What the royalists say

25 05 2011

In our most recent post, our contributor concludes; “Fair-minded people would see [lese majeste] reform as more or less mandatory at this time. The question is whether the die-hard royalists see it that way.” We actually have some recent royalist responses to calls for reform, in two stories at Prachatai.

The first royalist at Prachatai is the Democrat Party Minister of Culture Niphit Intarasombat. On calls for reform to the law, he said “that he did not see any problem with the lèse majesté law and its enforcement.” Like others, he uses the nefarious culture argument – that is, the monarchy is a part of something identified as “Thai culture” and because “Thailand is among the few countries which still have the institution of the monarchy, so a law like Article 112 should remain…”.

Niphat then goes for the ridiculous when he says: “I’ve never seen Article 112 being used as a political tool…”. That is a bald-faced lie, proven by the use of the law in copious doses since the military coup in 2006. What is the point of such an obvious lie? It just makes the minister look ludicrous.

But then he is. He states: “I’ve travelled to several countries which used to have monarchies. People there all said in unison that they regretted that they no longer had monarchs, and they wished to have them restored as head of state and a unifying figure.” What can we say…? He adds that as Thailand has a monarch and that the monarchy is a matter of “national security,” it needs the lese majeste law. A mastermind at work!

More polished in performance and report in Prachatai is former unelected prime minister and Abhisit Vejjajiva-appointed chair of the defunct National Reform Committee Anand Panyarachun. He was at the FCCT a week ago to lecture foreigners on how they should lay off the monarchy.

When asked about reform of the lese majeste law – apparently not in the NRC’s report – Anand replied that the “existence of the law was not a problem, but the problem was its enforcement as it allowed anybody to make complaints, which opened opportunities for abuse by those who made use of the law and the institution for their own gain.”

PPT thinks this is to be the “liberal” royalist line. He’s not a dullard like the minister and knows that the international media needs to hear that there is an acknowledged problem. In fact, this has been the line for some years and there’s been no reform….

Anand then decided to tell foreigners his “truths” about the monarchy. He claims that “[m]ost Thais love, respect and worship the monarchy.” He acknowledges that foreigners may see this as “peculiar,” but that this is “Thai culture.” Because it is Thai culture, it must be respected. Others … should not make judgments on what is good or bad…”.

The comment that the “power of the monarch is not something that has been demanded, but has been acquired through the people and the constitution. I’m prepared to defend that idea that the Thai monarchy under the constitution has no more power than the monarchies in any other countries in the world. I don’t think that the power of the monarchy is part of the unequal power relationships in society…” is as ludicrous as the conservative minister’s claims.

The fact is that this institution is not simply “cultural.” In fact, though, this institution is a huge capitalist conglomerate and a part of a large complex of political and economic power, sucking billions from taxpayers each year for its “protection,” and directly involved in the manipulation of political events for its own benefit.

Anand is defending the system of monarchy-military-big business that rules in its own interests. He wants “reform” that protects and maintains this system. Fundamental change is feared.



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