Academics discuss lesé majesté

21 03 2009

Pravit Rojanaphruk, writing in The Nation (22 March 2009: “Lesé majesté: Differences of legal opinion aired at forum on defamation of royalty”) reports on the first day of the academic conference on the lesé majesté law at Thammasat University. At least four points deserve repeating.

First, Professor Thongthong Chandrangsu, described in the report as “a well-known royalist, expert on royal history and former dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Law” claimed that the “broad use of lese-majeste law is not beneficial to the monarchy” and added, “I don’t see the letter of the law as problematic, but the application of it is when used in an all-encompassing way. That is my honest opinion…”. This position is reasonably close to that espoused by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Second, historian Nidhi Eowsriwong made the all-too-obvious point that “Thailand had yet to reach a consensus on the dividing line between the protection of the monarchy and the protection of citizens’ rights to freedom of expression.” More significantly, he added that what he termed “sacred space,” where the “monarchy was revered must be reduced to fit a democratic system.” Nidhi also urged certain political groups to stop using the fear of republicanism as a political weapon.

Third, Thammasat University political scientist Kasian Tejapira expressed concern about the “growing state coercion of citizens to protect the monarchy…”. He added, “Those who support the protection of the monarchy principally through coercion damage the monarchy…. They may unknowingly shift towards fascism in the name of monarchy…”. Kasian considered that reform had to be on the political agenda.

Fourth, lawyer Thongbai Thongpao pointed out that “there was a need to keep proper and reliable data on who was being put in prison because of the law. he said that: “There’s no file on those tried under lese-majeste law…”. Thongbai, added that he had not wanted to come and speak for fear of breaking the law.

The Bangkok Post (22 March 2009) has a short and shallow report on the event.



One response

22 10 2009
Lese Majeste Seminar « Asian Correspondent

[…] again?) from day 2 here. Political Prisonsers in Thailand has commentary on Pravit's article here.BP: Worth a read. There seems to be an increasing number who are open to some reform although this […]

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