Lese majeste and the monarchy

The listing of these papers and publications here in no way implies a connection between the authors and this blog. Nor does it imply that  Political Prisoners in Thailand endorses everything in each publication.

We don’t the commentary much as the blog is reasonably comprehensive. However, when we are able, we do add to the Historical Commentary below.

For a brief discussion of lese majeste, read the Reporters Without Borders report (9 February 2009) entitled “His Untouchable Majesty”.

In December 2008, The Economist published a highly controversial set of articles on the monarchy and Thailand’s political crisis that were not distributed in Thailand: “A right royal mess”. Its 22 January 2009 edition was not distributed in Thailand because of this story on Nicolaides and lèse majesté: The Economist, 22 January 2009,  “The Trouble with Harry”. The Bangkok Post, 27 January 2009, finally reports: “Distributor bans Economist again”. Following this, The Economist’s 29 January 2009 issue was not distributed in Thailand because of this story: “A sad slide backwards”. Simon Long, The Economist‘s Asia editor writes about the problems the magazine has faced in Thailand, at Index on Censorship, 2 February 2009: “We are not amused”. The Economist, 18 February 2009: “No disrespect” explains more about why it reports lèse majesté.

Forbes published a controversial first listing of the world’s richest royals, listing King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the top: “Richest Royals”

New Mandala has an interview with Duncan McCargo, who responds to questions regarding his concept of the “network monarchy”: “Interview with Professor Duncan McCargo”

Academic Papers and Articles:

David Strekfuss and Thanapol Eawsakul, “Speaking the Unspeakable: Lèse-Majesté and the Monarchy in Thailand”, download it: streckfuss-and-thanapol

NIASNytt has an issue on the 2006 coup, including discussion of the role of the monarchy: “Thailand and the 2006 coup”

The Journal of Contemporary Asia had a special issue in 2008 that can be downloaded as a zipped file: “Thailand’s ‘Good Coup’, the Fall of Thaksin, the Military and Democracy”. Important articles for the issues of monarchy and politics are by Michael Connors, Kevin Hewison (download it: JCA_38_1_2008), Ukrist Pathamanand and Porphant Ouyyanont. The journal special issue is reviewed in Asia Sentinel.

Michael Connors, “Thailand: Four elections and a coup” (2008).

Michael Connors “Citizen King. Embodying Thainess” chapter 6 from his revised 2011 book Democracy and National Identity in Thailand. Made available by NIAS Press.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, “Thailand since the Coup” (2008).

Fringer has several useful papers from the 10th International Conference on Thai Studies (scroll down the page):

  • Celebrating Kingship, Worrying about the Monarchy by Irene Stengs [PDF, 9 pages]
  • Lese Majeste Law and Mainstream Newspapers’ Self-Censorship: The Upward Spiral Effect and its Counter Reaction by Pravit Rojanapruk [PDF, 12 pages]
  • Ramification and Re-Sacralization of the Lèse Majesté Law in Thailand by Somchai Preechasilpakul and David Streckfuss [PDF, 22 pages]
  • Also this useful paper not from ICTS: The Construction of Mainstream Thought on “Thainess” and the “Truth” Constructed by “Thainess” [PDF, 36 pages] – by Saichol Sattayanurak

E-Books and Excerpts:

Paul Handley, The King Never Smiles, Yale University Press, 2006. Buy it from the publisher. Excerpts at Google Books and Asia Sentinel. The author is interviewed at New Mandala and speaks with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  Attempts to prevent publication are outlined in the Yale Alumni Magazine (scroll down the page) and Inside Higher Education. Craig Reynolds provides a commentary at New Mandala. Another commentary is at the New York Times, while Denis Grey reports on discussion of the book at the 10th ICTS in The Irrawaddy. Reviews by Nicholas Farrelly (in The Oxonian Review); Kevin Hewison (in Journal of Historical Biography); and Chris Baker (in Asia Sentinel).

A Thai version of the Handley book กษัตริย์ไม่เคยยิ้ม is available. An earlier version in Thai/ไทย is here.

The Devil’s Discus by Rayne Kruger, on the death of Ananda Mahidol is not readily available, but see the pictures here. The full Thai language version กงจักรปีศาจหลัง is available here.

Historical Commentary:

We  post important historical documents related to lèse majesté and the monarchy. For many of these papers, the origins are vague and it is not always possible to ensure that we are honoring copyright. If a copyright holder notices a problem, contact us immediately at: thaipoliticalprisoners@hushmail.com.

Keith Simpson, “The Violent Death of King Ananda of Siam,” from Forty Years of Murder: An Autobiography, London: Harrop, 1978): Simpson (1978). Simpson was a British pathologist who investigated the Ananda Mahidol regicide.

Edwin F. Stanton’s 1948 cable where U.S. Ambassador Stanton  recounts a discussion with former Prime Minister Luang Thamrong Navasawat on Phibun, coups and the death of King Ananda Mahidol.

อธิปัตย์ (Athipat), 18-21 February 1975, pages 1 and 12,  “คดีหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพตัดสิน ๒๘ ก.พ. นี้”

U.S. State Department, declassified cable on how the U.S. Embassy and the palace worked with the international media to ensure the king’s good image, 30 March 1973: palace_nat-geog_1973

U.S. State Department, declassified cable on protecting the king from criticism, 7 December 1973: king_sweden_1973

U.S. State Department, declassified cable on “creative” intervention, 22 December 1973: king_const_1973

U.S. State Department, declassified cable on attempts to censor negative reports on the queen, 11 February 1975: queen-1975

U.S. State Department, declassified cable on claimed links between the CIA and Palace Guards, 25 February 1975: palace-guards_1975

Inoue Sumio, “Lese Majeste Used as Political Trick”, AMPO, 8, 3, 1976, pp. 14-17.

Chang Kuo Tao, “All the king’s men”, AMPO, 8, 3, 1976, pp. 18-26.

E. T. Flood (compiler), “Village Scouts: The King’s Finest,” Indochina Chronicle, No. 54, 1977, p. 19 (translated to Thai at Thaireport).

Natee Pisalchai, “Village Scouts,” Thai Information Bulletin (Paris), No. 6, January 1977, pp. 10-22, on the notorious state-organized, royal-patronized semi-fascist movement.

Paul Heiecke, “On the role of the king in Thailand”, Thai Information Bulletin (Paris), No. 13, Nov-Dec 1977, pp. 24-32.

Phoo Phaakphoom [Phuu Phaakphum], “The Last Thai King,” Southeast Asia Chronicle, No. 60, 1978, p. 6.

Phuu Phaakphum, “The Ninth King: A Tale of Palace Intrigue in Modern Thailand”, Ampo (Japan-Asia Quarterly Review), Volume 10, Numbers 1-2, 1978.

Thailand Update, Volume 2, Number 5, March-April 1981 (short articles on the Young Turks failed coup and comments on role of the monarchy).

Gareth McKinley, “Knights, pawns … and kings, Inside Asia, November/December 1984, with information on lese majeste and the monarchy’s political role (McKinley, 1984).

Mong Doo, How deep are the cracks in the kingdom? Reflections on a king’s birthday”. This is a paper probably written in late 1987 or early 1988 and privately circulated.

newSukhumbhand Paribatra, “Joy and apprehension over the Thai monarchy,” FEER, January 1988.

Lese majeste cases and commentary:

Here we include older cases not detailed elsewhere at PPT.

Asiaweek, 15 April 1977, marking an attack on the monarchy by Thirayuth Boonmee, who had joined the CPT.

UCL Newsletters reporting on Sulak Sivaraksa’s interesting lese majeste case in 1984-5.

UCL, “Case of lèse majesté at Chiangmai Province,” UCL Newsletter, Vol. 2, 1985, p. 7. According to another UCL Newsletter (Oct-Dec 1985) report the case was eventually thrown out for lack of witnesses.

UCL, Oct-Dec 1985, reporting several lese majeste cases and convictions.

Anti-monarchy leaflets, 1987, quality is poor as these sheets were repeatedly photocopied and distributed by hand.

Bangkok Post, 25 September 1987, one of several lese majeste accusations at the time, this promoted by Chalerm Yubamrung.

Young Turks Assassination Plot 1982-91

Veera Musigapong / วีระ มุสิกพงศ์ Lese Majeste case, 1986-88

Anti-monarchy leaflets lese majeste cases, 1987-88

The Nation, 14 April 1989, Briton accused of lese majeste against princesses (who aren’t covered by the law)

A case of lese majeste against police (1993)

The Straits Times, 2 February 1995, Frenchman Lech-Tomasz Kisielewicz accused of lese majeste.

37 responses

6 02 2009
New from PPT: Historical documents « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] New from PPT: Historical documents Jump to Comments Readers may be interested to view a set of new historical documents from the 1970s and 1980s that we have added to our commentary page on Lèse Majesté and the Monarchy. [...]

21 02 2009
New: Defending lèse majesté « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] Fah Diew Kan and  faces two charges/accusations of lèse majesté). The paper is available here under Academic Papers and [...]

21 03 2009
New: New historical documents at PPT « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] New historical documents at PPT PPT has been posting historical documents related to lesé majesté, the monarchy, human rights and general items on Thailand’s history and politics. The latest additions are [...]

16 04 2009
Time magazine on the challenge to the monarchy « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] insurgency and a range of other schisms in Thai society over six decades. We recommend PPT’s historical documents. They might even browsesome of Time’s own [...]

25 08 2009
New: Blaming the red shirts for predicted turmoil « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] PM’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey, one of the Democrat Party’s most strident proponents of the monarchy, of political control of the media and for limiting freedom of speech, said the “state of [...]

27 01 2010
“…to satisfy the palace…”

[...] cable, and similar correspondence, has been consolidated at the historical commentary section of Political Prisoners in Thailand.  There are, no doubt, many other such educational gems lurking [...]

9 05 2010
With major update: TIME on the monarchy « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] a positive journalism – along with the US Embassy and State Department – see PPT’s historical commentary section.) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Unlike father, unlike sonTime Magazine’s [...]

13 09 2010
New documents posted « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] documents posted PPT has added three documents to our Commentary page on Lese majeste and the monarchy. While the quality of the PDFs is not always great, these three, all from 1977, are worth a [...]

3 10 2010
Ananda Mahidol’s death « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] king’s elder brother, Ananda Mahidol, back in 1946, by gun shot. As part of PPT’s Historical Commentary, we have added a chapter by Keith Simpson, “The Violent Death of King Ananda of Siam,” from [...]

12 11 2010
Additions to PPT « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] The King Never Smiles/กษัตริย์ไม่เคยยิ้ม has been added to our Commentary. On the pages, these new links/pages use the new logo to identify [...]

5 12 2010
Commentary on the king’s birthday | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] suggests not only Handley (noted above) but also the range of papers at our commentary pages, here, here and here. And, of course, the two new books posted on here and [...]

31 12 2010
Liking it both ways | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] has added another short document to our historical commentary. Go here and look for the NEW! symbol. This document refers to the king’s political intervention in [...]

29 09 2011
Banned books week | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] PPT just posted on Tom Plate’s book on Thaksin, which is more or less banned in Thailand. Other banned books are to be found here. [...]

16 03 2012
Regicide request « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] F. Stanton regarding a conversation with former Prime Minister Luang Thamrong Navasawat. Read it here (as a large [...]

16 03 2012
Regicide request « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[...] in 1948 regarding a conversation with former Prime Minister Luang Thamrong Navasawat. Read it here (as a large [...]

29 06 2012
Taking on monarchist claptrap « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[...] isnot just Paul Handley and Duncan McCargo who have shown the monarchy’s political role. At one of our pages, we have commentaries on this back to the 1970s, and our list is not comprehensive. Perhaps the [...]

29 06 2012
Taking on monarchist claptrap « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] Lese majeste and the monarchy [...]

3 07 2012
Taking on monarchist claptrap-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[...] it is not just Paul Handley and Duncan McCargo who have shown the monarchy’s political role. At one of our pages, we have commentaries on this back to the 1970s, and our list is not comprehensive. Perhaps the [...]

8 08 2012
Updated: Tul’s vulgar threats « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] Lese majeste and the monarchy [...]

8 08 2012
Updated: Tul’s vulgar threats « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[...] have mentioned 1976, it seems like an opportunity to mention a new document PPT has posted at our Monarchy and lese majeste page. It is “Lese Majeste Used as Political Trick”, by Inoue Sumio and was published in AMPO [...]

21 09 2012
Thailand’s Lese Majeste Law: ‘A Strange Legislation that Needs Reform’ · Global Voices

[...] and activists have been demanding a reform of the law but the government has dismissed the petition. Thailand’s King is the most popular and well-loved [...]

21 09 2012
Thailand’s Lese Majeste Law: ‘A Strange Legislation that Needs Reform’ :: Elites TV

[...] and activists have been demanding a reform of the law but the government has dismissed the petition. Thailand’s King is the most popular and well-loved [...]

28 01 2013
New historical lese majeste information « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[...] Lese majeste and the monarchy [...]

28 01 2013
New historical lese majeste information « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[...] the new posts PPT has in its updated and reorganized Historical Commentary section of our page on Lese majeste and the monarchy (eventually we will be revising this whole page). The cases refer to the mid-190s. For convenience, [...]

25 09 2013
Banned books week | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] banned or suppressed material can be found amongst the little collection of papers and links at PPT’s “library” (which is in need of updating) and at […]

25 09 2013
Banned books week 2013 | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] banned or suppressed material can be found amongst the little collection of papers and links at PPT’s “library” (which is in need of updating) and at […]

25 09 2013
Banned books week 2013 | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] banned or suppressed material can be found amongst the little collection of papers and links at PPT’s “library” (which is in need of updating) and at […]

3 11 2013
New documents on lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] At our page on these things, we added the files as downloadable PDFs and took the opportunity to do a bit of “word gardening” at the page as well. Scroll down and find the links with the “new” image next to them. […]

3 11 2013
New documents on lese majeste | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] At our page on these things, we added the files as downloadable PDFs and took the opportunity to do a bit of “word gardening” at the page as well. Scroll down and find the links with the “new” image next to them. […]

8 11 2013
Zen journalist’s latest | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Because we haven’t examined the book-length post in any detail, PPT can’t comment on Marshall’s argument or the evidence he collects in support of his claims. We do note that public criticism of the prince has been around since at least 1976, and became especially virulent around 1986-88, leading to several lese majeste charges. […]

8 11 2013
Zen journalist’s latest | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Because we haven’t examined the book-length post in any detail, PPT can’t comment on Marshall’s argument or the evidence he collects in support of his claims. We do note that public criticism of the prince has been around since at least 1976, and became especially virulent around 1986-88, leading to several lese majeste charges. […]

17 11 2013
Strange decisions II | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Indeed, the law or the threat of the law has been used to silence critics and has seemingly been applied to privy councilors and princesses outside the law (see several items here). […]

17 11 2013
Strange decisions II | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Indeed, the law or the threat of the law has been used to silence critics and has seemingly been applied to privy councilors and princesses outside the law (see several items here). […]

18 01 2014
Politic and the succession question | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] rarely used to happen or at least was kept from the public?” This isn’t quite true. As we have tried to document in our pages, there has been a history criticism. It is true that before social media it was much harder to […]

18 01 2014
Politics and the succession question | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] that rarely used to happen or at least was kept from the public?” This isn’t quite true. As we have tried to document in our pages, there has been a history criticism. It is true that before social media it was much harder to […]

21 04 2014
Lese majeste fascism | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] points out, the use of lese majeste as a political weapon by rightists is hardly new. Indeed, our Commentary page indicates […]

21 04 2014
Lese majeste fascism | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] points out, the use of lese majeste as a political weapon by rightists is hardly new. Indeed, our Commentary page indicates […]




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