Thanong Khanthong has been a vigorous and outspoken supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the 2006 military coup. In his column in the Nation (6 March 2009: “Lese majeste allows criticism but not abuse”) Thanong makes a claim that PPT considers simply wrong.
Thanong states that “I would argue that there is nothing wrong with the lese majeste law. Since Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, it must have a law to protect the monarchy from vandalism, libel and defamation. This is similar to the Netherlands’ Penal Code, in which there are three articles covering lese majeste.”
As far as PPT can determine, the last use of the law in the Netherlands was in October 2007, when a man was fined €400 for, amongst other things, calling Queen Beatrix a “whore” and describing several sexual acts he would like to perform on her to a police officer (from Wikipedia). The Netherlands seems not to use the law for political purposes.
Thanong then claims that “there is nothing wrong with anyone criticising the monarchy in a constructive or academic way. The Thai King is open-minded enough to listen to opinions. The foundation of the monarchy is strong enough to withstand criticism.”
These statements do not accord with the facts of the rise in lèse majesté cases and the political use of such charges in Thailand. Nor does Thanong produce any evidence that the the monarchy can indeed be criticized and nor does he comment on the cases of those who are accused, charged or imprisoned. In this context of an on-going campaign to “protect” the monarchy, Thanong’s repeated claims on this manner cannot be accepted.
The reason for Thanong’s claims is to question the motives of the academics who signed a petition for the amendment of the lèse majesté law rather than its abolition. Thanong tends to see plots everywhere, and concludes with a plea: “You have to truly understand and appreciate the Thai constitutional monarchy. Don’t be fooled by politicians, the police, public prosecutors and some academics.”
For a line-by-line critique, see Bangkok Pundit.