Ex-PM offers views on lese majeste law
Complaints process needs firming up
Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun has suggested that Section 112 of the Criminal Code, better known as the lese majeste law, be amended to clearly specify who should hold the authority to press legal action against a suspected offender.
Certain lese majeste cases were actually unreasonable and examples of abuse of power, Mr Anand said.
He was speaking in a recent interview aired on parliament's YouTube channel, in response to a request for his opinion regarding calls for an amendment to the lese majeste law.
If this is to remain, he said, it should be amended to clearly specify who should have the authority, be it the prime minister, interior minister or justice minister, to order an investigation into an alleged offence, he said.
Currently, Section 112 allows just anyone to lodge a complaint against someone else suspected of violating this law, while police are duty-bound to process such a complaint or else they may risk facing legal action for dereliction of duty, he said. Starting from a police investigation, such a complaint usually makes its way to the court, he said.
The former premier, however, doesn't think it will be a good idea to drag the royal institution into conflicts surrounding calls for the amendment of Section 112. He said the royal institution should remain above "ordinary" laws, while all sides in the conflict over calls for amendments to the law, should refrain from bringing politics into the palace. He insisted he personally has no problem with the current lese majeste law, but he will agree if certain parts of the law can be amended.
According to his understanding, he said, several other countries that still have a lese majeste law no longer treat violations as a criminal offence but a civil one. And in several countries which still have the monarchy, the law comes under the constitution, he said.
Some of these countries no longer enforce their lese majeste law and others have tried to lessen the punishment for lese majeste law offenders, he said.
In his view, although some calls by the young people campaigning against the lese majeste law may seem romantic and even extreme, they aren't actually unusual or wrong but are something that requires understanding from older people.