In Thailand, poking fun at the Thai royal family is completely unacceptable, even if it’s just some funny cartoon stickers on LINE.
The hunt is now on for the creators of a new set of messaging stickers that resemble members of the Thai royal family. The popular messaging app, LINE, which reportedly has 33 million Thai users, a majority of the country’s mobile population, has since removed the stickers as there are harsh legal consequences for anyone who offends or makes fun of the Thai rulers. Thailand is one of LINE’s biggest markets in the Southeast Asia region.
Fortunately, journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall was able to snap a picture of the stickers before they were removed from the app store. Colonel Somporn Daengdee, deputy chief of the Thai police’s Technology Crime Suppression Division, informed Reuters:
“We are investigating where the stickers came from and who did this.”
The app company screens stickers submitted by users before making them available in their store. Apparently, the staff at the Japan office missed the offensive jokes in this particular sticker set. A close look at the cartoon characters shows recognizable figures from the Thai Royal family including the crown prince and his beloved poodle, Air Chief Marshal Foo Foo.
A source allegedly sent Mashable a statement from the sticker creators that read:
“In Thailand, reverence for the royal family has sometimes been exploited to silence political debate. We wanted to create some light-hearted stickers that show the Thai royals as just like any other family. The furious reaction of Thai police shows Thailand is still far from democracy and freedom of speech.”