Back in early July we posted on another lese majeste complaint against the well-known conservative social critic Sulak Sivaraksa. We listed this as being perhaps the sixth lese majeste case brought against him. for comments at a seminar commemorating the anniversary of the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932.
The current investigation stems, yet again, from a complaint by a military officer, who apparently surreptitiously recorded the seminar. The complaint alleges Sulak criticized dead kings, Chulalongkorn (d. 1910) and Prajadhipok (abdicated 1935, d. 1941).
As everyone knows, Article 112 applies to living persons – the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent – but not dead kings or others. Even so, the royalist judiciary has, in recent years, been more pliable on lese majeste, ignoring the letter of the law to including those long deceased, and not known to be resting, having a kip, stunned or pining for fjords.
This legal malleability means that on 21 August 2015, “police from Pak Khlong Rangsit Police Station issued a summons for Thongchai Romyenpensuk, president of the Suzuki labour union, for questioning over a seminar entitled ‘83 Years of Thailand’s Development after the 1932 Revolution of Siam’, which he attended with four other colleagues.”
The seminar was held at that bastion of royalism, Rangsit University on 22 June 2015. In addition to Sulak, participants included “Olarn Chaiprawat, former advisor to ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, a human rights activist known for her work with Bangkok’s slum dwellers, and other high profile academics.” Some 40-50 people attended the seminar.
Thongchai is due for questioning on 28 August 2015. One of his colleagues has also received a summons.
The Nation’s Pravit Rojanaphruk hosted the seminar, and was summoned for questioning on 23 July 2015. Pravit says that his “questioning took about two hours and he was asked whether criticisms of Rama V and VII made at the seminar are against Article 112…”. Of course, “he told the police that the law does not cover former monarchs.”
Pravit explained that “there were constant phone calls from military officers to the investigating officers during the questioning and that there were also military personnel at the police station.”
It is reported that Prateep received a similar summons over the seminar.
Royalism and monarchism in Thailand continues to descend into the underworld of the cruelly absurd.