The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship has urged the government to take legal action against two Privy Councillors and a former Prime Minister for their comments about the Crown Prince. A staunch critic of the monarchy has criticized the move.
On 6 Jan, the UDD urged the Prime Minister to take legal action against Chair of the Privy Council Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, Privy Councillor Air Chief Marshal Siddhi Savetsila and former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun for making comments which have appeared in a US Embassy cable published by the Guardian via WikiLeaks.
Acting UDD Leader Thida Thawornsate said at a press conference on the previous day that the comments allegedly made by the three persons during conversations with the US Ambassador ‘bordered on damaging our high institution.’
Thammasat University lecturer Somsak Jeamtheerasakul argued in a Prachatai article published as a quick response to the move, that any accusation of lèse majesté was unjustifiable, and went radically against the principles of democracy.
In any case, those who claim to be champions of democracy should never encourage legal action against anybody on such charges, as this will only legitimize manipulation of the law, no matter who the accused might be, Sondhi Limthongkul or Prem, he said.
What should be done about the leaked US Embassy cable is to point to the fact that members of the elite such as Prem, Siddhi and Anand could talk straightforwardly about problems of the monarchy, even to a representative of a foreign government, but publicly are staunch advocates of the discourse on loyalty and the lèse majesté law, in order to gag public opinion. The WikiLeaks cables have exposed this kind of hypocrisy among these elitists, Somsak said.
He said that the issues of the monarchy, including its succession, should, in fact, be public topics which the people should be able to discuss openly. This is the point the UDD should have made about the leaked cables, not accusations of lèse majesté.
He said that the UDD should have called for the abolition of the law, instead of encouraging its use.