Under the military dictatorship the role of the monarchy has been elevated to an astral level. The Leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, soon to grab the premiership for himself, claims to hold the monarchy in the highest possible esteem.
Monarchism underpins or justifies all the political operations of the military dictatorship. It is lese majeste that has been a significant element of political repression.
Even with all of this mad monarchism, PPT is still confused by a recent Khaosod report, where it is reported that the media regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), “has fined Thai PBS channel for broadcasting discussion about Thai monarchy, a taboo subject in Thailand.” The report states:
The episodes [of Tob Jote], presented in a series called “Monarchy and Constitution”, featured a number of historians and politicians talked with well-known TV host Pinyo Traisuriyathamma about the roles of the Royal Family in modern history.
The most controversial episodes were the debates between Thammasat University historian and regular critic of Thai monarchy Somsak Jiamteerasakul and prominent royalist writer Sulak Sivalak, in which Mr. Somsak argued that the power in the hand of Thai monarchy far exceeds the acceptable limit of a modern constitutional monarchy.
According to the NBTC, the episodes violate Article 37 of the 2008 Broadcasting Act, which prohibits dissemination of “content which leads to the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy system of government, or affects national security, public order and morality…”.
PPT had never considered “discussion” of the monarchy to be “taboo.” After all, there’s shelves of books on the monarchy, they are on television every single day, and there is endless “information” provided on the royal family and monarchy.
So we thought we should look up the word “discussion.” We found that it means “consideration of a question in open and usually informal debate.” The problem seems to with the word “open.” As we all know, the lese majeste law does not allow open consideration of the monarchy.
That confirmed, it still seems odd that the state-owned channel should be considered to have been promoting the “overthrow of the constitutional monarchy system of government…” or anything similar.
We understand that a herd of mad monarchists, fearing the sky was falling through (barely) open conversation, “protested at the Thai PBS headquarters” and demanded that the rest of the series be banned. (Of course, Thai PBS quickly capitulated.) But, then, these were quite deranged ultra-royalists.
Then we located our earlier post on this and saw this:
… Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha “has lashed out at the Tob Jote TV programme for broadcasting a debate over the role of the monarchy.” … He considers the “broadcast was inappropriate at a time of political conflict.” So the timing was wrong? Probably not. Prayuth doesn’t want any discussion of the role of the monarchy that goes outside the narrow boundaries of the official treacly narrative.
At least the bellicose general agrees that the media has “constitutional rights … to present a programme,” and is reported to have made the remarkable claim that “there are many other pressing problems to be tackled other than the role of the monarchy.”…
The then army boss, now dictator, stated the:
… programme was inappropriate. He said the monarchy is part of the country’s history and prestige and must be preserved. He said he has served the royal family himself and can testify that the institution provides happiness to the people…. The monarchy has been under the constitution since the 1932 revolution. Gen Prayuth said the only way the monarchy can be protected is by Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law…. He said this is not the right time to make changes to the lese majeste law.
The picture is thus clear: Prayuth is settling old scores and others are settling them for him as well. Settling them is a part of lese majeste repression. Madness on the monarchy continues to stifle debate, and even “discussion.” The military dictatorship prefers its “information.”