A rock singer’s charity campaign has sparked debate over the ethics of donations, while a senior academic is facing a lèse majesté lawsuit for criticising King Naresuan, who ruled the kingdom of Ayutthaya 400 years ago. Thailand’s lèse majesté law is notorious for its excessive punishments and broad interpretations.
The first case of lèse-majesté under Thailand’s new King Vajiralongkorn accuses an undergraduate law student. Both Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa’s youthful grin in newspapers and the petty nature of his crime — sharing a BBC article on his Facebook wall — make the young man a puzzling suspect. He does not appear as one of the country’s most dastardly criminals.. Instead, Pai seems startlingly relatable — something to unsettle the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
The first lèse majesté suspect under King Rama X claims that prison staff have repeatedly searched his rectum for drugs. On 5 January 2017, Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattaraksa, a key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and Dao Din anti-junta activist groups, told Prachatai that every time he returns to prison from court, authorities order him to bend down so that his rectum may be searched. Despite Jatuphat’s protests that he should not be subjected to this treatment since he is a political suspect, not a drug suspect
Thai authorities reportedly planned to implement a surveillance device starting from 15 September to sniff out Thai Internet users, specifically targeting those producing and reading lèse majesté content, a report says. Although the report is yet to be confirmed, it has created greater climate of fear among media. Prachatai has received unconfirmed reports from two different sources.