Akbar Khan and police buddy again allege defamation-Frank G. Anderson

March 17, 2010

Akbar Khan and his police pal Wattanasak strike again!

New Criminal Defamation Allegations – Apparently lèse majesté advocates don’t like criticism…

Frank G. Anderson

The Korat Post: March 14, 2010

http://www.thekoratpost.com

Greetings to friends and fellow readers of the Korat Post website which will shortly be back in near-full operation. I am providing the following for information, as well as to invite anyone who may feel an urge to lend support.

Thailand patents lèse majesté detector

Per police summons, I am instructed to appear before Phahon Yothin police on 19 March 2010 at 13:00 hrs., to respond to a second criminal defamation allegation within one month. This time Col. Wattanasak, a colleague of Akbar Khan, is the accuser. Khan, in fact, had already filed a criminal defamation allegation with the CSD against me for something he claims he saw on the Korat Post website at 10:00 pm on 18 December 2008. But then over the ensuing year-plus police took to get their case assembled and documents translated Khan and Wattanasak never took a single and much-needed step in contacting me over the intervening period to demand or request editing or removal of ‘offensive’ material. Our family lawyer has assured me that Section 329 of the criminal code should certainly be more than sufficient to debunk these self-denigrating allegations.

In support of his claim, according to police, Khan introduced himself as a translator and provided police with a Thai language excerpt of original English that appeared online that he says was defamatory to him. It seems that the entire document he likely refers to was related to my critique of Khan and Wattanasak in what many see as their vendetta against those who they personally feel affronted the monarchy and challenged their sensitivities.

Immediately upon receiving the first summons, on or around 15 February I removed all potentially offending material from the US-based server and sought on my hard disk what might be of such objectionable content but could not find anything…shall I say that would offend anyone rational? When I rushed the ‘Khan translation’ to a professional translation service, they wrote back saying that the material was confusing, grammatically incorrect and uncertain in meaning. Our lawyer informally indicated that it was ‘sheer nuisance nonsense.’ I was also informed that “Sure, Thai police will work with their friends to harass people like this. For example, if my friend lives in Chiangmai and I want to cause you real inconvenience, I will have my friend file with the police there.”

Having to drive from Korat takes about 2,000 Baht in gas – not a big issue but money is money. As we are in the midst of building a new apartment building, that also takes time to supervise. The fact that the lèse majesté duo have actually filed criminal defamation charges against me bespeaks of something beyond what I might personally feel. That is, they are seemingly focused on making sure that their opinions dominate others, that anyone who poses a potential obstacle to what they want has to be crushed – and who better to do the crushing than the police, courts, and then prison officials? Although I am not yet a fully transformed optimist-turned-pessimist, I am flabberghasted at the audacity, senselessness and overt ill-will in the filings.

When I tried to file a criminal charge against Khan of my own – offense of terrorism per Section 135/1 of the Criminal Code, police absolutely refused to cooperate and would not allow me to register the allegation. As well, a call to the public prosecutor’s office on 10 March 2010 led to a non-sympathetic refusal to entertain the idea that such a charge could be made until the current one is concluded – this can take well over half a decade! When I brought up with Korat police that politicians are countercharging one another all the time they told me, “That’s different.”

Despite several attempts to explain that my wish to file the charge stemmed not from any actual content in Khan’s charge that might be factual but that I felt the very reason itself behind the charge was criminal – to intimidate and punish, not to resolve anyone.

Once again our lawyer has advised that despite police being unwilling to accept a counter allegation from me, that all I needed to do was to appear at the criminal court in the same district and file the allegations directly with them. That I plan to do this Friday morning.

From a personal viewpoint, I have found that by and large people around the world will usually take steps to understand and appreciate one another, despite their differences. Yet, there are also those recalcitrant souls who seem to take pleasure in trying to ruin the lives of others for self-gratification. Such people have ruled society for short but bloody periods in the past, and the longer they are allowed to remain isolated, un-confronted and unchallenged, the worse our global society will become.

For anyone who is interested in contacting Khan to get his side of the story, police have provided his mobile telephone no. and in doing so stated it was not confidential. The number they gave is 081-555-1160. Perhaps he can explain his position and motivations.

I will head down to Bangkok on the 19th. Several media agencies have been invited as well to drop by for a press conference. I am not certain if I will be the only one there.

As a final note, I become more firmly convinced day in and day out that the ogre of fear and intimidation prevalent in Thailand regarding this knee-jerk attitude must be addressed in the Thai courts, full frontal assault and surely with the talent that is massed already but merely afraid to take on this ugly aspect of human nature.

Sincerely,

Frank G Anderson

Korat

083-1002277

BACKGROUND

February 21, 2010

Thai Criminal Code

Chapter 3, Offense of Defamation

Section 326 – Whoever, imputes anything to the other person before a third person in a manner likely to impair the reputation of such other person or to expose such other person to be hated or scored, is said to commit defamation, and shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one year or fined not exceeding twenty thousand Baht, or both.

Chapter 4, Criminal Liability

Section 59 – A person shall by criminally liable only when such person commits an act intentionally…

This is a brief announcement that may also serve as an update to those interested in what Akbar Khan in Thailand has been doing over the past year in the litigation area.

On 15 February 2010 I was served with a police summons to appear at the Pahon Yothin Municipal Police Station in Bangkok on 18 February to answer charges of criminal defamation.

According to details provided to me during the brief questioning, it was revealed to me that Akbar Khan claims that late in the night of 18 December 2008, over fourteen months ago, he noted material on my website, the Korat Post at www.thekoratpost.com which he claims defamed him and severely tarnished his reputation. The material had to do with a quotation, reference or remark related to the Jonathan Head and Jakraphob lèse majesté cases and the possible ignoring of His Majesty’s advice in 2005 regarding his personal discomfort at the frequency and nature of lèse majesté cases.

After detailed discussions with police inquiry officials at the station in both Thai and English I declined to acknowledge the charge and indicated that a primary reason for my action was that I allege the charge to be false, unable to be substantiated, possibly even created for ill-intended reasons and that I was now forced to consider immediate counter-allegations as a matter of justice and self-preservation.

Another justification for my decision was that I was given what is similar to a Miranda warning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miranda_warning ), wherein any statement I made once I acknowledged the allegation may be used against me in a court of law.

Explaining to police that I did not have a lawyer, that I was also not professionally qualified to adequately ensure myself legal protections, I decided not to acknowledge the charge.

As a result, according to police, they will assemble evidence already gathered in the case – which was referred to them from the Criminal Suppression Division and passed along to them as the CSD handles important cases – and submit it to the public prosecutor for review and determination on whether the state should proceed with actual criminal charges or drop the case completely.

Rather than wait, I have opted to do something that Akbar Khan apparently did not do for me – offer him a fair chance.

I am requesting the Royal Thai Police, who were very professional during the visit I made, to kindly contact Akbar Khan and discuss his felt need to proceed with the case and now absolutely certain consequences should he continue with his allegation.

If Akbar Khan decides to withdraw his allegations, my intention is to obtain a formal police note for the record indicating that the case has been dropped.

However, if Akbar Khan decides to proceed, and does not drop his allegations by end of February 2010, it is my intention to proceed with multiple – and much more serious criminal charges followed with civil charges asking for significant financial compensation to cover, in part only, the great pain and suffering his actions have produced against me directly and against others.

Thai language evidence Akbar Khan allegedly provided to the Thai police, as shown to me, did not contain the original English to which it referred. Immediately since receiving the summons I had blocked the pages where any possible offending material may exist as a matter of course, but in reviewing it on hard disk can not find anything that would damage Akbar Khan’s reputation. In fact, when any across-the-board name search for him is conducted, one is exposed to many other sites where extremely offensive remarks and defamatory comment against him are made.

Akbar Khan contends that his reputation was sorely damaged, but this is easily contradicted by his total failure or possibly even willingness to contact me at early stages of his alleged sensitivities to withdraw or edit the material.

By reasons of logic and certainly by ethical standards some sort of effort should have been made given that the material was supposedly so damaging that its presence on my website (which gets anywhere from 10-50 visitors a day and particular pages often get no visitors) caused Akbar Khan to suffer a loss to his reputation.

There are several other nuances and aspects of his late 2008 allegation which I personally see as part of an overall lack of sincerity and goodwill. I may be mistaken in this, but it is undeniable that:

1.      Akbar Khan did not consult with me whatsoever prior to filing his allegations, nor since then. Material of such “offense” was permitted to remain online by him!

2.      Material evidence relating to volume of site visitors, particularly to the offending pages, or any material substantiating Akbar Khan’s allegations that he has a positive public reputation anywhere in Thailand or abroad was either not in police custody or merely not shown to me by them.

3.      I sent case material in the Thai language that police informed me Akbar Khan translated, to a professional Thai national translation service which came back to me indicating that the supposedly offensive material could not be properly translated into English because it was unclear in content and the grammar was incorrect. I have a written record of this opinion.

To quote their comments, “The message you want me to translate is not so clear that I can’t be certain of its meaning. I mean it’s confusing both in terms of grammar and content. Besides, this issue is quite sensitive for Thai people, so I’m not sure if I could translate it properly. Sorry for not be able to offer help this time.”

In summary, no small degree of personal distress was caused by Akbar Khan’s actions in filing charges on the one hand, and in his total failure on the other to ever contact me to express his outrage or as an ethical adult ask for cooperation.

I lost the entire night’s sleep the day I received the summons but after talking with police am somewhat confident that justice will prevail.

That, however, is not the sole issue here. When in Thailand anyone has the right, temerity, malicious intent and/or ability to file and actually engage in subsequent criminal prosecution against those whose views they disagree with, Thailand’s image and reputation suffer almost as badly as the victims who are exposed to unjust, sometimes fabricated and perhaps often ill-intended accusations.

As you may note, the same translation service that declined to translate the offending passage for me mentioned that the subject area (lèse majesté) was one very sensitive to the Thai people and that it was another reason the service would not translate the material. So there is a great deal of fear, even literal terror – justified and irrational, associated with the subject of lèse majesté in Thailand or even its discussion or referring to it, even when it is obvious that lèse majesté charges are or may be spurious and inspired by ill will.

Despite this fear, however, certain brave Thai people, like Ajarn Sulak and others, have broached the subject and continued to advocate for responsible levels of free speech. In return for such efforts these advocates of democracy and responsible free speech have been hounded, prosecuted, excommunicated from certain sectors of their own society, and despised by those whose purposes are to enslave rather than empower.

Because of my lifelong association with the issue of free speech, respect not only for a nation’s institutions but also its core decency and honor, I opted to place online certain commentary that may or may not have mentioned Akbar Khan by name. Most of that material is now blocked as a matter of courtesy, the kind of courtesy that I was not provided earlier. The same material, however, may be placed back online once the web pages that contain it have been fully reorganized.

While I may have resources to hire legal representation and pursue several counter suits under the Thai Penal Law system and the Civil Code, I have refrained to date from exercising my rights because of the significant waste of state and private resources that would ensue, which would compound those already spent on an allegedly frivolous allegation of criminal defamation against me.

Snowballs have a tendency to grow as they roll. As an example, during my police station visit, I was shown a considerably thick pile of documents associated with Akbar Khan’s allegation against me, with the material I glanced at all being in the Thai language.

To adequately defend myself in any further litigation, criminal or civil, I would request that the Thai state translate all material that is in Thai into English so I can be fully aware of all nuances associated with any case that may possibly be filed.

I still shake my head at what I regard as a totally unnecessary misdirection of state

resources involved with assigning police to investigate allegations and create a substantial file for possible prosecution – all because during one night in December 2008 a foreign resident of Thailand encountered material critical of him and/or an issue he voluntarily involved himself in and thereby subsequently became a public person. As most of us in the media field are aware of, public persons do not enjoy the same degree of legal protections or prohibitive commentary that ordinary private citizens are entitled to.

Regardless, I maintain that by filing actual criminal allegations over such a mundane online entry Akbar Khan perhaps went far beyond the limits of common sense or sane human decency, and that his actions involved in my particular instance and/or others have been viewed by others as irrational in the extreme, self-contradictory, and shall I say…unprofessional?

The above comments are totally editorial in nature, reflecting opinion except for where it is obvious that facts are being quoted or referred to.

In summary, then, I am giving Akbar Khan until 1 March 2010 to respectfully withdraw his criminal defamation accusation, after which I will be forced to file my own criminal and civil charges – all of which are already in draft and pending. This is not intended as a warning or threat but as a statement of fact and absolute intent.

Finally a word to the wise: opening a can of worms exposes worms. When you seek to instill fear and terror, when you intentionally volunteer to make life unpleasant for others or otherwise to act in a vindictive fashion, often to satisfy person ego or because of a twisted sense of duty or indignation, the consequences of doing so will someday themselves return to your own doorstep.

Sometimes victims, despite their own fear and reluctance, have to fight back because of an important principle in the course of human events – the right, the duty, the ability to speak out and to be heard, without which evil prevails and freedom dies.

Frank G. Anderson is the Thailand representative of American Citizens Abroad and an early FACT signer. He was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer to Thailand from 1965-67, working in community development. A freelance writer and founder of northeast Thailand’s first local English language newspaper, the Korat Post – www.thekoratpost.com – he has spent over eight years in Thailand “embedded” with the local media. He has an MBA in information management and an associate degree in construction technology.

4 Responses to “Akbar Khan and police buddy again allege defamation-Frank G. Anderson”

  1. tom hoy Says:

    For what it’s worth, I would like to voice my support for Frank G. Anderson. His response to this intimidation seems to me to be both courageous and wise.A rare combination.

    And it’s time that the crime of criminal defamation is thrown into the garbage bin with all the other laws that criminalize free speech and free thought. Defamation should be a civil matter in all senses of that word.

    Good luck, Frank. I hope others will support you too.

  2. Andrew Spooner Says:

    Good luck Frank.

    Someone has needed to take on Khan for some time and I think you should be commended for doing so.

    Watch your back and best wishes

    Andrew Spooner


  3. I showed up at the police station, signed receipt for the latest mindless accusation and got permission to drop by tomorrow to swear out my own criminal complaints against the duo. Will cite them in detail as soon as I get back home to the good woman.


  4. […] Akbar Khan and police buddy again allege defamation-Frank G. Anderson « FACT – Freedom A… […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: