Unwanted Advice

In January 2010, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjavija ordered the establishment of an Advisory Committee on National Security Cases Involving the Monarchy, with the responsibility of advising the police, DSI and ICT Ministry on the careful, appropriate and fair conduct of lèse majesté cases.

And the Committee was indeed set up. Whether it has actually been asked for advice is another matter altogether.

It is Monday morning at the offices of the Advisory Committee. The not-very-overworked staff are reporting for duty.

‘You’ll never guess.’

‘Not again? Who is it this time?’

‘The Royal Thai Army no less.’

‘Oh please no. And who’ve they collared now?’

‘That Thammasat history johnny. Been spouting about the royals for ever and a day but because he’s an academic he’s normally quite difficult to understand, so he’s been getting away with it.’

‘An academic? But that’s exactly who the PM said wouldn’t get done. He’ll be livid.’

‘And? You’re the PM and you get livid with the army and then what?’

‘Bugger all, I know. Well I suppose it’s a waste of time complaining to the Army about not asking for our advice. But which police station is it?’

‘Er, hang on a min, it’s in Thai Rath here. Nang Loeng.’

‘So what’s their excuse for not consulting us ahead of time? Before they make complete fools of themselves. That is supposed to be the procedure, you know.’

‘Of course I know, but what do you expect them to do with the army breathing down their necks? Course of least resistance, I expect.’

‘Send them a reminder anyway. Maybe next time they’ll think before they have the media on their backs.’

‘They’re expecting a full house as well. Foreign newspapers are interested this time.’

‘I wish they’d just stay out of it. Makes us a laughing stock every time something gets into the foreign press and we can’t keep banning the Economist forever, you know. Pisses the PM off no end, so he gets pissed off at us and what are we supposed to do about it? When’s he been told to report?’


‘Oh for heavens’ sake. They’re busy dissolving parliament just now. If they’d done it today, it would have got crowded out to the bottom of page 17. Well, we’ll just have to hope for a coincidental clash on the Cambodian border or something.’

‘But that would need the cooperation of the army and it’s the army …’

‘Alright, alright. So what are they doing him for? He must have a charge list the length of his arm.’

‘Actually no. For some reason they’ve decided to do him for just 2 things he wrote after the Princess’s interview the other week.’

‘The Princess? But she’s not covered by 112. You’ve got to be kidding.’

‘I kid you not. Makes you wonder, though.’

‘Wonder what? That if the boys in green can’t be bothered to read our exceptionally clear and unequivocal memos, they certainly aren’t going to read the relevant law. Give me strength.’

‘So how’s that going to play in court?’

‘Lord only knows. No matter who they find to hear the case, there’s no way they can find him guilty on the evidence. So when they do, it’s an automatic appeal and even more of the proverbial hitting the fan.’

‘Do you think we should advise them about adding more charges? Bring in something a bit more substantial?’

‘Advise them how? They don’t seem to want to know that we exist. How many months have we been sitting here? And how many times have we been able to do our job?’

‘Never. So what do you want me to do with this?’

‘I dunno. The usual, I suppose. Clip the article, open a file and put it in with the thousands of other cases where we’ve been ignored. And to think I was worried we’d ordered too many filing cabinets.’

‘Listen, lighten up. We’ve got a nice office, salary every month, just about no work to do and nobody but the PM seems to care whether we do it or not. It could be worse.’

‘Worse? How?’

‘Well, we could be working for the National Human Rights Commission. Not even the PM takes any notice of them.’