THAILAND: Growing threats to political freedom in Thailand

A written statement submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to bring the growing range of state and vigilante threats to political freedom in Thailand to the attention of the Human Rights Council. These threats have been concentrated around those who both express critical views of the monarchy, as well as those who express concern about these threats. In recent months, academic and human rights defenders who have called for reform of Article 112, the section of the Thai criminal code criminalizing speech about the monarchy, have become the target of ambiguous threats by high-ranking state and military officers in Thailand and explicit death threats by vigilante actors outside the state. While state and military actors have not threatened the lives of academic and human rights defenders calling for reform, the absence of state sanction of those who have explicitly done so, combined with the volatile political climate in Thailand, is a cause for serious concern.

2. Instead of using regular defamation law, the position of the monarchy within the polity, and the sanctions for the crime of lèse majesté are specifically described within Thai law. Section 8 of the 2007 Constitution notes: “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.” Article 112 of the Criminal Code then prescribes punishments for violations: “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished (with) imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” The 2007 Computer Crime Act, which has often been used in combination with Article 112, then prescribes penalties of up to five years per count in cases which are judged to have involved the electronic dissemination or hosting of information deemed threatening to national security, of which the institution of the monarchy is identified as a constituent part.

3. While Article 112 has been law since the last major revision of the Thai Criminal Code in 1957, there has been a dramatic increase in lèse majesté cases since the 19 September 2006 coup. Statistics provided by the Office of the Judiciary indicates a sharp rise in charges filed over the last five years, with 33 charges filed in 2005, 30 filed in 2006, 126 filed in 2007, 77 filed in 2008, 164 filed in 2009, to 478 filed in 2010. A lack of public, open information means that the outcomes of all of these charges filed is unknown. Any citizen can bring a complaint of alleged violations of Article 112 to the police, who are then obliged to investigate and decide whether or not to send the case to the prosecutor. The prosecutor then decides whether or not to bring the case to the Criminal Court. Combined with the vagueness of Article 112, these procedures easily lend themselves to abuse. Concerns about Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act have been repeatedly raised by Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression as well as by the governments of Spain, Switzerland, Slovenia, Canada, UK, France, Norway, and New Zealand during the Universal Periodic Review of Thailand’s human rights in 2011.

4. Several recent convictions indicate the severity of penalties that can be meted out under Article 112 and allied laws.

a. On 15 March 2011, Mr. Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul was sentenced to 13 years in prison under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act for the alleged crime of posting online content with anti-monarchy messages and for not removing an anti-monarchy comment from a website he managed quickly enough. He reported being forced to confess by the police.

b. On 23 November 2011, Mr. Ampon Tangnoppakul was sentenced to 20 years in prison under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act for allegedly sending 4 SMS messages with allegedly anti-monarchy content.

c. On 8 December 2011, Mr. Joe Gordon was jailed for 2.5 years under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act for the alleged crime of posting a link to a translation of book published by Yale University Press in 2007 on a website that he managed while living in Colorado, outside Thailand’s jurisdiction.

d. On 15 December 2011, the 2009 conviction of Ms. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul was upheld after the Constitutional Court concluded that a closed trial did not violate her basic rights. Her sentence has been reduced from 18 to 15 years, for conviction on three counts of violating Article 112 during 55 minutes of public speech in July 2009.

5. Within this context, in January 2012, the Khana Nitirat (which means “Law for the People” in Thai), a group of seven law lecturers at Thammasat University (Worachet Pakeerut, Jantajira Iammayura, Thapanan Nipithakul, Teera Suteewarangkurn, Sawatree Suksri, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, and Poonthep Sirinupong), and the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112, a coalition of intellectuals, media activists, human rights activists, and others launched a public campaign to amend Article 112. The Khana Nitirat drafted a possible amendment to Article 112, which leaves the position of the monarchy within the Thai polity as it is currently, but aims to reduce the potential for abuse under Article 112 in several significant ways. The proposed amendment would make the punishment for alleged lèse majesté proportionate to the crime, limit who can file a complaint to the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary rather than any citizen, differentiate sincere and truthful criticism from threats to the monarchy, and categorize violations of Article 112 as about the honour of the monarchy, rather than national security. Under the 2007 Constitution, if at least 10,000 citizens sign in support of a proposed amendment, the Parliament is obliged to examine it. Beginning on 15 January 2012 the Khana Nitirat and the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 began a nation-wide campaign to gather signatures.

6. In response to this campaign, there has been a backlash from many sectors of the government and armed forces. The elected majority Pheu Thai government has repeatedly indicated that they will not amend Article 112; Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung and many Pheu Thai MPs have indicated that they will not examine the amendment should it enter Parliament. Deputy Prime Minister General Yutthasak Sasiprapa urged the leaders of the campaign to stop before they created division in the country. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, commander-in-chief of the Army, has accused the members of the Khana Nitirat of being un-Thai, suggested that those who want to amend Article 112 should go live abroad, and ominously warned, “If you guys play hard ball, I'll have no choice but to do so, too.” General Surasak Roonruangwong, commander-in-chief of the Navy, has suggested that the campaign is detrimental to national security. General Priewpan Damapong, Police commander-in-chief, has made a public statement indicating to the Khana Nitirat and their supporters that they are under close surveillance and will be prosecuted if they commit illegal acts. What is of particular concern is that a proposal to consider amending a law is being treated as though it is a threat to national security, an indication that the drafters of the amendment are not-Thai and do not belong to the polity. These statements by the leaders of different sectors of the security forces should be understood as threats to the political freedom of the members of the Khana Nitirat and their supporters.

7. Simultaneous to the public statements and threats by state officials against the Khana Nitirat, a wide range of citizens have harassed and made detailed vigilante-style threats against them as well. On 27 January 2012, a group who call themselves “Thais with Patriotic Heart” held a protest against the Khana Nitirat in front of the Faculty of Law at Thammasat University, burned an effigy of Professor Worachet Pakeerut, the leader of the group, and held placards calling for the members of the group to be executed. Since the launch of the campaign, many anonymous threats against the Khana Nitirat have been posted in the comments on the website of Manager (Phuchadkan) newspaper online, including calls for them to be beheaded and their heads placed on stakes outside the university gates and calls for them to be burned alive with their families outside their homes. While vigorous debate from all points of view enhances democracy and the exercise of human rights, making death threats is outside the purview of vigorous debate.

8. The implicit and explicit threats from inside and outside the Thai state represent a threat to the rights guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a State Party, notably article 19, and specifically that,

"1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.”

The allegations by state security officials that the actions of the Khana Nitirat pose a threat to national security are illegitimate and unsubstantiated. Discussion of a proposed amendment to a law is an ordinary part of exercising one’s civil and political rights. The statements of state security officials, as well as their lack of concern regarding the threats made against the Khana Nitirat, and tacit support of them as indicated by their own statements, therefore represent a failure to protect the rights guaranteed in Article 19.

9. The Asian Legal Resource Centre therefore wishes to draw the Council’s attention to the specific threats faced currently by the Khana Nitirat, as well as the broader deepening of the crisis surrounding political freedom and freedom of expression signalled by these threats. The Asian Legal Resource Centre calls for the Council to:

a. Urge the Government of Thailand, and particularly members of the state security forces, to cease threatening the Khana Nitirat and other citizens who are exercising their civil and political rights.

b. Urge the Government of Thailand to show its strong disapproval for the bodily and death threats made against the Khana Nitirat and other citizens who are exercising their civil and political rights.

c. Request that the Government of Thailand allow and support the full exercise of political freedom and freedom of expression at this critical time, including taking specific action to protect the members of the Khana Nitirat and others who have been targeted for doing so.

10. Recalling the recommendations to the Government of Thailand made by Brazil, Canada, France, Hungary, Indonesia, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, during the Universal Periodic Review concerning the freedom of expression, lèse majesté and/or the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, the Asian Legal Resource Centre urges the government to accept these recommendations and provide information on how it will address these issues as part of the Thai UPR report’s adoption during the Human Rights Council’s 19th session, including by issuing an invitation for the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of expression and opinion to conduct a country visit.

11. The fact that the government accepted the recommendation made by New Zealand to ensure “positive human rights outcomes in the areas of personal liberty, including freedom of expression and freedom from reprisal and extra judicial punishment,” is of particular significance given the current back-sliding that has been detailed above. The afore-mentioned states that have made relevant UPR recommendations are urged to press the government to accept these and ensure their implementation without delay.

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About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Comments

While applauding most of the

While applauding most of the requests made here by the ALRC, it's long past time where to achieve some progress in a few of these requests actually being complied with, numerous media and NGOs need to be simultaneously contacted by hundreds of activists to put pressure on insensitive or unwilling officials. The ALRC and others are doing what they can do effect change, but change will not come when officials have near-omnipotent power to totally diss any suggestions of humanity while pretending to be legitimate guardians of the status quo. Telephone messages, faxes, emails, letters, outside-the-office gatherings, online media interviews, testimonials and more...all these will help move the mountain.

People are afraid. They dare

People are afraid. They dare not speak up.

And the political parties all gathering around to say they will stonewall any petition that reaches them regarding article 112 shows they are ALL in the hands of the military and willing participants in continuing to oppress the people as long as they themselves can garner wealth and power as usual.

I say again, the only real possibility is for Europeans, in particular those living in Constitutional monarchies to pressure ether own royal families to finally take a stand. Silence from them is complicity at work.

Either the European monarchies are a part of the modern democratic evolution or, they are part of the past that should have been buried a long, long time ago.

These laws from the Middle Ages have no place in a humane society.

Really, Robald, for someone

Really, Robald, for someone who is usually such a hard-headed realist... your expectation that one member of 'the club' would ever criticize another member is just too much. Doctors in the USA, the closest we had to royalty, or so they thought 'til the lawyers made them prey too, never - ever - used to testify against a fellow member of 'the club, no matter how many patients' they'd killed. Perhaps a better analogy is the cosa nostra... where you don't live long after betrayal of another 'club member'... is more apt.

Dreaming of European Royals siding with the serfs of Thailand and betraying a brother, a member of 'the club' seems really like dreaming and so uncharacteristic of you.

Either the European monarchies are a part of the modern democratic evolution or, they are part of the past that should have been buried a long, long time ago.

You've got that right. The stiff, dry carcass of European Royalty is still awaiting burial, or cremation.

I am not at all saying they

I am not at all saying they would ever take a stand with the serfs, but rather they can be pressured to take a stand eventually.

They are here, whether we like it or not. It is a tool to exploit. In Europe the royals usually have 10-15% public support and 80% indifference. They are able to remain where they are because they show a facade of being a part of the modern world. i say exploit that facade and force their hand.

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"O my soul do not aspire to immortal life
but exhaust the limits of the possible"

Pindar
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We can not wage war successfully on all levels worldwide. That is my opinion. Just like I know full well the US is quite an Imperialist war machine. But using certain sectors of the American society to pressure Thailand on LM is not therefore meaningless nor implying all is well in the US.

The right moment will come. Hopefully. Everywhere.

Of course you're right... any

Of course you're right... any and all tools. I should remember what my mother used to tell me more often, "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all."

I say again, the only real

I say again, the only real possibility is for Europeans, in particular those living in Constitutional monarchies to pressure their own royal families to finally take a stand. Silence from them is complicity at work.

Shouldn't the Thais, living in the Constitutional monarchy of Thailand, be pressuring their own royal family to finally take a stand against this shameful inquisition being carried out in their names?

Some royals have done so :

  • MR Sai Svasti Svasti,
  • MR Saisingh Siributr,
  • MR Narisa Chakrabongse,
  • Vara-Poj Snidvongs na Ayudhya,
  • Gen MR Krit Kritakara,
  • MR Powari Suchiva (Rajani), and
  • MR Opas Kanchawichai and Sumet Jumsai na Ayudhya.

The royal contingent above has "cited in support of its move His Majesty King Bhumibol's address on Dec 4, 2005 in which he said putting people who criticised the monarchy in jail only caused trouble to him."

Has HM the King changed his mind? Or is he so incapacitated in Sriraj that he is somehow unaware of the ongoing Grand Inquisition? Or is his incapacity perhaps the result of being drugged by those who 'look after him'?

If HM King Bhumipol came right out and said 'Stop' then this act of mutiny on the part of Prayuth and the rest, their continuing Inquisition in direct opposition to HM expressed wish, would be undeniable.

It is apparent that that is what it will take on the part of HM King Bhumipol. No more 'Mr Nice Guy'. He tried that six years ago and has, in the most public and egregious act of lèse majesté on record, been totally ignored since.

If there are royals to be approached to end the Inquisition... aren't they the royals right here in Thailand?

“He has hung a bell in the opening of the gate over there; if any commoner in the land has a grievance which sickens his belly and gripes his heart, and which he wants to make known to his ruler and lord, it is easy; he goes and strikes the bell which the King has hung there. King Ramkhamhaeng, the ruler of the kingdom, hears the call; he goes and questions the man, examines the case, and decides in justly for him. So the people of this city of Sukhothai praise him.”

john francis lee: You are

john francis lee:

You are way, way off the mark, at least as regards the British Royal Family, I can't speak for the other European monarchies, although most seem to be far away from burial.

The House of Windsor has survived the disappearance of deference, and many other threats and setbacks, by constantly reinventing itself. It is doing so again through William and Kate. And just wait and see the huge crowds which will throng the streets of London for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this summer.

Approval for the monarchy is around 70%, so the adulation is not universal, but open criticism, even abuse and ridicule, is tolerated and no action taken against those who speak out. That's healthy, and one of the reasons why the Royal House of Windsor is still very much alive and kicking. Others might benefit by following their example.

I would like to know what

I would like to know what statistics you refer to when you suggest 70% "approval" rating. I am not disparaging what you say just would like to put that into a context.

I think there are various criteria:

approval rating
who wants a republic
do you like/love them
are you indifferent
do you support the monarchy
would you care of a republic were proclaimed

Huge crowds thronging the streets is hardly proof of statistics. The die-hard royalists do come out in force of course. I would also like to know the average age of people thronging those streets. Compare that then to average ages a decade, two, three or more ago. I am pretty sure the average age of people ogling the royals has gone up steadily.

I do think one reason royal families can continue to acquire massive wealth from the nations is because they have accepted the game of democracy. At least superficially. They pretend to have acquiesced while in fact they have joined hands with those amassing the wealth for themselves. If they are confronted and forced to take a stand against LM laws in Thailand they would have little choice. As long as the public was informed too.

And if they try to excuse themselves by claiming they have nothing to do with it, they must again be confronted with the fact silence and indifference is taking a stand.

No it isn't "healthy." And I

No it isn't "healthy." And I dare say it is dangerous - please hear me out on this one. If Thailand followed their example it would allow for the opportunity of a more hidden hand in state affairs.

Any critical examination of the British Royal Family reveals that they still possess and indeed exercise a great deal of social, economic, and political power - they are ruthless and indeed very shrewd to allow the "free expression" you claim is "healthy" because it disarms the public into believing they are merely figureheads. They are not - nor are the monied elitists that constitute the corporate-financier oligarchy with whom the Royal Family runs England.

Or do you believe that the UK is truly a democracy and the British people have decided to fight 10 years of unending war, raise tuition fees, and that all the marching in the streets as of late were simply them voicing their support for their fully functioning, democratic Constitutional Monarchy?

And you can say that, for example, the British Crown Estate is "transparent" as you claim international bankers are - they are only so on paper. In reality, they clearly operate an oligarchy that controls business, finance, the media, and so on. I do not doubt that an increasingly large circle of oligarchies share power with the British Crown but it is a demonstrative autocratic regime nonetheless, dressed up in the trappings of a Constitutional Monarchy - just like the US is a corporate-fascist dictatorship dressed up as a Republic.

At least in Thailand, people are not under any illusions that their political landscape is heterogeneous camps fighting for their own self-interests (except red shits who believe billionaire Thaksin is fighting for them)- which while not ideal is far more preferable than an ignorant society lulled into complacency by the illusion of freedom and choice. The House of Windsor (Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) is indeed "alive and kicking" but unless you strive to establish a well dressed unassailable tyranny, I don't think anyone would benefit from following their example. A realist balance of power is best, from my understanding.

In a sense there is truth to

In a sense there is truth to the idea in Thailand the enemy is more visible and therefore the struggle is clearer than elsewhere. But also, I think within the framework of that struggle there are certain obvious elements which are ignored, either out of fear or ignorance.

During the 60s and 70s one of the ideas was by fighting the establishment its fascist character would show itself openly, and becoming more and more oppressive people would consequently join the revolution. That happened only minimally.

One example of how the media plays its roll is the Red Army Faction in Germany. If I recall correctly of the first 21 deaths only one was from an RAF bullet, all others by men and women on uniform, often stray bullets. But the population had to a large extent believed the deaths were due to RAF murder. Later more people supported the RAF than the government wanted and an onslaught against the RAF destroyed it as a viable entity.

This is stated not as a supporter of the RAF but as an exampled of the importance of controlling the flow of information. The flaw in my above example is it was (again unless mistaken) TIME magazine that pointed out these numbers. The exception that proves the rule?

Most people swallowed the official versions of events and those in power, as always (before and after) again convinced the people security and cohesion were more important than anything else. And anyone not agreeing was suspect. Creating fear of another as an enemy, who is in fact more on the side of the people than the power holders, is a great victory on their part. Of course dominating the media is an essential part of that control, which is why the flow of information will be stifled more and more unless people fight against the machine.

All in all an interesting comment Tony. If I dare suggest it, less anger and more realizing we are "potentially" on the same side of the barricades could work to everyone's advantage.

Well then, Robin ... since

Well then, Robin ... since they're real menschen (the are German, right?)... get 'em crackin' in opposition to the lese majeste persecutions in Thailand! I'm assuming you're one of their loyal 'subjects'.

Robald, Polls conducted by

Robald,

Polls conducted by Ipsos Mori will give you all the confirmation you need. Check on their web page. I have no idea of the age of people out on the streets, what a daft question, but standing around in a mass of people for hours is hardly an attractive prospect for geriatrics. The polls do however give an indication of the likely future prospects for the monarchy, and provide a historical context too. No doubt there are other polls on the subject, you can search on the internet if you feel so inclined.

Your comments regarding "acquiring wealth from their nations" and "have accepted the game of democracy, at least superficially" demonstrate ignorance of how the system works. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family receive public funding via the Civil List, approved by parliament. Their expenditure is subject to parliamentary scrutiny, and details are frequently published in the press. The system is transparent. The Queen has no direct power in the governance of Britain, she can only advise. One of the last vestiges of royal authority, the "Royal Prerogative" was abolished only recently when parliament voted to approve fixed term parliaments. Prior to that the monarch could dissolve parliament at any time on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

The further references by that other fellow to "Saxe-Coburg-Gotha" are irrelevant to the issue. The British Royal Family held that name following the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert. The name was changed to Windsor during WW1 for obvious reasons. Prior to that they were known as the House of Hanover, following the Elector of Hanover's decision to accept the offer of the British Crown in 1714. The bloodline of the Royal Family is predominantly German, but intermarriage between European Royal Families was common until relatively recent times, and the Windsors are a mixture also of Danish, English, Scottish and no doubt other genes. So what??

Furthermore, his claim that The Crown Estate "operates an oligarchy that clearly controls business, the media, finance and so on" is ludicrous, and the claim is of course made without the submission of any supporting evidence whatsoever.

I do not know why you

I do not know why you apparently think I am being confrontational, which is not the case. SO the belligerent reference to me...

"I have no idea of the age of people out on the streets, what a daft question"

...is out of line. It is obvious it is NOT A QUESTION. It is also obvious the average age of royalist supporters goes up because the young are not as interested or dazzled any more. They also have access to a better flow of information. Beside that a question can be a figure of speech, in the form of a question which holds no expectation of a reply. It is referred to as a theatrical question. I am sure you know that.

Also:

"Your comments regarding "acquiring wealth from their nations" and "have accepted the game of democracy, at least superficially" demonstrate ignorance of how the system works"

I will not reply in depth to that. I think anyone wanting to understanding what I am saying will. IM(H)O anyone who does not see the royal families in Europe are parasitic and always have been may be showing..."ignorance of how the system works".

The European royal families have consistently throughout history either been the oppressors themselves or sided with and supported governments and groups that oppress on their behalf. They have been smart enough though to railroad social movement toward the left (for example) by now allying themselves as supporters of democracy. Their thievery has become more sophisticated, that is all.

But I will not speak as if that opinion is etched in stone as I leave room for your opinion.

and for anyone lurking in the background, note I am writing about European monarchies...in this comment.

john francis lee: I'm sorry

john francis lee:

I'm sorry but I don't see the relevance of the British Royal Family's genetic profile (please see my prior post) to the suggestion that they"get crackin" in opposition to the LM cases in Thailand. Nor do I see the relevance of my being a loyal subject.

I think you'd better stick to commenting on subjects you understand!

I must confess to being a

I must confess to being a little disappointed in the nature of the comments to this searingly focused and expertly comprehensive review of the current situation in Thailand.

Guys, this is not about you or your relationships with each other. You need to be spreading this message far and wide.

Sam good point, and I agree.

Sam good point, and I agree. I rarely address any commenter unless first being referred to myself, the comment has nothing to do with the article at hand or, I feel the comment is totally wrong. Pointing out differences of opinion here cane a part of the fight through dialogue.

I do also occasionally comment to support something I feel strongly about.

Beside that, please note many people are continuing the struggle outside the context of this comments section. Spending a couple of hours a week here hardly means nothing is being down elsewhere.

Having said that although I am glad you point out the potential silliness and loss of time in being involved in personal differences of opinion, I would have preferred had you also given yours on this article.

You're right Sam this is a

You're right Sam this is a focused and comprehensive statement of the current situation in Thailand. But it is not news to me or to you or to anyone who has been following the situation. It is addressed to the UN Human Rights Council... which Thailand no longer chairs... not since 18 June of last year. So there may be hope there.

But frankly, I don't think the answer is going to come from the outside. The people responsible for the problem don't give a fig what the world thinks of them. They're playing the terror card for all they're worth and ignoring any and everyone else's opinion.

I think it has to come from within Thailand. It is up to the Thais themselves to 'get over' their fears, to unite, to take control of their government. Just as it is up to Americans to take control of theirs, the Chinese people to take control of theirs.

I think that Thais' best chance to get control of the government, and to organize and create a peoples' party in so doing, is going to come with the CDA which the Puea Thai is calling for its own ends. Once they've opened pandora's box there's every chance that a real constitution may come of it... if the 77 real peoples' representatives can be elected delegates to the convention.

Other than shooting my mouth off in comments I haven't discovered a way to help them. I certainly cannot top this ALRC piece as a statement of the problem.

As for Americans... I'm seriously beginning to wonder what's going on 'back home'... 70% ♥ Guantanamo, 83% ♥ drone assassinations, 79% ♥ drone assassinations of Americans.

JFL can you expand on your

JFL can you expand on your idea when writing: "Once they've opened pandora's box there's every chance that a real constitution may come of it."? I would like to have your take on this.

I too believe the creation of a real people's party is the best chance at Thailand ever being able to initiate meaningful change. My hope is the UDD/red shirts would be able to get unstuck from TS (those that have not already done so) and distance themselves from the PT. The UDD risks being swallowed up and time for action, IMO is running out.

PTP has consistently turned its back both on its voter base and pre-election/campaign promises (or misleading hints) as:

1. rubbing elbows with Prayuth instead of taking the bull by the horns.

2. rubbing elbows with Prem now.

3. the flood mishandling on behalf of Bangkok and at the expense of the surrounding areas.

4. the too speedy introduction even of the possibility of getting TS back (politically speaking)

5. previous promises to look into the LM law, all art. 112 charges and conviction after the 2006 coup have not only come to nothing but on the contrary, Chalerm seems at least as determined as Suthep, Prayuth and company to lead the hunt.

6. Explicitly stating even if anything arrives from the Nitirat group they will ignore it (so much for democracy at work under the new government)

There are other things of course and the chronological order is not there but in essence, the PT has shown it is far more interested in returning to the political/economic stage than anything else.

Many anti-PT people speak about the YS low key image and silence on many issues as if this were somehow to hoodwink the opposition. The contrary IMO is the case, it is to assure being accepted again by those in power and the silence is aimed at its own voters.

I agree that PT is trying to

I agree that PT is trying to supplant the Democrat Party as the political wing of the Royal Thai Army. I think that is a foolish pursuit in itself and doomed from the start. It will also initiate a new round of Ta Sawang, as the people who actually wear red shirts and spill their red blood in the streets of Bangkok and languish in its prisons discover the treachery of the PT. In fact that will be the only good outcome of the PT's ludicrous betrayal in my view.

But the UDD have betrayed the red shirted people of Thailand as well, Thida elected UDD chairwoman

Thida Thawornseth was unanimously elected chairwoman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship at a meeting of red-shirt core members in a function room at the Imperial Lat Phrao department store on Wednesday.

How many "core members" are there? 2000? 200? 20? I think 20 is closest to the mark. This is Yet Another Arrogant Patronizing, Elitist Gang out to 'help' the poor, benighted, not-yet-ready-for-democracy people of Thailand.

Democracy is a bottom-up undertaking. The UDD is a top-down NGO.

Cabinet sets charter rewrite draft in motion

The draft amendment of Section 291 of the 2007 constitution received the green light from the cabinet yesterday, marking the first step in the highly controversial rewriting of the charter.

The amendment of Section 291 is intended to pave the way for the establishment of a new Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA), which will change the 2007 constitution. The rewrite will be completed within 240 days of the CDA being set up... the CDA would have 99 members. Seventy-seven of them would be elected by voters in each province. The remaining 22 would be academics and legal experts who would be selected by parliament.

Whatever the PT's aims are this is clearly the opportunity for the people to organize and to elect their own to those 77 positions. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, to unequivocally establish the sovereignty of the people and to put the government of Thailand on a real, legal footing. I think the Niti Raat's proposal is a very good start.

John - I have seen evidence

John - I have seen evidence that you do actually, truthfully try to understand the world around you. Upon this hope I would like to suggest the following.

Even though I understand you harbor, perhaps irrationally, a blind dislike for Thailand's ancient institutions, you must realize that Thaksin is not seeking to replace the Democrats as the recipient of its support. Thaksin demonstratively has the solid backing of elitists many times more dangerous, many times more powerful from abroad.

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2011/08/confirmed-thailands-pro-democracy.html

I have detailed with irrefutable fact not only the extensive lobbying efforts being carried out on his behalf, not only that these lobbyists have had a long history with Thaksin before, during, and after his term in office, but that Thaksin himself has demonstratively served the interests not of the Thai people but of these very backers - in instances such as his unilateral pursuit of a US-FTA, sending Thai troops to Iraq, and working in tandem with the CIA's rendition program.

We see the theater now with Chalerm playing along with US-Israeli government ploys to build up a suitable provocation for waging war on Iran - in an afternoon declaring the recent bombing incident was carried out by Iran targeting Israelis.

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/02/string-of-global-bombings-blamed-on.html

We see UDD working in tandem with Nitirat. Where is Nitirat getting their support from? What is protecting them ultimately? It is the UDD, Thaksin, and the same group of foreign organizations backing him that are now protecting Nitirat. They too - like the UDD - are a disingenuous method of perpetuating one half of a dual elitist power struggle.

I would like to suggest you think on a more local level - purged entirely of political affiliations and dedicated solely to pragmatic solutions to real problems. Education, infrastructure, disseminating technical skills to empower local entrepreneurship etc. Perhaps we can pursue this instead of the obviously divisive and destructive power struggle that YES, even Nitirat is playing into.

It's true that some rather

It's true that some rather silly, uninformed and unwarranted comments on European royalty have taken us away from the issues in Thailand, and we need to get back to what really matters. It's just that having my long serving and much respected Head of State referred to as "parasitic" and much else, is not appreciated. My final word on this matter!

Thank you for remaining civil

Thank you for remaining civil about it. No one in particular was singled out.

It would be interesting to know how you define your head of state as "long serving".

What do you mean by that?

- The official reported annual cost to the British Public of keeping the Royal Family was £41.5M for the 2008-09 period

- The Crown Estate is one of the largest property owners in the United Kingdom, with holdings of £7.3 billion in 2011

- Forbes magazine estimated the Queen's net worth at around US$450 million in 2010

What is evident is people's money serves the royal family well.

Everything considered, I think the benefits the royal family gets (whatever your take on if it is deserved or not) justify asking the royal family to take a stand on the LM laws in Thailand. That would be serving; serving humanity.

PPT reviews Forbes on the

PPT reviews Forbes on the cost of the Thai monarchy

In addition, the state and taxpayer fork out a huge amount each year to “maintain” the [Thai] monarchy.

Whereas the CPB is claimed to hand over “9-11 billion baht from the portfolio of assets managed” to the expenses of the monarchy, in 2011, taxpayers ladled over $84 million to the Bureau of the Royal Household, and that isn’t the bulk of state funds poured into the monarchy. The new book comments on this:

once security costs are factored in, the government spends around $194 million a year on the royal family and its courtiers. This is in addition to the CPB’s income (minus its costs). This implies that in an average year, the Thai crown burns through half a billion dollars.

Forbes compares this to other royal families and says this is huge. For example, the far more transparent British monarchy “gets nearly $50 million” from taxpayers “but remits most of its crown property income to the treasury.”

In other words, even ignoring the British monarchy’s contributions to public funds, the smaller Thai monarchy in a poorer country, takes about seven times more from the public purse.

Yes... and thanks for

Yes...

and thanks for bringing things back to Thailand.

It is indeed good to keep

It is indeed good to keep exchanges civil, if sometimes robust. By "long serving" I mean that Queen Elizabeth has reigned since 1952. The excerpt from Forbes starkly highlights the comparative costs of the monarchies in Britain and Thailand. In Britain we really do get a good deal!

As regards what needs to be done, it is already beginning. Open discussion of Section 112, however tentative and fraught with risk, would have been unthinkable until recently, and the English language press have gradually extended comment and coverage on this issue. TU's reluctant backpedalling re. Nitirat is also to be welcomed.

So Prachatai's post mentions

So Prachatai's post mentions Asian Human Rights Commission but doesn't feel it is necessary to disclose it is currently conducting a campaign on her behalf?

http://www.humanrights.asia/campaigns/chiranuch-prachatai

It's not just one or two articles - it is EVERY article in the headline section as I write this that are tied directly to Prachatai or funded by the same combination of Soros, NED and Rockefeller that fund Prachatai. Don't they as "independent journalists" have an obligation to disclose all possible conflicts of interest regarding the information they post?

How do you claim to be independent when you get millions from overseas and simply parrot everything these foreign organizations put on your desk?

Why isn't anyone else checking the backgrounds of these organizations and pointing out the obvious conflict of interest? Even if you agree what they say, why wouldn't you demand from them a higher standard of transparency and full disclosure? Especially if you believe it is not propaganda but the actual truth?

I'd take the AHRC over

I'd take the AHRC over LandDestroyer any day. They have more integrity than to support coups, racists, royalists, zealots and murdering militaries.

John Francis Lee, Whereas I

John Francis Lee,

Whereas I agree the people should take the situation into their own hands referring to the royals who have signed a letter calling for the altering of the LM laws we must remember the ordinary Thai citizen has no protection from the obvious oppressors. They would take far greater risks.

Of course there is more at stake than the LM laws but they are at the axis of the domination of Thai society. Greasing the wheels is done by convictions, as many as are needed.

I hope you are wrong about the UDD. I am also not sure to what point Thida is not to be trusted. But yes, I think the UDD have already been defused to a large extent by the inner PT core. And with the resurgence of the 111 things risk getting worse. Apart fro the UDD/red shirts where can hope be placed?

Many red shirt supporters I talk with are feeling disillusioned but, for want of an easily identifiable alternative, figure "this is politics" and keep their fingers crossed the crumbs will keep coming. It is maybe better to eke out a living with hope, than eking out a living with no hope under the yoke of the now known to population oppressors in uniform. At the same time many are inventing excuses about how the PT is being forced to be sly and will soon once again become a people's party. yeah...well...don't hold your breath.

Tony...when you say you "would like to suggest you (people) think on a more local level - purged entirely of political affiliations and dedicated solely to pragmatic solutions to real problems. Education, infrastructure, disseminating technical skills to empower local entrepreneurship etc." I agree but, am pretty sure the only way to combat the political groupings is through political groups, at least at this stage.

This is not (yet?) Barcelona of the Spanish Civil war where a clear example was set to show nor the Generalisimo Franco Fascists nor the Communists under the thumb of Stalin were leading the way. The Anarchists and various Anarcho-Syndicalist and progressive workers' unions were crushed, attacked both by the Fascists and the so-called Communist Party militia. And so would any "real" attempt at taking control of their own destiny by the people be in such ways at this time be crushed. Prem's new Koen Kaen cavalry regiment was not set to be established for nothing. IMHO...

Apart from the UDD/red shirts

Apart from the UDD/red shirts where can hope be placed?

I see the 'red shirts' as the people who actually wear the red shirts, the ordinary people of Thailand. I do not confuse the PT or the UDD with the red shirts. It is true, in my opinion, that the red shirts have nowhere and no one in whom to place their hope other than in themselves. The sooner they realize that, the sooner they stop waiting to hear from above what 'their' next move will be, the sooner they can forward their own interests.

I do think they can turn to the Nitirat for advice. Certainly not infallible, but skilled in the art of legal combat. I think the people must be sure to elect themselves to the upcoming CDA in every jangwat and to write their own constitution. That is the only way they can ensure, and enable, their own sovereignty.