Pravit on Darunee and the whitewashing the 2006 coup

1 09 2009

At Prachatai (1 September 2009), Pravit Rojanaphruk has this article “There She Was: Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul on The New York Times” about reaction to the harsh sentencing of Darunee Charnchoensilpakul. A couple of points from the story.

First, readers should note Pravit’s self-censorship when citing the New York Times article on Darunee. All that is left out is the word “supported” in “The three-judge panel ruled that even though she did not mention the king or queen by name in the speech, she had insinuated that they supported the coup.” This is interesting, for as PPT pointed out in an earlier post, journalists made this point about palace support right after the coup. In fact, there is plenty of journalistic and academic comment on this support from that period.

This comment on support for the coup is one of the reasons for the lese majeste charges against Ji Ungpakorn. In his book A Coup for the Rich, which Ji says is an academic analysis, it is stated: “The major forces behind the 19th September [2006] coup were antidemocratic groups in the military and civilian elite, disgruntled business leaders and neo-liberal intellectuals and politicians. The coup was also supported by the Monarchy.” Why Ji was singled out for stating the obvious is unclear except for the fact that he was politically active in opposing the 2006 coup.

In other words, the palace, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, various other official agencies and the courts are recruited into a campaign to wipe out all references to the monarchy’s support for the coup. A whitewashing of history that is practically impossible, but an enforcement of a particular political position in Thailand.

Second, Pravit mentions the controversy over the attempt to have Yale University Press drop the Paul Handley book, The King Never Smiles, before its publication. For more details of this tawdry little affair, conducted by the Thaksin Shinawatra government and led by Bowornsak Uwanno, there is an account in an academic paper about the book in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, available here.


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