Bowornsak Uwanno on lesè majesté

7 04 2009

PPT readers will surely be interested in the Bangkok Post’s printing of Bowornsak’s defence of the lesè majesté law (7 April 2009: “The law of inviolability in Thailand”).

Bowornsak is a royalist legal scholar who has made himself available to a number of governments over the years. Most recently he was appointed by  the military junta to the National Legislative Assembly. That appointment came under critical comment because he had also worked for Thaksin Shinawatra’s government and was a late defector.

In a story in the Nation, it was reported that: “NLA member Bowornsak Uwanno said he also had forgiven all critics who opposed his appointment. “I have been appointed to the job by royal command and am determined to work and abide by the teachings of revered monk Buddhadassa Bhikku,” he said. Bowornsak was reacting to criticism of his legal services for the Thaksin Shinawatra government.”

Now Bowornsak argues that the lesè majesté law is an integral element of Thailand’s democracy. PPT finds it hard to fathom the logic of this argument, but consider it a reflection of the “liberal royalism” that Australian scholar Michael Connors thinks is important for Thailand’s democratic development. If this is royal liberalism, then it is a remarkably conservative “royal liberalism.”

Bowornsak’s main claim is for “ethical relativism”, which involves this: “On the other hand, if we believe that no country is right or wrong but that each is democratic in its own way based on its own social, cultural and ethical norms, thereby creating diversity, then we will better and more easily appreciate others without passing judgement on them based on our own standards.”

Such a position will allow for a remarkable variety of illiberal “democratic” variations, and would be an underpinning of “Thai-style democracy” that royalists and PAD have promoted that is no democracy at all. When pressured, Thailand’s “royal liberals” seem to lose their liberalism in favour of royalism.


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9 04 2009
New: More from Bowornsak Uwanno on lesè majesté « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] More from Bowornsak Uwanno on lesè majesté A few days ago, PPT reported briefly on the first of a 3-part series by Bowornsak Uwanno in the Bangkok […]

23 05 2009
Updated: Managing lese majeste « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] by Bowornsak Uwanno, published in early April in three parts in the Post (see PPT’s commentary here and here) . Specifically, he identifies Bowornsak’s failure to address the application of the […]

23 05 2009
Comments on lese majeste-Bangkok Pundit « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] and well plans of a critique vanished. Would suggest reading Political Prisoners in Thailand posts (here and here) on Bowornsak’s […]

13 09 2009
Updated: Inequality, state welfare and the politics of not mentioning the obscenely wealthy royals « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] secretary-general Borwornsak Uwanno, who earlier broached this topic, but in a context of political illiberalism, said KPI “would help push forward the […]

21 10 2009
Reply to Bowornsak Uwanno « Asian Correspondent

[…] and well plans of a critique vanished. Would suggest reading Political Prisoners in Thailand posts (here and here) on Bowornsak's articles.Aside from that, have a few points from at that time. Bowornsak […]

12 01 2010
Royal Thai Embassy sponsored event at SOAS

[…] Borwornsak Uwanno, Fellow of Thailand’s Royal Institute and Secretary-General of King Prajadhipok’s […]

30 08 2011



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