If they can get past the more intense blocking of PPT at present, readers will have noticed that there’s a spike in lese majeste news at present.
It seems that the reasons for this have something to do with, first, palace cleansing and second, with the military dictatorship’s anxieties regarding constitution, elections, politicians and succession.
On the former, after stating that today the police would announce the names of big shots accused of lese majeste, no names were forthcoming. All police chief Chakthip Chaijinda did – at least until about 4 p.m. Bangkok time – was confirm that the arrest warrants are for police officers and civilians -saying “that some are well-known” – and that the “investigation found that all of them had cited the monarchy to obtain benefits.” Another source reckons that 10 cases are likely.
On the second are of junta fears, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha “has vowed to crack down on people who violate the lese majeste law, saying they are destroying the country in a bid for unlimited democracy’.”
Prayuth promised a deepening witch hunt and lamented that “people still dishonour the royal institution.” That’s royalist argot for the monarchy. His warped view is that those who say anything critical about the monarchy, even if truthful, is about “destroy[ing] history and the goodness of the country to pave the way to unlimited democracy.”
Meanwhile, the military is planning extra efforts to “monitor news sites, social media and ‘influential thinkers’ threatening the nation.” This involves a single gateway that Prayuth says is necessary as “there’s no other way to stop people from attacking his government.” Does he mean his junta, the monarchy or both? We think both. It is just that Prayuth has difficulty separating the two.
At least it is clear who Prayuth and his gorillas think the enemy is. Khaosod reproduced some of the junta’s targets. The Army has identified a so-called “network” of “influential thinkers” who the silverbacks say pose a national security threat.
At the top of the “network” is former Thammasat University lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul, long targeted by The Dictator as an enemy.
Somsak “dismissed the chart as grossly inaccurate,” describing it as “nonsense…”. He put his tongue in his cheek and declared: “They honor me too much (I’m embarrassed!).”
Other reports indicate that other listed as national security threats include: Jatuporn Promphan, a leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, Panthongtae Shinawatra, and as the image shows, his father, Thaksin Shinawatra.
The Army has established an Army Cyber Center that is meant to enhance the junta’s capacity to identify “threats” to the monarchy.
On Monday, 19 October 2015, Gen Sommai Kaotira, Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, stated that a “primary task… of the security forces is to give protection to the ‘revered and beloved’ Thai monarchy and to organise activities to honour the King, the Queen, and other members of the Thai Royal Family.”
The Cyber Security Operation Center and other online operations have sought 80 million baht in funding for the 2015 fiscal year, which is only the tip of the taxpayer funding that goes to supporting and “protecting” the monarchy.
War is declared. Be ready for more propaganda and more repression, all in the name of the monarchy.
Update 1: There is now news of the first set of lese majeste victims/suspects. Three suspects have been named. The Bangkok Post reports that the “Bangkok Military Court has approved a police request to detain three people accused of lese majeste – two civilians and one police officer – for 12 days between until Nov 1 for further questioning.” It named the three as fortune teller Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, 53, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp, 39, Suriyan’s aide, and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha, 44, of the Technology Crime Suppression Division’s Sub-Division 1. The report states:
According to a National Council for Peace and Order release, acting on NCPO Order 3/2015 the military took the three into its custody on receiving reports that a group of persons had, on various occasions, cited the high institution to other people for ill-gotten gains in violation of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.
The three were also reported to have committed other legal offences which could cause damage to the royal institution.
It appears that the police “decided to charge Mr Suriyan and Mr Jirawong with lese majeste, and Pol Maj Prakrom with illegal possession of unauthorised weapons and telecommunications radio, falsifying documents and using falsified documents, and lese majeste.”
Suriyan is reported to have “confessed” while the other two deny the charges. We expect they will soon plead guilty as that is the requirement under the military dictatorship.
The police are now hunting others.
Update 2: As predicted above, all three have reportedly now “confessed.” It is reported in The Nation that Pol Lt-General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul, who heads the team investigating the case, distributed “a document comprising the names of people arrested for citing the monarchy for personal gains.” That document also has it that it was not “the military” filing charges, but the junta itself:
The document said the National Council for Peace and Order had found that a group of people had wrongly cited their connection with the high institution in order to demand benefits from other people…. Such an act was damaging to the monarchy and could threaten national security…. The NCPO then assigned a representative to file a complaint with the police to take legal action against those allegedly involved.
The Nation has also published brief profiles of the three men. Reading them it becomes clear that all is not well in the palace or the junta, and amongst other things this starts to look like the lese majeste monster is beginning to consume itself.