Protecting the lese majeste law

4 11 2012

There’s a brief story at Prachatai, which many readers will have seen, that deserves emphasis, especially as it is unlikely to get much attention in the mainstream media. Once again, it shows how the conservative elite in Thailand is more than willing to take arguably illegal action when “protecting” the monarchy and when “protecting” the law that “protects the monarchy.”

On 29 May 2012, a bill was “proposed by academics and citizens to change Article 112 of the Criminal Code,” and was signed by 30,383 persons. It was presented to parliament by “Charnvit Kasetsiri, former Rector of Thammasat University, the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 and hundreds of activists…”. The proposal was associated with the Nitirat legal group.

Chapter 7 of the 2007 Constitution is about “Direct Political Participation of the Public” and  Section 163 states: “The persons having the right to vote of not less than ten thousand in number shall have a right to submit a petition to the President of the National Assembly to consider such bill as prescribed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 5 of this Constitution.”

Prachatai reports that on 26 September the President of Parliament has summarily dismissed this popularly proposed bill with the claim that (p. 31 in this PDF, snipped below) the bill was not in accordance with chapters 3 and 5 of the constitution.

That this is a pathetic and spineless response to more than 30,000 voters is indicated when one considers that there are 43 sections in Chapter 3 of the Constitution and 17 in Chapter 5. Sure, this is a summary of the decision, and PPT would hope that this representative of the people would have sufficient sense and manners to actually specify which of the 60 sections he considers are infringed by the proposed bill.

Essentially this decision by the parliament’s boss is decreeing that no citizen or group of citizens has any right to call fr amendments to the lese majeste law under the constitution. That is, the interpretation must be that the monarchy outweighs more than 68 million citizens. We can think of no double standard in Thai law that is more obvious than this one: that judiciary, law, constitution and administrative rules are designed to protect the wealthiest and most powerful. Of course, the conservative ruling class demands this as the foundation on which all privilege and all other double standards are constructed. And when this class wants to toss out laws, it can use the repressive power of the military to achieve its ends.


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