Lese majeste catch-ups

18 02 2018

Natthika Worathaiwit was one of The Facebook 8 who were arrested by the military dictatorship because of a satirical Facebook community page that poked fun at The Dictator. They were charged with sedition and computer crimes on 28 April 2016. Tow of them, Harit Mahaton and Natthika were charged with lese majeste.

Initially all were refused bail. When six of the eight were bailed, a military court refused bail for Natthika and Harit. The two firmly maintained their innocence. After more than two months in prison, on 8 July 2016, the two were released on bail. A month later, a military prosecutor indicted the two anti-junta critics on lese majeste and computer crimes.

Little more was heard about the case until in January 2018 Natthika revealed that she had decided to flee Thailand to seek asylum in the U.S. She remains critical of the military dictatorship. Prachatai has an interview with her in the U.S.

Prachatai also reports on a case with a curious twist. Back in March 2016, it was reported that that nine persons are to be charged with lese majeste over the Tob Jote/ตอบโจทย์ television show in 2013. ThaiPBS aired the program on the monarchy and lese majeste law on 11-14 March and 18 March 2013. The series featured historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul who later went into exile, conservative royalist Sulak Sivaraksa, the execrable Surakiart Sathirathai and retired ultra-monarchist Police General Vasit Dejkunjorn. The show hosted by Pinyo Trisuriyathamma. All are mentioned in the new set of charges, with four others.

Later, in July 2014, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) imposed a 50,000 baht fine on ThaiPBS for broadcasting political discussions about the monarchy. The NBTC declared that the broadcasts violated “Article 37 of the NBTC Act. The Commission accused the station of publishing content that instigated conflict, damaged peace and order, or damaged the good morality of the people.”

Royalists and the junta could not abide by notions that Thais could have a reasonable discussion of the monarchy or be allowed to think for themselves about the monarchy.

On 15 February 2018, the Administrative Court invalidated the fine. In doing so, it ruled that the NBTC showed bias (which is standard operating procedure for this bunch of junta minions). That bias got a name:  Lt Gen Peerapong Manakit, one of the NBTC members. According to the report, the “court ruled that bias on the part of … [Peerapong] who proposed the punishment, led to an unfair trial. The court ordered the Commission to refund the fine to Thai PBS…. However, the verdict does not rule whether the show’s content was legal or not.”

It is an interesting ruling. If Peerapong’s name rings a bell, it could be because he is another of those military hogs who can’t keep out of the trough, as reported in The Nation:

… there was a public outcry after an Office of the Auditor-General investigation revealed Peerapong Manakit had topped the list of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission members who had made the most overseas “study” trips last year…. He spent about one-third of his time (129 days) on 20 overseas trips at a cost of Bt12.03 million…. Peerapong has reportedly appointed his wife Janya Sawangjit as his adviser, effective October 1. Her salary is Bt120,000 a month…. It is not clear if NBTC commissioners can take their advisers on overseas trips.

Of course, nothing happened about this nepotism and he remains a commissioner, with a bunch of other military and royal-connected men.





Sulak’s lese majeste case

3 03 2017

Sulak Sivaraksa is a self-professed royalist who has faced at least five lese majeste charges. He is a leading academic and long-time conservative critic of the lese majeste law.

180px-sulaksivaraksa_3-smallHe was first arrested in 1984 in Bangkok and charged with insulting the king. His second case, in 1991 he was again charged after giving a speech at Chulalongkorn University. A third set of allegations were made against Sulak in 2006. Sulak’s fourth lese majeste case saw him taken from his Bangkok home late one night in November 2008 and driven 450 km to a police station in the northeast province of Khon Kaen. The outcome of these cases can be seen at our page on Sulak.

His fifth case saw two retired royalist generals file a lese majeste complaint against Sulak for a speech he made about King Naresuan, a historical figure considered important for the royalist mythology about Thailand.

On 16 October 2014, Lt Gen Padung Niwatwan and Lt Gen Pittaya Vimalin filed the complaint at Chanasongkram Police Station accusing Sulak of “defaming” the former king during a public speech on “Thai History: the Construction and Deconstruction” on 5 October at Thammasat University, Bangkok. It is reported that in the speech, Sulak claimed the legend of an elephant battle between Naresuan and a Burmese king was constructed and he criticized the king of some 400 years ago for being cruel.

Prachatai reports that “police have permitted a renowned royalist intellectual accused of lèse majesté to postpone hearing the charges against him” in this fifth case.

The report adds that Sulak is fighting another lese majeste case. PPT’s account notes a sixth case against Sulak. In early July 2015, it was reported that Sulak could face a sixth lese majeste charge for comments made in a panel discussion on the anniversary of the end of absolute monarchy. The discussion was organized by Rangsit University’s Faculty of Economics and the Heroes of Democracy Foundation. We had not heard any more on this case.

The Prachatai report, however, notes yet another case:

In 2016, Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, Deputy Police Chief, announced that nine people, including Sulak, and two corporations accused of lèse majesté for their involvement in a talk show aired in March 2013 called Tob Jod (The Answers) on Thai PBS, the only public TV channel in Thailand.

Tob Jod on 11-14 March and 18 March 2013 televised a debate on the lèse majesté law featuring Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an academic now in self-imposed exile in Europe, Sulak, Surakiart Sathirathai, former Deputy Prime Minister, and Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunchorn. The show was hosted by Pinyo Trisuriyathamma.

The five persons featured in the debate are among the nine accused.

We think Sulak holds the record for cases brought.





The academic 9

10 03 2016

It had to happen. The military dictatorship can simply not control itself on lese majeste. The longer it consumes the helium that seeps from its high position, the more bizarre become its lese majeste accusations and charges, not to mention the sentences meted out.

Prachatai reports that that nine persons are to be charged with lese majeste over the Tob Jote/ตอบโจทย์ television show in 2013. ThaiPBS aired the program on the monarchy and lese majeste law on 11-14 March and 18 March 2013. The series featured Somsak Jeamteerasakul, Sulak Sivaraksa, Surakiart Sathirathai and retired Police General Vasit Dejkunjorn, the latter a hard-boiled monarchist. The show hosted by Pinyo Trisuriyathamma. All are mentioned in the new set of charges, with four others.

In a post from some time ago PPT quoted the then army chief:

… Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha “has lashed out at the Tob Jote TV programme for broadcasting a debate over the role of the monarchy.” … He considers the “broadcast was inappropriate at a time of political conflict.” So the timing was wrong? Probably not. Prayuth doesn’t want any discussion of the role of the monarchy that goes outside the narrow boundaries of the official treacly narrative.

In the latest report, the “deputy police chief announced after a meeting of a police committee tasked for investigating lèse majesté cases that the committee has concluded that, within the scope of Article 112, the nine have allegedly committed crime. The officer, however, refrained from mentioning in details as to when the case file will be sent to the prosecutor office.”

The military monarchists are, as we have said previously, becoming increasingly unhinged as the king’s death approaches. That event will allow the military regime to extend its rule and manage a succession.