On May 18, Sulak Sivarak, 76, reported to Khon Kaen Provincial Court, after being arrested and charged with lèse majesté on Nov 6 last year for what he said in his lecture on ‘Folk Philosophy’ at Khon Kaen University on Dec 11, 2007.
Sulak said he had been brought to the court on May 4, as police were authorized to grant him bail for six months after the arrest, and they had not yet finished his case. He was granted further bail by the court with the Dean of the Faculty of Law of Khon Kaen University acting as guarantor, and was obliged to report to the court every 12 days until the police finished the case.
‘I told the court that my case was a case of abuse like when Gen Suchinda Kraprayoon sued me [on the same charge in 1992 after Sulak criticized the 1991 coup led by Suchinda - Prachatai]. I had to fight that case in court for four years, and the court ruled that although the defendant might have used harsh and impolite words, the intention was to protect the monarchy, so I was acquitted. That made me waste four years. This time, it is Thaksin Shinawatra who is abusing me,’ said Sulak.
Sulak claimed that a Senate committee had said that he was abused by police officers who had been Thaksin’s underlings, and the police wanted to dismiss the case, but they had to receive an order. He heard on May 16 that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also wanted the case to be dismissed. He hoped that it would be dismissed by May 28, but he expressed his incredulity of Thai bureaucracy.
He said he had to come to the court in Khon Kaen every 12 days to show that he was still alive. That wasted his time and money. With another case pending in Bangkok, he said if the PM agreed with the Senate committee that he was loyal to the monarchy, he should order the case to be dismissed.
He said Abhisit had called him on May 2 to ask how he could help. He understood that the PM should have already ordered the police [to dismiss the cases against him], but there were factions in the police, and some of them would not listen to the PM. However, he believed that there were some police officers who listened to the PM and understood that he was a royalist. So he hoped that the PM and the police would help him.
‘I insist that I’m a royalist, with the sole intent of protecting the institution, and to tell people how important Democracy with the King as Head of State is. What I said in Khon Kaen was not different from what I had said before, for which Suchinda had sued me,’ said Sulak.
He said despite the court cases, he was still firm in his stance. He saw that the lèse majesté law had to be amended, as agreed by several scholars. Whoever exploits the lèse majesté law offends His Majesty and the monarchy. The monarchy must exist for the benefit of the people, and has to be criticized, openly and transparently. The prohibition of criticism will only do more harm than good, and will be exploited by politicians.
‘I’ve said this for 40 years, and always said it clear. This is my third or fourth case, but I won’t change,’ said Sulak.