Piling on the royalist nonsense

9 07 2010

They keep saying it. AFP states that Thailand’s “82-year-old king has been a stabilising force…”. The agency refers to 1992. The evidence is, however, that the monarchy and this king has also been a force that has encouraged partisanship and instability. Just a few examples: 1946 regicide, 1947 coup, 1957 coup, destabilization of governments in 1973-76, 1976 massacre and coup, 2006 coup. Why do they keep saying this?

This error is made in an article citing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on the political role of the monarchy. He says that his government’s position “had always been that the monarchy should remain above partisan politics…”. As PPT has pointed out several times, and will do again below, this is a misrepresentation. In fact, the Abhisit regime has and continues to use the monarchy for political gain.

Abhisit also had to deny “speculation that the palace had sought to influence his administration during the recent crisis.” The reason he is forced to state this is because the assumption of palace involvement is widespread in the country. Abhisit states: “I can definitely say, categorically, that all the decisions during the protests were taken by the government. The palace does not interfere in the matter…”.

Even if one accepts this assertion, the proximity of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to the civilian-military junta – called the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation – during the red shirt demonstrations would raise questions. Abhisit’s private audience with the king raises questions and so does the king’s speeches to judges.

When Abhisit says: “The institution plays the same role as in other constitutional monarchies” he’s just parroting royalist nonsense. His statement on lese majeste, where he claims “We have to make a distinction between people who make comments on the monarchy, maybe academic discussions, from people who clearly show intent in terms of undermining the institution, which would be a threat to national security…” simply and clearly confirms his adherence to the status quo.

In any case, the actions of the government are far louder than the premier’s bleating. The ever more Gestapo-like Department of Special Investigation is reported to have “begun its operations dealing with the anti-monarchy movement, setting up nine teams comprising nearly 300 agents from various agencies to do the task.” That’s three hundred!

The DSI doesn’t seem too bothered about issues like the presumption of innocence, but has decided to identify “people whose behaviours are considered ‘detrimental or ill-minded’ to the monarchy…”. How will it determine who these people are? It will rely on the so-called “Mind Map composed by the government’s Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which indicted 27 key figures released during the run-up to the red shirt protests in Bangkok.” This is a wholly discredited document, but the DSI is interested in destroying the government’s political opponents. It’s a witch hunt or worse.

The DSI’s director-general Tharit Phengdit makes things worse when he makes the government’s conspiracy even bigger by considering the “blacklisted 83 people whose assets had been frozen by the CRES were taking part in the [red shirt] movement.” Ahem. They are accused. But the political Tharit – he’ll get piles of royal honors and awards for sure – is going to try to make connections. Tharit also targets those who joined the UDD are in the Puea Thai Party and those who “took part in arranging the red-shirt protests in May…”. This is the flunky officer really wanting to show he can protect the monarchy better than anyone else. Such slithering individuals are the most dangerous. He says there is no deadline for the “completion of all lese-majeste and anti-monarchy cases.” This is because the cases involve “a large number of people through complicated networks of operations. The overall DSI investigation will be lengthy…”.

The ever-vigilant DSI has “identified two types of wrongdoing: online publication of lese-majeste content; and public statements in various forms, including public interviews, speeches during rallies and distribution of hard copies. The wrongdoers involved are divided into three levels: the leadership and commanders, who allegedly funded the anti-monarchy operations, gave directions and tactics and issued ideological themes. The second level are the ‘operatives’, who delivered lese-majeste content or speeches as directed by the leadership – individually, as groups, or systematically as a whole. The third level are ‘the masses’, who used public activities or gatherings to support the people in the second level.” They are going to be filling the jails!

International human rights groups need to look far more critically at the DSI as a politicized agency, operating with government mandate, Abhisit’s support, and regularly infringing on human rights. The potential is for it to get far worse and the rabid royalists and drooling yellow shirts urge them on.



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