Real Thais Can’t Possibly Oppose the Lese Majeste Law, Can They?
Many ultra-royalists whom I engaged with over the course of many months of twitter exchanges and debates tend to think that something must be wrong with Thais who are against the lese majeste law.
To many of these people, those who oppose the draconian law which ensures that mainstream mass media’s self-censorship is normalized, one-sided information and flattery about the monarchy institution is guaranteed and people who dare to criticize the monarchy will almost certainly end up in jail without bail, must be outright republicans or red shirts seriously misled by Thaksin Shinawatra.
So basically, you must be red or republican, but probably both, as well as having been manipulated by Thaksin. There is almost no middle ground no matter how much I try to convince some ultra-royalists that it would be for the best of society’s maturity for Thais to be able to legally and critically debate and criticize the monarchy if needed, just like in the United Kingdom, Japan, Spain and other constitutional monarchies.
Some well-intended royalists are genuinely concerns that the public are not mature enough to be able to distinguish faction from fiction, correct information and misinformation, about the Thai monarchy. To this I always say that we cannot forever look after the whole 60 millions Thai populations by censoring everything that’s deemed even mildly critical, for it will only ensure that Thais will be bereft of the opportunity to engage in critical thinking, prevented from becoming a mature society, and that it would also dampen our democratic aspiration.
To many ultra-royalists, those who oppose the lese majeste law must be either ill-intended anti-monarchists or victims of republican (formerly known as communist) propaganda. I hardly hear any of them, except one or two so far, who at least admitted that they recognize the good intention of those who want to reform or abolish the law.
To accuse or doubt someone’s ‘Thainess’ or Thai identity is taking this negativity to yet another level, however. It is as if they can’t believe that you can be both Thai as well as critical to the monarchy institution or simply want an institution that is transparent, accountable and not God-like.
I came across a disturbing encounter on Monday when one ultra-royalist Twitter-user demanded that I tell where I was born. After getting the answer, plus my voluntary reminder that even the current King was born abroad in the USA, she went on to ask where my parents were born nonetheless. I replied Thailand.
But she went on to ask where my grandparents were born. It was then that it became clear to me that I am dealing with some kind of neo-fascist and neo-racist mentality.
After refusing to entertain her further, I was accused of not adhering to her notion of ‘freedom of expression’. It was then that I reminded her that perhaps she got mixed up about the notion of freedom of expression and the freedom to coerce others for answer on private matter.
At that moment, I briefly understood how a Jew facing the Nazi interrogation before being sent to Buchenwald or Auschwitz might have felt. Ah, that racist and fascist discourses of racial purity being reincarnated in Thailand seven decades after the demise of Nazism.
It doesn’t matter if even the ruling Chakri Daynasty have mixed racial background from various ethnicities over the past two centuries, because somebody just wanted to brand those who oppose the lese majeste law as un-Thai.
So if being a Thai citizen is not enough to qualify someone to take a stance against draconian and dictatorial law like the lese majeste law, perhaps only direct descendants of Baan Chiang people, whose ancient remains were excavated many decades ago in the Northeast and who are regarded as the earliest settlers in this part of the world, will do.
I was also reminded of the 6 October, 1976 massacre when dozens of mostly young Thais, branded as communist and anti-royalists were lynched to death by rightwing ultra-royalist mob. By the way, they were also branded as Vietnamese or non-Thai.
P.S. Below is a copy of my dark encounter on Twitter.