It looks like there is to be no let up in the use of lese majeste. Both Matichon and Thai Rath report that “Justice” Minister Paiboon Khumchaya, who is yet another General, is looking at royalist mobs and thinking that this provides him with license to (again) seek out and prosecute persons deemed unduly critical of the king, even if they are overseas. The General seems to imply that, in addition to making representations through diplomatic channels, overseas “offenders” may be tracked by “agents.”
One of the cases he seems to refer to is in Phuket. One report, in the Phuket Gazette, refers to lese majeste charges being laid against Suthee Arammetapong. He was one of the people chased down by royalist mobs after the king’s death. Prachatai has a similar story. Yet its report states:
… Pol Maj Gen Teeraphon Thipcharoen, Commander of Phuket Police [arrived], with about 30 police officers and soldiers arrived at the scene and attempted to pacify the crowd [mob].
He told the crowd that the Facebook message does not seem to violate Article 112 directly, adding the police could make an arrest when the allegation is investigated and seems sufficiently substantiated and after the court grants an arrest warrant for the suspect.
Dissatisfied, the mob wanted lese majeste blood. The report states that “the crowd agreed to disperse after the intervention of Surathin Lien-udom, former key leader of the [anti-democratic] People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)…”. He gathered up “four people from the mob to Mueang Phuket Police Station to file a lèse majesté complaint against the accused.”
That accusation is now being investigated.
Vigilantism and state repression seem required for a nation that now views all as black and white.
Update 1: Vigilantism is swelling in Thailand. Rightist foreigners associated with the Democrat Party and the broad anti-democratic movement are calling for harassment of foreign journalists. By far the most despicable case is the beating and humiliation of a 19 year-old worker in Chonburi.
Not only was the vicious mob attack livestreamed over Facebook, but it is clear that his employer – Thai Steel Cable – first alerted the mob to the alleged lese majeste by the young man and then told the mob where to locate him. The company sacked him and the company’s HR manager stated that he “would want to beat the crap out of him…”.
A photo later circulated on social media showed Jirawat in the back of a police vehicle, but the officer in charge of the case would not discuss the case other than to say police are investigating it.
Khaosod reports that “[n]one of the vigilantes involved in these incidents is known to be under criminal investigation for any crimes.” In other words, vigilantism is promoted and condoned, including by Minister Paiboon.
Update 2: The Nation reports on these matters. One notable paragraph states:
Overseas commentators are also being monitored. Minister in the PM’s Office Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said the government had noted six social media users who live abroad making inappropriate comments online. The government would use intelligence and security agencies to deal with them, said Suwaphan, who is also a secretary to the command centre monitoring the situation.