FACTreview: Intelligent discussion about lèse majesté

June 10, 2012

These videos may well be blocked by the zealous conspirators against the monarchy. However, the content will not be blocked everywhere. Search “YouTube affiliates” to find a source.

“Rhetoric and Dissent: Where to next for Thailand’s lèse majesté law?”

เสวนา 112 ภาคภาษาอังกฤษ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8WdDtse0kQ&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8WdDtse0kQ

Two ajarns, Ben and Sulak [Yan Martel]

How did I manage to miss this single most brave, factual, outstanding presentation against lèse majesté laws so far in Thailand?!?

There was little, if any, opinion presented to this seminar. In particular, eminent and elderly Thai historians, Benedict Anderson and Saw Sivaraksa (a Royalist who has himself been charged with lèse majesté several times) used a long lens to expose the laws to scrutiny in light of factual history.

This was a brilliant panel called by Australian journalist, Lisa Gardner, a dear friend who consistently demonstrates great insight and cuts through the bullshit. We are privileged to be her friend and celebrate her love for Thailand.

Readers may be interested in the backstory that two venues backtracked on this seminar. Frankly, we are particularly ashamed by the continuing lack of moral fortitude of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, of which several panelists are members. We hope Lisa wears it as a mark of great distinction to be shitcanned by the spineless FCCT.

Andrew MacGregor Marshall resigned as a 17-year Reuters veteran and moved to Singapore to report honestly on Thailand from US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. He of necessity spoke to this seminar by Skype VOIP link. His web postings are blocked in Thailand and he has been declared persona non grata in the Kingdom. It is widely expected he would be charged with lèse majesté should he ever return to Thailand. However, Andrew Marshall is the epitome of journalistic integrity: he never offers us his own opinion. He puts the story together from documented historical sources. And he’s not afraid to confront the death of King Ananda head on.

Ajarn Sulak came to the rescue by offering his foundation as a venue for the seminar. For me, the most fascinating presentation was Sulak’s—he pointed out that Thailand actually didn’t have an absolute monarchy in the sense of absolute control before King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) (in any case, he was the first king to ban books). And that Thailand actually used its Constitutional monarchy until 1948 (I might take exception during the Japanese occupation) when the young and inexperienced King Bhumibol was coopted by a series of military strongmen who perverted the monarchy to their own corrupt ends.

These were political events from which the monarchy in Thailand has never recovered. The shameless self-promotion of Thailand’s monarchy was exposed as simple window-dressing with no substance.

Ajarn Sulak sees the explosion of lèse majesté prosecutions as a conspiracy by politicians loyal to Thaksin to destroy the monarchy and, of course, install the fugitive as first ruler of a new republic upon his triumphant return. The pols are doing a pretty good job of it so far so it’s not much of a stretch to find this believable. The question remains who is responsible for this plot to end the monarchy and who are the hoodwinked, gullible patsies playing into their hands.

Thai govt is already laying waste to our powerful and fragile Constitution. Who can doubt their plans to bring down the monarchy are far behind?

A Khao Sod reporter in the question period commented that he didn’t think anything he’d heard would be reported in his newspaper. So far, neither English daily offered any reportage, either. Are the Thai media who support L-M prosecutions part of the republican plot or are they fools?

Ajarn Sulak finds evidence to support the view King Bhumibol is against these laws. Intrepid journalist (and FACT signer) Pravit presented for the first time stunning news about King Bhumibol’s opinion regarding the use of lèse majesté laws. At the L-M trial of Redshirt editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a prosecution witness responded to a defence assertion that the King opposed the laws by saying that, even so, these are the laws.

For ease of viewing this two-and-a-quarter hour presentation, Lisa’s introductions and the panelists begin at approximately the following times: Pravit Rojanaphruk at 00:00; Dr. Benedict Anderson at 21:50; Ajarn Sulak Sivaraksa at 40:00; Andrew MacGregor Marshall at 50:00; Lisa Gardner’s conclusion and question period at 1:09:00.

Lisa had one sucker-punch message for MICT: “You can’t stop the Internet!”

This panel, more than any other, has given me hope that freedom of expression will prevail in Thailand. Every presenter was gifted a bottle of wine (whisky for Scots Andrew) by Lisa and shared with the audience.

Thank you, Lisa and all for a wonderful evening on YouTube, even if I missed the main event!

10 Responses to “FACTreview: Intelligent discussion about lèse majesté”


  1. ‘Thai govt is already laying waste to our powerful and fragile Constitution. Who can doubt their plans to bring down the monarchy are far behind?’

    What are you talking about? It’s not the elected government that’s laying waste the constitution it is the unelected judiciary, on the orders of whom, exactly? I’ll have to have a look at these sources … but jumping on the “politicians loyal to Thaksin to destroy the monarch” bandwagon seems like you’ve been whirling your dervish again and have made yourself very dizzy indeed!

  2. facthai Says:

    I must heartily disagree with John. The nature of a plot involves more than a single party. In my observations in Thailand and other countries, the judiciary always follows the current political will. There are big players at work to bring down the monarchy and we’re very glad someone of Saw Sivaraksa’s stature and integrity finally confirmed my own assertions. There are the republican conspirators and the Royalist dupes using each other. That’s the real plot to bring down Thailand’s monarchy.

    • albert park Says:

      The problem is that Sulak is maintaining his hatred of Thaksin and letting this blind him to facts. Assertions don’t confirm assertions. That there are republicans in Thailand is without doubt (and they exist in every country that has a monarchy). That some of them may support Thaksin is not astounding as supporting the other side means you must support the monarchy. But to concoct a conspiracy from that is a huge leap, especially when it is a belief and an assertion (i.e. without facts). I always think of Thaksin himself as a monarchist. It was he who threatened LM against FEER journalists. It was Thaksin who tried to stop TKNS before publication and then banned it….


  3. Well I just finished your video and enjoyed it. I don’t think there is a plot to ‘bring down the monarchy’ any more than there are terrorists ‘out there’ who hate us Americans ‘for our [increasingly illusory] freedom’.

    I believe that the ‘plot against the monarchy’ is the Thai ‘9/11′ … a device which enables those in power in each respective country to terrorize the rest.

    I do agree with Benedict Anderson that monarchies in general are on the way out, and with Andrew McGregor Marshall’s homage to King Canute. I also acknowledge that the US’ treatment of many of the peoples of this world has caused a lot of hatred and resentment toward the US.

    But I don’t believe there is a terrorist cabal whose goal is the US’ destruction, nor do I believe there is a conspiracy against the Thai monarchy. I remember the words of a Palestinian women speaking of the Israelis … “They think that we are obsessed with them. Why would we be obsessed with them? If they would just stop all their vile acts agasint us … we would be happy to forget them completely.” I paraphrase, but you get the idea.

    But maybe I’m wrong. Just the opinion of another bozo on the bus.


  4. […] Thankfully, Freedom Against Censorship Thailand has a post on the event. […]

  5. Sam Deedes Says:

    One other thing you missed was Ben Anderson’s comment immediately after Sulak’s remark about Thaksin. Ben said that the royalists were jacking up the LM aggression in preparation for the succession, when presumably they will have a much harder time justifying their approach.

    On a positive note the spinelessness of the FCCT has thrown into sharp relief the entire culture of foreign media being both unwilling and incapable of reporting upon the most powerful institutions in the country.

    Luckily for us a comprehensive analysis of these shortcomings is promised in the very near future.


    • Glen Ford, of Black Agenda Report in US, had a very frank and astute assessment of the Mercenaries for Empire: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch the other day, and I think the point applies to all the Western, globalized, corporate media as well. pretty much acoss the board.

      Thailand is now back in play as an American base against China, U Tapao is back in the news as a ‘NASA’ (the ‘yes, we have nos spaceships’, pentagon client) target, the US has always had ‘good relations’ with the Royal Thai Army – as Ajarn Sulak was not at all shy about pointing out – so why be ‘original’? Just dust of the same ole playbook and … play it again [Uncle] Sam.


  6. […] Freedom Against Censorship Thailand has a post on the event. The post includes links to videos of the discussions, and is well worth some attention. Just in […]

  7. facthai Says:

    I have never observed Thaksin as a proponent of the monarchy. They tolerated him and he tolerated them. I see his relationship with the monarchy as bald political ploy. I’m also not a true believer and I do agree that aggressive prosecutions have everything to do with the succession. Pols are skittish in the end days to know where their skillets will be greased in future, where they need to suck up for maximum reward. Conspiracy and stupidity…

    • albert park Says:

      But no evidence of a conspiracy, right? Just assertion. There’s plenty of evidence in Wikileaks for the royals not even tolerating Thaksin but nothing of a movement to overthrow. You can see and guess all you like, but evidence always trumps that. Thaksin is a startled monarchist.


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