The Nation quotes ultra-royalist Tul Sitthisomwong observation on opponents of the lese majeste law: “It’s not that they are against the lese majeste law per se. Their concept is that the institution of monarchy impedes true democracy.”
Wrong and right at the same time! PPT and lots of other who want the lese majeste law abolished oppose it because it is a bad law that is used to attack political opponents and to lock up dissidents. The greatest use of the lese majeste and related laws is when political repression is at its highest (as in 1976-78 and 2006-11). That said, Tul is right to observe that the monarchy as presently constituted in Thailand impedes true democracy. The monarchy sits atop a political and economic structure that has been created using the power of the state to maintain social, political and economic inequality. Indeed, the monarchy’s huge wealth is created and buttressed by a military-dominated and violent state, of which the lese majeste law is just one element of repression and control.
The history of opposition to this royalist system has seen thousands of Thais murdered by the state and tens of thousands jailed. Democracy with the monarchy as its icon and the military as its enforcer is no democracy at all.
Update: The Bangkok Post reports on Nitirat member Jantajira Eiamayura commenting on the “Constitution Court’s Oct 10 ruling that the lese majeste law was constitutional because the King, as the head of state, was entitled to protection under the law.” Jantajira argued that “the lese majeste law was in conflict with freedom of expression, despite the court’s ruling to the contrary. She argued that the law allows anyone to make a lese majeste accusation, allows no right to bail, does not distinguish between insult and criticism in good faith, and restricts citizens’ rights and liberties as guaranteed by the constitution.” She added that “if the lese majeste law was necessary to protect the monarchy, then other institutions such as parliament and the cabinet needed special laws to protect them too.” We are not sure the latter is correct. What is important is abolishing a law that prevents freedom of expression and bolsters a rotten state.