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Where's The Freedom of Expression

05:50
07.09.2018

Where’s The Freedom of Expression -  Through games we voice out our opinion!

Disagree = Disrespect
Disobey = Disrespect
Reason out = Disrespect

Thais are taught respect seniors, and this seniority can be in terms of age or social status. Paying respect in Thai context means obeying whatever the seniors say. Questioning the order can be regarded as insubordination and showing disrespect.

This social culture of paying respect has contributed to the suppression of  opinion in Thailand. It has gently shaped Thais’ attitude of deference to the seniors’ comments. and mindset not to think nor to express things differently.

“The culture teaches and grooms us since we were young: junior should obey the senior. Kids who argue with their parents, though they are giving justifiable reasons, are perceived as disrespectful. This includes those who are try to be independent and  express honest opinion. Most of the people choose not to exercise their freedom of expression because of the social culturediscourages them  to do so.”, said Phakawanaporn Phisuthisuwan, Lecturer, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Management Science, Kasetsart University.

“People with higher social status have a louder voice than others,” according to a teacher from Samutsakhon Wuttichai School  .

“We are juniors. We should pay respect to those in senior year or whoever are senior to us,” said May, a grade 10 student at the Youth Camp.

Restrictive laws

This social culture does not only have an influence on a personal level, it also influences the way the government interacts with the people. A number of acts and regulations, which are against freedom of expression have been adopted for internal security.

"Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years."
Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code.

"The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated.
No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action."
Section 6 of The Constitution of Thailand 2016 (B.E. 2559)

“If the crime ... is committed upon computer data or computer system concerning the maintenance of national security, public safety, national economic security, or infrastructure for the common good, the punishment shall be imprisonment from one year to seven years and a fine from twenty thousand Baht to one hundred and forty thousand Baht.
Section 12 of the Computer-related Crime Acts (amendment) 2017.

“Political gatherings of five or more persons shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding ten thousand Baht, or both, unless permission has been granted by the Head of the NCPO. or an authorized representative.”
Article 12 of NCOP Order Number 3/2015

“Whoever makes an appearance to the public by words, writings or any other means which is not an act within the purpose of the Constitution or for expressing an honest opinion or criticism in order:

1.To bring about a change in the Laws of the Country or the Government by the use of force or violence;
2.To raise unrest and disaffection amongst the people in a manner likely to cause disturbance in the country; or
3.To cause the people to transgress the laws of the Country, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.”
Article 116 of Thailand’s Criminal Code
“The current situation prohibits us from openly expressing our opinions. We know that we are responsible for our opinions, thus we self-censor ourselves,” shared Teerapat Naknakorn, Sim Democracy Play Coach to FNF.

As a result of restrictive laws, people practice self-censorship instead of freely expressing their minds. 

Creating platforms for freedom of expression

Freedom of expression is missing in Thailand. However, interactive learning tools like edutainments - board games, card games - are perceived as a solution. Sim Democracy (board game), Human Rights Card Game, Media Literacy Card Game, Human Rights Bingo and, Peace-So-Cracy are interactive learning tools that allow people to express their minds by putting people of different status as equal players in the game.

“There is no platform for people from different social status to truly express their minds. You would not see a teacher suggesting anything to the director in the meeting room, but games allow them to do that,” pointed out Phakawanaporn.

“I am a junior. In the workshop, the seniors encourage me to be more confident. We respect one another, I don’t feel inferior to them. I feel confident to play, to participate, and to express what I think,” May added.

It is through games that our missing freedom of expression can be found.

Pondzwan Plitapond