Caving in

1 04 2018

The repression associated with lese majeste is critical for the maintenance of the status quo in Thailand. So critical in fact that even the thought of an amendment to the law is greeted with threats of violence. As it has been for seven decades, the rightist alliance between monarchy and military is a keystone for the establishment order in Thailand, with lese majeste, ultra-royalist ideology and murderous enforcement are the means for maintaining that conservative order.

When the Anakhot Mai/New Future/Future Forward Party was recently formed, ultra-royalists foamed and fumed about a young academic lawyer, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, who had once called for minor amendments to Article 112 of the criminal code. Ultra-royalist Sonthiya Sawatdee “petitioned the Election Commission … to disqualify the FFP. He alleged that Piyabutr’s previous involvement with the anti-lèse majesté group Nitirat had caused conflicts among the country’s population, in violation of the Organic Act on Political Parties.”

Knowing that in royalist Thailand Sonthiya’s banal claim may well carry weight, Piyabutr immediately went into reverse political gear, declaring “he would not press the issue of amending the lèse majesté law in the new party…”. He is quoted: “I insist that I will not involve the party in the issue of amending Article 112 of the Criminal Code and will not press the issue in the party…”.

Piyabutr’s backpedaling has opened debate.

Exiled historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, himself a victim of ultra-royalist and military attacks, “commented that without the issue of amending Article 112, the new party would be just a smaller version of the Phue Thai Party.” He saw a familiar path being taken whereby the young become prematurely old as they flinch on the most significant political issue of recent years, the monarchy.

Somsak believes that the new party didn’t have to say anything:

“When the party’s general meeting (to pass policies, select executives, etc.) happens, and Piyabutr or other important party members see that it is inappropriate to put the issue of Article 112 into the policies because it will lead to the party’s disqualification, then just remove it and register without this issue. So what’s the necessity of yesterday’s announcement [by Piyabutr]? I can’t’ see one…”.

He might have added that the new party has little chance of attracting large numbers of voters, so the strategic withdrawal on monarchy means little more than another ultra-royalist and military victory in its crusade to “protect” the monarchy and, thus, the establishment.

Puangthong Pawakapan of the now-defunct Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 was less critical, saying Piyabutr ‘s vow was unsurprising as “the political establishment never hesitates to suppress those who challenge the royal defamation law, making an amendment to Article 112 through legislative measures nearly impossible.”

Puangthong added:

“The difficulties in this issue are not about the number of votes in the parliament, but it is a sensitive issue that political parties are afraid to touch because they will be easily attacked by anti-monarchy allegations…. This is why all political parties are afraid to fix this issue. This is why people’s signatories and the draft amendment [to Article 112] by the CCAA 112 was immediately rejected by the Parliament Chairperson, who was at that time a Phue Thai MP.”

It is clear that Puangthong “believes that Piyabutr’s statement was a strategic move to ensure that the FFP will wins seats in the parliament, which will allow the party to make progress on other significant political missions, like eliminating the military influence from Thai politics.”

We recall, back in 2004-2005, so-called progressives signing up to the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its royalist agenda, using a similar line of argument. They may have been anti-monarchy or even republican, but saw the need to get rid rid of Thaksin Shinawatra as being so crucial that they could accommodate the royalist stuff, and fix the monarchy later. How did that turn out for them? Most are now ardent royalists.

An open letter to judges/จดหมายเปิดผนึกถึงผู้พิพากษาและตุลาการ

20 03 2013

The Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112, The 24th of June for Democracy, Saeng Samnuk Writer Club, Poets for People, Patinya Na San and Nitirat have issued an open letter to Thai judges arguing for significant constitutional change.

Download them in English and ไทย here.

If we have time, we’ll come back to these with some commentary.

Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 back at work

17 02 2013

The Nation reports that the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 is back on the job, and has sent “a petition to House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont to review his decision rejecting the 112 amendment drafted by the committee.”

Last October Somsak “rejected the draft amendment on the grounds the group had no constitutional right to table the amendment draft because Article 112 – which involves lese majeste offences – was not a Constitutional law.”

The academics have responded that this is incorrect as “Article 112 was under chapter 3 of the Criminal Code, featuring the rights and freedom of Thai citizens …[and] is enforced to limit the rights and freedom of expression, and punishment under the law is 15 years maximum, which also adversely affects the rights and liberty of the individual.” They argue that  dismissed Somsak’s rejection “was in violation of Article 30 of the Administrative Procedures 1996.”

Updated: Somyos verdict on 23 January

19 12 2012

Many, including Somyos Prueksakasemsuk‘s lawyer, had thought that 19 December would see a verdict in his lese majeste case. In fact, though, with more than 100 people at the court, the verdict was delayed until 23 January 2013.

Those present “included the defendant’s wife and son, representatives from several European embassies, including Denmark and Germany, and the European Commission [and] … [i]nternational and local NGOs such as Freedom House, Human Rights Watch and Union for Civil Liberty…”.Somyos

What they got was “a lengthy explanation of the Constitution Court’s ruling that the Penal Code’s Section 112, known as the lese majeste law, is not contrary to the constitution.” Of course, the law is an affront to several provisions in the junta’s 2007 constitution, but royalist judges produce political rather than legal decisions. The Constitutional Court holds “that the principle of Section 112 of the Penal Code is in line with providing protection to the King, an institution and head of the state of Thailand.” It argues for the protection of the royalist state and ignores or does not rule on numerous other articles in the constitution that are meant to protect free speech and other liberties. Further, it makes its protection of the royalist state clear:

Commission of offences under Section 112 of the Penal Code shall affect the security of the state as the King is an institution the constitution recognises and protects, and is part of the democratic regime of government with the King as the head of state.

It rests this claim on the second paragraph of Section 45 of the constitution which states:

The restriction on liberty under paragraph one [A person shall enjoy the liberty to express his opinion, make speech, write, print, publicise, and make expression by other means] shall not be imposed except by virtue of the law specifically enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of State, protecting the rights, liberties, dignity, reputation, family or privacy rights of other person[s], maintaining public order or good morals or preventing or halting the deterioration of the mind or health of the public.

Following all of this royalist political squirming, there was unusual dissension:

Attendants moved to calm the public gallery, which erupted noisily after the lengthy explanation, particularly when it was announced the judgement on Mr Somyos would not be delivered right away but delayed until Jan 23, 2013.

Somyos responded by observing that the “lese majeste law remained a problem affecting the whole justice system, and undermined  the integrity of the revered institution of the monarchy.” He then attacked the current government:

“What I feel sorry about is that the parliament and the Yingluck administration are somewhat cowardly. The people-initiated amendment under the banner of the Committee to Campaign for the Amendment of Section 112 is an important move and the way this effort was belittled and stopped is a loss to our society.

“It’s of immeasurable regret that social justice and protection of the institution of the monarchy [through the proposed amendment] cannot be achieved,” said Mr Somyos.

“It’s a pity that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra does not dare to take the lead in this case. Her cowardice and indecisiveness make her no different to other dictators,” he said.

At the same time, Somyos said he believed he would not be found guilty and sated that “the law [under which] he was charged under is unjust.”

It is worth noting that the delays in this case have caused Somyos to be imprisoned since 30 April 2011, meaning that his verdict will come after 21 months of incarceration that saw his case repeatedly delayed and Somyos chained and dragged around the country for meaningless provincial hearings.

Update: The Nation adds further to the judge’s comments on lese majeste and constitutionality, adding further to our comment that “royalist judges produce political rather than legal decisions.” According to the report, the judge stated the the alleged “reverence” for the king “is a unique characteristic found in Thailand and unlike anywhere else.” The judge is cited as having “further quoted from the Constitution Court’s ruling by adding that violating the lese-majeste law by defaming the monarchy was tantamount to ‘hurting the feelings of Thai people’, thus the harsher penalty compared to defaming an ordinary person was ‘justified’.” These nonsensical claims have nothing to do with law but much to do with politics and the cult of personality, which far from being “unlike anywhere else” is historically rather common.

Lese majeste politics

7 11 2012

Pravit Rojanaphruk begins his story on the ditching of the citizen-proposed lese majeste bill at The Nation with this:

Hope that the lese majeste law might be amended under the Yingluck Shinawatra government was unceremoniously dashed last week.

In fact, they were dashed during the election campaign and soon after. The timid government decided that lese majeste was simply too divisive and that having the military brass and palace on the war path accusing Puea Thai of disloyalty was best avoided.

Pravit refers to House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranond’s rejection and claims by Somsak’s spokesperson that “the issue was tied to the monarchy, the current charter forbids any changes of law related to the institution…”.

PPT thinks this is the usual spinelessness on the monarchy and doubts that the claim is sound. But legal soundness means nothing in royalist Thailand.

Pravit reckons that the summary rejection of the Campaign Committee for Amendment of Article 112 bill “will likely send people to seek other means to undermine the blanket censorship imposed on anything mildly critical of the monarchy institution…”. He adds that:

The shutting down of legal debate is unlikely to curb the sense of injustice suffered by Thais who value freedom of expression and who feel that it is long overdue for scrutiny and open criticism of the monarchy like those in the United Kingdom, Japan and Spain. They feel this is a fundamental right and that they can always compare how monarchies in other democratic countries are criticised and made publicly accountable.

We agree. PPT also agrees with Pravit’s observation that:

Some defenders of the law say the majority of Thais are not intelligent or mature enough to be able to separate fact from fiction, and lies from reliable information. Others may in fact be afraid that people are in fact smart enough and able think for themselves. While many ultra-royalists will readily venture to tell Thais and foreigners alike that most if not all Thais love and revere HM the King, these very people contradict themselves when they express fear about what may become of the institution if people are suddenly free, able to access and critically discuss, or even criticise the monarchy.

As long as this political and repressive law remains and continues to be used and abused, royalists and the palace itself remain defensive and skittish, knowing that there is remarkable dissatisfaction with the status quo and that there are some major obstacles for the palace ahead, including the greying of the palace, more health problems, and succession.

Protecting the lese majeste law

4 11 2012

There’s a brief story at Prachatai, which many readers will have seen, that deserves emphasis, especially as it is unlikely to get much attention in the mainstream media. Once again, it shows how the conservative elite in Thailand is more than willing to take arguably illegal action when “protecting” the monarchy and when “protecting” the law that “protects the monarchy.”

On 29 May 2012, a bill was “proposed by academics and citizens to change Article 112 of the Criminal Code,” and was signed by 30,383 persons. It was presented to parliament by “Charnvit Kasetsiri, former Rector of Thammasat University, the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 and hundreds of activists…”. The proposal was associated with the Nitirat legal group.

Chapter 7 of the 2007 Constitution is about “Direct Political Participation of the Public” and  Section 163 states: “The persons having the right to vote of not less than ten thousand in number shall have a right to submit a petition to the President of the National Assembly to consider such bill as prescribed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 5 of this Constitution.”

Prachatai reports that on 26 September the President of Parliament has summarily dismissed this popularly proposed bill with the claim that (p. 31 in this PDF, snipped below) the bill was not in accordance with chapters 3 and 5 of the constitution.

That this is a pathetic and spineless response to more than 30,000 voters is indicated when one considers that there are 43 sections in Chapter 3 of the Constitution and 17 in Chapter 5. Sure, this is a summary of the decision, and PPT would hope that this representative of the people would have sufficient sense and manners to actually specify which of the 60 sections he considers are infringed by the proposed bill.

Essentially this decision by the parliament’s boss is decreeing that no citizen or group of citizens has any right to call fr amendments to the lese majeste law under the constitution. That is, the interpretation must be that the monarchy outweighs more than 68 million citizens. We can think of no double standard in Thai law that is more obvious than this one: that judiciary, law, constitution and administrative rules are designed to protect the wealthiest and most powerful. Of course, the conservative ruling class demands this as the foundation on which all privilege and all other double standards are constructed. And when this class wants to toss out laws, it can use the repressive power of the military to achieve its ends.

Panicked on the monarchy

23 06 2012

There’s a long and interesting report at Bloomberg Businessweek by Daniel Ten Kate worthy of attention. For those who want to see political change in Thailand, it will be demoralizing to learn that:

Only about three of 500 House of Representatives members support a bill that reduces jail terms for people convicted of royal insults, according to Jarupan Kuldiloke, one of the members backing the effort. The ruling party has declined to endorse it.

Well we all knew that the Puea Thai Party under the non-leadership of Yingluck Shinawatra has an “aversion” to doing the right thing on lese majeste. Kate cites academic Michael Connors in asserting that this aversion “may bolster its [the government’s] monarchist credentials…” and avert its ouster. This is a myth. As PPT has highlighted since the day the Puea Thai government was elected, no Shinawatra is ever going to be allowed back into the royalist elite. This government is already on the way out via judicial coup.

That all but three MPs are deluded and spineless is a sad reflection on a parliament that has existed, on and off  for almost 80 years. After all, the bill doesn’t abolish the law, it just makes it less draconian.

It seems that the bill on lese majeste mentioned is the result of the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 “petition with about 30,000 signatures from members of the public, triple the amount required by the constitution for lawmakers to consider legislative initiatives.”

If the Puea Thai Party are spineless and neglecting their political base, the royalist Democrat Party is playing to its ultra-royalist political ballast, with its loudmouthed spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut asserting that hsi anti-democratic party is “not supporting the people who use this to attack the royal family…. The royal family needs protection.” Yes, the party of royalists has long supported the country’s richest “institution.”

That’s why the number of lese majeste cases surged while the Democrat Party served as government following a judicial coup in 2008 and with the support of the military and palace.

Kate then quotes Komsan Phokong, said to be “a law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University.” In fact, Komsan is a member of the ultra-royalist and neo-fascist Sayam Prachapiwat group, and rants on foreigners and lese majeste:

Foreigners shouldn’t interfere with our issue because they don’t understand us…. The status of our king and other kings in western countries are totally different. Our king is the center of people’s hearts. They can’t use their standards to judge our case.

Quoting political fruit loops like Komsan is easy journalistic pickings.

Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

More significant is the observation by Charnvit Kasetsiri, “a former rector of Thammasat University who helped present the bill to parliament”:

Even if rejected, the proposals are useful for educating people about the need to change Article 112 before challenges escalate as the succession to King Bhumibol approaches, according to

“On the surface Thailand looks like a land of smiles,” Charnvit said. “But deep down in cyberspace, with the coming of the new world, it’s rather messy.”

In the context of this notion of adult education, readers may wish to read this piece on Overcoming Fear of Monarchy.

Freedom of expression (still) under attack

12 06 2012

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

June 11, 2012

Twentieth session, Agenda Item 3, Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression

THAILAND: Freedom of expression under attack

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to bring the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand to the attention of the Human Rights Council. This statement is the third on this topic that the ALRC has submitted to the Council since May 2011. During the seventeenth session of the Council in May 2011, the ALRC highlighted the rise in the legal and unofficial use of section 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) to constrict freedom of expression and intimidate citizens critical of the monarchy (A/HRC/17/NGO/27). In February 2012, the ALRC detailed some of the threats faced both by those who have expressed critical views of the monarchy, both legal and extralegal, as well as those who have expressed concern about these threats (A/HRC/19/NGO/55).

The ALRC is again raising the freedom of expression to stress the persistence of the threat present, foreground the intensification of the dangers to human rights in Thailand broadly, and to acknowledge the continued courageous actions by citizens to revise or revoke section 112 and the CCA, despite these threats and dangers. As the ALRC has continually stressed, within the context of the political crisis that began with the 19 September 2006 coup and greatly increased with the violence of April-May 2010, the protection of fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, is essential if there is to be the possibility of successful democratization and widespread access to justice in Thailand.

Section 112 criminalizes criticism of the monarchy and mandates that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” Statistics provided by the Office of the Judiciary indicate a sharp rise in lese-majesty charges filed since the 19 September 2006 coup, with 33 charges filed in 2005, 30 filed in 2006, 126 filed in 2007, 77 filed in 2008, 164 filed in 2009, and an extraordinary 478 charges filed in 2010. While statistics released for the first five months of 2011 indicate a reduction in the number of charges filed, information for the second half of 2011 and 2012 to date has not been made available publicly. The failure of the Government of Thailand to provide information itself raises many unanswered questions about the use of the law to diminish space for freedom of expression through the use of secrecy and generating of uncertainty.

Court judgments in cases of individuals charged and prosecuted under a combination of section 112 and the CCA are similarly resistant to scrutiny and ready comprehension. Section 14 of the CCA notes that anyone can be jailed for five years if found to have imported to a computer “false computer data in a manner that it is likely to damage the country’s security or cause a public panic… any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom’s security under the Criminal Code.” As section 112 also is classed as a crime related to national security, it can be powerfully combined with the CCA to punish dissent, or perceived dissent, carried out via electronic means. Two recent cases, of Mr. Amphon Tangnoppakul and Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, illustrate the dangers to freedom of expression posed by categorizing criticism of the monarchy as a crime against national security and the lacunae in the CCA, which makes it a ready vehicle for enhancing these dangers.

On 8 May 2012, Mr. Amphon Tangnoppakul, a 61-year-old man, was found dead in prison custody. At the time of his death, Amphon was serving a 20-year sentence received upon being convicted of four violations under section 112 and the CCA on 23 November 2011. Amphon was convicted for allegedly sending four SMS messages defaming the Thai queen and insulting the honor of the monarchy. In this submission, we concentrate on the legal ambiguities and lacunae in the case that go to the criminalizing of free speech through the use of section 112 and the CCA in Thailand:

a. Similar to other court decisions in cases of alleged violations under section 112 and the CCA, the judges in this case had to infer the meaning of the four SMS messages in question (which was imprecise), the alleged intention of the defendant, and speculate on any potential damage caused to the monarchy and national security. At best, the court’s interpretation could be described as legally inexact. At worst, it can be described as complete fiction.

b. The court’s logic in finding the four SMS messages in question criminal rested on an argument about the validity of the information contained within them and on what this might cause readers of the messages to believe. More specifically, the judgment reads that the messages were

“… the import to a computer system of false computer data, that was defamatory, insulting, and threating to the king, queen, heir-apparent, and regent. would cause those who saw it to believe that the content of the messages was the truth, which would damage the nation’s security. As a result, some of the aforementioned actions of the defendant are likely to damage the honor and reputation of the king, queen, heir-apparent, and regent and to cause them to be insulted and despised. With an intention to cause the people to dishonor, fail to venerate, and threaten the king, queen, heir-apparent, and regent.”

Throughout the decision the adjective “likely” is used; in other words, damage was not caused by the SMS messages, but was probable in the opinion of the court. The ruling was not one that found the defendant guilty beyond doubt, but rested on a highly uncertain balance of probability.

c. In addition, to interpret under the CCA the sending of a rude SMS message as “the import to a computer system of false computer data” is to stretch the category of “false computer data” beyond the already broad ambit provided by the law. Several pages later in the court decision, “false” is elaborated in political, rather than scientific or legal terms. The judges write that the four SMS messages in question

“… are entirely false because the truth reflected for the people around the country is the king and the queen are full of compassion. They are concerned for every person in the land and perform their royal duties for the benefit and happiness of the Thai citizenry.”

While this may be the judges’ opinion of the monarchy, to categorize it as truth is an ideological stance inappropriate for an ostensibly independent judiciary to take, and does not constitute any form of grounds for conviction under law. Further, given the increased frequency with which section 112 is being enforced, this statement is difficult to appeal against, either in law or in public debate, without also risking being charged under the law.

d. Finally, even if the accused in this case had committed the offences as alleged, the 20-year sentence raises significant concerns about the proportionality of punishment for crimes of defamation in Thailand and speaks manifestly to an imbalance in the law of Thailand as written and as currently enforced between protecting the sovereign and protecting the human rights of people residing in the country.

On 30 May 2012, Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, a 44-year-old human rights defender and webmaster of Prachatai, an independent online news site, was found guilty of one count out of ten alleged charges of violating the CCA. The charges against her in this case stemmed from her alleged failure to remove comments deemed offensive to the monarchy from the Prachatai webboard quickly enough. The prosecution alleged that this indicated her support of and consent to the comments, which constituted a violation under the CCA. She was sentenced to one year in prison and a 30,000 baht fine, which was reduced to a suspended sentence of eight months and a 20,000 baht fine.

a. In the decision, the judges responded with an assessment of the appropriate length of time. The decision notes that in nine of the ten comments in question, they were removed within one to eleven days, and that this indicates that Chiranuch did not intentionally support or consent to them. In the instance of the tenth comment, which remained online for twenty days before she removed it, however, the court concluded that this duration indicated “implied consent.”

b. Of particular concern to the ALRC was a statement in the ruling that while apparently endorsing freedom of expression in fact does precisely the opposite by imposing on the public the obligation to self-censor or be subject to criminal actions:

“The court acknowledges that freedom of expression is a basic right of citizens that is guaranteed and protected in every Thai Constitution. This is because freedom of thought and expression reflects good governance and the democratization of a given entity or nation. Criticism from the people, both positive and negative, provides an opportunity to improve the nation, given entity, and individuals for the better. But when the defendant opened a channel for the expression of opinions within a computer system, she was the service provider and it was within her control. The defendant had a duty to review the opinions and information that may have impacted the country’s security as well as the liberty of others which deserves similar respect. the defendant cannot cite freedom of expression in order to be released from liability.”

This statement, far from being an endorsement of free expression, is a direct attempt of the Court to disavow the right to freedom of expression found both in the Constitution of Thailand and in the ICCPR. The role of the Court and the judiciary in a broad sense should be to aid the development of justice and the rule of law, not aid in its dismemberment.

The ALRC is concerned that the cases of both Amphon Tangnoppakul and Chiranuch Premchaiporn are both indicative of how the judiciary in Thailand is marshaling spare evidence to convict persons of offences under political laws, and in so doing, of its role in eroding institutions and structures that are supposed to guarantee human rights and protect freedom of expression.

The ALRC also wishes to draw the Council’s attention to the courage of human rights activists, media advocates, and citizens in Thailand who continue to call for reform of section 112 despite the growing legal and extrajudicial threats they face. Under the 2007 Constitution, if at least 10,000 citizens sign in support of a proposed amendment to law, then it must be examined by the parliament. On 28 May 2012, the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Section 112, a coalition of human rights and media activists, writers, artists, and citizens, presented 26,968 signatures in support of an amendment to section 112 limiting its use and reducing the punishment for violations. It is essential that in the coming months, the 26,968 citizens who signed in support of the draft amendment do not experience harassment or other repercussions for doing so.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre expresses solidarity with those persons in Thailand working to have laws aimed at narrowing the freedom of expression revoked or amended, and calls upon the Human Rights Council and also Special Procedures of the Commissioner for Human Rights to contribute to their efforts by urging the Government of Thailand to make the necessary changes to protect this fundamental human right. In this regard, the ALRC calls on the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to continue to monitor the situation on the ground in Thailand and to request the government to make an official visit to the country at the nearest possible opportunity to meet with concerned persons and produce a report with recommendations to the Government of Thailand for legal and institutional changes to the same end.

Charnvit on campaign to amend Article 112

29 05 2012

Radio Australia has interviewed Charnvit Kasetsiri of Thammasat University. The interview took place just prior to the rally and march to parliament to present the petition of more than 27,000 names calling for lese majeste law reform, organized by the Campaign Committee for Amendment of Article 112.

Charnvit explained that “the lese majeste law in Thailand is a product of undemocratic regimes,” with overly severe punishments and subject to abuse. He added that the law:

is not good for the royal institution itself, it’s not good for the country as a whole, and it’s quite unproductive for democratic process in Thailand.

Charnvit emphasized that the CCAA112 wanted to amend the law but stated that he understood “that some people are unhappy with the law and some people would want to abolish it.” He argued for lessons on the monarchy and democracy drawn from “successful examples in Europe,” not by “following up what’s going on in rather undemocratic Asia or the Middle East.”

Asked why the Yingluck Shinawatra government has been hopeless on this law (PPT’s words), Charnvit was clear:

I am sorry to say that this is kind of nature of the elite in Thailand. They would rather do some kind of compromise for their own benefit up at the top. So a lot of time they do not want to keep their word once they are in power.

He continues, not so clearly, but pointing in an important direction:

ones at the top especially the party in power now, especially the Yingluck government, her supporters, really her brother, Mr Thaksin keep on too much compromising without thinking of the mass in the countryside, the mass down below there might be a split among themselves.

PPT posted on the petition yesterday.

Nitirat and the lese majeste petition to parliament

28 05 2012

It is interesting that the Nitirat group has been able to collect more than 27,000 signatures to allow it to petition parliament “to sponsor a bill to prevent abuse of the lese majeste law.” This is almost double the number of signatures required.

The Campaign Committee for Amendment of Article 112 recently held a rally at Thammasat University to provide details. Originally, 38,281 people signed the petition, but the committee found 27,296 were eligible to sign.

The committee is scheduled to present the petition to parliament on Tuesday.

The report states that:

Thammasat auditorium was filled with red-shirt supporters who back the Article 112 amendment. The demonstrators said they would band together until Article 112 is either annulled or rewritten to stop it from being manipulated as a political tool.

The Campaign Committee said that the lese majeste law was widely abused by “pro-coup politicians and activists used the law to gag their critics.”

Both of the main royalist parliamentary parties, the misnamed Democrat Party and the Puea Thai Party, have both stated that they will ignore the petition. As PPT understands it, their intention to not act on the petition is quite possibly unconstitutional, although we doubt the royalist Constitutional Court would rule in line with the provisions of the constitution on lese majeste.

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