Tied in knots on lese majeste

14 09 2013

Royalists sometimes tie themselves in knots on lese majeste. The problem they face is the problem of lese majeste. The law is a political travesty but it is usually considered to be required to maintain a royalist state.

A most recent example of this royalist contortion is in a Bangkok Post op-ed. Veera Prateepchaikul is tied in knots:

A family feud between two brothers led one of them to take the other to court on a lese majeste charge for activities in the confines of a private home. Only in Thailand, some might say.

Well, there’s no other place in the world where this is likely to happen, so, yes, only in Thailand.contortion

The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court’s acquittal on Friday of a lese majeste defendant should be a great relief, not just to the defendant but to all fair-minded individuals who love our monarch but who disagree with the abuse of this law for political or whatever reasons.

As far as we can tell, every single case is an “abuse” of the law. In this sense, it is not and abuse, but normal. The law is applied to ensure conformity and to censor.

Like most lese majeste cases, this trial attracted the attention of both international and local human rights organisations. I personally find it worthy of a case study, especially regarding the extent to which interpretation of the lese majeste law can be taken and the seeming abuse of the law.

Seeming? Why only seeming? Veera should say that the law is a crock of political excrement that needs to be flushed away.

I really question the judgement of the police in accepting the case and passing it to the prosecutors in the full knowledge that it was motivated by a family business conflict. The prosecutors, too, should have done a better job in screening the case before forwarding it to the court.

But the point of the law is to frighten all. Hence, the authorities, even if not babbling royalist ideologues are scared witless to make any sensible decision related to lese majeste.

The monarchy is widely respected and should be protected, but abusing the lese majeste law is by no means a way to demonstrate loyalty to, or to protect, the highest institution.

There lies the issue. For royalists, the rich and powerful must be protected in special ways with special laws. They are so “high” that they are deserving of special political protection. That’s why the draconian law is there. The logic is the law is fine, it is just “abused.” But that it might be “abused” is actually part of the intimidation associated with such a feudal law.