Lese majeste vs. historical debate

6 10 2017

PPT’s page on the various  lese majeste cases brought against conservative social critic Sulak Sivaraksa is rather long. Unfortunately, we will be adding to it.

Sulak

The fifth of these cases (that we know of) has these details. On 16 October 2014, Lt Gen Padung Niwatwan and Lt Gen Pittaya Vimalin, retired and deeply royalist generals, filed a complaint at Chanasongkram Police Station accusing Sulak of lese majeste for a speech he made about King Naresuan. This long dead king, surrounded by myth, is considered important for royalist mythology about Thailand.  Sulak made a public speech on “Thai History: the Construction and Deconstruction” on 5 October 2014, at Thammasat University, where he allegedly claimed the legend of an elephant battle between Naresuan and a Burmese king was constructed. He is also reported to have criticized the king of some 412 years ago for being cruel. Both claims have been the subject debates among historians.

It might be considered that “defaming” a figure from ancient history, for who there is only  scant reliable historical information, must be a nonsense. Yet the madness of the royalist judicial system knows no bounds, either in law or in insanity.

On 24 December 2014, police issued this statement: “… Sulak Sivaraksa has referred to Somdej Phra Naresuen the Great and Somdej Phra Chomklao Chaoyookhua (Rama IV) in a way that insults, defames, or threatens His Majesty the King…”. The police appear confused about present and past tenses and about past and present in general. Yet they pushed the case forward.

Khaosod reports that the police have told the 84 year-old Sulak that he must “report Monday morning to police who will take him to a military court to meet with prosecutors preparing a case against him for allegedly criticizing” Naresuan.

Sulak commented: “If the country was normal and there existed rule of law in this country, then there won’t be problems. The lese majeste law protects the current monarch and if someone is charged for criticizing a king who reigned 500 years ago, then something is not normal…”.

As everyone knows, Article 112 of the criminal code “forbids defaming, insulting or threatening the current king, queen, heir apparent or regent” not some dead king of centuries past. Yet in the recent past the courts have convicted persons for lese majeste against other dead kings. The prosecutors and courts simply make the law up as they go along and now seem to bizarrely interpret any critical comment against any royal, real or imagined, as constituting lese majeste of the current monarch, who wasn’t even on the throne when Sulak made his comments.

So now we have a case of an elderly man accused of “defaming” a long dead monarch and thus causing a transference of “defamation” to a monarch who died a year ago. Thailand’s judicial system has become entirely maniacal as well as ultra-royalist.





The 6 October website

30 09 2017

As reported at Prachatai, a new website has been launched from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, to establish and maintain an archive about the massacre of 6 October 1976.

That horrid massacre, mainly of students gathered at Thammasat University, was led by police, ultra-royalist rightists and the military. The massacre and the military coup that was a part of the plan was enthusiastically supported by the king, queen, then Prince Vajiralongkorn and other members of the royal family.

A photo by Frank Lombard available at the new website.

The students killed and the more than 3,000 arrested were maniacally alleged to be “communists and threats to Thailand’s monarchy.”

For a monarchy that is regularly said to be “revered” and “loved,” it is remarkable how many citizens have been killed and jailed to “protect” it.

The website is superbly designed and is an important resource.It is mostly in Thai, although some resources are in Thai and English (like the documentary “Respectfully Yours.”

Prachatai notes that “Thai society has tried to remove the 6 October massacre from the history timelines…”.

Another Lombard photo from the website.

In fact, it is not “Thai society” that has tried to erase the massacre but the ruling class, including royalists, police and military.

Because Thailand is currently ruled by a repressive military junta that came to power following a massacre, to “protect” the monarchy and to wind back political space, this online archive is an important innovation.





Updated: Death, racist royalism, lese majeste and populism

21 11 2016

Our headline is not a summary of the past few years of Thailand’s turbulent politics. It is a summary of today’s politics. All from the Bangkok Post, and mostly from its headline stories.

The puppet Constitution Drafting Committee has come up with a recommendation that will warm the hearts of all anti-democrats and feudalists. Puppet chairman of the puppet CDC “Meechai Ruchupan … wants to see the death penalty as the maximum punishment for politicians caught selling or buying political positions.”

As the Post points out, “Meechai is effectively stating that corruption for profit by a politician is worse than the serial murder of children…”. We imagine Meechai and his anti-democrat supporters will want gas chambers for managing this “problem.”

The brief story in the Post on “motivational speaker” Orapim Raksapol is related to Meechai’s maniacal proposal. Paid by the junta, Orapin went off to the northeast and essentially declared northeasterners less “loyal” to the monarchy than the junta’s anti-democrat constituency based mainly in Bangkok’s condos, townhouses and shophouses. She implied they lacked sufficient “gratitude” to the monarchy’s good works in the region. The junta is now defending her. Few anti-democrats trust the northeasterners and many have racist responses when confronted by people from the region and their politics.

After her elder sister was sentenced to 150 years in jail, it is now Ying Kai’s turn to face the courts. The Post reports that Montra Yokrattanakan has learned that the Criminal Court has “set June 6, 2017 to begin the examination of witnesses in a case against … Ying Kai …, accused of lese majeste under Section 112 of the Criminal Code.” Oddly, the court refused to accept her “revised confession” as a way to get the case to an end.

The final story at the Post is about another example of junta populism. Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong says the junta “plans to roll out electricity and water subsidies for low income families to mark the coming New Year…”. This is for people who earn less than 100,000 baht a year. It is part of a wider package that includes “free rides on public buses and trains.” Only some of these benefits will be extended beyond Bangkok.

Clearly the junta is in “election” campaign mode. That campaign is now riddled with populist policies and political double standards.

Update: The puppet CDC has backed down on the blood-curdling call for the mandatory death penalty for corrupt politicians. It has “agreed to include life imprisonment as an alternative to the death penalty.” So it seems the death penalty remains but is not mandatory. Puppet-in-chief Meechai “insisted the law is better having the death penalty.”





Transnational vigilantism for the monarchy

29 10 2016

The military regime has recently appeared attention-seeking, if contradictory, on political exiles and others writing or social media posting on the monarchy in ways that are different from the hagiographic syrup and fairy tales served up in Thailand.

Fascist ultra-royalists have been hard at work, egged on by the military junta’s unending search for those who think differently within Thailand.

As we noted in our first post on Major General Rienthong Nah-nah and his so-called Rubbish Collection Organisation, these fascist vigilantes have a long historical heritage of military backing and funding to do some of the military’s dirty work. Rienthong’s group emerged prior to the 2014 military coup and was meant to inject royalist venom into the anti-democrat movement. Its fascist gang of thugs was another means to threaten and repress those with different political positions. At the time, Major-General Rienthong, a director at the Mongkutwattana General Hospital and a medical doctor, said his thugs “will work to find and hurt those who insult the monarchy.” He declared his group was established “exterminate … people who insult the monarchy.”.

These fascist ultra-royalists have been very active through social media, calling on like-minded Thais overseas to hunt down and harass and use violence against anti-royalists to silence them.

There have been several recent cases of these vigilantes showing up at the homes of their victims seeking to intimidate them. They also target victims with social media campaigns that also intimidate and threaten.

The latest victim is a Thai living in Sydney, Australia. ABC News reports that Somsak Rachso “has been sacked from his restaurant job after being targeted by an ultra-royalist group known as the Rubbish Collection Organisation (RSO).”

The fascist ultra-royalists accuse him “of insulting the Thai monarchy” but the report says “it is unclear exactly what sparked the campaign against him.”

The Fuhrer of the RSO called on “Thai people there [in Australia] — don’t associate with him, don’t give him or his family a job…”.

The resulting online harassment saw Somsak “fired from his part-time job at Siam Cuisine Thai Restaurant in Penrith, for fear of attracting vigilante attacks.” It seems some Thais in Australia are willing to break the law for the fascist pride it gives them to “protect” feudal notions of a monarchy.

Somsak is said to be a red shirt supporter and associated with a small Australian organization of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights. He is also reported to repost material that critically assesses the monarchy on his Facebook page (now removed).

Somsak says the campaign launched by  by Fuhrer Rientong – he calls him a “criminal gangster” – has brought pressure for him “to stop any movement or fight with undemocratic Thailand which is ruled by dictatorship and military…”.

He notes the obvious: his group and his commentary do not violate any Australian law. In fact, those intimidating him are law breakers.

It seems royalist Thais are unable to adapt to the laws of democratic nations or the culture of freedom of expression.





Rock bottom

29 10 2016

Thailand’s military junta is composed of royalist rightists who have faithfully imbibed palace propaganda for years. In more recent times, as the military supported and egged on anti-democrat and royalist protesters, these military rightists have accepted a nastier propaganda that combines extreme right and extreme left elements, cobbled together with conspiracy theory.

The result is bizarre yellow-shirted views that the U.S., long a supporter of palace and military in Thailand, had somehow become a tool of Thaksin Shinawatra. Crudely concocted networks were constructed to “demonstrate” the takeover of U.S. foreign policy by Thaksin and his lawyers and lobbyists. For the dullards in the military, this seemed to explain why the U.S. administration wasn’t keen on giving 110% support to a military dictatorship in Thailand. After all, it had supported dictators in Thailand “before,” so why not now? Conspiracies provided the answer.

As if to announce just how official this mad rightist conspiratorial line has become, Thailand’s official propaganda agency is now citing the a yellow-shirted conspiracy theorist writing for one of Russia’s propaganda outfit, the New Eastern Outlook, which provides links to a range of alternative media sites, some of them anti-Semitic, others climate change deniers and many libertarian. Some of the co-authors have links to the extreme right in the U.S., including Lyndon LeRouche.

We written before on the author of the article who portrays himself as a leftist but who has connections to Alex Jones and alt-right. It was this writer, who has links with the Democrat Party, who recently called for a campaign to oust a BBC reporter from Thailand through harassment by ultra-royalists.

An online magazine, New Eastern Outlook (NEO), published an article depicting the importance of the constitutional monarchy in Thailand and how it fosters national unity.

The article entitled ‘Why is the Passing of Thailand’s King a Big Deal? was written by Tony Cartalucci, who is an American geopolitical analyst [sic.] and a writer for NEO.

He said the Thai constitutional monarchy helps strengthen and stabilizes the nation by serving as a unifying force. In his article, he also claimed that there had been attempts by some powerful nations to destabilize Thailand through their media reports which painted the current situation in the country in a negative way.

They, however; only received negative responses in return from Thai people after their news stories were published. Cartalucci also wrote that one foreign journalist was called back by his news agency for reporting wrong information about political conflicts in 2010 [sic.]. His report had triggered aggressive opposition that led to his departure from Thailand.

The Thai political world is becoming weirder than it ever has been before.





Further updated: Mobs and censorship

16 10 2016

The death of the king has allowed for even greater censorship, especially related to the monarchy.

It seems that there is a view among the junta’s bureaucrats that foreign reports aren’t fitting their royalist worldview, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (opens a 1-page PDF) admonishing the generally rather supine foreign media.

And, at Prachatai it is reported that the authorities have demanded that internet service providers “set up 24/7 monitoring centres to search for ‘inappropriate content’ across all social media platforms including Youtube, Facebook, Line and Twitter.” If ISPs fail to comply they will be prosecuted.

The NBCT order has essentially turned ISPs into state snoops and asks all internet users to act as vigilantes for the monarchy.

The risk is that such state encouragement of militant monarchists eliminates whatever space was available for different views, creates mobs and prompts violence. We have already seen two mob actions where rabid royalists seemed intent on at least having lese majeste charges laid against individuals and at worst wished to do them harm.

Update 1: It is interesting that there are now three reports of royalist mobs going after persons they believe are not royalist enough. All three are from the south, the home of the (anti)Democrat Party and a region where royalist hysteria has been heavily promoted in recent years, not least by the Democrat Party and the military. Using Facebook and ‪#‎shamethailand, scroll down and you see a video of a young woman being publicly humiliated by a mob. Of course, royalist mobs have gotten violent in the past.

Update 2: The reports of attacks on those deemed not to be in mourning, not dressed in monochrome or who post something on social media considered “inappropriate” have mounted. It appears that gangs of royalists are easily mobilized via social media or SMS. One report even mentions a critic being hunted in Europe by mad monarchists. Several well-known critics of the monarchy living overseas have reported that their Facebook accounts are flooded by vitriolic royalists.





It’s strange in junta land

31 08 2016

Life under the military dictatorship has become increasingly strange. Two recent examples are emblematic of how logic, rules and normality have been altered.

The first is of yet another “suicide” in jail. This one an official who is accused of being complicit in handing out perhaps hundreds of parcels of land to the rich and powerful. He’s put in a Department of Special Investigation cell and is found dead. This is no surprise at any time in Thailand. The rich and powerful always seek to silence witnesses and get rid of evidence.

The surprising thing is that, like one lese majeste detainee in another jail, he’s said to have hung himself. No one believes the story, not least because he’s said to have used his socks to hang himself from a door hinge. The reports are that the ” autopsy results indicated that the rupture of liver was caused by forcible contact with a hard, blunt object.”

Can we assume he beat himself up before hanging himself? This is junta land. This is Bizzaro land.

The second story is of fascist royalist Paiboon Nititawan, described in the Bangkok Post as “a former member of the now-defunct National Reform Council…”. He is said to have “proposed guidelines for the Election Commission (EC) to follow when it arranges the election expected to be held in late 2017.”

That might seem kind of interesting, but this is junta land. This is Bizzaro land. Paiboon is the man who recently proposed that The Dictator become the Unelected Premier-Dictator after an “election.” He’s forming a party and telling the EC what to do. Is he their new boss, appointed by The Dictator?

What he proposes is also bizarre. No campaigning, which he thinks is a “Japanese model.” He has no knowledge of Japan’s elections it seems. He wants repression because the charter “referendum” got the result the royalist and military fascists wanted. So, do it again.

Paiboon’s “story” of the “referendum” is a fairy tale (except for the repression), but he brags that the “result was accepted by society at an international level.” So do it again.

This is junta land.