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Cyber Police to Clamp Down on Racism in Clubhouse Thailand

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Thailand’s cyber police have vowed to take legal action against anyone who openly discriminates against people born in the north-eastern region, known as Isaan. The threat comes after racist online discussions on the “Clubhouse” platform have been brought to the attention of the Ministery of Digital Economy and Society.

A group of lawmakers from the opposition Pheu Thai Party in north-eastern Thailand has called on the government to take immediate action to stop these racist online discussions. The lawmakers said the racist discussions could incite division among Thai people, similar to what’s happening in the United States.

They also want the Government to create a better understanding amongst Thais people toward the Isaan people, their cultures, and traditions in northeastern Thailand.

The lawmaker’s call comes after racist online discussions in the social media app “Clubhouse” chat have caused widespread unease among members of the public. Cyber police have been ordered to ascertain if any of the criticism in Clubhouse is inflammatory, false, or discriminatory, which may cause damage to the public, in accordance with the computer crime law.

Those found guilty face a maximum of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of 100,000 baht.

The cyber police said that anyone who feels they have been insulted or discriminated against in online discussions can file a complaint with their local police station.

“Clubhouse toxic” hashtag on Twitter Thailand

In recent weeks flagrant online discrimination has provoked an uproar among netizens, making the “Clubhouse toxic” hashtag hugely popular on Twitter in Thailand.

One Clubhouse user asked if Isaan is great why hasn’t K-pop idol Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban, of the ‘Blackpink’, ever returned to her hometown in Buri Ram. Instead, she chose South Korea of Isaan.

Pheu Thai lawmaker Suthin Klangsaeng told Thai media at parliament Monday that he feels the participants in the Clubhouse discussions completely lack maturity and any understanding or caring of the Isaan people.

He also urged Thailand’s Ministry of Education to educate children about diversity and multiculturalism, where people from different places and backgrounds must co-exist in peace and harmony throughout Thailand.

Thailand’s ethnic minorities have been subjected to racial persecution in Thailand for years, especially  Thailand’s hill tribespeople. They are frequently viewed as illiterate drug peddlers, with Thai mainstream media perpetuating this image.

In Thailand, dark-skinned people from Isaan are equated with outdoor labor conditions and the lower classes. This racial bias is exacerbated by the fact that many of the wealthy Thai in Bangkok are of Chinese descent and have naturally light skin and the indigenous Thais from the countryside don’t.

The 20 million-strong Isaan population, many of whom are of Laotian and Khmer descent, traditionally have darker skin. Studies show that many view themselves as less desirable than those with lighter skin.

Skin whitening products have proven increasingly popular in Thailand and are marketed in such a way as to promote light skin as beautiful and desirable.

Source: Thai PBS

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