Thailand: The king and the absolute monarchy

Monday, April 19, 2010

Op-Ed by Khmerization
18th April 2010

“King Bhimbol’s brother, King Anand, was found shot in the head in his bedroom 64 years ago and there was a widespread suspicion that Bhumibol had something to do with his death because he was the only one in the bedroom with King Anand at the time of his death.”

I know I have put myself in political hot waters or even in trouble with Thailand’s draconian lese majeste law for writing this opinion piece critical of the Thai royal family. I might even be subjected to a Thai lese majeste law. However, in this modern age and living in a free country that cherishes free speech, I believe that all individuals, regardless of their status, political belief or creed, should be permitted to exercise their full constitutional rights in expressing one’s own free opinions without any fears of being persecuted for expressing those very opinions.

With this in mind, I am mindful that even an Australian ABC TV, which had just screened an excellent documentary critical of the Thai royal family titled “Thailand - Long Live the King”, is faced with prosecution by this draconian Thai lese majeste law. I am now taking the risk for writing this critical article about the Thai royal family. I hope I am not a big enough fish whom the Thai government or the Thai king should argue with.

Thai lese majeste law is very draconian by any standard. It imposes severe and long term prison sentence for any people who defy the law. Anyone, Thais or foreigners, making the slightest remarks or innuendo critical of the Thai royal family risked being jailed between 3-18 years. On the political arena, the Thai subsequent governments have consistently and effectively used lese majeste law against their opponents, in the political or academic circles. Many opponents of the Thai subsequent governments and anti-royalists, such as Thaksin Shinawatra and Giles Ungaporn and others, had been jailed or been forced to live in exile with drummed up and false charges against them.

Many people have been persecuted and incarcerated needlessly for supposedly insulting the king. There are abundant examples of the ridiculousness of the applications of the Thai lese majeste law. A foreigner was once jailed for defacing the Thai currency that bears the picture of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. An Australian novelist, Harry Nicolaides, who satirised an unnamed prince in a short passage in his novel that sold only 7 copies, was in 2009 sentenced to three years in jail under the law over a self-published novel. The female red shirt protesters known as The Torpedo, who said the monarch had damaged democracy by supporting the coup, was jailed for 18 years late last year. Paul Handley, who wrote the only critical book of the Thai monarchy, titled “The king Never Smiles”, said he would have been jailed if he is to step foot on Thai soil.

The Thai monarchy is said to be a pivotal point in Thai politics which is central in keeping Thailand united, until now. However, King Bhumibol appears not to be a pivotal point anymore, but now takes side with Abhisit Vejjajiva in the current political crisis. He supports Abhisit against Thaksin because he is fearful of Thaksin’s overwhelming popularity, which surpasses his own popularity, with the majority of the Thai people. This theory has been proven correct because Abhisit has been hiding in the 11th Infantry Military Barracks, the King’s Royal Guards, since the heights of the red shirts’ protests in January. On 10th April, the troops that were used to disperse the red shirt protesters, an action that caused the deaths of 23 people, were mostly members of the Royal Guards as evident by the fact that most of the wounded soldiers were members of the Royal Guards and a colonel, Col. Romklao who was amongst the 4 soldiers killed, was the commander of the Royal Guards from the 11th Infantry.

Thailand had abolished absolute monarchy in a military coup in 1932. However, with the strict applications of the lese majeste law, there are some elements of absolutism in the present Thai monarchy.

The bad and negative side of the Thai royal family had been hidden from the Thai public for more than 64 years, often with self-censorship, but particularly due to the lese majeste law that prevent them from being exposed publicly. King Bhimbol’s brother, King Anand, was found shot in the head in his bedroom 64 years ago and there was a widespread suspicion that Bhumibol had something to do with his death because he was the only one in the bedroom with King Anand at the time of his death. However, due to the severity of the lese-majeste law, the matter of King Anand’s murder had been hidden from the Thai public for 64 years and had never been discussed publicly by any Thais. The murder of King Anand 64 years ago and the promiscuity of the playboy Prince Vajiralongkorn and the nudity of his third wife, the future queen, have been deliberately whitewashed to help protect the integrity of the royal family. The Thai people, who never knew of these negativity and scandals in their royal family, think that the members of the Thai royal family are some sort of gods that are infallible.

Lese majeste law is archaic and outdated in this modern day and age. God had created all mankind to be equal and that all man should be equal before the laws and that no one should be above the laws of the land. By the same token, no law should be created to suppress the majority just to protect the minority. As such Thailand’s lese majeste law should be abolished for good.


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