Updated: Defamation

6 05 2013

As dopey, enraged and bitter yellow shirts try to equate defamation with lese majeste – a mistake they have long made in defending lese majeste – Asia Provocateur has a useful post on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s defamation action against Chai Ratchawatra for his nasty sexist rant.

Some time ago, PPT posted on another set of defamation cases. We said then:

PPT has criticized several court decisions as royalist politics. However, occasionally some good sense emanates from a court. The Criminal Court has made a useful decision when it “dismissed a libel case lodged by former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva against red-shirt leader and former MP Jatuporn Promphan…”. The court ruled that democratic politics meant that, “… a verbal attack cannot be regarded as defamation in accordance with the Penal Code…”. That seems to us to be a reasonable point.

Abhisit has fired off at least four defamation cases against Jatuporn and seems likely to appeal this decision. Of course, politicians on both sides of the current political sandwich are equally likely to shout defamation and head for the courts.

Thai politics is full of allegations, some of which are outrageous claims. It makes little real sense for politicians to use defamation laws against each claim yet they tend to see the courts as a political resort when they feel  injured. It is related to what, in the context of lese majeste, David Streckfuss calls the “defamation regime”: “a social and political formation that over time develops a kind of ‘defamation thinking’ and ‘impulse’ that focuses on the insult of the defamatory statement, often at the expense of the truth” (xv).

In the current circumstances, we think this account remains accurate. Frankly, we don’t recall a single yellow shirt doing anything other than cheering Abhisit’s multiple cases against Jatuporn, so we don’t see why they are howling now. However, Yingluck’s response to Chai’s tawdry bleating is a part of the now well-developed defamation regime that is reinforced by the royalist use of the courts for political purposes in recent years. Even so, we can’t help thinking that Chai’s political and chauvinist potty mouth deserves a strong political challenge rather than a legal response, even if royalist politics has joined the two.

Update:  For all their histrionics regarding defamation, the Democrat Party has rushed to accuse Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Towijakchaikul, for describing the Democrat Party-led government as a “non-elected government”. While everyone recognizes that the Abhisit government only came to power through the intervention of the royalist judiciary, the behind-the-scenes machinations of the palace and very public puppetry by the military, the rather pathetic Abhisit and his party repeatedly plead that they were “elected by parliament.” Their defamation action again indicates the embeddedness of the defamation regime and voids any yellowish complaints about Yingluck’s defamation action.


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8 05 2013
Panic, censorship and the Democrat Party | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] W e have already posted several times on the continuing and seemingly heightened political struggle as disgruntled royalists seek to undermine the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra. Part of the increase in political tension revolves around issues such as constitutional reform and amnesty. The most recent panic for royalists was Yingluck’s speech in Mongolia airing several truths about the anti-democrats who oppose her. That panic attack saw some nasty and deeply sexist remarks and crazy incantations of treason. At the same time, PPT indicated its position on the defamation regime. […]

8 05 2013
Panic, censorship and the Democrat Party | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] We have already posted several times on the continuing and seemingly heightened political struggle as disgruntled royalists seek to undermine the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra. Part of the increase in political tension revolves around issues such as constitutional reform and amnesty. The most recent panic for royalists was Yingluck’s speech in Mongolia airing several truths about the anti-democrats who oppose her. That panic attack saw some nasty and deeply sexist remarks and crazy incantations of treason. At the same time, PPT indicated its position on the defamation regime. […]




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