Readers may recall the recent article in the New York Times that discussed the decline of the monarchy and its uncertain future under the military dictatorship.
As has been the pattern of recent years, when any article is not bleating palace propaganda, some official in the toadying Ministry of Foreign Affairs must reply. So it is that, in a Letter to the Editor, New York-based Consul General of Thailand Pornpong Kanittanon replies to the NYT.
As might be expected, Pornpong states: “I take exception to “With King in Declining Health, Future of Monarchy in Thailand Is Uncertain” (news article, Sept. 21).”
It seems that, in taking exception, Pornpong has found a script from 15 or 20 years ago for the “response.”
Using this dated palace propaganda, Pornpong mechanically recites that the “monarchy occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of the Thai people.” In fact, the NYT article more or less stated this.
Pornpong then cuts a page from a 20th century school book stating: “We have the monarchy to thank for keeping us an independent nation that has never been colonized by the West.” Certainly, the current monarch has no role in this, but Pornpong is making a case for monarchy rather than the current monarch.
When Pornpong turns to the incumbent, the story is that the “king works tirelessly for his people, and this is why he occupies a central place in the hearts and minds of Thais.” That’s the old propaganda line. However, the current king has barely been out of hospital for years and has been physically incapable of much “work” for about a decade.
Pornpong then engages in some dictatorspeak: “Freedom of expression is considered an inalienable right in the West. But we have seen so many cases in the world in which free speech without responsibility has brought painful consequences.”
It seems Pornpong has little knowledge of “the West.” The consul-general is simplistically making a case for considering the many cases of lese majeste as necessitating up to 60 years jail for speech and even for gestures.
The world knows that lese majeste is an indefensible nonsense. It is a political tool of fascists, military thugs and frightened royalists.