Le Monde on lese majeste

19 01 2013

A reader sends a translation of an article of the French newspaper “Le Monde” on lese-majeste:

Le Monde

In Thailand, His Majesty doesn’t accept harm

Accusations of lèse-majesté in Thailand rain down at an alarming rate: since 2005, the number of convictions has increased tenfold [PPT: in fact the rate is much higher than this!]. Article 112 of the Penal Code provides that “any person defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, or the crown heir, shall be punished with imprisonment between three to fifteen years”. This law is seen by the proponents of its reform as excessive because Thailand, since 1932, should be a constitutional monarchy. Paradox: during the years of absolute monarchy, the lèse-majesté law was less used than it is today. Two recent cases do not encourage optimism amongst the proponents of an amendment of Article 112 – intellectuals, professors, journalists – who argue, rightly, that this law is exploited, abused and used as a political weapon.

On 25 December 2012, a stockbroker of Bangkok, Katha Pajariyapong, 37 years old, was sentenced to four years of prison after being accused to have spreading rumors in the Internet about the health of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The King was 85 years old in the same month and his health is indeed fragile. But any information about this ruler, who holds the world record years of longest reign, is highly sensitive for the future of the monarchy in this country witch is uncertain because politically unstable and divided. Mr. Pajariyapong was also convicted under the law to punish computer crimes and allows to punish the propagators of “false information” spreading rumors on the Internet which are considered to be “undermining national security.”

Another case involves a journalist, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, the former editor of the magazine Voice of the Oppressed, who published in his website, the History of Thailand during the last two centuries. This former trade unionist, who fought in the 1980’s and 1990’s for the rights of Thai workers, got the support of many international organizations. On 19 December 2012, the accused [Somyot] appeared for his verdict to the court. A verdict was postponed by Bangkok judges to January 23.

The political past of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk may explain why the fury of justice is brought against him. Judges refused bail twelve times his since his imprisonment in April 2011. After the military coup of 2006, when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by the army, the journalist was involved in the movement of the “Red shirts” that paralyzed the heart of Bangkok’s business quarter, two and a half years ago. The protesters demanded the return of Thaksin, their idol, a populist leader who had also focused his policy on raising the standard living for the poorest peasants. During the spring of 2010, the army violently suppressed those demonstrations. The irony of the story is, since that, the government has changed and it is the sister of Thaksin, Yingluck Shinawatra, who became the Prime Minister after her party’s victory in the 2011 elections. The lady and her government have adopted the utmost caution regarding issues relating to the monarchy. Because the “red shirts” are her most obvious support – some activists became ministers – she is scared of being accused of “monarchical apostasy”. The result is that the attempts to reform the lèse-majesté law have been hidden under a bushel.

Bruno Philip


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2 03 2013
Old aristocrats bemoan the Western press | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] And so it is that we come to a letter to The Nation by one of the royalist elite protecting his and their patch. The letter is by Sumet Jumsai, who is listed as being at  Cambridge University where he has recently provided a seminar, and who usually has “na Ayudhya” attached to his moniker. In his letter he gets hot and frothy about an article in French by Bruno Philip in Le Monde and which PPT posted in English. […]

2 03 2013
Old aristocrats bemoan the Western press «Political Prisoners of Thailand Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] And so it is that we come to a letter to The Nation by one of the royalist elite protecting his and their patch. The letter is by Sumet Jumsai, who is listed as being at  Cambridge University where he has recently provided a seminar, and who usually has “na Ayudhya” attached to his moniker. In his letter he gets hot and frothy about an article in French by Bruno Philip in Le Monde and which PPT posted in English. […]




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