Today it was revealed that a member of the Democrat Party has proposed an amendment to the lese majeste law. Below is a rough translation of two main sections:
Because at present there is a great number of those acting illegally offending by improper speech and committing lese majeste of His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, the Heir Apparent, and members of the royalty through various means and forms which might cause the people to misunderstand or cause damage to the institution of the monarchy which is highly revered by every Thai. These aforementioned actions have the characteritstics of that can be likened to a movement which is being carried out systematically with the intention of overthrowing the institution of the monarchy which is an institution of great importance to the country and the people. It is fitting to amend the principles within the criminal code to be more appropriate to the current situation and thus it is necessary to draft this Act.
1. Previously for this offense those covered extended to the king, queen, heir apparent, and regent. This draft proposes to include "members of the royal family" [alt. members of the royalty – [phraboromwongsanuwong] (
2. Previously for offenses of defamation, the punishment was from 3 to 15 years. This draft proposes increasing the punishment to 5 years to 25 years and a fine from 500,000 to 1,000,000 (Provision 112)
3. For those charged with the offense of defamation of the king, queen, heir apparent, members of the royal family, and the regent, the court is to set the date for considering the evidence and the day for trying the case expeditiously.
4. In the initial considerations of court, if it is found there "are grounds," the court is to receive the case and set the date of trial with speed, when re the nature of the offense involves information, articles, words, representations [?], invidious comparisons, pictures, content.
5. The accused shall have the burden of proving, and bringing evidence of proof of their innocence (the prosecution or plaintiff has only to report the offensive incident to the court)
6. It shall be a case tried in its entirety with postponements allowed except when there is truly sufficient reason.
(Courtesy Dr. David Streckfuss, Khon Kaen University)
The Democrat Party's introduction of new lese majeste laws is a dangerous trend in a transparent effort to court Royalist voters. Harsher penalties for perceived disrespect show no love for the King.
The Democrats' effort dovetails with Thailand's ICT Ministry's proposals to create a national firewall targeting "lese majeste, pornography and terrorism" at a cost of up to 500 million baht and to amend the Computer-Related Crimes Act by eliminating judicial oversight. These plans are an outright assault on free speech and human rights in Thailand.
Thailand's cybercrime law was a military priority enacted by a coup government with no legitimacy. The military government also passed the Internal Security Act in its eleventh-hour despite public protests.
Now government has activated its Internal Security Operations Command as created by the new law. ISOC will be spearheaded by hardline Thai general Panlop Pinmanee, a hawk who sees solutions by violence whether on the streets of Bangkok or in Thailand's Muslim South.
We should be building bridges in Thai society through genuine dialogue, compromise and reconciliation, not by imposing the power of government. These attempts by politicians, lawmakers and bureaucrats admit the attitude that they just don't trust Thai people to make their own decisions. Aren't all of us important to Thailand's future?
It's high time to end top-heavy government and create a society where free expression can flourish to heal divisions. A democratic society and real national security demand nothing less.