Using lese majeste

2 06 2010

PPT can understand that Puea Thai Party parliamentarians are keen to further expose the double standards of the military-backed regime in Thailand. However, we also think it less than smart to use lese majeste accusations to do this.

Reuters (1 June 2010)  reports that Puea Thai’s Chalerm Yoobamrung has accused Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya “of trying to undermine the country’s revered monarchy with ‘wretched and vile’ comments about reform of the royal institution.”

PPT would have thought that Kasit, arguably one of the worst foreign ministers Thailand has ever had, could have been targeted for a range of dumb and ill-tempered statements and for several failures, making claims of lese majeste pale in comparison. In our view, using lese majeste as a political weapon is pretty stupid.

Chalerm apparently claimed that Kasit “had been disrespectful to the monarchy and should be punished…”. This refers to Kasit’s comments at Johns Hopkins University in April.

While Chalerm argues that Kasit’s reformist ideas were vile and “audacious,” Kasit is right when he responded that “his intention was to protect the monarchy…”. Kasit is a royalist who fears “‘distortion of information” and is waging a campaign to “correct” this. Part of this involves attacking “false friends” overseas who haven’t done enough to “defend Thailand and the monarchy.”

The proper target is the monarchy itself. It is past its use-by date and it is lese majeste and Abhisit regime protection through bloody repression, censorship, courts, military and jails that keeps it in place as the keystone of Thailand’s conservative polity.


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