Further updated: Democrat Party continues to bang the lese majeste drum

12 10 2011

The Democrat Party has never really been a true party of democrats. Rather, its history, from the day it was formed, is of a royalist party. Yes, it opposed military rule at various times, but that was only to promote the monarchy as an alternative and to oppose the 1932 Revolution; it was never to support a functioning parliamentary democracy where all votes were equal.

In keeping with that inglorious tradition, in the post 2006 military coup period, it has been the so-called Democrat Party that has been most royalist. It is also the party and government that has most utilized lese majeste as a means to repress political opponents and, in its collective royalist logic, to  support royalism as a political system.

Now in opposition (again) – a good place for a royalist party that can’t win elections – it continues to bang the lese majeste drum. It does this because it believes that royalism and the monarchy has been brought down a couple of notches (largely by the efforts of the so-called protectors of the monarchy like the Democrat Party) and because it feels that the monarchy is a weak spot for the Puea Thai-led government.

We might add that another reason it bangs on about the monarchy and lese majeste is because the Democrat Party has no alternative policies. In the last election campaign it simply plagiarized Thai Rak Thai policies.

So it is certainly no surprise to read in the Bangkok Post that “Democrat list MP Vachara Phetthong [Watchara Petthong] said on Wednesday he has sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung asking him to order police to arrest Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer acting for deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

Watchara raised the issue of Amsterdam being subject to a lese majeste complaint over contents in his report “Massacre in Bangkok“. In fact, it was Watchara who made the complaint. (See PPT’s earlier post on another lese majeste complaint by the same Democrat Party member).

Watchara said Amsterdam “had travelled to Thailand and was seen at a Bangkok prison visiting some red-shirts in detention. He did not say when Mr Amsterdam arrived. Since Mr Amsterdam is the subject of lese majeste complain filed with police he should be arrested.” Legally, we think Watchara is wrong as no charge has apparently been laid, but that is really beside the point.

Watchara said “his letter to Mr Chalerm, who is in charge of the Royal Thai Police Office, asked him to order acting police chief Gen Priewpan Damapong to order the CSD or local police to arrest the man” threatening them with charges of “neglect of duty in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code” if they didn’t act.

The Democrat Party’s DNA means that they are unable to shed lese majeste as a tool of political repression and become true elements of a democratic society.

Update 1: The Bangkok Post has an updated story – mixed in with a story about Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha – that adds some comments from Amsterdam, who stated that “he was glad to be visiting Thailand again.” He added that “it was very important to establish truth of what happened during last year’s bloodshed, when so many people lost their lives, otherwise democracy would not evolve in Thailand. The soldiers involved could not be left unpunished. There should not be laws to allow a coup to happen…”. He singled out Prayuth as a particular problem for he often espoused political positions.

Amsterdam also confirmed that he had visited some red-shirts in prison, and observed that “they were in a very poor condition.” He made the point that they “should not have been jailed on security-related charges, but should have been allowed bail…”.

Update 2: A YouTube video is available of Amsterdam’s press conference in Bangkok. Thanks to a reader for pointing this out.



One response

14 10 2011
Robert Amsterdam responds to Democrat Party royalist | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] couple of days ago PPT posted regarding Democrat Party MP Watchara Phetthong’s call for police to arrest Robert Amsterdam […]

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