United royalists want lese majeste law toughened

14 01 2012

Yesterday PPT added an update to its post on blue-bloods calling for lese majeste reform. In that update, we noted that yet one more yellow-shirt group has been formed to “protect the monarchy.”

According to The Nation, that group – calling itself “Sayam Prachapiwat” or Siamese People’s Progress – this “group of royalist academics from eight universities,” as part of an orchestrated yellow-shirted campaign, has issued a remarkably backward, even fascist, “manifesto.”

It began by “attacking those who want to amend or abolish the lese majeste law and vowing to fight what they called the monopoly of Thai politics by a ‘capitalist political party’.” Here they mean the Puea Thai Party and they are specifically rejecting election results. That is not surprising. After all, this is a yellow shirt group that draws inspiration from the anti-democratic elements of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

The group includes “26 academics from eight universities including Chulalongkorn and Thammasat.” As we noted yesterday, the spokesman is a NIDA academic. The reactionary academics stated that:

… no one should touch the lese majeste law and that the penalty for violating it should be made more severe, because there exists a movement to defame and abolish the monarchy institution.

Law lecturer – yes, apparently that is the correct designation – Komsan Pho-kong, from Sukhothai Thammathirat University stated that

the “real problem” is not the lese majeste law but “an attempt by some to establish a new Thai state“, referring to the perceived threat of republicanism.

This new ultra-royalist group

accused the Nitirat group of law lecturers, which will launch its public campaign to amend the lese majeste law on Sunday at Thammasat University, of exploiting their academic status to push forward a “hidden agenda” to undermine the monarchy.

For Nitirat’s agenda, see this lengthy document. There seems little that is hidden in that, and this week Nitirat will re-launch its campaign to eradicate the laws established by the 2006 coup and military junta. Indicating just how reactionary this new group is, one member stated that Nitirat “speaks like Latin American revolutionaries…”.

Of course, the academics who are members of the so-called Sayam Prachapiwat or Siamese People’s Progress are supporters of the coup. They do not see the military as problematic. Rather, they are opposed to elections that “their” party never wins. So:

The group insisted that military dictatorships’ domination of Thai society is over and the sole threat is that of the so-called “capitalist political party”, which it said is corrupt.

Remarkably, this fascist-like group argues for a reduction in political freedoms:

Komsan added that most Thais do not understand what liberty is all about. The Siam Prachapiwat group stated in its manifesto that Thailand is facing a “crisis of [too much] liberty”. “There exists the overuse of liberty, leading society toward anarchy,” part of the manifesto reads.

The Nation notes the group’s links to PAD. It is thus no surprise that it includes the deeply yellow PAD activist Charas Suwanmala of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, who is also associated with that other PAD front organization, the so-called multi-colored group. Charas is claiming that, as he did in the past, he will organize anti-Thaksin Shinawatra “academic seminars.” He promises “discussions” of the “monopolisation of Thai politics” by the Pheu Thai Party.”

Echoes of the early 2008 PAD activities are not coincidental.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post has a report that indicates how a yellow-shirted campaign has been orchestrated. Tul Sitthisomwong, also of Chulalongkorn University and a yellow shirt stalwart plans to mobilize his multi-colors to “campaign in opposition to any move to change the lese majeste law.”

In a related move, Tul will rally his followers to “show its opposition to the cabinet’s resolution to pay compensation to relatives of protesters killed and injured in the anti-government protests…”. He reckons that the amounts “was too high, because the budget comes from the people’s taxes…”.

Also joining in is a senate committee that “opposes moves to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, saying those who are against the law might have a hidden agenda.” In other words, the same statement as the fascist academics noted above.

Senator Pornphan Boonyarataphan, appointed to the Senate under the military junta’s rules and chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Follow-up Committee, made the standard royalist claim that the lese majeste law is in line with the laws of other countries. This is a point that has repeatedly been shown to be false. The unelected senator went further:

The senator said the committee will send a letter to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, asking it to protest against United Nations rights official Frank La Rue’s call for the government to make changes to Section 112 after the Criminal Court sentenced a 61-year-old man to 20 years in jail after finding him guilty of lese majeste.

She expressed a position also made in the Manager, a PAD mouthpiece in rather more derogatory terms:

Those who want Section 112 of the Criminal Code changed don’t actually want the law to be more lenient but their target is to allow people to insult, defame, create malice and cause the institution not to tolerate any longer.

While that last sentence might be a bit mangled, the intention is clear. With the anti-Thaksin forces increasing their level of mobilization, the next week or so will see an interesting clash of ideas about the structure of Thai politics.

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