Privy council, lese majeste & the coup-PPT

March 25, 2009

Updated: Surayud denies involvement in discussions and planning for the 2006 coup
Political Prisoners in Thailand: March 23, 2009

Further to our earlier post based on a Bangkok Post story regarding Thaksin Shinawatra’s comments on privy councilors and judges and their role in the 2006 coup, The Nation (24 March 2009: “Surayud denies role in 2006 coup”) has more on Surayud Chulanont’s denials of involvement in the coup. Surayud is quoted as saying “”We can prove what truly happened.” It would indeed be useful to see real evidence.

The Nation also reports former Internal Security Operations Command deputy chief Panlop Pinmanee as insisting that  a “General S” had held a meeting “during which the participants agreed to oust Thaksin because he was not loyal to the monarchy.”

Meanwhile, “Thepthai Senpong, personal spokesman to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, responded to Thaksin’s allegations saying the former PM had proved that he was averse to the justice system by smearing judges and privy councillors.” His Democrat Party colleague “Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Thaksin had made allegations against privy councillors and top judges with the intention of instigating unrest”

The story in The Nation also says that Thaksin “accused three judges of being behind his ouster, saying Supreme Administrative Court president Ackaratorn Chularat, Supreme Court president Chanchai Likhitjittha, Charan [Jaran Pakdithanakuland] and Pramote Nakornthap had spread rumours that he was behind the publication of [Paul Handley’s] ‘The King Never Smiles’.”

In the same edition, The Nation (24 March 2009: “EDITORIAL: Ready to tear the country apart”) contradicts some of its own report above, claiming that there have been denials by Thaksin’s alleged sources (see Bangkok Pundit on this here).

And, not to be left on the sidelines, Thaksin critic Sopon Onkgara chimes in with an op-ed (24 March 2009: “Phoney phone-ins aim to hurt people in high places”). Sopon argues that the veracity or otherwise of Thaksin’s statements mean nothing for: “The virulent effects of his accusations, whether true or false, undoubtedly affect many people in high places.”

Columnists at The Nation have often dared Thaksin to name names, and now that he does they seem shocked and distraught, with Sopon claiming that: “The state of his [Thaksin’s] mind and his mental stability is questionable. A lot of people already think he has gone mad and nothing can cure him.” Sopon’s op-eds are increasingly little more than personalized attacks but the give a flavour of the fear and hatred that remains following the events of the past few years.

Sopon adds: “Who knows, the next names he utters could be shocking and beyond our wildest imaginations. If those cheering him in the Chiang Mai stadium believe in his accusations, it means that the respected names he mentioned will be hated by thousands of people in the land. Therefore, the malice in Thaksin’s words cannot be denied.”

But perhaps Thaksin has already uttered that which is “shocking and beyond our wildest imaginations” for The Nation also reports (23 March 2009: “Ever the victim, Thaksin tries to explain his downfall”) that, “For the first time, he even made an insinuation by mentioning the VIP-protection code ‘901′, used by security details to refer to His Majesty.”

It is clear that lesé majesté and the political role of the monarchy remains at the centre of current debates in Thailand and that the political use of lesé majesté is unlikely to be diminished in such a highly charged atmosphere.

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