BANGKOK (Reuters) – The Thai army said on Monday it will ban its 245,000 members from using one of Southeast Asia’s biggest e-commerce websites for official purposes after royalists said a promotional video appeared to mock the royal family.
Thailand has strict lese majeste laws and courts can hand down jail terms of up to 15 years for each offence of defaming, insulting or threatening King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the queen, heir or regent.
Citizens loyal to the king complained that a video on Lazada’s Facebook page featuring a woman dressed in a traditional Thai costume sitting in a wheelchair was a veiled reference to a member of a royal family.
Minister of Digital Economy and Society Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn told reporters the government was considering legal action against the social media influencer and the advertising agency responsible for the video, and against Lazada.
Army spokeswoman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said in a statement the video was “offensive to the monarchy” and “caused disunity in Thai society”.
“The army now has a policy to ban all army units and army-related activities from ordering merchandise from Lazada platform or delivering things from Lazada,” Sirichan said.
Lazada, the Southeast Asian arm of Alibaba Group Holdings, did not comment on the boycott. It earlier apologised for the “emotional damage” caused by the video and said it should have been more careful.
At least half a dozen Thai businesses, including some run by the palace, have also suspended use of the platform because of the video.
(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Nick Macfie)