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.

Somsak ++ lese majeste accusations

26 02 2016

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…”.Somsak

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.

New “civilian junta” proposed

12 12 2013

At The Nation it is reported that the “People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has:

already has the name of the person it intends to nominate as interim prime minister, and has also drawn up the proposed membership of a “people’s council”.

…”Now we have someone [a candidate to be the next PM] who is sincere and not corrupt. [If] we cannot find someone who is [totally] innocent [in life], we can choose the most innocent…”.

It says it will “announce the names to the public immediately if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet resign from their caretaking duties…”. This would be the next element of what these extreme anti-democrats call a “revolution.”

According to the protest leaders:

… the structure of a people’s council would comprise groups representing different professions, civil society, government officers and the media, with the qualification that they have not been prosecuted for corruption or seizure of property, among things.

They plan to “fix” the constitution:

“We had learned from the lessons of the National Legislative Assembly and Constitution Drafting Committee. And we would prevent the people’s council from making  the same mistakes as them…”.

 If you can’t win an election, you change the rules.

None of this is new. The Asia Times Online reports, with PPT emphasis:

In the lead-up to the 2008 court-ordered dissolution of Thaksin’s brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat’s government, a People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest leader suggested that the Constitutional Court and other high court judges had considered the creation of a “Supreme Council” to fill the expected political vacuum to be left by its ruling. Then, royal advisory Privy Councilor and known palace favorite Palakorn Suwanarat was reportedly tipped to serve as the Supreme Council’s appointed premier.

… According to one international mediator, the NACC has [now] fast-tracked its investigations and could rule in the coming days. Some royalists reckon that could open a political and legal vacuum that allows for the formation through court order of a royalist People’s Council. Behind-the-scenes moves are being made in that direction. One list of proposed People’s Council members reviewed by Asia Times Online bids to balance known royalists with once-Thaksin allies who switched political sides after the 2006 coup.

The list includes: Privy Councilor Palakorn as prime minister; former Thaksin ally cum coup maker General Anupong Paochinda as deputy premier for security; former Thaksin-appointed commerce minister Somkid Jatusripitak as deputy prime minister for economics; hard-line anti-Thaksin royalist General Saparang Kalayanamit as defense minister; Thaksin-era foreign minister and royally connected Surakiart Sathirathai as foreign minister; former Thaksin and coup-appointed finance minister Pridiyathorn Devakula in the same role.

Little has changed since 2005 for the extreme anti-democrats.

Lese majeste fundamentalism

19 03 2013

In the state of bourbon and horse racing there is a world of make believe called Creation Museum. It advertises itself thus:

The state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Majestic murals, great masterpieces brimming with pulsating colors and details, provide a backdrop for many of the settings.

One dinosaur and some unelected royalist senators

One dinosaur and some unelected royalist senators

The idea that dinosaurs and children played together suggests that The Flintstones was a documentary. After reading about their latest bleatings, PPT imagine that the “Museum” will want to include the Group of 40 knuckle-dragging, unelected senators from Thailand, for they are still cavorting with dinosaurs.

Just as we finished posting a reference to four Neanderthal senators, the whole group of 40 yellow-shirted, military supporting royalist ninnies have begun a new campaign for a Stone Age Thailand. This bunch are reported to have:

lashed out at the ‘Tob Jote Thailand’ television talk show featuring a debate on the role of the monarchy under the constitution and the necessity to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, saying it could be deemed lese majeste.

Well, yes, if you are an extremist wanting to suppress reasonable conversation.

Appointed first by the military-backed regime, Truengchai Buranasompop “found the opinions voiced by the two academics very offensive and detrimental to Thai society.” She babbled a bit of “royalist creationism” and polished royal posterior. She was joined by Jate Sirataranont, who has a similar political profile who declared “the show hurt and outraged the Thai people.” Well, 20 of them, anyway, counting their kids. They were the ones who showed up to complain at PBS.

Another one, a former General, Lertrit Vejsawan, who is a former director of army-run TV Channel 5, displayed his qualifications as an enemy of the media and freedom of expression by declaring that “the contents of the programme constituted lese majeste.” As might be expected from a former general, he wants “punitive action against those involved.” Another one – Pornpan Boonyaratphan – agreed on the lese majeste charge, claiming that Somsak and Sulak quoted the king’s words, but without sufficient respect.

Interestingly, these unelected ninnies have failed to notice, in the words of a PBS statement:

that a day before that we invited former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai. And to not make the audience feel uncomfortable, we later invited retired police general Vasit Dejkunjorn, who is a well known royalist….

Whenever these royalist reactionaries have been agitated in the recent past, the Yingluck Shinawatra government has run for cover. Let’s see how they deal with royalists this time.

Don’t jail Abhisit and Suthep!

16 09 2012

Former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai is reported in the Bangkok Post on the Truth for Reconciliation Commission’s forthcoming report on the Battle for Bangkok in April and May 2010.

Surakiat spent most of his time as foreign minister lobbying to have himself made secretary-general of the United Nations, and soon after the 2006 coup managed to convert himself back from a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra minister to a buddy of the junta’s government. His palace links must have assisted greatly. We think his greatest claim to fame is having the most enormous ego in Southeast Asia.

In this report, Surakiat is quoted as “an adviser to the TRC.” He is said to have “voiced concern that the TRC report may be exploited to launch criminal proceedings against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban.”

We wonder how Abhisit and Suthep are reacting to the idea that they are named in a manner that could lead to prosecution?

He went on to say that “bringing criminal charges against Mr Suthep would not help the national reconciliation process.” Rather, Surakiat thinks that a “public apology would be a better way to reconcile political differences…”, explaining that: “To apologise and forgive is not to let the perpetrators go scot-free…”.

We guess that Surakiat is suggesting that the royalist elite, which has never had to apologize for anything – killing, injuring, abducting, torture, its jails, its ill-gotten gains, and so on – may feel deeply embarrassed by having to apologize to the citizens of the nation they consume with gay abandon (yes, they are the terms we mean). Frankly, we think that this elite boy’s club has to be controlled and curbed, not by more back-rubbing and winking, but with measures that tell the elite that the country is not theirs alone, and they must learn that there must be limits to their greed and impunity.

Wikileaks and “military normal” in 2006

18 03 2012

In a Wikileaks cable on 22 September 2006, the U.S. Embassy continued to preach that, despite a military coup, tanks on the street, the 1997 constitution trashed under the junta’s boot, at least eight pro-Thaksin Shinawatra people detained by the junta, and an elected government smashed by a military command acting in collusion with the palace, and the beginning of anti-coup actions, that things are getting back to normal in Bangkok.

That must be military-normal for the embassy functionaries, for none of this would seem normal for PPT. And nor did it appear in any way normal at the time.

The cable, sent in the name of Ambassador Ralph Boyce,  begins with the cheery note that, “[l]ife in Bangkok continued to normalize on September 22.” The next line, stating that “[t]roops remain posted at several key locations downtown and the CDRM publicly announced that several unit rotations would be under way over the weekend,” seems not to enter the realm of the abnormal. In most places, troops on the streets is simply not normal.

But the embassy’s measure of normalcy descends into a kind of expatriate joke: “Traffic returned to its usual snarled format.” We guess cloistered embassy officials notice this as their limousines pull out onto Wireless Road.

The cable then refers to transfers of pro-Thaksin officials in the police and other security forces before turning to a breezy account of more normalcy: royalists already .” These included the usual suspects: Meechai Ruchupan, Bowornsak Uwanno and Wissanu Krea-ngam, with the last two having just jumped from the Thaksin Shinawatra government to the royalist coup plotters. The military had put them to work immediately.

The embassy also reproduces a post-coup statement by Thaksin that sounds very 2012:

The event in Thailand during the last two days should not detract from my main aim of national reconciliation. Therefore, he (sic) would like to urge all parties to find ways and means to reconcile and work towards national reconciliation for the sake of our King and country. We hope the new regime will quickly arrange a new general election and continue to uphold the principles of democracy for the future of all Thais.

Another former Thaksin supporter is mentioned as having jumped ship and quickly begun lapping at the boots of the generals. This is the ever ambitious:

Surakiart (L) with someone who looks remarkably like Moe, one of the Three Stooges

Former Deputy Prime Minister and candidate for UN Secretary General Surakiart Sathirathai [who] returned to Bangkok Wednesday and immediately began to shed his ties to the ousted PM. Telling reporters that he thanked the CDRM for their support for his UNSG candidacy, he denied having talked to Thaksin in New York about the coup. Local media had a field day in contrasting these comments with Surakiart’s live statement to CNN on Tuesday night, when he strongly defended Thaksin and suggested that the coup was faltering.

There’s no surprise in this level of horrid self-promotion is pretty much par for the course for Surakiart. In fact, his actions, the pro-military junta musings of the ambassador, and the role of other hirelings, seem the only normal things going on.

Wikileaks: Surakiat and the palace

8 09 2011

Continuing PPT’s series based on Wikileaks cables the focus of this post is a cable discussing a conversation between Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce on 17 March 2006.

The essence of the cable is a conversation about Thaksin Shinawatra’s political options as the 2 April election approached and there were intensified opposition calls for Thaksin to step down. Surakiat is quoted as saying that “time was running out for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.” Surakiat considered that Thaksin needed to go.

Why did Surakiat take this position? There are several reasons cited in the cable. This one struck PPT as worthy of note:

In Surakiart’s view, if Thaksin did not agree to step down “within days,” then either Privy Councilor Prem Tinsulanonda or Army Commander Sonthi [Boonyaratglin] should tell him he had to step down. According to Surakiart, both the King and the Queen want Thaksin to step aside. (Surakiart’s wife is the daughter of the King’s former principal private secretary and current Privy Councillor, giving him good insights into the Palace views.)

Boyce leaves out something significant: Thanphuying Suthawan Ladawan Sathirathai is the only daughter of Busba Kitiyakara, the younger sister of Queen Sirikit.

Surakiat presented views that matched the opposition. Indicating his egotistical streak, he stated that “he was considering resigning, ‘to send a message’ and to ‘save Thaksin from himself’.”

Was the writing on the wall for the monarchy?

23 09 2010

Pravit Rojanaphruk at The Nation has a report well worth reading and considering on the topic of reality and denial. He refers to the thousands of red shirts who gathered at Rajaprasong on 19 September to mark the “fourth anniversary of the 2006 coup and the fourth month since the military cracked down on the movement.”

He notes that the media coverage missed “the angry messages emblazoned on the corrugated iron wall outside CentralWorld…”. PPT has earlier mentioned reporting of angry chanting here and here. Pravit says the wall outside the burned out shopping complex was previously filled with “colourful feel-good propaganda calling for national unity…”. For the red shirt rally, this was replaced “by angry messages aimed squarely at the established old elite saying things that cannot be reproduced here or anywhere else without the risk of violating the lese majeste law.”

The messages on the wall were, Pravit says, ” unprecedented.” However, “[t]he very next day, these messages were removed and life went on as if they were never there to begin with. The 25-metre long wall of corrugated iron is still there, with absolutely no sign of there being any colourful messages written on it – it’s just bare and grey.”

For Pravit it is clear that the “gap between what many Thai people want to believe about certain issues [PPT assumes the monarchy] and the reality of the beliefs held by some red-shirt Thais has never become wider…. The gap between what is spoken and admitted privately, and what is recited and dismissed publicly is widening and exacting an increasing cost on Thai society.”

Surakiart Sathirathai, “who was foreign minister under Thaksin Shinawatra … said in a speech at Siam University that ‘people who defame and attack the [royal] institution’ are ‘becoming more visible’. He acknowledged this to be one of the two root causes for the current political divide…”.

For Pravit, denying “what a substantial number of the population thinks and believes will not pull the country out of the current political impasse.”

The 2006 coup has opened a schism in society that, at least in PPT’s view, has long been there, through ebbs and flows of anti-monarchism, but has been trampled since 1976 by a stampede of propaganda and increasingly repressive lese majeste legislation and by the military’s jackboot. It is impossible to brush this rising anti-monarchism/republicanism aside or to simply repress it again. The elite has to give ground and to accept a new political era.

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