Lese majeste and a Puea Thai government

7 07 2011

In The Independent, Andrew Buncombe reports that, still not in government, Yingluck Shinawatra is “already under fierce pressure to charge the outgoing Prime Minister with murder and reform the country’s harsh lese-majesty law.”

Buncombe says this pressure emanates from the red shirt movement. He cites United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship chairwoman, Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn, who stated: “I will not accept an amnesty [for those responsible for last year’s deaths]. Reconciliation is different from amnesty.” She went on to call for amending the constitution and Article 112.

In the interview, Yingluck is recorded as saying this on lese majeste: “”I think this issue is a big sensitive issue. We need to have someone specialised to discuss [this]…. We don’t want people to use lese-majesty too often. We don’t want Thai people to misuse this law.”

Abhisit Vejjajiva once said similar things on lese majeste and then went on to use the law for political advantage in a regime of lese majeste repression. We at PPT don’t think it politically feasible for Yingluck to do anything like this. Nor is it likely that she can put off dealing with immediate cases, constitutional amendment or with the deaths in 2010.

The issue is when, how and at what cost? There can be no doubt that all of this is a political minefield and red rags to the yellow bull. Certainly, any move to reduce the number of lese majeste charges being investigated will be attacked as “republicanism by stealth.”

In terms of those currently jailed and facing lese majeste charges, the immediate question is how to get justice. Bailing all those charged would be a good beginning.




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