Over several years and several political administrations the monarchy’s taxpayer-funded ideologues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have “responded” to articles in the foreign media. They worry that these articles cast doubt on the standard lines about the monarchy and the draconian law that “protects” it, Article 112.
Usually the sans-evidence responses are a repetition of the standard line: first, the tautology that the monarchy is constitutionally above politics so can’t be politically active; second, the lese majeste law is just a libel law; and third, another tautology, all lese majeste legal cases are handled strictly lawfully.
Seldom do those receiving such missives respond. That’s what makes the tête-à-tête at Foreign Policy worth a read. Author Joshua Kurlantzick wrote a piece in May that prompts a response from the Thai Embassy in Washington DC, and then Kurlantzick responds to that.
Readers can view the results at the link above. However, we think Kurlantzick missed some significant points in his response, and we feel compelled to make them.
First, if Kurlantzick knew PPT, he’d note that 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 first serious academic work, from 1997, is here. In other words, the critical commentary on the monarchy did not begin with The King Never Smiles.
The claim by the MFA correspondent that the king and monarchy “exerts no control over the direction of the country’s politics” is, quite simply, laughable. The statement that “to argue that the Thai royal family has been interfering with politics is clearly misleading and highly inappropriate” neglects truth.
Second, the MFA claim on lese majeste is a fabrication. It is stated that:
Legal proceedings in such cases, including those of Mr. Lerpong Wichaikhammart (Joe Gordon) and the late Mr. Amphon Tangnoppagul(Akong), were carried out in accordance with the rule of law. All of them have been accorded due process as provided by the Thai Criminal Procedures Code including the right to fair trial, due opportunity to contest the charges and assistance from their lawyer as well as the right to appeal.
This is a monarchist fairy tale. There is no recent evidence that Thailand’s courts even follow the country’s laws. The courts are corrupted political tools of the royalist elite. If that sounds harsh, then a glance at the military-back 2007 constitution should assist, for that basic law states:
Article 39. … The suspect or the accused in a criminal case shall be presumed innocent. Before the passing of a final judgement convicting a person of having committed an offence, such person shall not be treated as a convict.
This Article is routinely ignored for lese majeste cases where all those denied bail are treated as convicts. Almost all lese majeste suspects are denied bail, whereas murder suspects are bailed all the time.
Article 40. A person shall have the rights in judicial process as follows:
(1) right to access to judicial process easily, comfortably, quickly and indiscriminately;
(2) fundamental rights in judicial process composing of, at least, right to public trial; right to be informed of and to examine into facts and related documents adequately; right to present facts, defences and evidences in the case; right to object the partial judges; right to be considered by the full bench of judges; and right to be informed of justifications given in the judgement or order;…
(7) an alleged offender and the accused in criminal case shall have the right to correct, prompt and fair investigation or trial with an adequate opportunity in defending his case, the right to examine or to be informed of evidence, right to defend himself through counsel and the right to bail….
Each of the highlighted points are simply ignored for lese majeste trials. It is a simple as that, and it is this unlawful and unconstitutional judicial system that MFA defends with lies and deceit. Ampol, who died in jail through lack of adequate medical attention, had judges who decided he was guilty even when the prosecution could not prove the facts of the case.
Ampol was denied bail eight times. Joe has been denied bail 10 times! Ampol, poor, sick and old was repeatedly said to be a “flight risk.” Both men saw their incarceration drag on, and as is expected of lese majeste victims, they both chose to plead guilty in order to end their cases. Ampol sought a royal pardon, citing his old age and health problems, but died waiting for mercy.
Joe remains imprisoned for a “crime” allegedly committed in the United States and which was perfectly legal action there, although there has been no evidence presented that Joe committed any action leading to his monarchist madness arrest in Thailand. As Joe himself pointed out, “In Thailand, they put people in prison even if they don’t have proof.”
PPT considers the use of extended incarceration to force a guilty plea to be a form of torture, as defined by the U.N.
So much for the MFA’s rule of law. The law is about the fear and repression necessary for “protecting” not just a highly politicized, remarkably powerful and obscenely wealthy monarchy but the whole system of economic and political power that it represents.