Strong words from court
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Strong words from court

The Constitutional Court judges deliver their ruling against the Move Forward Party on Wednesday. (Screen capture from Constitutional Court YouTube channel)
The Constitutional Court judges deliver their ruling against the Move Forward Party on Wednesday. (Screen capture from Constitutional Court YouTube channel)

The Charter Court ruling on Wednesday that orders the Move Forward Party to drop its attempts to amend Section 112 might not have dissolved the progressive party, though that remains a threat in the aftermath of the court's decision. It must be noted, however, that the wording of the ruling is startling -- perhaps the most severe and serious that this party or any Thai party has ever faced.

The unanimous ruling from the court's nine judges said the MFP's campaign to amend the royal defamation law showed "an intent to separate the monarchy from the Thai nation, which is dangerous to the security of the state".

The ruling describes the MFP's campaign as a "systematic" part of a "gradual process that shows an intention to drag the royal institution down from its revered status that is protected by the state" and bring the institution into conflict with the people.

It also showed an intention to "erode, undermine and overthrow the constitutional monarchy".

Needless to say, the ruling is ominous for a party which won the national election last year and could do well again next time, assuming it survives to vie in the next poll.

The plaintiffs are likely to file another petition to the court against the MFP members involved in the party's campaign to amend the lese majeste law. Some critics may well seek the party's dissolution as a result.

But such is the wheel of fortune of Thai politics. The question for the public is: what impact will the ruling have on society and democracy?

It is undeniable that Section 112 remains a bone of contention and until this law gets a facelift in a bipartisan manner that is unlikely to change.

Bipartisanship is an alien concept in politics, as reflected by the fiery debate over changing Section 112.

Pundits on both sides of the political divide concede that Section 112 opens the door for political exploitation. Political rivals can use campaigns to amend or even protect the law to gain an advantage.

No matter what the intentions are, the outcome does not look good, especially for the monarchy, which has been drawn into this conflict.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, as of Dec 31, 261 people have faced lese majeste charges since the beginning of the Free Youth protests in July 2020.

It must be noted that the court's ruling clearly says the law is amendable. But the process must be done in good faith via the parliamentary system. It is the responsibility of lawmakers to use parliament as a space to discuss and improve the law so it can serve the monarchy in future.

During the past decade, a number of proposals for change have been conceived in good will. One is forming a committee to filter politically motivated or unfair lese majeste charges.

This filtering system will prevent the law from being used as a political tool. Another proposal is to create a safe space to talk about such matters.

Making this law untouchable and sacrosanct does more harm that good.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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