Challenging a supine Yingluck on lese majeste

12 05 2012

A few days ago at The Nation, Pravit Rojanaphruk had an article that is part of a lese majeste challenge to the timid Yingluck Shinawatra government. (In fact, “timid” is a rather too timid description that PPT has used several times in recent posts.)

Pravit argues that the death of lese majeste detainee Ampol Tangnopakul has re-ignited calls and hopes for amending the draconian Article 112.

As some “300 people attended the controversial placing of his body in front of the Bangkok Criminal Court on Wednesday and vented their anger against the law they perceived as an obstacle preventing them from attaining a basic right to freedom of expression.”

While red shirts and others spoke out against the lese majeste law and even demanded to be “treated like humans when it came to freedom of expression about anything critical of the monarchy,” Pravit adds an important point:

It must not be forgotten, however, that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has insisted repeatedly her administration will not touch the lese majeste law.

As PPT has pointed out in several posts, the Yingluck-Puea Thai administration is failing red shirts. Pravit says:

It’s no secret a large percentage of the red-shirt movement is opposed to the draconian law, ever since the military coup on September 19, 2006, which ousted Thaksin Shinawatra. Many Thaksin supporters who subsequently became red shirts question the role of Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanond in the coup, and more.

Pointedly, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship “sponsored the first night of the funeral rite for Amphon at Wat Dan Samrong in Samut Prakarn province.”

Pravit writes that:

… if the government will not touch the law, the loyalty of progressive red shirts to Yingluck (and Thaksin) – and the loyalty of Yingluck and Thaksin to these red shirts – will be severely tested.

The government cannot indefinitely buy time and expect no backlash or a meltdown in trust and expectation among the so-called progressive reds who oppose the law.

Many red shirts will inevitably question the government and consider their support for it as “prisoners of conscience like Somyos [Prueksakasemsuk] and Surachai [Danwattananusorn] still in jail…”.

Pravit opines that “if the death of Amphon cannot make a difference, nothing will.” Nitirat and its associated Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 think they can make a difference and is pushing forward. They have the 10,000 signatures necessary to raise the issue of Article 112 in parliament. That parliamentarians will ignore them will result in even more condemnation of Puea Thai Party MPs.

Photo from The Nation

But of course, Yingluck has already caved into demands from royalists, yellow shirts and, remarkably, Abhisit Vejjajiva. The evidence is at The Nation:

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday confirmed her government had no policy to amend the lese majeste law despite the demand from the red shirts. “I confirm once again the government will not amend Article 112 (of the Criminal Code,” she said.

As far as PPT can determine (readers can correct us) neither Yingluck or Thaksin Shinawatra have said nothing about Ampol’s death in custody. That is remarkably cold-hearted and black-hearted. There is nothing red or human associated with such a non-response.

At the Bangkok Post Yingluck goes just a little further:

“I want to reaffirm that my government’s policy is to stay put,” Ms Yingluck said in response to questions about possible reform of the law. “I have already told groups who push for amendment that the government’s urgent mission is to solve economic problems.”

It may be that Yingluck thinks that she is being politically astute by ignoring this issue. However, one of her attractions in political campaigning was that she appeared to understand her supporters and empathize with them. Her current actions are heartless at best and potentially threaten her political base.



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