Intolerance and monarchy

27 04 2021

Political intolerance is a virus that has infected much of Southeast Asia, rolling back the minimal democratic gains made in the late 20th century.

An Australian report shows how monarchies are being resurrected and revamped as symbols of and sites for political intolerance. Thailand’s lese majeste law is ridiculous enough, but in Malaysia there’s now competition for the most ludicrous use of the law that represses, silences and threatens.

The report is of Fahmi Reza who “unleashed his latest Spotify playlist at a party in Australia…”, to now find himself “arrested, thrown behind bars and facing a potential three-year prison sentence.”

Fahmi is a “well-known satirist [who] is being investigated under the country’s sedition law, as well as its communications and multimedia legislation, for allegedly insulting Malaysia’s Queen…”.

His playlist is centered on the words “jealous” and “jealousy” and is “a reference to the queen’s riposte on social media to speculation about members of the royal family and their staff having jumped the queue for COVID-19 vaccines.”

Like Thailand’s police, Malaysian cops claim Fahmi’s playlist “intentionally threatens public security.” Yes, really. It turns out that the “investigation” was “triggered by a complaint made by pro-establishment government MP…”.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch was clear: the “investigation” was “patently absurd,” showing that the “Malaysian government persecution of free expression is reaching all new lows.” He added:

The intolerance of PM Muhyiddin Yassin and his government is really off the charts, and this kind of violation of civil and political rights betrays an anti-democratic tendency that values power and control over respect for the people and democracy….

Thailand ranks far lower.





International solidarity

22 10 2020

We are late in getting to this letter of solidarity:

 

 

Date : 20th October, 2020.

To: His Excellency Mr. Narong Sasitorn

Ambassador of Thailand to Malaysia

Royal Thai Embassy

206 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur

STOP CRACKDOWN ON PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN THAILAND

We are deeply concerned over the situation in Thailand as Prayut administration continues to suppress the pro-democracy movement.

We have witnessed a massive wave of pro-democracy demonstration in recent month, which puts forward 3+10 demands for democratic reforms. These demands are:

– Dissolution of the parliament to hold a fresh, free and fair election.

– End intimidation of the people who criticize the government.

–  A new constitution to replace the current military-sanctioned constitution.

–  10 demands of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration to reform the Thai monarchy in line with democratic principles, including the abolition of the draconian lèse-majesté law.

The government of Thailand led by Prayut Chan-o-cha has responded with repressive measure including the declaration of “severe” state of emergency on 15 October 2020, banning or blocking of online media that is critical of the government, using excessive force to disperse protesters, and arrests of pro-democracy activists.

A number of pro-democracy activists have been arrested in recent days and many were denied bail. Most of them were charged with “sedition” or violating the newly promulgated Emergency Decree. This is an attempt by the Thai government to silence dissent and suppress the pro-democracy movement. Among the pro-democracy activists who have been arrested are:

– Anon Nampa (human rights lawyer)

– Prasit Karutarote (student activist)

– Parit Chiwarak (student activist)

– Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul (student activist)

– Nutchanon Pairoj (student activist)

– Ekachai Hongkangwan (former lèse-majesté prisoner)

– Somyot Pruksakasemsuk (labour activist and former lèse-majesté prisoner)

We strongly condemn the government of Thailand for the ongoing crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.

We call upon the government of Thailand to:

– Immediately  release of pro-democracy activists who have been detained and all political

prisoners.

– Drop charges against pro-democracy activists.

– Lift the state of emergency and end crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

– Stop the intimidation against pro-democracy activities.

– Repeal repressive laws including the lèse-majesté laws.

– Fulfil the 3+10 demands that put forward by the pro-democracy movement.

Choo Chon Kai

International Affairs Bureau

Socialist Party of Malaysia


International Bureau, Socialist Party of Malaysia / Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)

Address: No. 140A, Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad, 50470 Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA.
Tel/Fax: +60-3-22762247, (mobile) +60-19-5669518
E-mail: (headquarters) pusat@partisosialis.org/
(international bureau) int.psm@gmail.com

visit our website at:

PSM





Further updated: Bombs and politics

13 08 2016

As usual, when there have been significant bombings in Thailand, the authorities immediately discount international terror and southern separatists.

This denial is almost a Pavlovian response by the elite and rulers to maintain the environment they feel encourages foreign investment and tourism, which have been the lifeblood of their wealth for decades.

Now, some time after the bombings and fires, more information on the military dictatorship’s response is available. Much of the early journalism, including by “academics,” was speculative.

To date, no group has claimed responsibility for the incidents. CNN and BBC are on a loop, referring to the explanations of Thai officials focusing on local politics.

At the Bangkok Post, it is made clear that, as with the Erawan bombing a year ago, the first likely culprits on the junta’s list are political opponents:

Authorities are giving weight to the theory that anti-regime elements were behind the deadly coordinated bombings and arson attacks that rocked the South and the resort city of Hua Hin from Thursday to Friday.

Apparently a meeting of security officials chaired by Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, guessed that “political issues topped the possible cause of the attacks.” As the post reports an anonymous source,

This could be the work of opponents of the regime or those who wanted to discredit the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which seems to have gained more popularity based on last Sunday’s referendum on the military-backed draft charter, in which most people voted in favour of the constitution….

As others have also claimed, national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said that domestic politics was the source of the attacks because “the attacks took place in the provinces where the majority voted in favour of the draft charter and … those attacks were aimed at damaging the government’s handling of politics, tourism and the economy.”

He claimed that “the investigation” suggested to him that “the incidents were linked to people who have different political views and may be connected to the violence in the deep South due to the similar use of improvised explosive devices…”.

There’s been little evidence of such links in the past.

General Prawit “ruled out a spread of violence from the far South as a cause of the attacks…”. He confidently stated: “This motive can be discarded. I confirm this is not the case.”

It is this kind of declaration without investigation that suggests that the military itself may be involved. (Our view is that the junta’s loyal forces are probably wasn’t involved, based on its previous actions. However, disgruntled groups in the military, with extensive links in the south cannot be ruled out.)

Some in the junta’s administration apparently thought that if its not local political opponents then international terrorism is “the second possible cause, … noting there are reports of Islamic State (IS) activities in Malaysia…”. Indeed, the Post states that a “source at the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry said the SIM cards in the mobile phones used to detonate the bombs were from Malaysia.”

General Prawit was aggressive, declaring that he would “bring those responsible for the attacks to justice. He then lied: “I will have the perpetrators arrested. We succeeded in making arrests every time, and will also do so [this time].”

Of course, if it is “local politics,” the military has seldom arrested anyone at all.

The Post says Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha “refused to pinpoint the motive behind the attack, saying the investigation is still under way.” That sounds good, except that it is not true, as the Post makes clear:

I want you to think what happened before and after the referendum. Why did the incidents take place when the country is getting better and moving towards improving its economy and tourism. I must ask, who are the ones who do not want these things to happen? Who are they? Find them for me….

In the same statement, officially released, Prayuth pointed a finger at domestic political opponents.

Junta pimp , Panitan Wattanayagorn “said both domestic and foreign intelligence warned of possible violence before the referendum…. Thai authorities deployed officials to keep tabs on suspects and nothing bad had happened, except some violence in the far South.”

Is he saying there was a failure of security officials?

Meanwhile, the Post reports a cause for wider concerns:

A source in the 4th Region army said the attacks were the work of political groups connected to a political base in the South. An order was made to carry out attacks in the popular tourist destinations as well as key business zones in the South and in Bangkok.

As usual, it sounds like the “official” response is confused, confusing and potentially scary.

Update 1: The Guardian has an interesting editorial on the bombs in Thailand and domestic politics.

Update 2: New Mandala has a useful post on bombs and the south. Well worth reading. It also has an earlier post speculating on who might be involved.





Lese majeste as a political crime in Malaysia

6 11 2012

PPT thought readers might be interested to see that lese majeste or its equivalent in computer laws is being used in Malaysia by an embattled government in its political battles. Interesting, isn’t it, how entrenched elites use these laws to protect their privilege.

An AP report states that:

27-year-old Ahmad Abdul Jalil in Kuala Lumpur and took him to southern Johor State late on Friday. He was freed briefly on Monday after a magistrate court in Johor refused to extend his remand order but police immediately arrested him again, said his sister Anisa Abdul Jalil.

Anisa said the family was told he was being investigated for seditious remarks against the Johor sultan.

She said the family did not know what the offensive statements were. Local media have reported that the Facebook postings at issue question Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar’s abilities as leader of a special forces group.

This sultan is a deeply controversial figure yet the AP report parrots Thai-like nonsense about sultans “command wide respect after centuries of hereditary rule.” They are also protected by political laws.








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