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Thaksin: Fugitive from law sues for criminal defamation

In this Sept 13, 2016 photo, people wait at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok. A lawyer of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra file defamation and computer crime charges against a newspaper columnist and a news agency at the division on Thursday. (Bangkok Post file photo); Inset: Thaksin's infamous lawyer Mr. Noppadon; Thaksin poster receiving offer of birthday cake and human kiss; silhouette of two men engaged in debate.

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In school we learn to debate like scholars & gentlemen, but in Thai politics rich guys attack poor journalists with criminal defamation suits.


Thaksin: Fugitive from the law uses law to sue for criminal defamation

Online Reporters

Thaksin Shinawatra has filed criminal defamation and computer crime lawsuits against a Thai Post newspaper columnist and a news agency.

Criminal defamation lawsuits are certainly an expensive way of engaging in a public debate over the truth which the media and newspapers, in particular, are supposed to foster.

Defamation suits have also been used recently to suppress the legitimate watchdog and truthseeking activities of journalists and activists, as in the recent Andy Hall and Wyn Ellis cases. 


Journalist Supinya Klangnarong became a hero after being sued by Thaksin for criminal defamation and was eventually appointed to the board of Thailand's national telecommunications regulator, the NBTC (Photo source: NBTC)

Some might also find it strange that a fugitive from the law with outstanding warrants for his arrest can use the law and his lawyers in the country he faces criminal charges in to bully journalists writing about him.

If a politician or tycoon flees the country instead of fighting the charges against him in a court of law, some say he should lose his legal rights, specifically his right to legal maneuvering by lawyers on his behalf, this is the gist of a recent move by constitutional drafters that seems to make sense (see here). 

In the past Thaksin has actually made journalists famous by attacking them with criminal defamation suits

Supinya Klangnarong became a free speech hero and made it all the way to the board of Thailand's national telecommunications regulator, the NBTC (see photo on right).


Chumsai Sriyapai, Thaksin's lawyer, filed charges on Thaksin's behalf against the newspaper writer who goes by the pen-name Pleoi Si-ngern at the Thai-language daily with the Technology Crime Suppression Division on Thursday.

Thaksin accused the journalist of defamation and breaking the computer crime law.

The journalist is accused of writing in his "Plai Soi" column that Thaksin intentionally evaded the tax on the Shin Corp share deal.

The article was published on March 27 in the newspaper and on the newspaper's website.


The columnist also accused Revenue Department officials of taking Thaksin's orders when they did not assess and collect the tax.

"This is not true. They did not do it because the deadline had passed and it could not be done," Thaksin said.


Mr Chumsai said Thaksin also pressed similar charges against TNews for accusing him of being part of the Wuthipong "Kotee" Kochathamakun group and Charupong Ruangsuwan.


The fugitive ex-prime minister also sought legal action against those involved including the owner of the "Prach Samsi" Facebook page, who had allegedly started the accusations.


To raise many other issues about Thaksin's questionable activities while Prime Minister just open the book Thai Capital after the 1997 crisis and turn to the telecommunications chapter.

Here is a quote from this academic scholarly text and established classic on Thai political economy discussing Thaksin's business activities, conflicts of interest and lack of transparency during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis that has surely stimulated some debates in the past and could well continue to do so:

(Source: Mobile phone image of book in author's possession)

From page 110 of: Ukrist Pathmanand and Chris Baker (2008) "Hello and goodbye to the mobile phone" in Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker (eds) Thai Capital after the Asian Crisis. Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai.

The book is published by Silkworm Press, see here & available at the Thailand Information Center (TIC) at the 6th floor of Chulalongkorn University's Central Library).

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academic : relating to education - เชิงวิชาการ

accused : to be said to have done something wrong or committed a crime - ถูกกล่าวหา

activity (noun): a thing that you do for work, interest or pleasure, or in order to achieve a particular aim - กิจกรรม

allegedly : claimed to have done something wrong, but not yet proven - ที่กล่าวหา

assess : assess a tax; to require that a tax be paid by a company or person -

behalf (noun): on someone's behalf; as a representative of - ในนามของ ในฐานะของ

charge  : an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime - ข้อกล่าวหา

collect (verb): to receive something, especially money - เก็บเงิน

column (noun): a part of a newspaper or magazine which appears regularly and deals with a particular subject or is written by a particular writer - คอลัมน์ในหนังสือพิมพ์

columnist : a journalist who writes regular articles for a newspaper or magazine - ผู้เขียนในหนังสือพิมพ์หรือนิตยสาร, คอลัมน์นิสต์

conflicts of interest : a situation in which someone cannot make a fair decision because they will be affected by the results - ผลประโยชน์ทับซ้อน

constitutional : correct or allowed according to the constitution - ถูกต้องหรืออยู่ในขอบข่ายที่ระบุไว้ในรัฐธรรมนูญ

continue : happening or existing for a period of time without interruption - ซึ่งติดต่อกัน, ซึ่งต่อเนื่องกัน

court : the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged - ศาล

Crime Suppression Division (CSD) : a national police department responsible for conducting most of the technical investigations of criminal offenses - กองบังคับการปราบปราม

daily (noun): a daily newspaper, a newspaper published every day -

deadline : a time or day by which something must be done - เส้นตาย

deal (noun): a formal agreement, especially in business or politics - ข้อตกลง, การตกลงซื้อขาย, การซื้อขาย

debate : a discussion in which people or groups state different opinions about a subject - การอภิปราย, การโต้วาที, การถกเถียง

defamation : the offence of writing or saying something bad about someone that is not true and makes people have a bad opinion of them - การใส่ร้าย

drafter : a person or group who write a document for consideration, but which not yet in its final form - ผู้บร่าง

evade : to avoid or escape from someone or something - หลีกเลี่ยง

file : to take official action like making a complaint - ยื่น, ยื่นคำร้อง

flee : to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger - หนี อพยพ

fugitive (noun): someone who has been accused of doing something illegal and is trying to avoid being caught by the police - ผู้หลบหนี

galore : in abundance; lots of something; large amounts or quantities -

gist (noun): the main or general meaning of a piece of writing, a speech or a conversation - ใจความสำคัญ

intentionally : deliberately; done purposely - อย่างตั้งใจ

journalist : a person who writes news stories or articles for a newspaper or magazine or broadcasts them on radio or television - ผู้สื่อข่าว

lack of : when there is not enough of something - ขาด

lawsuit : a case that a court is asked to decide involving a disagreement between two people or groups - คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาล

lawyer : an attorney - ทนาย

legal : allowed by the law - ถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย

make sense : to be practical and sensible - เข้าท่า, เข้าท่า เหมาะสม

maneuver (noun): (manoeuvre) a movement performed with care and skill - การจัดทำ

move (noun): action -

news agency (noun): an organisation that collects news and supplies it to newspapers and television and radio companies - สำนักข่าว, องค์กรรวบรวมข่าวให้สื่อมวลชน

officials : people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

order (noun): something that somebody is told to do by somebody in authority - คำสั่ง

pen-name (noun): a name used by a writer instead of their real name - นามปากกา

Revenue Department : the government department responsible for collecting taxes - กรมสรรพากร

right : a moral or legal claim to have or get something or to behave in a particular way - สิทธิ

scholarly : related to the detailed study of a particular subject and those who know a lot about it - นักวิชาการ

share : any of the units of equal value into which a company is divided and sold to raise money. People who own shares receive part of the company's profits - หุ้น

similar : like somebody/something but not exactly the same - คล้ายกัน

stimulate : to make something develop or become more active; to encourage something - กระตุ้น, ส่งเสริม

tax : money that you have to pay to the government so that it can pay for public services - ภาษี

transparency : an honest way of doing things that allows other people to know exactly what you are doing - ความโปร่งใส

tycoon : a person who has succeeded in business or industry and has become very rich and powerful - นักธุรกิจที่ร่ำรวยและมีอิทธิพลมาก


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