Thailand urges careful content as Lazada promotion angers royalists By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of part of online retailer Lazada’s warehouse in Depok, south Jakarta, Indonesia March 26, 2018. Picture taken March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand warned on Saturday against creating online content that risked insulting the country’s monarchy, after a video by a social media influencer promoting the platform e-commerce Lazada infuriated royalists, who said she was mocking the palace.

Thai law provides for sentences of up to 15 years in prison for each offense if found guilty of defaming, insulting or threatening King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his closest family.

The video, which has since been taken down, promoted the May 5 Lazada sale and featured a woman dressed in traditional Thai costume sitting in a wheelchair and playing the role of an influencer’s mother.

Royalists complained that the woman in the wheelchair was a veiled reference to a member of the royal family. The video did not use the language used by the royal family, nor did it mention any of its members.

In videos posted to Facebook (NASDAQ:), influencer Aniwat “Nara” Prathumthin said the clip was a parody of a famous Thai soap opera and told critics the perceived royal insult was “all in your imagination”.

Lazada, the South Asian arm of Ali Baba (NYSE:) Group Holding, in a statement, apologized for the “emotional damage” the video caused and said it should have been more careful.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said such content could damage the reputation of brands.

“Warning marketers, influencers and content creators to be careful when featuring content or promotions that refer to appearances or individuals from the institution all Thais revere and love,” Thanakorn said in a statement.

“This is inappropriate and will not only upset all Thai people in the country, but will also destroy the image and reputation of the brand. It could also be against the law.”

The incident follows an April Fool’s Day prank tweeted by a staff member of low-cost airline Thai Vietjet Air, a subsidiary of Vietnam’s Vietjet Aviation JSC, about a new route to Munich that has angered royalists, who said it was a hidden joke about the Thai king. spending time in Germany. The airline has apologized.

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