Lese majeste witch-hunts

28 12 2014

The Bangkok Post has decided that the military dictatorship’s “overzealous tendency to prosecute people or have them prosecute one another in the name of national security and protection of the monarchy” has become a witch-hunt.

The Post’s editorial is about 10 years too late. The witch-hunt began after the 2006 military coup.The Post notes this, stating that the lese majeste law has been “abused for political reasons over many years.”

The Post accepts that the lese majeste law is  “meant to protect the revered institution of the monarchy…”. It adds:

When it comes to the sensitive issues of national security and slandering the monarchy, the [junta’s]… urging of people to monitor what one person communicates with another risks invoking an atmosphere of witch-hunts. Such paranoia will not help the government forge peace and unity as it leads the country back to democracy.

In other words, while noticing that the lese majeste law has a “shortcoming” in its political use, the Post is careful not to be seen to be challenging the law.

The problem for the Post’s editorial is that it must remain silent on too much. To suggest that the law needs to be abolished would result in the law being used against the Post’s editorialist. To suggest that the law be needs to be revised will have ultra-royalists jumping mad.

But more than this, the Post’s editorial does not say anything about the palace’s own use of the law to protect its own interests.

PPT has recently posted on this when we commented on self-designated Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has insisted that “the monarchy needs the lese majeste law to legally protect the institution.” The Dictator declared that: “If His Majesty can’t defend himself, we have to take care of him…”. We indicated that several recent cases show that there has been direct involvement of the palace in using the law. Our last post showed how the use of the law in a huge number of recent cases seems to have something to do with succession and palace intrigue.

What is wrong with the law is not that it is just politicized or that it is used by individuals for private gain but that it is essential to the protection of the military-monarchy alliance that is the keystone of an exploitative political, economic and social system.