Coronation Day and lese majeste

5 05 2014

It is difficult finding a header for this story. The newspapers have headline stories about the king and Coronation Day, but we can’t find anything much of significance in them, unless one is skilled in reading silences and gaps. It was the international media that made the day interesting.

In the local media, some may draw significance from The Nation’s comment on the crown prince: “His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the celebration of the Royal Umbrella and the Crown Jewels on behalf of the King after His Majesty left the ceremony.”

Perhaps the Bangkok Post’s statement is a nugget for others: “The King arrived at the pavilion at 10.30am, but he did not deliver his traditional address … and did not get up on his wheelchair. The ceremony ended about 11am…. Her Majesty the Queen, 81, was not present during the ceremony.”

The rest of the local news is non-news: “His Majesty waved to the people while his car moved along the way to the Rajapracha Samakhom Pavilion in the Klai Kangwon Palace…” or that some well-wishers shouted “Long live the king.”

A couple of international reports did manage to make some more interesting news, not least Australia’s ABC/Radio Australia, which managed, after a poor introduction to the audio story, makes Coronation Day about lese majeste, interviewing Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and his wife Sukunya before interviewing the ultra-royalist fascist Rientong Nan-nah. The latter is reported as comparing free speech that he sees as offensive to the monarchy as “like terrorism, and the capitalists are behind it.” The Crown Property Bureau, as Thailand’s largest capitalist conglomerate, better watch out!

Also making Coronation Day about lese majeste, Britain’s Channel 4 News blog has a post that begins with Rose Amornpat, quoted as being:

a harsh critic of the Thai Monarchy. She wants the institution abolished and replaced with a democratically-elected head of state. “We need to the change the system in Thailand to become a full democracy. We need to cut the power of the Thai monarch down.”

 Discussing lese majeste in Thailand, the report states: “There’s nowhere else on earth quite like it – you’d have to go back 300 years to find anyone in Britain prosecuted for a similar offence.”

Rienthong gets a mention in this report too: “He wants the London hairdresser [Rose] extradited to Thailand – but if that’s not possible, he wants the British government to find a way to shut her up…. “(What she says) is beyond freedom, beyond democracy. You can have opinions but what she has done is beyond freedom of expression.”

 


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