Giles Ji Ungpakorn
The lèse majesté law cannot be reformed into a democratic law any more than a military dictatorship can be reformed or amended into a “democratic military dictatorship”. The lèse majesté law is fundamentally against the freedom of expression and democracy. It cannot be reformed. It has to be abolished.
Those who are for maintaining lèse majesté in Thailand in an amended form can only hold up the limp excuse that “Thailand is different”. But Thailand is unfortunately not unique. Brutal dictatorships exist all over the world. Just like in Thailand, regimes in Syria, Egypt and Yemen, gun down pro-democracy demonstrators in the streets. In Singapore writers are imprisoned for criticising the establishment. In Burma, North Korea or China, those who advocate democracy are put in prison. There is not even anything unique about the Thai establishment claiming “Thai uniqueness” in justifying the repression. All dictatorships do the same.
Another excuse of those who advocate reforming or amending lèse majesté is that they believe that they stand a better chance of convincing the corrupt and brutal generals, politicians and top civil servants to accept some minor changes if they don’t “go too far”. But that is like asking a gang of robbers not to “rob too much”. It is still robbery. In this case the robbery of Democracy and Human Rights.
No one should face charges, be punished or be in jail for speaking their mind about Thai political institutions. This is the line that must be drawn in the sand to defend freedom of speech and build Democracy in Thailand.