June 5, 2008

Thailand: Lese Majeste and Jakrapop's Defence

Comment: If Jakarapop's (former Minister to the PM's Office) lese majeste case ever comes to court, one of his defences could be that in the 1970s Thai government manuals on democracy were critical of patronage and reliance on elders and sought to promote a more egalitarian political culture. As discussed in Democracy and National Identity in Thailand (p. 96):

"Before the consolidation of the ideology of ‘democracy with the king as head
of state’ in the 1980s (see Chapter 6), it was still possible to destabilize royalist
readings of democracy. For example, King Ramkhamhaeng’s bell is viewed critically
in this manual.As the Ramkhamhaeng stone inscription, reputedly from the late
thirteenth century, tells it, any one with a grievance needed only to ring the bell and the king would listen to their needs. The authors [of the democracy manual] reinterpret this as a negative thing, for it is seen as producing a culture of citizen dependency, of childlike relations with a father. Thus the old political culture is described as having imparted values of indifference in state matters and a perspective that ‘politics is a matter of those above and thus they [the people] have little ambition to go and vote’."

Jakrapop has said the kind of thing that erst-while liberals such as Chain-Anan S have publicly written about. Actually, the full text of the manual cited above may have been written under Chai-Anan's influence given his prominence at the time.

*** Update
Analysing the background and significance of this case see Shawn Crispin's piece in ATIMES.COM

1 comment:

Preecha said...

Jakrapob will probably confess and then recieve a pardon, he said the bad things but claims to have no bad intention - Thai people are forgiving