Apparently, having academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul outside Thailand and living in exile is insufficient for royalists and the military dictatorship. Reports at both Khaosod and Prachatai confirm that the junta is seeking to charge Somsak with lese majeste along with several others.
The report is that “[p]olice have reopened a criminal investigation into a former history professor who criticized the monarchy in a interview broadcast nearly three years ago…”.
Somsak has been pursued by many royalists and most especially by The Dictator himself for lese majeste, and it is never clear to us if any of these accusations have stuck. In any case, after the junta grabbed power, Somsak read the very clear tea leaves and took off for Paris.
Apparently, this is a new case and stems from “[s]everal people hav[ing] filed complaints of royal defamation against Somsak … since [his] … interview was aired March 2013 on Thai PBS…”.
ThaiPBS aired a “talk program on lèse majesté law…. The program Tob Joad (The Answers) was broadcast … on 11-14 March and 18 March 2013.” The series “featured Sulak Sivaraksa, an anti-lese majeste law royalist, Surakiart Sathirathai, former deputy prime minister, and Pol Gen Wasit Dejkunchorn. The show hosted by Pinyo Trisuriyathamma.”
According to police, no action has ever been taken on these complaints. This proves that police can be sensible, but they are now under great pressure from mad royalists in the junta and outside.
In fact, the deputy chief of Royal Thai Police is appointed to oversee the case or cases, showing just how mad and threatening things have become.
Apparently the deputy chief has to view the show and decide “whether it is considered illegal.” He’s right to use the word “considered” because the letter of the law simply doesn’t matter in Thailand under the military dictatorship.
If he decides that someone – let’s say an erratic dunce like General Prayuth Chan-ocha – “considers” the content lese majeste, then “Somsak and other people involved in the TV program will be charged under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, which outlaws any negative remark about the Royal Family, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.” This might include “executives of Thai PBS TV station…”.
All of this relates to a 12 March 2013 interview with Somsak, then a history professor at Thammasat University, on the monarchy and the constitution, where he suggested that the royals exceeded the “limits imposed by the legal framework of the modern constitutional monarchy.”
The programs from the show Tob Jote are available at YouTube. Start here.
Of course, he’s right, but the mad monarchists seem to favor an absolute monarchy and a royal deity.