Prof. Nidhi signs for free expression-Prachatai

February 17, 2009

[FACT comments: Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) and coordinator CJ Hinke were among the first signatories to FACT signer Ajarn Giles’ petition against lese majeste. Wake up! That’s what ‘free expression’ is all about. If you’re afraid to take such a simple and non-threatening act as signing a petition for someone you believe in, you’re of not much credit as a human in this life. Of course, Prof. Nidhi was also an early signer to FACT’s petition.]

Nidhi: signing the petition was for the principle of free speech

Prachatai: February 12, 2009

Giles Ji Ungpakorn’s flight and Red Siam manifesto have been a bombshell.  Political foes are quick to grab the opportunity to make this work to their advantage.  The fact that Ji appeared on the red-shirt stage at the end of last month and some thousand academics and others signed his petition to abolish the lèse majesté law seem to have fallen perfectly into the hands of the right-wing PAD who have long claimed there is a conspiracy against the throne. 

Nidhi Eowsriwong, who has been critical of the PAD, and has been a target of abuse from the PAD stage, happens to be the first name on Ji’s petition list.  He and his former colleagues at Midnight University are among the first who have been targeted in this lethal fray.
On Feb 11, Nidhi told Prachatai that Ji’s petition was signed in the spirit of freedom of expression.
‘About the signatures, people can think whatever they like.  But the point is the principle that one should be free to speak or express oneself.  In what one has to say, one might get it wrong, or be misinformed, but one can always be challenged.  Many who signed the petition may have not agreed with what Ji thinks or writes, which was the cause for prosecution, but they signed on the basis of academic freedom,’ Nidhi said.  And he thinks what Ji wrote in the book ‘A Coup for the Rich’ does not constitute an insult or threat to the institution.     
‘Those who signed do not necessarily have to agree with what Ji thinks, but they signed for the principle that Ji is entitled to freedom of expression of what he thinks,’ said Nidhi.
When asked about the climate of fear in which dozens of cases are being prosecuted and the Thai media has kept silent, Nidhi said that, in fact, people have not dared to speak up about this for so long.  Now many people have been sued by those who use Article 112 to get rid of their political opponents, and the law allows anyone to file charge against anyone else.  Do the Thai police dare to reject the charges as groundless, he asked.  And the political polarization makes it even harder not to accept the charges.  So, finally, all cases pass from the police to the prosecutors, and most prosecutors, or at least half of them, would take them to court.  In this long process, how troubled would the accused be, he asked.
‘The [lèse majesté] law has not been used as intended.  Its intent is that the monarchy is in a position that is not easy to defend itself.  If the King gets insulted, it would not be proper to have him go to court, as he is Head of state.  So the law was designed to save the institution the hassle.  But the law has been exploited, stirring up trouble as is happening now.  If the use of the law and legal process are not reconsidered, it would do much harm to the country,’ he said.
‘Those who are genuinely loyal to the monarchy, not for personal gain, should see that the [misuse of the law] would trouble the institution itself,’ he said.
Nidhi said he was not upset with Ji’s departure, because even if all things are honest, the Thai judicial process would take a long time, from police to prosecutors, and perhaps bail would not be granted by the courts.
‘Suppose it takes 3 years to get to trial and finally you are acquitted, but you have had 3 years in prison.  Would you take it?  So, for whatever reason he fled.  His latest statement is his business.  Even if without the statement, I’d still have sympathy for anyone having to flee the country because of this,’ Nidhi said, adding that it should be noted that Ji’s latest statement emerged after the prosecution and pressure had started to mount, like a reaction to unjust acts.  Before that, he had not seen Ji act against the throne.

Source: ‘นิธิ’ ยันหลักการร่วมลงชื่อยกเลิก ม.112 ป้องกันใช้เป็นเครื่องมือทางการเมือง

2 Responses to “Prof. Nidhi signs for free expression-Prachatai”

  1. […] Censorship in Thailand notes that Giles’ flight and the ‘Red Siam’ manifesto have been a bombshell. Jotman underscores the historical significance of the manifesto: This statement strikes me as both […]

  2. […] Censorship in Thailand notes that Giles’ flight and the ‘Red Siam’ manifesto have been a bombshell. Jotman underscores the historical significance of the […]

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