Corrected: The Democrat Party, Thaksin and the political court

23 07 2012

The Democrat Party continues its attacks against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. At The Nation it is reported that Democrat Party MP Thepthai Senpong “assailed” Thaksin “for attempting to discredit the Constitution Court and criticising its verdict in the charter-change case.”

One of the comments Thaksin made was at the Wall Street Journal, where it is reported he said:

the constitution needs to be revised to make it more democratic, since it was written in the wake of the 2006 coup.

“I would like to urge everybody in Thailand, especially the Constitutional Court, that Thailand needs to move forward in a democratic manner, not just like this,” he said. “This is not good for the country.”

On that, he is correct. PPT considers that the sham verdict deserves considerable criticism and the court itself must be considered a corrupt and politically-manipulated institution (for background, readers can search our site using the tag “Constitutional Court). Indeed, it is the Democrat Party that has benefited much from the biased decisions emanating from the royalist court.

The Democrat Party believes – quite rightly – that the Constitutional Court is its best ally in its never-ending battle with Thaksin. This is not just because the court has saved the Democrat Party, but because the court is part of a royalist cabal with the Party.

This alliance also receives support from the ultra-royalist extremists such as the Siam Samakki group leader Prasarn Maruekphitak who also hammered Thaksin for daring to criticize the kangaroo court’s “verdict.”

[Corrected] The royalists and ultra-royalists remain desperate in their desire to protect the military junta’s undemocratic constitution, fearing further democratization.





Updated: Junta member gives evidence to the junta’s court

6 07 2012

The Bangkok Post reports that:

Senator Somjate Boonthanom, one of the 16 witnesses for the petitioners against the controversial charter amendment bill, said he was confident he had provided crystal clear testimony backing up his cause during the court’s hearing of petitions against the government-sponsored bid on Thursday.

The Post tells us that:

Gen Somjate was speaking after being called to testify as a witness before the Constitution Court as it holds a two-day inquiry … into the legality of the charter change bid.

And then it explains that:

Gen Somjate, who was also one of the five people who petitioned the court, said he was not worried about the court hearing because he could respond to all of the questions asked by the bill’s proposers.

In all of this, the reporters at the Bangkok Post forget to tell their readers who this military general actually is, at least in this important story.

For one thing, Somjet is the former chief of the secretariat of the Council for National Security that toppled the government of Thaksin Shinawatra in the 19 September 2006 coup.

That is, Somjet was a member of the junta that first illegally conspired and then acted to overthrow and elected government and the 1997 constitution. This act was illegal. In other words, Somjet is alleging that others, using parliament and quite legal measures to find a broad method for altering the junta’s constitution, are doing something illegal. In fact, they aren’t, and Somjet is one of those who should be in jail for an illegal act that overthrew the government and constitution in 2006. Of course he and his junta buddies passed a law that made their action “legal.”

The Post might also add that an appointed senator and a leader of the Siam Samakkhi group. That means he is a senator appointed to the senate by his buddies in the military junta, under rules they invented and that he is the leader of a bunch of ultra-royalist fascists.

As a footnote, it is worth recalling that, back in 2009, the Bangkok Post (6 April 2009) reported that “military officers and businessmen who backed the 2006 coup that unseated Thaksin Shinawatra have offered a bounty of one million baht (about $28,348) for his arrest and return to Thailand.”

Somjet reckons that it is “Thaksin is the root cause of the [country’s political] problem[s].” Somjet has repeatedly used lese majeste accusations against Thaksin and red shirts.

That Somjet is a witness on the alleged illegality of a constitutional act is highly dubious. We can hardly think of a more disingenuous political act in recent times. We imagine that Somjet looks in the mirror each morning and tells himself he is not a lying, scheming fool. We guess he believes that voice in his head. But then he is giving junta evidence to a court that owes its existence to the military junta. It is a magic circle club.

Update: The Nation has another report that cites the disreputable General Somjet. It says the General “the constitutional amendment bill to a coup d’etat that abolishes the charter.” He is reported to have said: “The only difference is that in a coup, guns are used…”. What more needs to be said? The dopey General can’t tell the difference between a process sanctioned by elections and parliamentary processes and a military coup that destroys that process.

The same report piles on the illogical nonsense that this biased court has agreed to hear, quoting an “academic” and “lawyer” stating that, well, yes, the constitution does allow amendment, but… hold on, let me make something up…

Although the amendment is in line with Article 291, it is meant to destroy the current Constitution and this goes against the principles of democracy. The representatives [MPs and parliamentarians] are attempting to overrule a decision made by the owners of sovereignty [the general public]….

And, oh yes, the “general public” is not the same as “voters.” It seems that when you become a royalist you are required to suspend logic and law. Pity his students. Pity Thailand.

 





Further updated: The Constitutional Court simply has to be politically biased

8 06 2012

Kaewsan Atibhodhi has a long history of anti-Thaksin Shinawatra activism followed by deep engagement with the military junta after the 2006 military coup. He is a former member of the junta’s Assets Scrutiny Committee that was charged with investigating Thaksin and the claims of unusual wealth, policy corruption and so on.

He has recently joined the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group that has insistently rallied against constitutional amendments.  In March, at one of its rallies, along with its head, who is a former member of the post-coup military junta, and joined by a range of elite supporters like Tul Sitthisomwong and Chirmsak Pinthong, they cheered two thugs who had beaten up Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut. So much for rule of law amongst Siam Samakkhi and its supporters!

Kaewsan and his ultra-royalist buddy Tul

With all of this background, Kaewsan – a lawyer – is the perfect advocate for the Constitutional Court’s political and illegal intervention and his argument deserves attention.

At the Bangkok Post, Kaewsan states that those who petitioned the Court see “efforts to pass the charter amendment bill as an attempt by some legislators to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.”

The “evidence” for this claim is the attempt to “amend Section 291 of the constitution, which would allow a Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) to be set up to rewrite the charter.”

In fact, this move by the government is attempting to meet an earlier demand by the Democrat Party and other ultra-royalists for increased consultation beyond that currently in the constitution, where all the emphasis is on parliament.

Despite this concession, the ultra-royalists are unhappy and (again) conjure an anti-monarchy plot claim. Kaewsan says the:

“complainants believe the Pheu Thai Party will exert undue influence on the CDA as it is set up. They also expect the party to influence the public hearing process and the types of changes which will be made to the charter by their hand-selected assembly. The petitioners say they are concerned these amendments will eventually bring about the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy.

In other words, the case made by the petitioners is a sloppy collection of cockeyed ideology, guesses, and suppositions.

Even so, Kaewsan’s understanding is that the Court is on board with these beliefs and suspicions: “I understand that the Constitution Court wants to know how the charter will be rewritten.”

Kaewsan

Of course, the Court has no legal power to do this (see below). So Kaewsan “explains” that in:

“reviewing the petition, the court may interpret Section 68 of the constitution mainly in the political aspect, not the legal aspect.

If that isn’t clear, Kaewsan then embarks on a discussion of why the Court must be political:

If we consider the case in a purely legal light, it is correct … that the court does not have authority to suspend parliament’s readings of the constitution amendment bills.

Let’s repeat that: the Court has no legal authority. None. But that doesn’t stop the ultra-royalists like Kaewsan:

if we take into account the petitioners’ concerns about political manoeuvring, it is a different matter and the court’s decision to suspend proceedings can be understood….

He’s right. The Court’s illegal but political decision is easily understood as a politically-driven intervention based on royalist ideology and conspiracies:

The court made its decision because groups of people told the judges that moves are afoot to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

Of course, their ultra-royalist allies at the Constitutional Court believe such nonsense, so when they get the order to intervene they are more than willing to take politically-biased and illegal decisions. Kaewsan cheers them:

The court should consider overall conditions when making its decision, not just the legal aspects. Based on this overall premise, the court has authority to suspend the process.

Yes, the Constitutional Court is not about the law. It is about politics and double standards. Kaewsan makes this crystal clear.

What do the complainants (and the Court) see as the threat to the monarchy under a process of constitutional reform? Kaewsan says they:

believe the [Puea Thai] government will use off-parliamentary power _ the red-shirt groups _ to augment its majority in parliament to acquire a level of state power which may exceed what is provided in the constitution.

More supposition, ignoring the fact that, today, following the initial acts of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, even the Democrat Party has its own extra-parliamentary “power.”

As we noted, Kaewsan is a lawyer, so we might wonder why he condones illegalities and the destruction of the Courts by ultra-royalists. In fact, he has a long history of playing fast and loose with law. Back when he was with the ASC, he made the remarkable claim that “evidence and witnesses are useless,” when one of its panels recommended legal action against Thaksin without hearing 300 witnesses or considering 100 additional pieces of evidence (Bangkok Post, 9 April 2008).

Nothing much changes when it comes to the ultra-royalist opposition to Thaksin, to elections and to ideas about popular democracy. The “protection” of the monarchy and the system it symbolizes trumps law, constitution and the voice of the people.

Update 1: As an antidote to this ultra-royalist dissembling, two articles in The Nation may assist. The first, cites four legal experts: “Somchai Preechasilapakul, from the Law Faculty of Chiang Mai University said he wondered if the judiciary had any power over the legislature, the power of which is connected to the public”; “Chulalongkorn University law lecturer Manit Jumpa also said he disagreed with the court’s decision to accept the petitions…”; “Mano Thongpan, an academic on law who is formerly an executive of the Law Society of Thailand, said that he did not think this case required urgent attention from the Constitution Court”; “Political scientist Likhit Dhiravegin, speaking at the same seminar, also questioned the court citing Article 68 for its decision to accept the petitions directly from the people, not a state agency.” The second story involves the statement from the real agency responsible for assessing the constitutional reform/amendment=conspiracy to overthrow the monarchy claim, the attorney-general:

The Attorney General’s Office said yesterday that government-sponsored bills to amend the Constitution were not aimed at overthrowing the political system, as has been alleged in petitions filed separately by five groups of people.

Winai Damrongmongkolkul, a spokesman for the agency, told a press conference last night the Attorney-General decided not to forward the petitions to the Constitution Court. “The amendment bills will not result in changes to the political system that are unconstitutional,” he said.

Update 2: PPT has been watching Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s non-involvement as an indicator of her lack of attention and fortitude for anything controversial. The Nation reports today: “… PM Yingluck Shinawatra has decided to avoid what could be a contentious debate, saying she has a busy schedule until next week.” What’s so pressing? What trumps the Constitutional Court’s launching of yet another judicial coup? Well, there’s flood stuff. Visiting people and looking at flood preparations. Yes, floods and preventing them are important, but missing this debate is a capitulation.

 





Mellow yellow?

12 03 2012

Yes, we pinched the headline from a similar one at the Bangkok Post, but it seems to be a theme that has circulated in the media on the yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy’s recent rally-assembly for the 2000-3000 faithful.

PPT was working on a post on the media’s rush to welcome PAD’s apparent decision to abandon street rallies. This position has been expressed also at several political blogs around the place. However, Asian Correspondent has a post that does much of what were were doing, so we can point readers to that discussion.

We like the headline there, where PAD is said to have “abandoned street protests … for now.” The emphasis for us is on the last two words. PPT does not think PAD is finished. PAD is an anti-Thaksin alliance, and that alliance now evidences several different groups that work in coordinated ways – no colors/ multicolors/ Siam Samakkhi/ Green politics and so on.

These royalist groups have a common cause – anti-Thaksinism through the lens of “protecting the monarchy.” The only thing missing for their political mobilization is a motivation for political motivation at this moment. Hence, PAD makes it clear that they awaits a threat – of Thaksin returning or constitutional change that they can interpret as impacting the monarchy.

PAD’s  leader in Sondhi Limthongkul may be facing jail and he might be broke (or might not be), but the alliance is not without others who can step up when required.

We think the yellow shirts certainly have more life in them yet. Writing them off now, as much of the media has done, is to miss that PAD and its allies are political activists with considerable experience and they are not short of strategists who can identify when mobilization makes political sense.





Yellow protest, part 2

3 03 2012

This is essentially an update on our earlier post on the ultra-royalists and other yellow shirts coming together to oppose constitutional change. We are making it a new post because it deserves more attention than a simple update.

The Nation reports on the Siam Samakkhi group that rallied at Lumpini Park and was headed up by former military junta member and appointed senator Somjet Boonthanom and anti-Thaksin yellow shirts Kaewsan Atibhodhi, appointed senator Somchai Sawaengkarn and Seri Wongmontha. Apparently also featured were  Chirmsak Pinthong and Banjerd Singkaneti. We are assuming that this was the same event we posted on earlier, but the report is a little vague on this.

In any case, here’s the significant bit:

[The group began] their talk by jokingly thanking the twins arrested on Thursday over Wednesday’s assault on Worajet Pakeerat, a member of the Nitirat group…. While they do not support violence, tolerance has its limits, the panel members said.

Their comment is truly reprehensible and these people are to be condemned in the strongest terms.

Just as bad is the Democrat Party. Their Sathit Wongnongtoey is in the same report stirring up more violence by making patently false claims regarding constitutional amendment. Of course, Sathit is well known as a purveyor of fabrications.





The yellow protests begin

3 03 2012

A week or so ago, Tul Sitthisomwong and his so-called Citizen Network for Protection of Motherland gathered all of 30 supporters to protest at parliament and to submit “letters opposing charter amendments to representatives of both the lower and upper House opposing charter amendments.” They promised more protests. A couple of days later, the People’s Alliance for Democracy “threatening legal action and mass rallies in response to the government’s charter amendment bid.” PAD also promised more rallies against constitutional change.

Those threats came together as what the Bangkok Post called an “anti-Thaksin Shinawatra alliance has kicked off a campaign against rewriting the charter, vowing to step up their protests if an amendment is touted that would allow his return.” Well, hardly a kick-off, but the first major rally, drawing about “1,000 supporters of the Siam Samakkhi group, led by appointed senator Somjet Boonthanom, packed out Lumpini Hall in Lumpini Park yesterday to protest against the constitution amendment.” Somjet is a former general and military junta member involved in planning and implementing the 2006 coup and often uses Tul as a Siam Samakkhi organizer. His group is closely aligned with alliance partner, the Sayam Prachapiwat group of ultra-royalist academics.

Former coup leader Somjet made the ironic claim that any move to change the constitution was a “coup under the camouflage of democracy and parliamentary majority.” Supporting the generalissimo were Tul and anti-Thaksin yellow shirts Kaewsan Atibhodhi, appointed senator Somchai Sawaengkarn and “academic” – he’s really a media personality and ultra-royalist – Seri Wongmontha.

The point of opposing any amendment to the constitution was made crystal clear when General Somjet said: “The 2007 constitution hurt Thaksin more than anybody. This government is using the CDA as a tool to nullify the 2007 constitution, which is no different to staging a coup…”. He added that any amendment would somehow deliver the Puea Thai Party “absolute power.”

It was added that Siam Aamakkhi had a particular interest in the position of the monarchy – who knew!? – and it was keen to “deter” any “attempts to undermine the roles and the status of the institution of the monarchy especially through the charter rewrite process.” It was also claimed that this did not just relate to chapter 2 of the charter, for the “roles and the powers of the institution were not just limited to Chapter 2…”.

More joint rallies are planned.





They’re back with the same ideas and tactics

21 01 2012

At The Nation there is a report that deserves some attention simply because it is a distorted mirror of events in early 2008.

On Friday the ultra-nationalist and ultra-royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy held a public meeting “to mark the Chinese New Year” and the event saw its four core leaders “vowed to resume the struggle against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

Sondhi

Big boss Sondhi Limthongkul didn’t attend as he was in China, apparently receiving acupuncture treatment (at Chinese New Year??). Sounding decidedly Thaksin-like, he phoned in.

Showing how bereft of ideas and how anti-democratic the PAD is, Sondhi “said the military should stage a coup in cooperation with the people in order to wrestle a complete control of the country from Thaksin.”

In essence, Sondhi and PAD are sick of an electoral process where the “will of the people” is not what they want. We doubt this call is in line with Section 68 of the constitution, but PAD uses constitutions rather than accepts the principles embedded in them.

Pledging “a make-or break struggle,” Sondhi said that PAD isn’t going to just focus on street-level politics, “but a complete seizure of power…”.

In a harking back to the PAD of yore, Sondhi made the compulsory complaint that “he feared for the future of the monarchy if the Thaksin camp had its way.”

Another PAD leader Phipob Dhongchai said the movement “stood ready to step out and fight against the domination of rogue capitalists over the political system.” He mumbled something about “ethics” as his boss called for a coup….

Like Sondhi and his clique, Phipob hates the idea that people vote, but he drew solace from his claim that the Puea Thai Party only received a paltry 15 million votes. PPT recalls that the party of PAD, which kind of had a falling out amongst the leadership because they knew they were hopeless, got almost no votes. But still Phipob, sounding delusional if not fascist, states “PAD was ready to lead the people to victory in safeguarding the country.”

Another PAD leader, the former Democrat Party parliamentarian Somkiat Pongpaibul, “said he expected a final showdown with the Thaksin regime.” Never short of an outlandish fabrication, this time Somkiat borders on the maniacal when he:

claimed about the regime was contracting some 5,000 Cambodian and Vietnamese mercenaries to topple the monarchy in order to inaugurate a republic.

He expected “PAD will pour into the streets at the first sign of changing charter provisions pertaining the monarchy and granting amnesty for Thaksin…”.

Now he’s confused us, where did those mercenaries go??

Chamlong

PAD’s other leader, the always grinning Chamlong Srimuang said he was sure of “the invincibility of the people’s power.” Except, of course, the power of voters.

PPT will be interested to see how much traction PAD gets. Their front organizations in Tul Sitthisomwong’s multi-colors, the Sayam Prachapiwat anti-Nitirat lawyers, and Siam Samakkhi have been setting the scene for a full PAD rebirth.

We tend to think that it requires mis-steps by the Yingluck Shinawatra government for PAD to get much support. That is not to discount the possibility of support for PAD in high or armed places that would also provide impetus.





A tiny lese majeste crack?

18 12 2011

As readers know, the recent past has been especially bleak for those who harbored some hope that there might be some reform of the draconian Article 112. Sentences have been tough and the media has been filled by royalist chants on lese majeste as a political weapon, while the Yingluck Shinawatra government has taken the royalist bait and repeatedly tried to show it is “loyal” and tough on lese majeste.

But has a minute crack appeared in the edifice that is lese majeste repression? Probably not, but PPT thinks that a statement by Prime Minister Yingluck on lese majeste deserves some attention.

In the Bangkok Post, Yingluck is quoted as stating that “any proposed changes to the lese majeste law would need to pass through the parliamentary process…”. PPT can’t recall any recent premier even suggesting that changes to Article 112 might be considered by parliament. So maybe this is a breakthrough of sorts. But Yingluck quickly added that “her government would concentrate on tackling economic problems.”

So that doesn’t sound like Yingluck is going to take the law to parliament for amendment, but it does at least suggest that the idea of reform is not totally lost. On lese majeste, even infinitesimal movement is something.

Of course, changes to the law will be bitterly opposed by royalists. The current leader on all things royalist is the very yellow Tul Sitthisomwong of the Siam Samakkhi group who, on hearing Yingluck’s words, like one of Pavlov’s drooling dogs, immediately said his “group will rally at Lumpini Park on Friday to oppose moves to amend the lese majeste law.”

Meanwhile, opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is quoted as saying that “the government had to promote understanding about Section 112 to avoid international criticisms such as the remark by the United States that the law might have been used to limit freedom of expression.”

Recall that Abhisit, who considers himself a master communicator with gullible foreigners, tried to “promote understanding” on the law in 2009. Essentially, this involved lying about the law and about lese majeste victims. An early example was Abhisit’s speech at Oxford University, Abhisit was shown to be making patently false claims about lese majeste victims. Other falsehoods to foreigners were at New York’s Columbia University, in speeches in Europe and at the Council on Foreign Relations. At the latter he claimed all of his government’s repression and censorship did not impact “ordinary people.”

In other words, Abhisit is not in favour of reform on Article 112. How could he be? His government used the law more than any post-1932 government. But he is in favour of more PR on lese majeste. Based on his track record, this would seem to mean lying about the law and its use.

We hope that Yingluck’s words will come to mean something more than the lies and deceit of the Abhisit regime, but we won’t be holding our collective breath.





Royalists do the work of republicans

17 12 2011

All the current zeal associated with the current round of lese majeste madness is becoming difficult to follow. The Yingluck Shinawatra government, which all right thinking royalists know is “disloyal” has been in power as some of the harshest ever lese majeste sentences have been handed out, and some ministers sound like yellow to the core royalists.

Meanwhile, yellow shirts and other extreme royalists are making sure that the monarchy is at the center of all political debate. It is as if the royalists are doing the work of republicans. All in the name of “loving our king,” royalist antics make the monarchy weaker by the day.

At the moment the royalist cause is led by the Siam Samakkhi group of Tul Sitthisomwong and General Somjet Boonthanom. As noted in an earlier post, they seem to think that other countries and the United Nations are interfering in Thailand’s legal affairs. Now these royalists seem to have gone a step further and give the impression that they think foreigners are trying to bring down the monarchy.

At least that’s the impression one gets from the small but rowdy group of 200 die-hard royalists and supporters parading about at the U.S. embassy and U.N. building (see here and here). They called on these alleged foreigners to apologize “for interfering in Thailand’s internal affairs and for being disrespectful to the judicial system.” They also called on the United Nations and the U.S. to “stop whatever action and activities that might affect the constitutional monarchy of Thailand…” and to “stop all activities that might affect the bond between Thais and the monarchy…”.

Of course, all of this is a royalist charade. As we noted in our earlier post, the actions of Siam Samakkhi are aimed at Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister’s government. This action on lese majeste is simply a yellow-shirted code for attacking the government they hate and can never accept. Keeping a couple of hundred people on the streets on lese majeste is little different from suing the government on floods, opposing a supposed Thaksin pardon, and so on.

These skirmishes are part of a longer-term battle to destabilize and unseat the elected government. But the royalists play a dangerous game by making the monarchy and lese majeste their focus. Political struggle over the monarchy may be seen by royalists as their best weapon, but going nuclear on the monarchy will do little more than reveal its flaws and fallacies. So it is that royalists do the work of republicans, and very effectively too.





Defending the royalist system

16 12 2011

The Bangkok Post has a remarkable and revealing story on the front page of its Friday print edition, with the truly astounding headline: “Royalists step into lese majeste row.”

It is as if the Post thinks – or wants to convey the impression – that royalists haven’t been involved! What utter nonsense! From the time of the 2006 coup, palace, royalists and royalism have been at the center of political debate and “loyalty” and lese majeste has been the tool of political choice for royalists attacking opponents. That’s why the Democrat Party-led government under Abhisit Vejjajiva processed more lese majeste cases in two years than in the previous three decades.

The Post’s article is also revealing of how royalists are pursuing the battle against the elected government. It matters little to the royalists that the Puea Thai Party-led government under Yingluck Shinawatra has been pursuing lese majeste with considerable and unnecessary vigor, for the royalists know that any Shinawatra government is “disloyal.”

Tul

The royalist group Siam Samakkhi (United Siam), often fronted by yellow-shirt-cum-whatever-color-denotes-royalism leader Tul Sitthisomwong (in the Post account he is just a “member” of Siam Samakkhi), has decided that international comment by the UN, the US and the European Union, amongst others, is “attempting to interfere” in the country’s judicial system. This refers to international commentary regarding lese majeste and draconian sentencing, seemingly inconsistent with Thailand’s international obligations. It seems that, for Siam Samakkhi, only old men, big shots and those with bags of money are permitted to interfere with the judicial system.

Tul, not the brightest of sparks, claims that he was surprised by the negative international reactions to the draconian sentences the politicized Thai courts are currently throwing about in some bizarre lese majeste decisions. Tul blames Thaksin Shinawatra: “They [the international community] might have received some information from lobbyists.”

That is yellow-shirt code for Thaksin has bought the media/governments/international organizations. That has been a pretty common yellow-shirt claim over the past few years. Tul then claims: “The fact is the defendants went through a proper trial.” The less said about that lie the better, but royalists everywhere will agree with Tul. In fact, many of them would prefer not to even have to bother with trials for these “ungrateful children” who deign to say anything critical about “father.”

Siam Samakkhi reckons international critics lack “understanding of the constitutional monarchy” simply because “they called for reforms of the lese majeste law.” Given that just about every constitutional monarchy in the world has reformed lese majeste laws or reformed their use, this might simply suggest that Siam Samakkhi is out of touch with the modern world.

Siam Samakkhi leader, General Somjet Boonthanom, who is also one of the appointed senators that result from the 2007 military junta’s constitution, and who, while a senator, actively campaigned against the Puea Thai Party in the July election, activates decades-old defenses of lese majeste, throws in the defence of national security shibboleth, and adds new twists. Somjet claims that lese majeste is a protection against “hate speech.”

Confirming a point PPT has been making for some time, Siam Samakkhi alleged that the government was “shying away from protecting the constitutional monarchy and being tolerant to violations of the law and attempts to undermine faith in the monarchy by a politically driven group.” Of course, all of the current evidence is that this is complete nonsense, but as we have said, these royalists want the elected government to do its dirty royalist work.

You know the royalists are caballing and agitating when yellow-shirt leader Suriyasai Katasila, now claimed to be “coordinator of the Green Politics group,” also gets in on the “loyalty” act. He has gone off the deep end, warning “advocates of attempts to reform the lese majeste law not to be used as political tools by those with an intent to subvert the institution. While some advocates seek to reform the law to prevent it from being politically manipulated, others want it to be abolished entirely…. He said some of those who support reforms may be misled and are being used by those with a hidden agenda…”.

While this might seem like something of a Chicken Little claim in the current atmosphere of lese majeste repression, Suriyasai really does seem to make the claim that the sky is falling in order to rouse political emotions against the elected government and all those seen to support it, who, by his definition, are political tools of evil ones, republicans or misled. A bit like earlier claims about those who voted for pro-Thaksin parties being ignorant or paid.

The royalists have been all over the news and commentary programs on television as well, sprouting this message.

Meanwhile, the rote-learners over at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have defended the indefensible and supported the diligent use of the lese majeste law, “saying article 112 is not aimed at curbing people’s rights to freedom of opinion and expression nor the legitimate exercise of academic freedom, including debates about the monarchy as an institution.” That’s why academics are now scared witless about lese majeste charges. Thani Thongphakdi, director-general of the Department of Information continues to lie blatantly and unrepentantly on lese majeste while mouthing the words simultaneously used by Siam Samakkhi to defend Article 112.

The current government should draw a lesson from this kind of report. No matter how many people they arrest and jail for lese majeste, these royalists will never see it as a “loyal” government. Doing the work of these royalist zealots for them is a remarkably dumb political strategy. The sky may be falling as Suriyasai and others of his ilk claim, but their attacks (and the government’s lese majeste actions) will do little to arrest it. Indeed, they advance the process.