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
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!