Regarding Pavin Chachavalpongpun’s May 3 article, “If you don’t think the king deserves to be feted, don’t say so in Thailand“: I wish to impress upon readers the following points:
First, Thailand is a democracy with a constitutional monarchy. Hence, its monarchy — while highly revered — is above partisan politics. Although certain political groups may try to enhance their credibility by claiming to align themselves with the monarchy and draw the institution into politics for their political gains, for the article writer to imply that the Thai monarchy “had actively been involved in politics” is clearly misleading.
Second, the King reigns, but does not rule. His Majesty is genuinely respected and held in the highest regard by his people as the “Father of the Nation” because he has devoted his life to the betterment of their welfare. The respect and moral authority that the King has is earned, not forced as the writer appears to suggest.
Third, the lese-majeste law is part of Thailand’s Criminal Code, which also contains general provisions on defamation and libel of private individuals. It is not aimed at curbing people’s rights to freedom of opinion and expression including debates about the monarchy as an institution. But those who abuse their rights by spreading hate speech or distorted information to incite violence and hatred among Thais as well as toward the monarchical institution in contravention of the law — whether through the Internet, on-line social networks, communication devices or otherwise — must be held accountable in accordance with the law.
Last, the legal proceedings against Amphon Tangnoppakul (“Akong”) and Lerpong Wichaikhammat (Joe Gordon) as well as Chiranuch Premchaiporn were carried out in accordance with Thai law. All of them have been accorded due process as provided by the Thai Criminal Procedures Code, including the right to a fair trial, due opportunity to contest the charges and assistance from their lawyer. They are also entitled to the right to appeal.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.