NBCT chief threatens DTAC for revealing junta role in block on Facebook
Share this on

NBCT chief threatens DTAC for revealing junta role in block on Facebook

The background is that on May 28 that Facebook was unavailable in Thailand for around one hour. This was claimed to be because of technical issues and not that it was specifically blocked, but then mysteriously Facebook was then available again for all.  Most people fell into line and modified previous statements to follow the official story that the problem was because of technical issues.

However, Telenor, which owns DTAC (the 2nd largest mobile telephone operator in Thailand), revealed that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) ordered the block. The Next Web has Telenor’s statement:

Telenor Group can confirm that on Wednesday 28 May dtac received a notification at 15:00 local time from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand to restrict access to Facebook temporarily.

This restriction, which was implemented at 15:35, potentially had impact on dtac’s 10 million Facebook-using customers. Telenor Group believes in open communication and regrets the consequences this might have had for the people of Thailand.

Access to Facebook was restored at approximately 16:30 local time.

Now, Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC’s telecom committee* is quoted by Naew Na as threatening DTAC after the Telenor revelation (it is directly referenced in the first paragraph of the Naew Na article). Below is a summarized translation:

Settapong stated that the statement by DTAC was not appropriate and lacked manners/etiquette in the current situation (โดยพันเอกเศรษฐพงค์ มะลิสุวรรณ…กล่าวถึงกรณีดังกล่าวว่า แถลงการณ์ดังกล่าวของดีแทค เป็นเรื่องที่ไม่สมควรและไม่เคารพในกฎกติการมารยาท ของการกำกับดูแลในช่วงเวลาสถานการณ์แบบนี้). Therefore, the National Broadcasting Commission sees it clear to reconsider the proportion of shares held by foreigners and that it should not exceed 49% of telecommunication operators (ดังนั้น กทค.เห็นชัดว่า ควรจะทบทวนสัดส่วนการถือหุ้นของต่างชาติ ซึ่งจะต้องไม่ควรถือหุ้นเกิน 49 % ในกิจการโทรคมนาคม)

Settapong further stated that the National Broadcasting Commission must be stricter and further examine the shareholding of DTAC and if it finds the proportion of shareholding of foreigners in DTAC is clear that is a breach of the law then the National Broadcasting Commission may not allow DTAC to participate in 4G auction (พันเอกเศรษฐพงค์ กล่าวอีกว่าหลังจากนี้ กทค.จะต้องเข้มงวดและตรวจสอบการถือครองหุ้นของบริษัท ดีแทค มากขึ้น และหากพบว่าสัดสัดการถือครองหุ้นของต่างชาติในดีแทค ชี้ชัดว่าควรแก่การสงสัยเรื่องการละเมิดกฎหมายการถือครองหุ้นของต่างชาติ กทค.อาจจะตัดสิทธิ์ไม่ให้ ดีแทคเข้าร่วมประมูลคลื่นความถี่ 4G บนย่านความถี่ 1800 MHz)

“Now, an investigation committee has been set up to look at the DTAC shareholding and the proportion held by Telenor. If it is found to be contrary to the law then we will immediately proceed under the law; not just that [they] don’t have any rights to the 4G auction” Settapong said (“ ขณะนี้ได้ตั้งกรรมการตรวจสอบการถือครองหุ้นในบริษัทดีแทค ในสัดส่วนของ เท เลนอร์ แล้ว ซึ่งหากพบว่าเกินกว่ากฎหมายกำหนดก็จะดำเนินการตามกฎหมายทันที ไม่ใช่แค่ไม่มีสิทธิประมูลคลื่น 4 จี เท่านั้น “ พันเอกเศรษฐพงค์ กล่าว)

BP: It is telling that he doesn’t deny that the NBTC ordered operators to block Facebook.  He just seems upset it was revealed. Now, it makes sense why others have been quiet. To paraphrase the saying, when you speak truth to power… well be prepared to be crushed….

UPDATE: The Nation has a similar story with a quote from the same commissioner* from the NBTC although there is a specific denial that NBTC ordered Facebook to be blocked:

Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC’s telecom committee, denied that the commission ordered DTAC to block its subscribers from accessing Facebook.

He said he was unhappy about the reports. If Thailand seems to have a lot of trouble, Telenor should go invest somewhere else, he said.

Army deputy spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari also made a similar denial.

Settapong said foreign ownership in the telecom industry needed to be strictly examined, since communication is key to protecting national security.

An NBTC source said DTAC was the first target of the commission’s foreign-ownership probe. Next are Advanced Info Service and True Corp.

BP: Am sure that foreign investors will be watching with interest….

*Oh dear, wrong commissioner named in original post and now corrected throughout the post. Apologies (was thinking of Col. Natee after reading another article referring to him earlier and somehow conflated the two). Substance of post has not changed.

Topics covered: