A tiny lese majeste crack?

18 12 2011

As readers know, the recent past has been especially bleak for those who harbored some hope that there might be some reform of the draconian Article 112. Sentences have been tough and the media has been filled by royalist chants on lese majeste as a political weapon, while the Yingluck Shinawatra government has taken the royalist bait and repeatedly tried to show it is “loyal” and tough on lese majeste.

But has a minute crack appeared in the edifice that is lese majeste repression? Probably not, but PPT thinks that a statement by Prime Minister Yingluck on lese majeste deserves some attention.

In the Bangkok Post, Yingluck is quoted as stating that “any proposed changes to the lese majeste law would need to pass through the parliamentary process…”. PPT can’t recall any recent premier even suggesting that changes to Article 112 might be considered by parliament. So maybe this is a breakthrough of sorts. But Yingluck quickly added that “her government would concentrate on tackling economic problems.”

So that doesn’t sound like Yingluck is going to take the law to parliament for amendment, but it does at least suggest that the idea of reform is not totally lost. On lese majeste, even infinitesimal movement is something.

Of course, changes to the law will be bitterly opposed by royalists. The current leader on all things royalist is the very yellow Tul Sitthisomwong of the Siam Samakkhi group who, on hearing Yingluck’s words, like one of Pavlov’s drooling dogs, immediately said his “group will rally at Lumpini Park on Friday to oppose moves to amend the lese majeste law.”

Meanwhile, opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is quoted as saying that “the government had to promote understanding about Section 112 to avoid international criticisms such as the remark by the United States that the law might have been used to limit freedom of expression.”

Recall that Abhisit, who considers himself a master communicator with gullible foreigners, tried to “promote understanding” on the law in 2009. Essentially, this involved lying about the law and about lese majeste victims. An early example was Abhisit’s speech at Oxford University, Abhisit was shown to be making patently false claims about lese majeste victims. Other falsehoods to foreigners were at New York’s Columbia University, in speeches in Europe and at the Council on Foreign Relations. At the latter he claimed all of his government’s repression and censorship did not impact “ordinary people.”

In other words, Abhisit is not in favour of reform on Article 112. How could he be? His government used the law more than any post-1932 government. But he is in favour of more PR on lese majeste. Based on his track record, this would seem to mean lying about the law and its use.

We hope that Yingluck’s words will come to mean something more than the lies and deceit of the Abhisit regime, but we won’t be holding our collective breath.


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