Thai army boycotts e-commerce giant Lazada over video

By Peter Hoskins
Business reporter

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Lazada is a leading South East Asian retailer

Thailand's army has boycotted online retailer Lazada over an advert that the government is probing for allegedly insulting the country's royal family.

The move will see 245,000 members of the Thai military banned from using the e-commerce giant's websites for official purposes.

Thailand has strict laws over defaming, insulting or threatening senior members of the royal family.

Singapore-based Lazada is one of South East Asia's biggest online retailers.

The announcement comes after citizens loyal to the king complained about a TikTok video promoting a Lazada sale on 5 May.

Royalists said the advert, which featured a woman in a wheelchair, mocked the younger sister of King Vajiralongkorn, Princess Chulabhorn, who uses a wheelchair as a result of Lupus, an autoimmune disease.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Princess Chulabhorn lives with Lupus

The video was "offensive to the monarchy" and "caused disunity in Thai society," Thai army spokeswoman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said in a statement.

"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," she added.

Thailand's digital economy minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn told reporters that the government was considering legal action against the influencer and the advertising agency responsible for the video, as well as Lazada.

Under Thailand's lese-majeste law courts can hand down jail terms of up to 15 years for each offence of defaming, insulting or threatening King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the queen, their heir or regent.

Lazada, which is the South East Asian unit of Chinese online retail group Alibaba, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the BBC.

Earlier the company apologised for the "emotional damage" caused by the video and said it should have been more careful.

At least half a dozen businesses in Thailand, including some run by the palace, have also suspended use of Lazada because of the video, according to the Reuters news agency.

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