Down the royalist rathole

12 11 2021

With the king having decamped back to Germany, the judiciary has stepped up. Some saw this as the deep state at work. However, the judiciary is both obvious and shallow. That said, it is certainly playing the role allocated to it by the regime and its masters.

At Thai Enquirer, Sunai Phasuk from Human Rights Watch is quoted: “The ruling today is essentially a judicial coup that replaces constitutional monarchy in Thailand with absolute monarchy…”. That’s exactly what regime and palace have been working for since the mid-2010s.

On the Constitutional Court’s decision, the same paper quotes academic Tyrell Haberkorn on “a fundamentally dangerous moment”:

“The Constitutional Court’s sleight of hand in equating the activist’s call for reform with revolt — defined in Article 113 of the Criminal Code and punishable with up to life imprisonment or the death penalty — is legally and politically dangerous,” she said.

“To put this in the starkest terms, if the Office of the Attorney General were to bring charges on the basis of this ruling, [the pro-] democracy activists could face the death penalty for the peaceful expression of opinion. That the Constitutional Court has made this ruling with the stated goal of the preservation of democracy is both cynical and incorrect. Democracy and criminalization of peaceful expression of opinion are not compatible.”

What is clear is that with all discussion of the monarchy now made illegal – apart from royalist honey and tripe – the most ultra of royalists are buoyant and calling for more. More repression, more charges, more jailings, less bail, longer sentences and more.

Thai PBS reports that ultra-royalist stooge Paiboon Nititawan, currently with the junta-invented Palang Pracharat Party is jubilant, declaring that the “Constitutional Court’s ruling will strengthen the monarchy [as if it needed it!] and is legally binding on the police, prosecutors and courts, as well as the Election Commission in taking legal action against individuals or political parties whose activities or conduct are deemed to be a threat to the constitutional monarchy.”

Expect, he implies, more charges and the dissolving of opposition parties. The first targets will be the Move Forward Party and Puea Thai (again).

Meanwhile, Senator Somjet Boonthanom “warned any legislator advocating amendments to lèse majesté law or reform of the monarchy to exercise extreme caution as they may now be accused of attempting to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.” He added that “amending the lèse majesté law in parliament … is doomed as a consequence of the court’s ruling.”

Jade Donavanik, said to be a legal scholar, told Thai Enquirer “that if a political party is found guilty of supporting an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy system, they could be dissolved and the Constitutional Court’s ruling could be used to support a petition for the dissolution.”

In the Bangkok Post, Deputy Prime Ministers Wissanu Krea-ngam and Gen Prawit Wongsuwan warned student protesters. They were “warned … to be careful as they can no longer cite their rights and liberties for their actions as they did previously because the court ruled that such actions were not an exercise in rights and freedom under the constitution.”

The police are now hard at work and it is expected that more lese majeste, sedition and treason charges will follow.

It is pretty clear where this is all going: down the royalist rathole.

The response from students has been to firmly reject the court. Let’s see where that leads. Royalists tend to react in nasty ways and the students are now left with few avenues for peaceful and legal protest into the future.


On the military’s charter and its referendum

16 06 2016

Interesting developments are being reported as the junta’s referendum on the military’s draft charter approaches. As everyone knows, the junta has tried desperately to prevent critical discussion of the undemocratic charter.

Over the past few days we have posted on attempts to stifle red shirts, even when they claim to be supporting the referendum as a process.

Khaosod reports that the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein “called on Thailand’s military government to respect the electorate’s right to freely deliberate the proposed constitution before voting whether to adopt it as the law of the land.”

This is probably horrifying for the junta and “evidence” of a conspiracy against it.

The UN High Commissioner also “raised the ‘paradoxical’ suppression of debate on a matter going to public vote in less than two months…”. For the junta, it is not paradoxical. It is the norm. This is not a “real” referendum and people are not permitted to debate, anything political.

The Commissioner declares that “[t]he people of Thailand have a right to discuss – and to criticize – decisions about their country, and free, fair and dynamic public debate on the draft constitution is vital if the country is to return to sustainable democracy…”.

For the junta, the High Commissioner simply displays a failure to understand its kind of “democracy,” which involves nothing that is democratic, apart from the moniker.

For us, the Commissioner’s use of the junta’s terminology – “sustainable democracy” – is a step too far, for the High Commissioner must understand that the junta’s referendum is anti-democratic. It has to be rejected in speeches as much as in the referendum. (We continue to harp on the stupidity of a referendum on a large document with a simple Yes/No response.)NO ref

The “Jordanian prince” – we imagine that has some significance in royalist Thailand – also  expressed concern “about the increasing use of military courts…”.

The “architect of the referendum,” the anti-election Election Commissioner and junta clown, Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, decided to “challenge” the High Commissioner, demanding that he be”specific about allegations Thai citizens’ rights have been curtailed in deliberating the charter draft.”

Yes, we think Somchai is serious in this statement. He has shown himself to be so dull and so silly that we simply have to believe he is accurately reported.

Silly Somchai stated: “Initially, His Excellency should clearly specify what freedom do [Thai] people not have in relation to this referendum?” PPT has umpteen examples, Prachatai has plenty and the rest of the media regularly report the junta’s threats and intimidation.

Silly Somchai decided to dig his clown hole deeper still, declaring: “As the organizer [the EC], we think people have freedom and are not being curtailed in any way … adding however that using language deemed ‘lewd’ or encouraging people to vote one way or the other has been criminalized by the military government.” He’s lying. The junta has repressed and has also been campaigning for the charter.

We are encouraged to see that Puea Thai Party politicians have decided to speak out despite the repression (maybe because of it). Prachatai reports that “[m]ore than 10 Pheu Thai politicians have simultaneously denounced [on Facebook] the junta’s charter draft for its undemocratic origin and content, adding that they will turn it down in the August referendum.” Later reports had the count up to 17.

Variously, they stated that the military’s draft charter is undemocratic, lacks guarantees of rights and freedom, will bring long-term political suffering if passed, because it is difficult to amend, had no popular participation, “enhances the dictatorship’s power”

Weerakarn Musikapong [Veera Musigapong], “a former key leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, aka the red shirts movement,” posted this: “I’m confused whether it is a constitution or an amnesty bill for the junta. I cherish rule of law so I reject this charter…”.

The Bangkok Post reports that a junta friend and former member of the 2006 junta General Somjet Boonthanom, also a former senator and a “former chairman of the National Legislative Assembly’s committee vetting the referendum bill demanded the politicians be charged under the referendum law. (Somjet has reaped the rewards that fall to loyalist generals.)

The anti-democrat general declared that the politicians “appeared to be manipulative and intended to incite unrest during the referendum…”. Obviously rubbish and concocted, but like Somchai, Somjet is a junta puppet, a committed anti-democratic and rather dim.

As the referendum gets closer, it will become increasingly clear whether the junta remains committed to the charter and referendum or whether this is a diversion from its major goal of staying in control of politics.

Further updated: Bring on the coup, again and again and again

24 10 2012

In our last post, PPT mentioned the many times that Pitak Siam [Protecting Siam] boss and retired Army officer General Boonlert Kaewprasit had demanded and pleaded for a military coup. Sad old soldier Boonlert has repeatedly urged soldiers to protect the monarchy, save Thailand from the boffins at Nitirat with a coup, warned or talked of a military coup to prevent “disrespect” being shown to the monarchy, of another coup to protect General Prem Tinsulanonda. A military coup for Boonlert is a solution for many ills, a bit like any normal person might take a painkiller for a headache or other pain.

Hence it is no surprise at all when this old pain-ridden retiree calls again for a … yawn … coup. The old coupster “said he would have staged a coup by now if he was in a position to do so, claiming the country is being run by a ‘puppet government’.” If people were confused about what he really wanted, Boonlert explained:

I’d love to see a coup because I know this puppet government is here to rob the country. Several sectors of society can’t take it anymore. If I had the power a coup would have been staged by now….

Boonlert is a bit of a dunce, but such manipulable dolts are useful for others to use. But surely they could script him better. When he claims that the Yingluck Shinawatra government “has not only stood by as offensive criticism has been hurled against the monarchy, but it has appeared to encourage it,” he sounds as if he has lost his marbles.

Boonlert said his “organisers hope to draw about 25,000 people to fill up the Royal Turf Club stadium” when Pitak Siam rally on Sunday. Still looking for his marbles he then says “the rally has no political backing or funding…”. In another story on Boonlert, the Bangkok Post explains that the backers/supporters are all ultra-royalists: “…Tul Sitthisomwong, scholar sic.] Pramote Nakhonthap, Senator Somjet Boonthanom and activist [sic.] Adm Chai Suwannaphap.”

Adding more to the Boonlert story, the Bangkok Post decides that the silly old duffer is “widely respected…”. Yes, seriously, that is the term they use. Why? the old gun polisher “is a classmate of privy councillor and former premier Surayud Chulanont, who came to power after the Sept 19, 2006 putsch toppled Thaksin.” What a (non)surprise! Boonlert is secretary of the Royal Turf Club and General Surayud is president of the club. What a (non)surprise!

Update 1: A reader points out that the Bangkok Post should have noted that under the military junta’s 2007 Constitution, Section 68 states:

No person shall exercise the rights and liberties prescribed in the Constitution to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution or to acquire the power to rule the country by any means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.

Boonlert is thus proposing an unconstitutional and unlawful act, and he does so repeatedly.

Update 2: Further on The Nation’s beat up and bias, the Bangkok Post has two stories where both the premier and the UDD state the right of Pitak Siam to peacefully rally. Yingluck stated that “she was ready to listen to opinions aired at the rally…”. Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa stated that

… the rally on Oct 28 would likely be joined by a group of national development participants, who were former communist insurgents who defected to the authorities a long time ago. He said there are five groups of “national development participants” and those joining the rally belong to a group of 300-400 people who had already received assistance and compensation from the government while Gen Surayud Chulanont was prime minister.

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.


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.

Updated: Appointing royalists to consider constitutional (non-)amendment

23 02 2012

In a remarkable report at The Nation, it is reported that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed royalists – including some associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy – to “study how to improve the Constitution…”. In the language of the British, this is a stitch-up. Some background first.

The alleged “experts” are appointed “because the ombudsmen were required by Article 244 of the Constitution to evaluate charter enforcement and provide advice on how to improve the charter.”  The appropriate section of the military’s 2007 constitution states:

Section 244. The Ombudsmen have the powers and duties as follows: … (3) to monitor, evaluate and prepare recommendations on the compliance with the Constitution including considerations for amendment of the Constitution as deemed necessary;

In other words, the Ombudsmen is not required to do this, as reported. A decision must be taken to do it. PPT guesses that this decision also relates to Section 245, which states:

The Ombudsmen may submit a case to the Constitutional Court or Administrative Court in the following cases:

(1) if the provisions of any law begs the question of the constitutionality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the organic law on rules and procedure of the Constitutional Court;

 (2) if rules, orders or actions of any person under section 244 (1) (a) begs the question of the constitutionality or legality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Administrative Court and the Administrative Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the Act on Establishment of the Administrative Courts and Administrative Courts Procedure.

We likewise guess that these appointments are part of a process that will seek to invalidate amendments to the constitution. The Bangkok Post reports: “A source at the Office of the Ombudsman said the advisory board was set up out of concern the charter’s chapter covering the monarchy may be amended.” PPT would be staggered if that were the case.

The “experts” appointed are:

Noranit Settabut, who was the chairman of the military junta-appointed 2007 Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA)

Wissanu Krua-ngarm (sometimes Krea-ngam), a former deputy prime minister under Thaksin Shinawatra, but one of those who jumped ship and went to the support of the royalists. Since then, he has accrued a remarkable number of company directorships, perhaps as his reward. He was mentioned in a Wikileaks cable: “Prem had signaled his intentions and intimidated two cabinet members (Cabinet Secretary Borwornsak Uwanno and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam) into resigning in June. Pansak claimed that Prem had sent a clear signal by asking their view on whether constitutional provisions allowing the King to take on a political role might be invoked in the event of Thaksin’s death.”

Bowornsak Uwanno, secretary-general of King Prajadipok’s Institute and mentioned in the above cable and this one too.On his resignation as Thaksin’s government spokesman, Bowornsak spent some time in an elite temple and wrote articles extolling the wonders of monarchy and defending lese majeste as a process of rehabilitation to the royalist elite. PPT had this description of him, mentioning his record of political promiscuity.

Surapol Nitikraipot is a former rector of Thammasat University and an appointed member of the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly.

Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of National Institute of Development Administration. Sombat is one of the most compromised of academics, having been harshly critical of red shirts, supportive of all post-coup governments and of yellow shirts. He has been solidly conservative, even rallying his fellow academics at NIDA to oppose those he sees as pro-Thaksin Shinawatra, including outspoken and baseless  attacks on the current government and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Back in April 2010, he was one of the academics signing a statement opposing red shirts, along with card-carrying royalists and PAD supporters Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Charas Suwanmala and Pramote Nakhonthap. In June 2010, Abhisit Vejjajiva appointed Sombat to head a constitutional review panel. That panel did nothing and sank into oblivion except for recommending a change to the system of appointing the prime minister taht was meanrt to help the Democrat Party. Even the Democrat Party didn’t jump on that totally biased suggestion.

Thiraphat Serirangsan, former PM’s Office minister in the Surayud Chulanont government appointed by the military junta in 2006. He got his position mainly through his close relationship with self-proclaimed coup planner and well-known royalist and political manipulator Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri.

Charas Suwanmala is a former dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, former member of the of the military junta-appointed 2007 CDA and one of the best-know yellow-shirted academics in Thailand. In August 2010 he supported moves to prevent students demonstrating against Abhisit. Charas is a well-known and staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April 2010 he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed at that rally.

Parinya Thewanarumitkul, vice rector of Thammasat, is generally considered reasonably independent, having been critical of the Puea Thai Party and red shirts prior to the last election and also critical of the military’s 2007 constitution.

The only two who are relatively unknown quantities, at least to PPT, are Kittisak Porakati, a law lecturer of Thammasat and Supachai Yavaprabhas, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science. If readers know more about them, we’d be pleased to update this post.

That means that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed seven well-known and outspoken partisan “experts,” making a mockery of the claim that “the opinions of the advisers of the ombudsman would be neutral…”. Rather, the Ombudsman appears partisan and biased.

The first meeting of this sub-committee of the PAD Ombudsman is due to be held next week. Don’t expect anything other than partisan politicking from this lot.

You get the general idea of where all this is going in The Nation, where it is reported that the political allies of the panel of “experts” is opposed to any suggestion of rewriting a constitution that was written at the behest of a military junta and is meant to be able to be revised in parliament. Indeed, the current government has won two elections (as People’s Power Party and then as Puea Thai) where it promised amendments as part of its policies.

The Nation reports that the PAD has “issued a statement opposing the ruling coalition’s attempt to rewrite the Constitution in a way that would “allow Thailand to come under the grip of parliamentary dictatorship by evil political capitalism”. That’s all PADspeak for Thaksin and its disdain for voters and elections that produce outcomes it hates. It has called a rally for 10 March.

Meanwhile, a group of 50 senators is also opposed. This is the usual suspects in the Senate, mostly appointed under junta-established rules in the 2007 constitution. They include Surajit Chiravet, Somjet Boonthanom, Kamnoon Sidhisamarn and Rosana Tositrakul. Rosana was clear: she reckoned the whole process of constitutional amendment was “to whitewash the wrongdoing of a certain former prime minister.”Like other royalists, they see rewriting the charter as “tantamount to overthrowing the 2007 Constitution.”

PAD’s words were only slightly different, viewing the “ruling coalition’s amendment as an attempt to overthrow the charter, which is an illegal act against the Constitution.” Of course, all of them simply ignore the actual provisions in the constitution for changing it in Section 291. But it isn’t the constitution they seek to “defend” but the system of elite rule under the monarchy, emblazoned in the junta’s constitution. Expect others from the anti-Thaksin alliance of the past few years to rejoin PAD and the opposition to constitutional reform.

Update: And just to remind readers that the opposition to the charter amendment is a yellow-shirt rallying point, the Democrat Party has made essentially the same points as PAD and the appointed senators in opposing change. The old team is very firmly reunited.

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.”


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.

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