Submitted on Thu, 12 Nov 2009 - 11:12 PM
1) DARANEE CHARNCOENGSILPAKUL (aka DA TORPEDO)/ PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE
Sentenced in August 2009 to 18 years in prison for ‘insulting’ the King.
Although Daranee is a prisoner of conscience the London-based Amnesty International has failed to classify her as such. Though AI issued a statement on June 25, 2009 calling for “a public trial” on the case which was ordered closed to the public by the Thai court, AI didn’t even raise any objection to the lese majeste law or whether the law is producing prisoner of conscience or not. And one would have thought that AI’s specialty was the issue of “prisoner of conscience”. Perhaps not anymore.
At this stage, would it not be better for Thailand’s crippled state of freedom of expression if AI would explicitly renounce its role in campaigning for prisoner of conscience? As long as AI keeps mum about the issue some people may be misled into believing that there indeed exist no prisoner of conscience in Thailand. So if you can’t do the job, then at least let others know that you’re no longer doing it.
AI can carry something like this on its website: “We do no longer keep track on any possible prisoner of conscience in Thailand. Thank you very much.”
Back to Thailand, the question is: “Do they really need to put Daranee behind bars?”
To show/shout to the world how reasonable/agreeable and just lese majeste law truly is?
To announce/flaunt to the world that Thailand is indeed ‘unique’ and that the King is ‘revered’/‘benign’/‘semi-divine’/etc./etc.?
On the first day of her trial, none of the mainstream Thai media was there to cover/report about the trial. The media apparently didn’t care/dare. Only Reuters, Asahi Shimbun and prachatai.com were present.
The mainstream Thai media seemed to already have made up their mind about how to treat people like Daranee. It’s tough when the portrait of the person whom you ended up against in the lawsuit is being hung in every courtroom.
The judges decided to have the trial held in-camera which means that anybody not directly involved are barred from the hearing, including journalists. But does lese majeste law and the limiting of free speech really has nothing to do with the public?
As if being prisoner of conscience isn’t bad and absurd enough, no political books were allowed for Daranee in jail. But what will they do with the political thoughts inside her brain? Try to remove it or find a way to delete it and replace it with new and more appropriate content?
2) JI (GILES) UNGPARKORN and others.
Self-exiled political activist/Marxist and another unintended high-profile product of lese majeste law.
Twenty other people, foreigners included, are facing pending lese majeste cases. Those currently still in jail are Boonyuen Prasertying and Suwicha Thakor. Those sentenced to jail and subsequently granted royal pardon include Australian Harry Nicolaides who merely wrote an ‘offensive’ English-language novel that sold less than 10 copies prior to his arrest. (For more information see thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com).
3) The Economist
A highbrow London-based weekly news magazine known (at least in Thailand) for being critical of lese majeste law and the Thai monarchy institution. Not consistently available in Bangkok for some mysterious reasons. At least four editions were not available in Bangkok over the past 10 months or so.
BTW, Big Brother is also watching them and said these Brits don’t really understand how Thai people think.
4) The King Never Smiles
Title of a banned book written by journalist Paul Handley on HM the King published by Yale University Press. Failed attempt was made to have the book project aborted.
Not available in Thailand’s bookshops but available in Thai contraband version on-line and read among a circle of some Thais.
Big Brother warning: Read it at your own risk.
May be more dangerous to possess than that of having cocaine under your bed.
5) (social) COERCION ?
‘Please’ stand up in ‘respect’ of the King/ the royal anthem at theatre before filming starts. (Google Chotisak Onsoong and see what happened to him after he refuses to stand up.)
“Please’ wear yellow shirts to work in ‘honour’ of HM the King every Monday. It would also be ‘good’ to wear light blue shirt in ‘honour’ of HM the Queen.
Who will dare say I am not a royalist and do not ‘revere’ the King? Who will dare say ‘I am a republican’?
Given the current ‘political climate’ and social coercion will anyone dare say ‘I am not loyal (mai jong rak phak dee) to the throne?’
So all Thais revere the King as the mainstream media often repeated ad infinitum and yet lese majeste law is needed.
6) FEAR ?
Definition: an unpleasant feeling caused by the awareness of danger (ibid)
Who will dare tell the society – please do not OVER-revere the monarchy because it may not be good for Thailand/democracy/stock market etc. ect. in the long run, or even now?
To be too dependent on one person, one institution, you know…
Who will send more defaming and lese majeste content on-line to a friend/contact when you may end up in jail? By the way, the latest arrested ‘criminal’s’ name (October 2009) was Nat Sattayapornpisut, 27, who allegedly sent lese majeste content on the Internet to a British national in Spain through the Internet. Apparently thought police are now accessing some suspicious on-line users’ private e-mail accounts like Nat’s.
7) BIG BROTHER
Thought Police, ICT Min. (Internet-Control Technology Ministry), PAD (People Allergic to Democracy) etc, etc..
Is your family/neighbour/colleague allergic too?
IGNORANCE IS BLISS… THREE AND THREE MAKE FIVE
LESE MAJESTE LAW IS JUST
ALL THAIS REVERE THE KING
ALL THAIS LOVE THE KING
LESE MAJESTE LAW IS NEEDED
TO PUT SOME THAIS IN JAIL
8) RAMA X
Public discussion on the topic anyone?
Guess there’s no taker then. ☺
9) VERIFIABILITY/BELIEVABILITY (the unintended consequence of lese majeste law/censorship/self-censorship)
From The Nation’s editorial on October 16, 2009:
“False hearsay regarding the King could have been started for political, even financial gain. The stock market tumbled two days in a row on PLANTED RUMOURS [capitalized by this writer]. On Wednesday, the index shed 2 per cent as the Dow Jones breached the 10,000 mark. Yesterday the Thai index plunged more than 8 per cent amid concerns about the King’s health. In afternoon trading, the benchmark index fell 8.3 per cent to 670.72 despite the Palace saying that 81-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, receiving treatment at Siriraj Hospital since September 19, was recovering from a lung inflammation.”
“The market later trimmed those losses to down 6.1 per cent. The UNFOUNDED RUMOURS [capitalized by the writer] about the health of His Majesty had circulated for more than three days. The Nation’s office received several phone calls on Wednesday. One call was from Hong Kong, where investors were trying to inquire about the monarch’s health. Another call came from Singapore, again inquiring about the King’s condition. The rumours were SO WIDESPREAD [capitalized by this writer] that the Palace was prompted late on Wednesday to issue a statement saying that the King’s doctors asked him to stay in hospital… King Bhumibol is a constitutional monarch with no formal political role, but has repeatedly brought calm in times of turbulence and is widely revered as the country’s moral authority and a unifying figure. Thousands of well-wishers have crowded daily outside Siriraj Hospital, and events have been organized around the country in honour of His Majesty…The 81-year-old King has gone to Siriraj to receive treatment for fever, fatigue and lack of appetite. He is now recovering at a pace that is natural for his age, and he CERTAINLY (capitalized by this writer) will be able to resume functions and his role sooner than later. THERE IS NOTHING MORE TO THIS FACT. (captitalized by this writer).
“The rumours were designed to create panice and SPECULATION (capitalized by this writer) on Thailand’s politics. The political situation indeed remain divisive…Again, we condemn those who began the rumours and call on them to stop playing tricks on public sentiment as the nation send its best wishes to the beloved monarch.”
The key words here are: “PLANTED RUMOURS”; “UNFOUNDED RUMOURS”; “WIDESPREAD [rumours]”; “NOTHING MORE TO THIS”; “FACT”; and “SPECULATION”. The point is, how can any rational and ordinary Thai/foreigner be so sure as to know for certain?
How can people trust local news when they are well-aware that Thai media is famous/infamous for exercising widespread self-censorship/censorship regarding the monarchy institution, incessantly/untiringly and abundantly praise and report only GOOD NEWS about the institution?
And remember, there is also lese majeste law.
Should anyone be surprised that the latest annual report by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Thailand at 130 out of 173 countries? We used to be at number 59 just five years ago but are now neck to neck with notoriously repressive societies like Singapore (ranked 133). That’s quite an ‘accomplishment’. As RSF noted in its latest annual report in October 2009: “Most of the Thai journalists voice the same reverence for King Bhumipol as the vast majority of the same population. The others are forced into self-censorship… The government has put in place a system of censorship and surveillance of the internet to prevent any criticism of the king. More than 50,000 web pages have been blocked, according to the information and communications ministry.
“Under Article 112 of the criminal code, “anyone defaming, insulting or threatening the king, the queen, the presumptive heir or the regent” is guilty of the crime of lese-majeste and can be sentenced to three to 15 years in prison. And the 2007 law on cyber-crime gives the authorities the power to check personal information of internet-users without legal control… The authorities, who faced international criticism for these free expression violations reacted by going even further…”.
In a related development, on May 28, 2009, Prasong Lertrattanawisut, President of Thai Journalists Association (TJA) spoke at a media symposium organized by the Fredrich Ebert Foundation (FES) on why Thai mainstream media censored itself on news relating to lese majeste law. “Why we do not dare report about lese majeste cases? Because we have been taught [that way]. It’s a deep-rooted culture.”
(The quote in Prasong’s own words in Thai: Kadee min tham mai sue mai kla saner [phro] tuek sorn, pen wattanatham thee fang luek.)
Now, moving on to the US, The New York Times reported on October 15, 2009, page A8 that: “The 81-year-old king… is regarded as semidivine by many Thais. His health is an extremely delicate topic. His son and presumed heir, Crown prince Vajiralongkorn, … element of uncertainty to a polarizing four-year political crisis.” (this writer elected to self-censored part of the article due to lese majeste law).
IGNORANCE IS BLISS
10) MINORITY RIGHTS = minority = no rights = wrong
Definition: 1 a form of mental disorder characterized by delusions of grandeur, persecution, etc 2 intense, irrational fear or suspicion (Chambers Mini English Dictionary, 2006 edition)
The question is, which side is more paranoid?
The authorities/elites/royalists who ban books/magazines, and news mildly critical of the monarchy institution or those who are too afraid to talk ‘freely’ and critically at restaurant about the king or be quoted about their personal travail etc, etc.?
Are the authorities/elites/royalists/mainstream establishment media who support lese majeste law and thus making the law world famous/infamous more paranoid than those who believe that Big Brother is watching them due to their political belief/activities?
Are people who are afraid of keeping a banned foreign book about the Thai King more paranoid than the ICT Ministry and the thought police who monitor on-line and off-line discussion/debate about the monarchy institution?
Or is it vice versa?
Either way, Thailand must be full of truly paranoid people.
12) ANONYMOUS ON-LINE POSTERS
Do you guys really think you’re so “anonymous”?
Check again with the Internet-Control Technology Ministry.
Or ask Nat (see # 6) and friends. (also, see the latest arrests of people like bbb)
Something alien to Thais, or so Big Brother confirmed.
14) FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Another alien concept not fully developed in Thailand.
Please refer to # 14.
But we already have lese majeste law plus Big Brother!
Are you ‘crazy’?
Big Brother said democracy has nothing to do with this article.
‘Please’ repeat after Big Brother.
DEMOCRACY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LESE MAJESTE LAW!
Go back to your trusted news outlets.
Resume your ‘normal’ life.
Forget that you have ever read this article.
Everything is normal.
Everything is fine.
Now go to bed.