Updated: Lese majeste and double standards

23 07 2010

Update: As if to prove the double standards at work, Bangkok Post opinion page columnist Veera Prateepchaikul comes out in support of Pongpat without mentioning any other lese majeste case or the yellow shirt attacks on other people related to the same case . It is interesting that Veera thnks that the “right” to make lese majeste complaints cannot yet be taken away from the population. PPT suspects this is due to the fact that the law is needed by the Abhisit regime to maintain its rule for the traditional elite.

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Yesterday PPT posted regarding actor and yellow shirt supporter Pongpat Wachirabanjong being accused of lese majeste – as the police say, and accusation has been made but no charge has been made, yet. PPT noted the political nature of lese majeste cases and repeated our call that the law be abolished.

However, as a report in The Nation shows, the way lese majeste accusations are treated is yet another pointer to the deep and embedded nature of double standards in Thai society. As PPT has said previously, it seems we know almost nothing about the vast majority of lese majeste cases and convictions. We can probably assume that these are “small people” who “don’t matter” too much in the broader political debates. In other words, they lack a voice.

But when a die-hard and well-known royalist is accused, what happens? First, as we noted yesterday, the prime minister raises a question. Now that may not amount to much because Abhisit Vejjajiva has a track record of lying on lese majeste and related computer crimes cases. But his intervention was one that clearly raised questions about Pongpat’s case.

Next, the yellow-toned Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn sprang to his comrade’s defense, stating that “the actor’s speech at the Nataraj Awards was meant to protect the monarchy and was not within the frame of lese majeste as accused.” Kamnoon is secretary to the Senate’s adhoc committee on the protection of the monarchy, so his comment carries public impact for he is a died-in-the-wool royalist.

That committee plans to call in the “acting police chief, city police chief as well as inspectors involved in the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s airport seizure and Pongpat’s case to explain if the action taken by the police force was fair…”. Note that PAD are involved here. Its supporters in the unelected part of the senate are keen to protect their friends. They couldn’t care less about all of the other in jail, and, like the Department of Special Investigation bosses, consider them deserving of foul treatment as “evil” persons.

It seems that the police are now backing off under all the political pressure and influence. So this is probably one case PPT doesn’t need to add to its lists, but the double standard at work is just too obvious.

Meanwhile, the regime keeps hundreds of red shirts locked up…


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25 07 2010
Human rights a horror story « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] royalist grandeur of the occasion.” Recall that yellow shirt supporter Pongpat Wachirabanjong was accused of lese majeste for a speech at the same […]