Lese majeste and cruelty II

28 02 2021

The Bangkok Post has a story about yet another bail refusal for lese majeste defendants and monarchy reform advocates Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem.

The Post says this is a “[t]hird setback in efforts to secure release of foursome awaiting lese majeste trials.” We know it is difficult keeping up with the number accused of lese majeste (is it 59 or 60?), but the number of bail applications and repeated refusals by royalist courts should be easier to count.

Going by the information in the story, we count five, including the most recent that begins the Post story:

Clipped from Khaosod

They have been in the Bangkok Remand Prison since Feb 9 when they were formally indicted on charges including lese majeste in connection with rallies at Sanam Luang on Sept 19 and 20 last year. The Criminal Court rejected their initial bail request.

The Court of Appeal on Feb 15 upheld the Criminal Court decision, citing the defendants’ disrespect for the monarchy and saying they posed a flight risk. Subsequent requests to the Criminal Court on Feb 17 and Feb 22 were also rejected, with both decisions upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The grounds for the appeal were entirely reasonable:

The first was a cash bond of 400,000 baht for each defendant, which was higher than the previous bail request. Charnvit Kasetsiri, a former rector of Thammasat University, and Panas Tassaneeyanon, a former dean of the university’s Faculty of Law, had agreed to act as guarantors for the defendants, said the lawyer.

The three other issues were that the defendants posed no flight risk, they had not yet found been guilty by a court and thus they were considered innocent, and all had permanent residences…

All to no avail. The establishment is busy protecting the king and punishing its opponents.





Updated: Nothing seems to change

19 02 2019

The reporting over the last few days seems to suggest little has changed in over a decade of military coups, elected governments illegally thrown out, scores of deaths and mass street demonstrations.

In observing this, we are leaving aside the continuing speculation regarding Thaksin Shinawatra’s failed bid to make a (semi-) royal fruitcake a prime minister. Those guesses range on a spectrum from the events were out of the box to ordinary, that they weakened the king or made him stronger, that the king knew what was going on or he didn’t, and even resurrect some perspectives from the 1950s to try to explain various scenarios. And there’s still the misleading view that Thailand is somewhere on a road to democracy. And that’s all from the same source in several articles.

But back to the nothing-much-changes idea.

First, we see The Dictator showing himself for his Palang Pracharath Party and the party using his picture on campaign posters while he remains deeply engaged in all kinds of state activities, spending and so on.

Meanwhile, his former boss, brother-in-arms and Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda has “defended his [now] boss … by insisting that junta leader-cum-Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha should not step down before the royal coronation takes place in two months.”

Here the point being made to the electorate is that only The Dictator and the military can be “trusted” as loyalists. It was the anti-democrats of the People’s Alliance fro Democracy that proclaimed loyalty as a political issue of the era by donning royal yellow.

Second, to make the point about loyalty, none other than anti-democrat Suthep Thaugsuban is quoted as declaring that only a vote for his party (and pro-junta parties) “can prevent Thaksin Shinawatra from returning to power through its proxy parties…”. That’s a refrain widely heard from the anti-democrats for over a decade. And, Suthep appears to be admitting the electoral strength of the pro-Thaksin parties, something seen in every election from 2000 to 2011, when elections were free and fair.

Suthep’s claims that the anti-democrats could keep Thaksin’s “proxies” out saw him drawing on the experience of the repressive actions of the junta in forcing through its 2016 constitution draft in a “referendum.” Perhaps he expects/hopes for similar cheating in the junta’s “election.”

And third, Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong, who himself wielded war weapons against red shirt protesters in 2010, and who refuses to rule out another coup, has again declared that he will not be controlled by “evil” politicians.

After the military budget increasing 24% under the junta, the notion that it might be cut by an elected government prompted the evil but loyal Gen Apirat to order the “ultra-rightist song ‘Nak Phaendin’ [Scum of the land] to be aired every day on 160 Army radio stations across the country…”. This anti-communist song from the 1970s – another period when the military murdered hundreds in the name of the monarchy – was to be played twice a day. It was also to be played at the Ministry of Defense and and in all Army barracks:

The Army chief reasoned [PPT thinks that word is incorrect] earlier that the anthem broadcast was aimed at encouraging everyone to be aware of their duties and responsibilities towards the country.

The “duties” he means are to protect the monarchy and murder opponents of the military-monarchy alliance.

He was supported by Deputy Dictator, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, who supported the notion that politicians are “eveil” and deserve death at the hands of murderous loyalists. He said: “Listen to the song that the Army chief mentioned. Listen to it.”

Apirat partially revoked the order later, with the song continuing to be broadcast inside the Army Command at noon. As former Thammasat rector and historian Charnvit Kasetsiri expressed it,

Other than calling for a return to absolute monarchy, they’re now rehearsing ‘Scum of the Earth,’ too? History will repeat itself if we don’t learn from it. And where will that path take us? Better or worse?

It leaves Thailand in its ultra-conservative, ultra-royalist time warp.

Clearly, the Army commander and the Defense Minister are campaigning against pro-Thaksin parties and for The Dictator and the party of the rightists, Palang Pracharat.

That’s not new. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, then head of the Army, demanded that voters reject Thaksin parties in 2011. However, this time, the threat is louder, nastier and very, very threatening.

Nothing much changes.

Update: PPT noticed that the Election Commission has issued a warning that “posting text, sharing or commenting on messages that defame political candidates violates the Computer Crime Act.” So how will the EC respond to Gen Apirat’s condemnation of Puea Thai and other pro-Thaksin parties as “scum” and actively campaigning against them? As a puppet agency our guess is that it will do nothing.





Sulak, lese majeste and double standards

26 01 2018

Two prominent intellectuals, both aged, have been in the news of late. The different paths of their cases say something more about the double standards operating in the justice system.

The first is Sulak Sivaraksa, and we have posted on his case, here and here. Sulak has recently been reported as “explaining” his actions on his most recent lese majeste case and how the charge came to be dropped.

He has written that he “had no other choice but to petition the King to encourage the junta to end a prosecution against him for lèse majesté.” He refers to something he calls “royal grace” being involved. What he seems to mean is that the king told the junta “to end the lawsuit…”. This is not the first time that the palace has been involved in dropping charges against Sulak. The publicity his cases have generated are damaging for the throne although, as a reader who was involved tells us, the palace liked to let it be known that it was lenient because Sulak was a little mad.

The junta initially ignored or rejected pleas, many of them international, leaving Sulak “no choice but to ask Rama X for help.”

Sulak, who has previously taken a partisan approach to the law, claiming that the law should be used against those who do not have the interests of the monarchy at heart, this time “urged the junta to release those convicted under Article 112 during the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign.” But not the new king’s reign? Odd, as we thought he had supported Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa.

On the day he was acquitted, Sulak told media that, “I believe the barami (glory) of the King protected me. The King did so many things behind the scenes. In my case, if not for [the King’s] barami, I would not be freed, because the Prime Minister is a jerk and is someone who never thinks of doing anything courageous. He is scared. If not for royal barami, my case would never end.”

Bottom line: he got off. We would like to see other lese majeste victims treated in this manner.

The second is Charnvit Kasetsiri, a former rector of Thammasat University and a long-term junta critic. Police have issued a summons for “sharing a fake news report about a purse of Prayut[h Chan-ocha]’s wife.”

On 23 January, police from the Technology Crime Suppression Division summoned Charnvit Kasetsiri to report to police today. As the report explains, “Charnvit was accused of disseminating forged computer data likely to cause damage to a third party, a violation the Computer Crimes Act. If found guilty, he will face up to five years in jail, a fine of up to 100,00 baht, or both.”

The accusation involves a social media discussion that saw Naraporn Chan-ocha accused of carrying a two-million-bath Hermes handbag, “while it is, in fact, a product of Thailand’s Royal Folk Arts And Crafts Centre and costs no more than 10,000 baht.”

Bottom line: The junta can lie its pants off (think election dates) but sharing a post (later corrected) about The Dictator’s wife is a crime.

We think the charges against Charnvit should be dropped too. Will they be dropped or is this just another effort to silence critics (of the “wrong” kind)?

The justice system now operates with double standards at the core of its feudal-like operations.





Release the students, return power to the people

28 06 2015

The Nation reports that 53 “leading academics and activists yesterday demanded that 14 arrested student activists be immediately released and called on the public to stand up to the junta.”

This call came as the military dictatorship downplayed the possibility of the students each receiving 7 years in jail under Articles 116 and 83 of the Criminal Code.

Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr, who has repeatedly stated that he knows but refuses to name a mysterious “mastermind” he alleges is “behind” the students and warned their supporters:

If you direct them in the wrong direction, disturbing the country’s peace and order, I warn you stop it. We have identified you all. Most people do not approve of your actions because they want the country to be peaceful.

Like others in the junta, he’s either delusional or a liar and probably both. As usually happens under this deranged leadership, we can expect some arrest and a claim of a network and plot, with a likelihood of lese majeste accusations and undefined threats to national security.

Meanwhile, the academics and activists, who are “calling themselves People Behind the Neo Democracy Movement, issued a statement to demand that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) return power to the people.”

These supporters of students and democracy “gathered at Suan Ngern Mee Ma, a training centre that served as a shelter for the student activists before their arrest on Friday.”

In a statement, they “emphasised their stance in opposing … a dictatorship and the ‘selfishness and ineffectiveness’ of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha [The Dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha].”

The Nation identified the “most prominent” of these activists as “social critic Sulak Sivaraksa, political scientist Kasian Tejapira, former Thammasat University rector Charnvit Kasetsiri, and noted writer Suchat Sawatsri.” It reports that “[o]ther signatories … include Chulalongkorn University political scientist Puangthong Pawakapan, Thammasat University anthologist Yukti Mukdavijit, political scientist Pongkwan Sawasdipakdi, and Same Sky magazine editor Thanapol Eiwsakul.”

They asked: “What kind of society is the NCPO [military junta] leading Thailand to? Calls for democracy and justice using non-violence have become criminalised…”.

The arrested students have repeatedly “denied a claim by the authorities that political groups were behind their moves.” They declared: “There is no need for us to prove anything. We don’t have anyone behind us.”

They also rejected the ridiculous paternalism and authoritarianism of the military dictatorship. They stated: “Prayut[h]’s administration is scared of opponents’ opinions because they are well aware that they can’t run the country…. They are not capable of solving problems. But they persist to stay to preserve their own power and interests amid the national calamity.”

The students called on the “people to come out and call on the junta to return their power…”.





Further updated: The junta and lese majeste

25 05 2014

At first it was some former lese majeste prisoners who were called in by the junta. These former prisoners were mostly those who had campaigned against the law but others were brought in.

Then it was those who the junta leadership considered potential threats to the monarchy and the lese majeste law who were called in and rounded up. Several academics and activists have fled.

After that is was Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri detained by the junta at the international airport. Charnvit is a gentle academic who has campaigned for elections, democracy and human rights. This sees him identified as an enemy. [Update 1: News is that Charnvit is safe, but other academics have gone underground, accused under Article 112.]

And then they came for the families of lese majeste prisoners. According to Prachatai:

Around 3.30 p.m, the army searched the house of Somyot Phueksakasemsuk, an editor of pro-red magazine and now sentenced to 11 years in prison for lese majeste. The army will take Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk, Somyot’s wife who has been campaigning for political prisoners, and his son Panitan Phrueksakasemsuk, 4th year Law student from Thammasat University, also a student activist, to the Army Club. According to Sukanya, the army also collected their two computer laptops.

Finally and threateningly, The Nation reports that “crimes against the monarchy” will be handled by military courts:

The National Council for Peace and Order issued a latest order Sunday, saying violators of lese majesty law and coup orders as well as those threatening internal will face court martial.

The 37th order was announced on TV at 4:25 pm.

The order said those who committed crimes against the King, the Queen, the heir to the throne and the regent or those who violate Articles 107 to 112 of the Criminal Code must face court martial instead of being tried in the Criminal Court.

Those who commit crimes against the national security or those who violate Articles 113 to 118 of the Criminal Code would also face court martial.

The order said those who violate the NPCO’s orders will also face court martial.

We at PPT, looking at General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s forays into lese majeste in the past, expect that a bleak period where these kangaroo courts will be locking opponents up is upon us.

Update 2: From FIHD:

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arrest of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk, wife of Mr. Somyot Phueksakasemsuk, the editor of a magazine who is now serving 11 years for lese majeste, who has been campaigning for the right of political prisoners, and her son Panitan Phrueksakasemsuk, a student activist.

According to the information received, on May 25, 2014, at around 3.30 p.m, Thai army soldiers searched the house of Mr. Somyot Phueksakasemsuk. The soldiers arrested Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and her son, Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase, and detained them at an undisclosed location. The army also seized Ms. Sukanya’s two computer laptops.

Since their arrest, Ms. Sukanya and Mr. Panitan have been held incommunicado in an unknown location. Soldiers failed to inform them of the reasons for their arrest. The two have not had access to their lawyer.

Ms. Sukanya and Mr. Panitan are among the about 200 people who have been detained by Thailand’s military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), since it seized power on May 22, 2014. Among those detained are human rights defenders, journalists, academics, political activists, politicians, and anti-coup peaceful protesters.

The Observatory is concerned by the arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase, and calls upon the authorities in Thailand to immediately disclose their whereabouts and put an end to any kind of harassment against them as it seems to only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.

Background information:

Mr. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a labour rights activist, was among the first activists in Thailand trying to unionise workers, providing them with legal training, and organising camp activities and public demonstrations. In his magazine “Voice of Thaksin” Somyot Prueksakasemsuk denounced human rights abuses and gave a voice to the voiceless. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is also a free speech advocate, calling for the revision of the lèse-majesté law. In April 2011, he was arrested five days after launching a petition campaign to secure a review of this legislation. Held in pre-trial detention for 17 months, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was convicted for allowing, as an editor, the publication of two satirical articles that were deemed to be “insulting the monarchy”. In January 2013, he was arbitrarily sentenced to 10 years in prison [1].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i.Immediately disclose the whereabouts of and release immediately and unconditionally Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase;

ii.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase as well as all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iv.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.

Addresses:

Head of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Chief of the Armed Forces, Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, 127 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Admiral Narong Pipathanasai, Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong, Royal Thai Air Force Commander-in-Chief, Phahon Yothin Road., Don Mueang, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, Royal Thai Police Commissioner-General, Royal Thai Police, 1 Building, Floor 7, Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok, THAILAND 10330, Tel: +66 (0)-2251-6831 Fax: +66 (0)-2205-3738

Secretary-General of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Udomdet Sitabut, Royal Thai Army Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

Spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, Royal Thai Army Spokesman, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, 422 Phya Thai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10300, THAILAND, Fax: +622 219 2940

Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Lukmuang Building, Nahuppei Road, Prabraromrachawang, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200, THAILAND, Fax: +662 224 0162 / 1448 / 221 0858, ag@ago.go.th; oag@ago.go.th

Commissioner General, Royal Thai Police, 1st Building, 7th Floor, Rama I, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, THAILAND, Fax: +662 251 5956 / 205 3738 / 255 1975-8; feedback@police.go.th

Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int

Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640.68.10; Fax: + 32 2 .648.30.66. Email : thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country





Listen to them

31 10 2013

Pravit Rojanaphruk’s little story in The Nation on red shirt opposition to the ill-conceived amnesty bill deserves to be read and considered, especially by those at the top of the Puea Thai Party government. All that follows until the final paragraph is snipped from Pravit’s article:

Suthachai Yimprasert

Suthachai

The move is being loudly opposed by activists and intellectuals in the red-shirt camp, such as Thammasat University historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, political scientist Sirote Klampaiboon, Chulalongkorn University historian Suthachai Yimprasert and former Thammasat University rector Charnvit Kasetsiri to name a few.

Separately, Red Sunday group leader Sombat Boonngam-anong … is calling on more red-shirt supporters to … make their voices heard.

… Somsak said the loss of nearly 100 lives in 2010 would be “in vain” if the blanket amnesty bill were pushed through.

Sombat

Sombat

Red-shirt lese majeste detainee Somyos Prueksakasemsuk … said both the Pheu Thai Party and Thaksin Shinawatra would be making “a foolish move”, akin to “digging one’s own grave”, if they continued pushing for the bill.

Jakrapob

Jakrapob

Jakrapob Penkair, a former Thaksin aide and ex-PM’s Office Minister who is living overseas to evade lese majeste charges [PPT understood the charges had been dropped??] , earlier this week posted a message on Facebook calling on the ruling party not to betray those who struggled for democracy and the future generation.

Meanwhile, Thaksin’s lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, who enjoys a large following on Twitter, tweeted on Monday: “The proposed blanket amnesty provides absolutely no benefit… I am deeply saddened by Pheu Thai’s position.”

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Red-shirt leader and MP Weng Tojirakarn said yesterday that three red-shirt MPs would abstain from voting in the second reading of the amnesty bill. He explained that this abstention was necessary for two reasons: to not confuse people about the red’s stance on the issue and to not lend support to the opposition Democrat Party.

Somyos

Somyos

These people are not engaged in a war to bring down the government and nor are they disgruntled opponents. Many have given much to the red shirt cause and the fight for democracy. We count four who have gone to prison for the red shirt cause and one living in exile amongst this group of people sympathetic to red shirts.

Listen to them!





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.





Democracy vs. the monarchy’s ruling class

1 07 2012

PPT enjoyed the Bangkok Post‘s discussion with historian Charnvit Kasetsiri on the 1932 Revolution and contemporary politics. We certainly agree with his observation that:

throughout the past 80 years, conservative forces have retained a lot of their influence, making democracy unstable. It is more like “transient democracy”, not a permanent one as long as citizens’ rights and equality are not achieved concretely.

That situation is not one that has gone uncontested over those eight decades, but it has to be said that it has been the palace, supported by the post-1957 military and the US in the 1960s and 1970s, that has established hegemony. Charnvit points out that:

Initially, Khanarassadorn wanted to adopt the phrase ‘Monarchy under Constitution’, but acceded to King Prachadhiphok’s wish for ‘Constitutional Monarchy’. It was changed after Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat’s … [1957] coup with the emergence of ‘Thai-style democracy’ and ‘Democracy with the Monarch as head of state’. It has been a long struggle….

In his reported comments, Charnvit seems to forget that this has not been an uncontested fight. There have been struggles by the People’s Party remnants, by communists and socialists, by students and workers and farmers. The royalist military has been vicious in its responses, repressing and murdering virtually non-stop during the years since 1957.

The hegemony of the royalist elite has had particular impacts beyond repression and murder. Without mentioning the vast and obscene wealth of the monarchy itself, Charnvit observes that: “Wealth is still concentrated…. If people accept their station in life, the status quo can be maintained.”

Charnvit points out that:

since the time of Field Marshall Sarit, the monarchy has been used as a tool to discredit and destroy political opponents, starting from communism and now the attempt to amend Section 112. Those who advocate change were and are lumped together as disloyal to the monarchy.

The problem is that this old regime is under attack and it is the monarchy that is the “tool to destroy the opposition.”

Charvit is correct to note that “people don’t accept their fate anymore.” Like others, he points out that the “rural poor are not without resources or knowledge and they no longer accept injustice.”

The current political struggles seem to be, as Charnvit has it, between:

the absolute power of the monarch, the so-called “Devaraja” as practised in Ayutthaya and the first half of the Chakri dynasty or the democratic principles espoused by Khanarassadorn who toppled the monarch in 1932.

We do not think that this is the case. Charnvit is essentially speaking of ideology. PPT thinks that the struggle is about the rights and voice that are limited and controlled by a class that rules through violence, threat of violence and its great wealth. The monarchy is not just the ideological hub of the current regime of power but is the country’s largest Sino-Thai conglomerate.

Hence, when Charnvit speaks of the need to “amend the constitution resulting from the 2006 coup … [and] amending the lese majeste law,” he is concentrating on important nodes that are part of a broader struggle. He gets to that struggle when he says the “problem is about inequality…”. He asks, “why can’t political parties solve it?”

The answer, Charnvit said:

politicians are not the people’s representatives – they represent their own social class. The class that Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra belongs to is no different from that of Abhisit Vejjajiva or Korn Chatikavanij.

For him, this means that the red shirts must split from Thaksin once they “realise that Thaksin’s group is not theirs.” The link between the masses and Thaksin is not of his own making and has never been entirely stable.

Thaksin has been electorally popular because he provided – probably unintentionally – an  opportunity for people to have some voice. They realized that elections could have an impact. If the backward-looking elite, including Yingluck and Thaksin, can’t maintain that, then they are politically useless and electoral democracy is lost to them as a means of broad political compromise.





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.





Support for Nitirat’s lese majeste reform proposal

19 01 2012

PPT missed this report a couple of days ago, and we post it now because it is significant.

At Matichon, it is reported that a list of significant academics, writers, lawyers and intellectuals in Thailand have supported Nitirat’s call for a review of the lese majeste law. Significantly, and like an earlier international academic call for the law’s reform, it has 112 signatories. Each signatory was listed in a Nitirat pamphlet.

The names include many very well-respected and senior intellectuals. The lead signatories are Charnvit Kasetsiri, Pasuk Phongpaichit and Nidhi Eowsriwong, each of them well-known and respected in Thailand and internationally. Other respected signatories include: Thongchai Winichakul, Thak Chaloemtiarnana, Suchit Wongthes, Seksan Prasertkul, Tanet Charoenmuang, Kasian Tejapira and Kengkij Kitirianglarp.