Page last updated at 18:39 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Thais block anti-royal websites

The Thai king and his family
The royal family is revered by most Thais

The Thai government says it is planning to build an internet firewall to block websites deemed insulting to the country's hugely popular royal family.

The Information Ministry says it has received many complaints about such sites, most of which are based abroad.

Thailand's royals are supposed to be above politics and are protected by strict laws which prohibit criticism.

But the government has been accused of being hostile to the monarchy - a charge it denies strongly.

The Information Ministry says it plans to spend millions of dollars erecting the digital firewall around the country to prevent Thailand's internet users from accessing the controversial sites.

BBC Bangkok correspondent Jonathan Head says the firewall appears to be a response to pressure from the army to stamp out any criticism of the monarchy.

The governing party and its patron, exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have denied claims by opponents that they have a hidden Republican agenda for Thailand.

Political strains

Thailand's royal family has tended to avoid interfering in politics.

But our correspondent says the recent political conflict which has split the country into two bitterly-polarised camps is straining that official view.

When Queen Sirikit presided over the funeral of a woman who died in a rally three weeks ago, many Thais saw this as a show of sympathy for anti-government protestors who have been demonstrating in Bangkok for months.

Activists from the staunchly-royalist People's Alliance for Democracy accuse the governing party of corruption and of being too close to Mr Thaksin, who fled the country earlier this year to escape corruption charges.

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