Don’t touch our lese majeste!

25 01 2012

As PPT posted yesterday, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha has lashed out at Nitirat. The Bangkok Post has more on this.

Prayuth’s comments are brief but the impact is meant to be wide-ranging. He “expressed concern for the royal institution over the call by a group of academics for a change in the lese majeste law.”

Like other ultra-royalists who seem to have never read beyond their high school history books Prayuth states:

There are some academics who are trying to create a movement but I believe that most academics respect the royal institution since it has brought many benefits to the country over a long time and the country wouldn’t be here today without it…. I want to ask some academics what benefits have they brought to the country….

The army chief said he was ready to protect the institution if some scholars made offensive comments about it.

PPT added the italics for emphasis. We did this for three reasons: (i) to highlight the schoolbook version of history, which ties the whole nation-country to the monarchy; (ii) to suggest that Prayuth ask the question on “what benefits” to his own force. Corruption, coups, murder of citizens, impunity, might all be mentioned in the response; and (iii) to highlight the threat made.

This is an unashamed attempt to censor and silence.

On this point, coincidentally, at The Nation, Pravit Rojanaphruk writes of the impact of the draconian lese majeste law and the continued efforts of ultra-royalists to prevent discussion of things they don’t like.

Pravit writes of censorship and self-censorship “of anything that can be considered even mildly critical of the monarchy.” He says: “The lese-majeste law has left people afraid of speaking honestly and allows for the circulation of rumours…”.

He explains that “[d]ecades of self-censorship have left many royalists increasingly intolerant of people who criticise the law. Those calling for the amendment or abolition of the law are being regarded as outright anti-royalists.” And there is no reasoning with ultra-royalists.

For them, the monarchy “must remain above any criticism and scrutiny…”. Not a word of criticism can be tolerated and the idea of amending a law that has no relation to the stature of the monarchy is blasphemy. (Yes, we know that the royalists think the law is needed to prevent criticism, but they also claim that the monarchy is loved by everyone…).

Pravit points out that the royalists are doing the work of republicans: “While it’s difficult to quantify the actual cost on society, there is a growing resentment against the highest institution in some sectors of society.”


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