of Thai people to comment about the institution, so long as such comments are made in good faith, with no ill intention toward the institution and are for the good of society.
The former Future Forward party leader admitted, however, that he is not sure whether the court will agree, but he hopes that it will understand his intention in criticizing the government’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine procurement.
In his livestream comment last month, Thanathorn implied that the government was biased in favour of Siam Bioscience, a company owned by the Crown Property Bureau, by making it the only company to procure the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. He also questioned why the government had only sourced vaccine from AstraZeneca, and not from other manufacturers and why only some groups of people will have access to the vaccines.
Thanathorn, again, repeated his demand that all Thais must have access to vaccines, citing the case of Israel, which has targeted 100% inoculation of its population, and several other countries which have already vaccinated millions of their people, while the Thai government cannot specify how many Thais will receive the vaccines or when.
He insisted that his previous comment and his statement today are intended to protect the interests of all Thai taxpayers, to make sure that their money is spent in a worthwhile way.