Dr Ammar Siamwalla, economist and former Chairperson of the Thailand Development Research Institute, suggests that limits be placed on Article 112.
On 14 February, Ammar gave an interview on Bangkok Business TV regarding use of Criminal code Article 112, or the lese majesté law, that the article must be used sparingly. Use of tools without reason is punishable the courts because of the king being used as a tool.
'Now it’s quite explicit that everyone is using [the article] as a tool and the king should not be used as a tool by anyone whatsoever. And use [of the monarchy] as a tool is also lese majesté,' he said.
Reporters asked whether [the article] punishment was severe. Ammar stated that the punishment is harsh and that everyone was afraid.
‘Look at even Thammasat, with which I have been associated in the past. I feel the pain in my heart. From a university that was every square inch free has become…something unrecognizable. And the decision was a consensus decision. All deans, including dean of the economics faculty that I so much love,’ he said.
Ammar taught economics at Thammsat and quit after the 6 Oct 1976 massacre.
When asked whether there would be a bloodbath at Thammasat if events were held, Ammar stated that circumstances at the time being were far from turning to violence because ‘we still have our beloved army monitoring the situation and the army is not coming down to take over like during the Puey Ungapakorn era.’
Bangkok Business further reported Ammar’s opinion that amending or not amending Article 112 should be a matter for lawyers to study advantages and drawbacks and weaknesses in the law because currently the cited law is a political tool creating problems for society.
‘So it’s like becoming something where expression of opinion is seen as inappropriate. Personally I see that some issues should be amended. But the instance of suggesting that the king should take an oath before assuming position… I don't agree, because this (kingship) does not come from election. If it is possible I would like to see the military take an oath from the time they in officer’s training school that they will respect the constitution and will not overthrow the government or rip up the constitution.'
Translated by Frank G Anderson