A List of Interesting Ironies
A few days ago, the University in Thailand that most prides itself on promoting free speech and democratic ideals placed a ban on a moderate, apolitical group of academics seeking an open discussion of Thailand's lèse-majesté law.
A couple of weeks ago, there was an open letter signed by several of the most blue-blooded descendants of royalty in Thailand suggesting that this law be amended.
Those currently in power, often accused by their political opponents of wanting to subvert the revered monarchical institution of this country, have turned out to be the most knee-jerk and draconian advocates of the law.
Designed with the noble purpose of protecting that which Thai people hold most dear, the law has in the last decade been used as a political stick, a rallying cry for witch-hunters, or a way of entrapping old men and teenage girls.
The King himself, the person being protected by this law, has publicly stated in completely clear words, understandable to all, that he is troubled by the way this law is applied. Yet those who claim most stridently to be protecting him have completely failed to take the King's own thoughts into account.
I would submit that some of the loudest voices, competing to outdo each other in nationalism and royalism, are hypocrites.
The King of Thailand has never endorsed the way this law is used, yet it is always he who gets international bad press when extremists apply the law in ways that contravene basic human rights.
I would suggest that those who truly love this country, and who truly love this King who has done so much for this country, should start off by cooling their rhetoric and actually listening to what His Majesty has had to say on the issue.
I would also want to state that a strong, stable and progressive system of constitutional monarchy is in no way whatsoever inconsistent with open, rational discussion of that system. Indeed, such discussion makes the system stronger.
Democracy and Monarchy are not opposites. If that were so, why is Great Britain so successful a monarchy, and so successful a democracy?
I believe that the sharp turn towards a muzzled society, which began in the Thaksin era but which was not repaired by any subsequent government, cannot disguise the fact that Thailand's spirit is essentially a free spirit.
The best that is in the Thai people, including the love of freedom, is embodied in the person and the institution that Thais cherish the most.
I urge those in power not to desecrate that institution while loudly proclaiming to be protecting it. The people of Thailand are not idiots.