Bangkok Post editorial supports the use of lese majeste

2 05 2011

In quite an astounding Bangkok Post editorial we see the Post supporting the use of lese majeste charges, recording the political nature of the “crime” and simultaneously demonstrating the nonsensical nature of the crime.

The editorial refers to Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha’s use of the Internal Security Operations Command, the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Crime Suppression Division to close 13 red shirt radio stations for “broadcasting a speech allegedly containing comments offensive to the monarchy…”.

The editorial says that this operation “is troubling on several scores.” Why? It claims that there is no way to know if the alleged speech by red shirt leaders was “dangerous,” thereby justifying the actions. So how to deal with this? According to the Post: “If the speech is truly offensive, it clearly should not be made public, and if it is not offensive, it is still dangerous for anyone to publicise it for obvious reasons.”

But does the Post explain that this is the kind of illogical nonsense that allows lese majeste to be used for political repression? No. It actually congratulates Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva for pushing “against politicians from all parties making any references to the monarchy in their campaigning. This should include accusations of lese majeste since the public has no way of knowing if they are justified.”

The truth is, as PPT recently posted, that Abhisit wasn’t being non-partisan in his call. In fact, he was attacking the Puea Thai Party as anti-monarchist. Additionally, the Bhum Jai Thai Party remains dead keen to use monarchy and lese majeste as its election strategy and the Democrat Party has been avid in using lese majeste against its opponents.

The Post seems to want to disagree with Prayuth’s lese majeste campaign. But it lacks the political courage to put this into print. It fails to acknowledge that Prayuth’s is a politically-inspired use of lese majeste accusations against a plethora of red shirts, trying to intimidate and shutdown opposition media before the election that the royalist Democrat Party cannot be allowed to lose.

The lack of political courage becomes total spinelessness when the Post states: “It is now up to the courts to decide their guilt or innocence.” And in the meantime, these opposition leaders are prevented from participating in political activities. They are censored and repressed.

Spinelessness becomes amoeba-like when the editorial declares: “Lese majeste should not go unpunished, but the media and the public must resist any push to make this issue central to the upcoming campaign.” In other words, the Post is signed up with Prayuth for his election strategy even when it asserts that lese majeste “should not be a defining issue of the campaign…”. The Post demonstrates that lese majeste can be an election strategy for the elite but that it shouldn’t be up for discussion. And the Post then has the hide to call for “intelligent debate” of anything but the lese majeste electoral strategy of the Abhisit government and its backers.

It really is astounding how the mainstream media is prepared to bend and slither on lese majeste. Human Rights Watch had the issue clearly stated and the Bangkok Post should be chastened that it can’t write as clearly.


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