A World of Republicans
Where Monarchists Honour Dogs and Imprison Citizens
The Thai monarchy is one of the worst. It certainly disproves the magical belief of British monarchists that the feudal institution somehow protects us from the tyranny that might otherwise take away our rights.
According to Forbes magazine Thailand's former king had accumulated almost £19bn before he died in 2016. But great wealth was not enough for this monarch. He and Thailand's monarchists wanted subservience.
Fifteen Years For Insulting KingIn the Thai monarchy lèse-majesté, that is insulting the king, is illegal. A citizen can be locked in goal for fifteen years on one charge of that offence. Even the parents of the estranged wife of the former king's son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, were imprisoned for this "crime"
In 2012 Ampon Tangnoppakul died while serving a twenty-year sentence for insulting the Thai "royal" family. Mr. Ampon was sentenced for sending four SMS messages that were alleged to have violated this law. He was given five years for each message.
In 2013 a ten-year prison sentence was imposed on a Thai journalist accused of insulting his country's "royal" family. Somyot Prucksakasemsuk's "crime" was to have published magazine articles "defaming" Thailand's hereditary head of state.
Thanakorn Siripaiboon, a factory worker, was charged in 2015 with lèse-majesté. His offence was to make remarks about a stray dog that had been rescued by the monarch.
A Well-Behaved DogThis monarch had written a best-selling book about the well-behaved dog. According to the Financial Times the book "was widely seen as a symbol of the obedience and manners expected in Thailand's hierarchical society".
It seems that Mr. Thanakorn did not learn the right lessons from the monarch's book. He did not act like an obedient subject.
He was also charged with "liking" a social media comment that insulted the monarch.
Even a taxi driver making remarks to a passenger is not safe in Thailand. One was imprisoned for just that.
According to the Financial Times "At least two organisers of bicycle races to honour King Bhumibol and his wife Queen Sirikit died in custody in unexplained circumstances . . . after being accused of using the monarchy's name for personal gain".
In this monarchy the state has a higher regard for dogs than for its citizens. The dog of the old king's son was reported to have the rank of Air Chief Marshal.
Shakespeare BannedThe Washington Post reported in 2012 that censors in Thailand had banned a movie adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth because it "has content that causes divisiveness among the people of the nation". According to the film's director the censors did not like anti-monarchy overtones or what they saw as political content. The newspaper said that the Thai state had become more hostile to republican opinion as its hereditary head of state aged and the need to find a successor came closer.
Monarchists Use ViolenceOn 6 October 1976 royalist mobs, Thai soldiers and right wing paramilitary forces massacred students in attack on Thammasat University.
According to Wikipedia "A day before the massacre, the Thai press reported on a play staged by student protesters the previous day, which allegedly featured the mock hanging of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. In response to this rumored outrage, military and police as well as paramilitary forces surrounded the university. Just before dawn on 6 October, the attack on the student protesters began and continued until noon. To this day, the number of casualties remains in dispute between the Thai government and survivors of the massacre. According to the government, 46 died in the killings, with 167 wounded and 3,000 arrested. Many survivors claim that the death toll was well over 100".
In 2013 there was again violent disorder in the streets of Thailand as the opposition tried to overthrow the democratically elected government. The opposition included what the Financial Times termed "the old royalist establishment".
Opposition protesters fired home-made rockets at the offices of the prime minister after two days of street battles in which government buildings were occupied and lives lost. The European Union described the response of the government as "restrained and proportionate". However, opposition leader and former prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he would "continue to fight" even if elections were called. His government was the very clear loser in the 2011 election.
The opposition denied that it was provoking chaos in order to persuade the military to intervene. The then king made no public statement on the actions of his supporters.
The King Dies and the Arrests IncreaseAfter the 2016 death of the king the military junta was reported by the Financial Times to be "redoubling their crackdown on alleged insults to the monarchy". In the three weeks following the death of the king at least twenty five people were charged with insulting the monarchy.
The newspaper reported that as well as arresting critics of the monarchy the junta was putting pressure on social media sites to censor comments on the monarchy, and was even seeking the extradition of opponents living abroad in seven countries.
When Thailand's Nation newspaper said that the monarchist crackdown by the junta would expose the country to "mockery" it seemed like a huge understatement.
But in the year-long period of mourning the royalist junta had some public support. There were reports of monarchist mobs humiliating people they believed to have insulted the feudal institution.
Thais for a RepublicThais for Republic is "a group of Thais who fight to abolish the monarchy-military regime in Thailand".
The group's Web site is at thaipeople4republic.wordpress.com. Follow them on Twitter with #thais4republic.