It's your government, so make it listen

Here we go again, section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law. Another citizen, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, editor of Voice of Taksin, was found guilty on two counts on Wednesday and sent to prison for 11 years.

Immediately, some red-shirts organised protests, even if small ones. Immediately, human rights groups and the various non-Thai bodies, committees and agencies clicked send on their press releases, condemning the judgement. 

Immediately, newspaper writers penned their thoughts on the subject, tip-toeing ever so gently -- for no one would want to share a cell with Somyot. Who, me? No way. 

Indeed, we go through the same routine every time.   

It’s like wondering if some day we will know why Samson loves Delilah and whatever happened to Amelia Earhart. What’s the point of wondering about these things? They are just lines from a song I can’t get out of my head, since 1999. 

This is the Criminal Court of the Kingdom of Thailand, a country where the lese majeste law is honoured and abused, championed and exploited. What other verdict could there be but guilty, guilty and guilty?  

So instead of venting at the court, why not actually change the law? I swear I’m not the first person to have come up with this idea. Really, I’m not. 

There is this government legislative body whose job it is to make or change laws. This legislative body is the parliament, in which the Pheu Thai Party holds an absolute majority. The party that received the most votes in the July 3, 2011 general election. 

Those who caste the votes, instrumental to the campaign and key to the Pheu Thai victory, were members and supporters of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD). 

This is a civic group that champions justice, democracy and human rights – at least that’s the claim. Through the years, the UDD flew the banner against lese majeste. They cried against it. They marched against it. 

The UDD crusaded against old, corrupted power. They raised fists against outdated, archaic laws that impede  justice, undermine democracy and destroy human rights. They have sacrificed lives and limbs, for sincerely and devoutly they believed the Pheu Thai Party would bring justice, democracy and human rights to Thailand. 

This is a civic movement that activists, journalists, anonymous internet bloggers and anyone with a twitter from around the world hailed as fighting for true justice, true democracy and true human rights.

The movement that showed the world the power of the people on July 3, 2011 - that yes, we can!  We can make changes! We can make a difference! We are the power of the people! Pheu Thai is the government by the people and for the people!

Today, the UDD – plus activists, journalists, random internet bloggers and anyone with a twitter from around the world – are still waiting with baited breath. 

Hello? What has the prime minister to say about Somyot’s conviction? 

Hi?  Excuse me, what is the Pheu Thai government’s stance on the lese majeste law? 

Anyone? 

No, no, don’t ask the Democrats, the military or the court. We know whose side they are on. Don’t need to bother them. It would be like asking a thirsty man if he wants water. We know the answer.

A group of people hold signs at the court house to support Somyot Prueksakasemsuk on Jan 23, 2013. (Photo by Achara Ashayagachat)

As a side note, let’s applaud those red-shirt members and others who were at the court house to support Somyot. Those who held signs and made their voices heard. 

You may disagree with their politics, but you might want to respect the consistency of their stance. They are not hypocrites when it comes to standing up for what they believe is justice, democracy and human rights. 

But let’s ask the leadership of the UDD – those men and women, many of whom now sit in parliament and enjoy ministerial portfolio.

Excuse me, your excellencies; what do you plan to do with the lese majeste law and with the case of Somyot?  

You see, there seems to be a clear and transparent way in which you can change the law, no? A clear stance by the people who voted for you, no? A clear majority in the parliament, no? So clear the way to change the legislation, no? 

Oh I see; it’s a sensitive issue and you’re going to set up committees to look into it. All right then, understood, mai pen rai (never mind), carry on.

What’s that my pink Bentley-driving deputy prime minister? Oh, in December 2011 you volunteered to lead a campaign against internet content deemed offensive to the monarchy? What? You don’t even care what colour shirt the websites belong to?  

Ah, that clears things up then. See, this is what we like about you. You’re the most honest person in the government.

Chalerm Yubamrung comes out of his pink Bentley. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Related search: Opinion, Voranai Vanijaka, lese majeste

About the author

columnist
Writer: Voranai Vanijaka
Position: Political and Social Commentator