Jeng jailed for “unspoken” lese majeste

7 03 2017

The Bangkok Post reports on one of the more bizarre lese majeste cases. That’s quite a claim when lese majeste charges have been brought against those speaking of kings dead for hundreds of years, fraudsters and a man said to have insulted a royal dog.

Yet in upholding two lower court judgements and sentenced United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) core member Yoswaris Chuklom or Jeng Dokchik, now 59, Thailand’s sham justice system has shown itself (again) as hopelessly spineless, stupid and warped.

The Supreme Court on 7 March 2017 upheld his sentence to two years in jail for lese majeste. He was immediately taken away to jail.

What did he do?

The three courts that have made judgement have engaged in a remarkable extension of lese majeste to include words left unspoken.

Jeng was sentenced for comments made in a speech to red shirt protesters that were considered by the courts to have implied that King Bhumibol influenced then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s decision not to dissolve the parliament. The court – probably committing lese majeste itself – stated: “His [Jeng’s] statement falsely accused the king of political interference…”.

In fact, Jeng told red shirts that Abhisit refused to dissolve parliament in 2010 on the orders of an unidentified person with more power than both him and Privy Council President Gen Prem Tinsulanonda.

The court were convinced this was the king.

Jeng also named the military and added that there was someone else behind Abhisit before placing his hands over his mouth and saying: “I am not brave enough to say it…. But I know what are you thinking right now. So I will keep my mouth shut.”

By not saying a name, Jeng will now go to jail for two years. That is savage and vindictive.

Jeng gets bail

25 09 2014

The Bangkok Post has reported one seeming lese majeste breakthrough. Yoswaris Chuklom or Jeng Dokchik has been granted bail by the Supreme Court.

Red shirt leader Jeng has a two-year jail term for lese majeste. The court “set bail at 700,000 baht without condition for the 56-year-old former comedian…”.

In January, the Criminal Court sentenced Jeng for a speech he gave in 2010. When he was sentenced, we observed:

The court’s judgement was remarkable for its extension of lese majeste to include words left unspoken. Jeng “received the sentence for comments made in a speech to protesters that implied King Bhumibol Adulyadej influenced [then Prime Minister] Abhisit [Vejjajiva]’s decision not to dissolve the parliament, according to a court statement.” The court stated: “His statement falsely accused the king of political interference and opposing the defendant and his group…. His statement that his speech didn’t mean he was referring to the king is groundless.”

In other words, the court concluded that there was an implied “threat to the monarchy” by associating a political decision with the king. One foreign source commented on the sentence: “What savagery.”

Jeng continues to appeal his guilty verdict.

Red shirt convicted of lese majeste

1 05 2014

All the following is from Khaosod:

The Court of Appeals has sentenced a prominent Redshirt activist to two years in prison for allegedly defaming His Majesty the King in the speech he gave to a Redshirt rally four yeard ago.

Yossawaris Chuklom was a core leader of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) during its mass protests in Bangkok between the period of March-May 2010.

According to the prosecutor, Mr. Yossawaris, who is commonly known as Jeng Dokchik, defames the monarchy in the speech he gave on a UDD rally stage near Makkawan Bridge on 29 March 2010.

Remarks deemed critical of the Thai royal family are punishable by up to 15 years in prison per offence. Details of Mr. Yossawaris’ speech cannot be published due to a strict interpretation of lese majeste laws.

In January this year the lower court found Mr. Yossawaris guilty of the charge and handed down an unsuspended sentence of two years in prison to the UDD activist.

He appealed the sentence, but today the Court of Appeals affirmed the previous ruling and upheld the unsuspended jail term for Mr. Yossawaris.

The defendant said he would appeal the court ruling for a second time. His lawyer has posted a bail of 500,000 baht to guarantee his temporary release.

Anti-government factions routinely accuse Redshirt leader of harbouring republican agenda, an allegation the Redshirts repeatedly deny.

Lese majeste hits the popular social media

26 01 2013

PPT came across this blog post: Thailand seriously does not want you fucking with their king. It begins:

Thailand is really outdoing itself on jailing people for insulting the king, which is apparently something of a national pastime. This week Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was given a 10-year sentence for two articles that he did not write, neither of which even mentioned the king.

It adds:

The verdict comes after a similar sentence just last week in which Yossawarit Chuklom, an adviser to the Commerce Ministry, was given a 2-year jail term for putting his hands over his mouth and not mentioning the king in a speech in 2010.

And it concludes:

Presumably one has to actually be in Thailand to get nabbed by the authorities, but I half expect a Thai swat team to kick my front door down and extradite me as soon as I hit publish, here.

The author should know that there has been one reported case of Thai authorities pursuing people overseas and laying in wait for others to show up in Thailand. Lese majeste is meant to maintain and protect a stupendously rich and opaque monarchy.

Updated: Protecting kings and courts

26 01 2013

The reaction to the lese majeste sentencing of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk has unleashed a torrent of negative international criticism and, while muted by various laws, domestic criticism has been heard as well.

Predictably, the ultra-royalists reaction has been one of  exultation, for the madder PAD types believe that the monarchy is under threat. Rather than recognizing that royalists are destroying it by their demented actions, they prefer to conjure Thaksin Shinawatra as the financier of republicans. Thus they defend the kangaroo courts and cheer when enemies are locked up for years. They attack each and every one of those who criticize lese majeste convictions with xenophobic zeal. They damn foreigners for failing to understand “Thai culture” and denigrate Thai critics as dangerously “un-Thai.” They justify repression and censorship as absolutely required to “protect” the monarchy.

That the conviction of Somyos further extends the repressive scope of lese majeste is cause for royalist celebration.

The Nation notes that his conviction was the “first time a magazine editor has been sentenced to jail for violating the lese majeste law…”. In a sense, though, this chilling application mirrors the manner in which webmasters are held responsible for each and every comments posted on their sites.

The judgement deserves consideration for the way that the courts, as a bastion of royalist reactionary politics, interpret and broaden the scope of the law and how they justify this unconstitutional extension of “their” law.

The Nation says that:Jit

… the four judges ruled that although the two articles never directly mentioned the name of HM the King or Rama I, their context suggested the fictitious name of “Luang Naruebarn” was in fact a reference to HM the King.

An unofficial translation of the summary of the verdict is available from Prachatai. Rather than reproduce it in full, PPT merely offers some commentary:

The plaintiff charged that in the period between the daytime of 15 February 2010 and the daytime of 15 March 2010, the defendant defamed, insulted and threatened His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Head of the Kingdom of Thailand….

We looked at the Thai version and it doesn’t say “head,”  but refers to the monarch of the kingdom.

A first Voice of Taksin magazine article, which did not mention the king by name or title, defamed, insulted and threatened him because it:

conveys the message that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the person who gave the order for the massacre in the 6 October 1976 event, and had been planning situations to slaughter a number of people mercilessly after the verdict to seize Thaksin Shinawatra’s assets.

The judges this was “unfounded.” In fact, while a good historical case can be made that the palace fomented murderous right-wing vigilantism that saw royalists go on a killing spree, no single order is ever likely to be revealed. Another article, which also did not mention the king by name or title, was construed offensive as it:

… conveys the message that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was implicated in various conflicts and bloodshed in Thailand, and that His Majesty masterminded initiatives which dismantled pro-democratic movements.

This was also said to be “unfounded.” Again, though, very good academic accounts of this king’s failure to promote democratic progress while supporting military coups and authoritarian regimes are already available. Ignoring this, the court decided that while neither of the articles mentions the king by name, they were:

written with the intention to link past events together. When events of the past are brought together, it can be implied that they refer to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

“Implied” lese majeste has now been used against Somyos and Jeng Dokchik or Yoswaris Chuklom. This is a chilling interpretation of an already draconian law.

The court defends this real expansion of the law with threats. In another story at The Nation, it is reported that the “Criminal Court’s chief judge yesterday countered criticism by foreign organisations…”. Thawee Prachuablarb “warned that the court might take legal action against those who unfairly attack it.” We aren’t sure why “fairness” is used here, for this is the last concern of the court. He added that

the lese majeste law reflected Thailand’s culture, which is different from those of other countries. “It is narrow-minded to describe the court as barbaric or as an organisation that protects the monarchy,” he said.

Of course the culturalist argument is the usual royalist nonsense also peddled in palace propaganda. The idea that the court is not “an organisation that protects the monarchy” is simply ludicrous and a lie of royal proportions. However, we agree that the court is not barbaric; it simply serves and protects its feudal masters.

Update: Several readers have asked PPT to post the charges against Somyos. THese have been at the page we maintain for Somyos, now under Convictions. For ease of access, we reproduce our links here: His charges may be seen in this PDF in ไทย or this unofficial translation in English (Warning: readers should note that this document includes reproductions of the material determined to be in breach of the lese majeste law. Downloading it and/or distributing it may lead to a similar charge of lese majeste).

If in doubt, convict on lese majeste

21 01 2013

PPT wishes to draw attention to a recent blog post at Siam Voices on the “implied lese majeste” conviction of Yoswaris Chuklom or Jeng Dokchik. Amongst several important points made, this passage struck us as significant:

This is indeed a new dimension of how arbitrarily lèse majesté is being applied here, on top of an already ambiguously written law (“insulting, defaming or threatening”): As many other lèse majesté (e.g. Ampon’s) or similar cases (e.g. Chiranuch’s) have shown, the principle is actually “in dubio contra reo” (“when in doubt, decide against the accused”) for many different reasons. Since the presumption of innocence doesn’t apply here, the prosecution is mostly not interested in the actual evidence (or the lack of in some cases), but rather in the “intent” of the alleged crime.

Politics and justice

20 01 2013

Steve Finch, a freelance journalist based in Bangkok, has a story at The Diplomat that is getting some attention on some of the yellow-shirted social media. The reason for this is because he asks if the cases piling up against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva are politically motivated.

While the yellow ones and their Democrat Party allies might get excited by this question, it is somewhat trite. We say this because so many legal cases in Thailand are politically-motivated. Quite a few red shirts remain in jail as political prisoners from Abhisit’s time in power, when hundreds were charged with political crimes. Just last week we witnessed yet another political sentencing as Yoswaris Chuklom or was sentenced for “implied” lese majeste. Lese majeste is a political tool used mainly by the elite to protect its state. And, of course, the judiciary is highly politicized. And, it cannot be forgotten, that all of the charges brought against Thaksin Shinawatra and his various parties were generated under a military junta.

There are a couple of other points in the story that get some attention.

One is the claim attributed to “senior human rights lawyer Sarawut Pratoomraj.” Sarawut is an  activist lawyer and “senior program director for the International Commission of Jurists.” PPT couldn’t find any mention of him at the ICJ, although he’s also listed in this position here. We did note that within two months of the Yingluck Shinawatra government being elected, he was penning critical commentary predicting human rights atrocities by the new government. It seems that some lawyers don’t need evidence when making political claims.

In this story, Sarawut says that”holding Abhisit to account for some of the 91 deaths and more than 2,000 people injured during the violence in 2010 would be unprecedented.” THat’s true, but Sarawut seems to be lamenting this when he adds: “This is the first time in Thai history that our PM has been treated like a criminal…”. In fact, the claim to the “first” is not correct. Pridi Phanomyong was unjustly treated as a criminal even without being dragged through the courts and Thaksin has certainly been treated as a criminal.

At least Sarawut “argues that the army should also be included in any judicial process but [this] so far that appears to be unlikely, at least at the highest level.” It seems obvious to PPT that the Army should not escape charges for killing civilians yet again.

Another point is when Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut claims “We are willing to go through the juristic system,” which is remarkably disingenuous. We see claims by the Democrat Party that Thailand is becoming a police state when it was the Democrat Party-led government that came closest to this. We see the Party’s lawyers bringing charges against those who laid the charges against Abhisit and his cronies and seeking the cover of their own decree which they claim absolves them of responsibility for protesters’ deaths. We see media campaigns to absolve Abhisit. And Abhisit has made it clear that he supports the illegal coup of 2006.

Jakrapob Penkair, a red shirt, is more realistic when he observes that “ultimately charges against Abhisit are also seen as a test of whether the Thai judiciary can be reliable.” By “reliable,” we take it he means that the judiciary is not the politicized kangaroo court of the present day. He adds:  “Abhisit’s trial would be seen as the very first step to get Thailand back on track…. Thaksin’s comeback should be at the bottom of our priorities…”.

On “implied lese majeste”

18 01 2013

Thomas Fuller at the New York Times has an account of the conviction for lese majeste of Yoswaris Chuklom or . Fuller begins: “It has become almost routine in Thailand for judges to hand down jail sentences to those convicted of offending the country’s king.”112.jpg

In fact, it is not “almost routine.” It is not just routine, it is an essential requirement in the maintenance of the royalist state and the privileges that state doles out to the elite. Fuller goes on to note that yesterday’s verdict was “… an unusual ruling … [that] appears to considerably broaden the interpretation of Thailand’s already restrictive lese majesté law.”

The reason for this is that Jeng was sentenced to two years in jail after the “court ruled that the defendant was liable not only for what he said, but for what he left unsaid.” Fuller observes:

The criminal court’s ruling said the defendant … had not specifically mentioned the king when he gave a speech in 2010 to a large group of people who were protesting a military-backed government of the time.

But by making a gesture of being muzzled — placing his hands over his mouth — Mr. Yossawarit had insinuated that he was talking about the king.

Jeng’s lawyer points out that this judgment “appears to have been the first time that someone was convicted for implying an insult…. There was no mention of the king’s name in the speech…. It’s all interpretation.”

The court ruled that Jeng must have meant the king when he refused to speak the words. Remarkably, the NYT report indicates that people “with no apparent connection to the case were called to the stand and asked to whom they thought Mr. Yossawarit was referring. All of the witnesses said the king.” This is quite amazing and even bizarre stuff!

Many Thais use various, often derogatory, terms to refer to the (now apparently unmentionable) royals because of the fear induced by the lese majeste law and its enforcement by police and (kangaroo) courts. That threat and resulting fear has now been ratcheted up to by several degrees.

Further updated: Red shirt leader Yoswaris Chuklom sentenced on lese majeste

17 01 2013
Jeng Dokchik


Bloomberg reports that Yoswaris Chuklom, currently an adviser to the government, a comedian and red shirt leader who was prominent in the 2010 protests, has been sentenced to two years in prison on a lese majeste charge based on comments made in a speech during a red-shirt rally at the Phan Fa stage on 29 March 2010.

Also known as , he “received the sentence for comments made in a speech to protesters that implied King Bhumibol Adulyadej influenced [then Prime Minister] Abhisit [Vejjajiva]’s decision not to dissolve the parliament, according to a court statement. The court said it freed him on bail while he appeals the sentence because he showed no intention to flee.”

The court stated: “His statement falsely accused the king of political interference and opposing the defendant and his group…. His statement that his speech didn’t mean he was referring to the king is groundless.”

Yes, that’s right, the court concluded that there was an implied “threat to the monarchy” by associated a political decision with the king, who all politicians are meant to listen to and heed his advice, no matter how bland or loopy, in royalist Thailand.

Yoswaris is alleged to have “told Red Shirt protesters that Abhisit refused to dissolve parliament in 2010 on the orders of an unidentified person with more power than both him and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, the king’s top adviser, according to the court. The [court concluded that the] speech apparently made people believe that Yossawaris was referring to the king…”.

This startling, almost unbelievable, case is one of a raft of lese majeste cases brought against red shirt leaders. Politicized courts continue to “punish” those seen to attack the royalist state where it now seems that even an “implied” statement about a body the court might conclude is the king, queen or heir apparent is sufficient to lock an opponent up. Jeng is punished for being an outspoken critic of the royalist state.

Update: Other reports on the sentencing are at the Bangkok Post and The Telegraph.

Lese majeste updates

1 12 2012

Prachatai has published some useful updates on a series of lese majeste cases. PPT will summarize here and will 112.jpgupdate our specific pages on each case as well:

  1. In its first story, Prachatai refers to the truly bizarre case of two of the Royal Health Rumor 4. Back in October 2009 there were rumors that the king was seriously ill or had died. This caused a huge sell-off on the stock exchange, and the ridiculous Abhisit Vejjajiva-led coalition government began a witch hunt for those responsible for the rumors. Many observers considered the whole case so silly that it had been quietly brushed under the carpet. Not so. The Criminal Court is said to be “likely to deliver its ruling by the end of this year on a case” involving Katha Pajajiriyapong, then an employee in the trading a securities trading firm KT Zmico Securities (the firm sacked him). Katha is said to have posted comments on Same Sky or Fah Diew Kan web board. Apparently there is another charge against him from April 2009. He is charged under the 2007 Computer-Related Crimes Act. He has been on bail since his arrest in 1 November 2009. He is expected to get a verdict on 19 December 2012.
  2. Also one of the Royal Health Rumor 4, Thiranan Vipuchanun, a former director of a finance and securities trading firm, is “accused of posting on the Prachatai webboard her translation of a Bloomberg news article which reported the slump of the Thai stock market on 14 Aug 2009 due to the widespread rumours about the King’s health. Her case is now pending a decision by the prosecution.”
  3. Somyos Prueksakasemsuk is also scheduled to re-appear in court on 19 December 2012, and it seems that he may get a verdict then, having been held in prison since 30 April 2011 on lese majeste charges.
  4. Akechai Hongkangwarn who was arrested on 11 March 2011 and charged under Article 112 – lese majeste – for being in possession of illegal VCDs of an Australian television documentary that presented an accurate picture of the state of the Thai monarchy and 10 Wikileaks documents. He is expected to appear in court on 22 February 2013.
  5. One of the Bangkok 19 who were accused by the Army and its boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Yoswaris Chuklom or Jeng Dokchik, “a comedian turned red-shirt activist and politician, will appear in court for witness hearings on 11-12 Dec [2012]. He is being prosecuted for alleged lèse majesté comments in his public speech during a red-shirt rally at Phan Fa on 29 March 2010.”
  6. In the first week of November 2010, Sqn Ldr Chanin Khlaikhlung became the first casualty of then Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s warning that the military needed to weed out anti-monarchists in its ranks. This was also a part of the Abhisit regime’s royalist witch hunt. He will likely appear in a military court (closed to the public) in February 2013, facing lese majeste and computer crimes charges related to 24 comments on his Facebook page.
  7. Finally, Prachatai mentions a case PPT has not previously heard of when it lists Aswin (family name withheld) as likely to appear in Chiang Mai Court in February 2013 “to face accusations by an acquaintance of making lèse majesté remarks.”
  8. In its second story, Prachatai mentions another case previously unknown to PPT. The case goes back to the days of high alert on lese majeste by the royalist regime under Abhisit and refers to an unnamed Malay Muslim man whose case is outlined at the iLaw database. The Pattani resident is accused of “hanging banners with the picture of HM the Queen on a pedestrian bridge in the town” also allegedly “containing messages about violent incidents in the south and other parts of Thailand, together with a picture of HM the Queen, on 12 Aug 2009, the Queen’s birthday…”. It seems that this may be another case pursued by the military who are also accused of beating and torturing the man to get a confession on a crime he was not even aware of (standard military practice). He has been on bail. It seems this case has been kept secret.
  9. A third story refers to well-known Thammasat historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul who is said to be “pessimistic” and “both surprised and appalled by the decision of police to forward his lese majeste police complaint case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).” He is due to appear before the prosecutor sometime this month.

The last story also refers to there being “currently at least seven people detained under the law with hundreds more in the process of possibly being charged or having received police complaints made against them.” PPT knows of eight currently detained, although we assume there are more we don’t know about. We are not aware that there are “hundreds more in the process of possibly being charged or having received police complaints made against them.” That said, there are two cases above we had never heard of before, suggesting that the case load and backlog that is inestimable. The opacity associated with this most political of charges lends itself to both under-reporting and exaggeration.

In late 2010, based on data related to charges laid, prosecuted and known conviction rates, we had guesstimated that there may have been some 350 jailed following lese majeste convictions or related computer crimes charges. We have no idea how many accusations there are or how many cases are winding there way through the system. In any serious judicial system, this law would be declared unconstitutional and scrapped. Until that happens, Thailand can never be a truly democratic country.

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