Updated: Lese majeste is the most important political weapon
PPT has been all too regularly posting about lese majeste events over the past month. In fact, this is because the coming to power of General Prayuth Chan-ocha at the head of the army and Police General Wichien Potposri as top cop has seen a coalition of determined royalists take control of the “grand fight” against Thaksin Shinawatra, the red shirts and the republicans (seen as one group by the yellow-shirted royalists).
The advent of this pro-establishment coalition has given the Democrat Party and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva a powerful political advantage that allows for the repression of opponents in the name of protecting the monarchy. Gutting the opposition through lese majeste laws and computer crimes laws wasn’t sufficient to counter the “red tide,” and it is now more direct repression and higher levels of propaganda warfare that are considered likely to defeat republicanism and red shirts.
It is the only way to maintain the elite’s “life as we know it” while avoiding the historic compromises that lead to more popular forms of democratic rule. This ruling class is not about to back down or compromise. In fact, they see democratic forms of government as the prime reason for the emergence of Thaksin, republicanism and red shirts. Their fight is as much about establishing anti-democratic forms of government as it is about defeating republicanism.
PPT is sure the palace, through the Privy Council, is desperately keen that dangerous republicanism be smashed and it has never favored any form of government that is not “Thai-style.” That is, hierarchical, elite rule, with the monarchy at the center of the system of rule.
Is PPT being too alarmist? We think not, but if you need convincing, follow this link to the 2Bangkok.com Forum, scroll up to the top, and read story after story (all in Thai, but with short English-language captioning) that is about lese majeste, the work of Prayuth (seen as a hero for yellow shirts), arrests, threats of repression and arrest and so on.
Interestingly, one of the stories is about how bringing down the Constitutional Court is the first step in getting rid of the monarchy. This kind of story is remarkably revealing for it lays bare the true attitudes of the establishment.
Democracy, rule of law and human rights mean nothing for them. When Thaksin once said democracy was a tool, he was revealing the same kind of attitude. Such words have no real meaning or political content. They can be mindless mantras spat out for an international audience, but in the elite’s Thailand there is no use for such ideas in practice. What matters is maintaining rule and any political tool will do. Most often it has been the military’s jackboot.
Update: Prachatai has a story – form one of the links above – that reports on a Democrat Party parliamentarian who wants Thaksin charged with insulting the monarchy, allegedly in Robert Amsterdam’s White Paper on state violence against red shirts in April and May. Watchara Petthong “told reporters at Parliament House that he had received complaints from the public about the book…. He said that the book, whose Thai version is available at major bookstores, contained passages accusing the courts, including the Courts of Justice, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, of being dominated and giving arbitrary rulings, and attacking the throne in regards to, for example, the court-ordered seizure of Thaksin’s assets, the massacres in 1976 and 2010 and numerous arrests under the lèse majesté law. Watchara said that he had already filed a complaint with House Speaker Chai Chidchob to look into the matter and forward the case to the National Police Chief Pol Gen Wichean Potephosree for legal action. [The ... Thai version] does not bear the name of the author, only giving Amsterdam & Peroff as the publisher and Kled Thai Co as the distributor. In its first edition, 5,000 copies were printed, each sold at 100 baht. And after the MP’s statement appeared in the news, it is reported that a major bookstore withdrew the book from its shelves.”