Almost a week ago, The Nation had an editorial and the hunt for those who have committed lese majeste. It has been picked up by The China Post. For those used to the anti-democrat sway of The Nation, this editorial is a bit different, although it is in the form of advice to the military dictatorship rather than a condemnation. But, then, condemning the authoritarian lot is playing with fire.
The editorial begins: “The military government is busy squandering what is left of its international credibility by hunting lese majeste suspects who have fled overseas.”
In fact, except with like-minded authoritarian regimes, the royalist dictatorship in Thailand has few international friends. This hunt for political foes, the editorial suggests “can … only further tarnish its record on human rights.” That record was not great, even before The Dictator set to work making Thailand in his own image.
The editorial correctly observes that “Justice Minister General Paiboon Khumchaya caused further embarrassment to the country when he handed a list of three Thai nationals accused of demeaning the monarchy to the French ambassador.” All Thais, royalist or not, should be shamed by the moronic actions of this minister and the military junta.
The minister “hoping that friendly relations will persuade the countries in question to comply” behaves like a jao por or Mafioso boss, hoping that the French government is a gang, just like Thailand’s.
We have no idea why the editorial then states: “It is unfortunate for this government that most other nations around the world have no laws protecting monarchy.” It is only unfortunate for the obstinate fools in Government House, not for Thailand.
At least the editorial does note that countries that do have lese majeste laws “rarely enforce them…”, adding that “[u]nlike in Thailand, criticizing and even insulting the monarchy is not regarded as a serious crime across most of the world, and it certainly does not warrant pleas for extradition of citizens who have fled overseas.”
This is also only partly accurate:
More importantly, governments all over the world – including those in countries that retain monarchical rule – have long recognized that the lese majeste law in Thailand is routinely enforced for political purposes rather than to protect the revered King. The charge is applied here mostly to people who criticize the elitist establishment.
It is inaccurate in suggesting that the king and his palace are outside this “elitist establishment.” Rather, the monarchy is the keystone for the royalist elite.
It is absolutely correct to observe that the “international community has come to recognize that the Thai military government is enforcing Article 112 as a means of silencing its opponents.” So is this: “Wielding the law for political purpose has already damaged the country’s record on human rights. Hunting these fugitives abroad takes us to a new low.”