Abhisit on lèse majesté

13 02 2009

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has defended Thailand’s lèse majesté law and acknowledged that it can be abused. In an interview with The Straits Times, Abhisit claimed that Thailand’s lèse majesté are analogous with laws against contempt of court in other countries, “because the courts have to be neutral and respected. The monarchy is a revered institution above politics and conflicts and therefore has no self-defence mechanism, that’s why we have the law.” This view is commonly presented in the Thai media and by defenders of an essentially political law.

Abhisit then acknowledges that the application of the law “has caused a number of problems”, and goes on to make this claim:”Unfortunately the cases that are proceeding are not cases initiated during my administration; they were in the pipeline. But I’ve already told the police chief there are some concerns and sensitivities that he should be aware of when applying the law, and he has to be more careful that the law is not abused or too liberally interpreted.”

Abhisit adds: “For some of the people who are said to be critics or analysts, if their actions had been about expressing their views about the role of the monarchy as an institution in a democratic system, that’s fine, but they are not being prosecuted for that. They are being prosecuted for untruths that they spread about the monarchy, or comments that violate the law.”

Unfortunately, as PPT has shown in posts over the past few weeks (here and here), the law is used politically and fellow Democrats and Abhisit’s ministers have been demanding that the lèse majesté law be strengthened, the punishments increased and for more censorship to be expanded.  This administration has created a climate of fear.

Read the story at Malaysian Insider, 13 February 2009: “Thai PM: Lese majeste law must not be abused”



2 responses

22 02 2009
Further updated: Defending lèse majesté « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Further updated: Defending lèse majesté Jump to Comments On the day that Harry Nicolaides was deported to Australia, The Bangkok Bugle, 21 February 2009: “In defence of lese majeste”, a blog that claims to provide news, views and opinions from Thailand’s media industry, includes a commentary on lèse majesté that makes claims frequently seen in the comments section of other blogs. That is, that lèse majesté is the same as laws of libel and defamation in other parts of the world and that the law has only been used against those who don’t stick to the facts. The final piece of advice is: “Stick to facts and you’ll be fine. If a story is likely to cause damage and isn’t factually correct then it’s likely going to run into problems – not just in Thailand but anywhere in the world.” Bangkok Bugle does not discuss the political nature of lèse majesté. It might be recalled that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva recently made the same comparison of lèse majesté to contempt laws. […]

8 11 2009
New: Forgotten promises and commitments « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] was a time when Abhisit said that some analysis of the monarchy was acceptable; that is now long forgotten, with any excuse used to invoke lese majeste against the […]