Prayuth fumes and froths on Nitirat

26 01 2012

PPT is unsure whether this story in the Bangkok Post (we also cited it in an earlier post) is referring to new comments by Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha or whether the Post is making a point by repeating and elaborating an earlier report. Clearly the Post thinks Prayuth is telling Nitirat to “Shut up!” as the internet version of the story is headlined at the Post’s front page.

Prayuth seems decidedly put out by the notion that anyone should suggest amending the lese majeste law. His spiraling blood pressure suggests that the law is of deep significance for the royalist regime that is rapidly coming together to attack, denigrate and threaten Nitirat.

Prayuth is quoted as declaring:

Law professors who demand amendments to the lese majeste law must realise the great contribution which the royal institution has made to the country and learn to help their motherland….

While PPT doesn’t recall Nitirat saying anything that challenges this royalist position, it seems that calling for a reform of the draconian lese majeste law is considered to negate the royalist trope.

Then Prayuth makes a claim for hierarchy based on age:

They [Nitirat] must realise His Majesty the King has reigned for so long that he is 84 years old, and ask whether academics who are 30 or 40 years old and have only furthered their own studies have done any good for the land….

We are sure everyone is aware that the king has reigned since his brother’s unexplained death in 1946. But here Prayuth is trying to denigrate Nitirat as a group of youngsters challenging a very old man. In fact, though, Nitirat are not attaching the king but calling for reform of a law that royalists repeatedly claim the king doesn’t like. Prayuth might do well to also recall the challenge of youth in 1973.

It seems that Prayuth has convinced himself that Nitirat are attacking the king for he feels the need to defend the monarch:

But if you speak negatively of the monarchy, then I must speak negatively of you, because you refuse to see the good in Thailand

Of course, Nitirat are not speaking negatively of the monarchy but of a law. The distinction seems lost on Prayuth and those of his ilk.

He said Thailand owes its presence on the world stage and the respect it commands within the global community to the role of the monarchy. His Majesty the King has done nothing to harm the nation and everything to help it.

This is Prayuth seeming to believe the never-ending royalist propaganda. That might seem rather too North Korean but it does suggest a dangerous turn of mind for Prayuth that is confirmed when he rages:

Today, I do not know where some people come from, or if their ancestors were even born in Thailand.

Where do you go from there? Racist nationalism and monarchism spiraling down into fascism? And wasn’t the king born outside Thailand? Prayuth’s mouth seems ahead of his thought processes here, spitting fury and hatred with little forethought.

His final comment seems tame compared with this when he says that Nitirat “is hurting people’s feelings.” But recall that this from a man who commanded troops in murderous attacks on protesters.

Meanwhile, police chief General Priewphan Damapong has “vowed to take action against those who violate Section 112” as special branch police are said to be “monitoring comments by academics and would take swift action if anyone breaks the law.”

Yet another threat to Nitirat. Readers may recall that even under the horrendous censorship regime led by Abhisit Vejjajiva there were statements that claimed legitimate criticism of the monarchy by academics was tolerable. As we have pointed out several times, the Nitirat academics aren’t even criticizing the king but are calling for legal and constitutional processes to amend a law.

Why is that point so difficult for royalists to comprehend? Is it because the law is critical for the prestige of a monarchy? Is the law the keystone of the royalist regime that will bring the whole structure down if removed? PPT would have thought that the response by royalists to both questions should be negative. That it isn’t suggests that the foundations of the system are considered weaker than we would have guessed.

As a footnote to this post, we add a link to Asia Update TV’s report on Prayuth’s claims, which includes responses from Nitirat (in Thai/ไทย):


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