BANGKOK — Thailand's military government has chosen 911 as the country's new emergency service number, instead of the alternative 112, which was dropped because of its connection to the draconian law that outlaws criticism of the Thai monarchy.
Maj.Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a government spokesperson, said the new number will cover all emergency services, whereas Thailand currently has separate hotlines for different authorities – for instance, 191 for police, 199 for firefighters, and 1155 for tourist police.
"I don't think Thai people can remember all the numbers," Maj.Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.
According to Maj.Gen. Sansern, the government was considering either 911 or 112 for the new telephone number, but ultimately rejected the latter because of its association with the Kindgom’s lese majeste law, which falls under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Codes.
The law, which is often referred to simply as '112,' punishes criticism of the royal family with up to 15 years in prison, making it the harshest lese majeste legislation in the world.
"The reason we did not use 112 was to avoid any misunderstanding that may connect it to the laws, or cause confusion about Section 112," Maj.Gen. Sansern said.
Furthermore, 911 is already used as an emergency number in several other of countries, including the United States and Canada, the spokesperson said. He added that the government also would like to remind the public not to misuse the emergency number, which is against the law.