Because of the lese-majesty laws in Thailand, this becomes a topic to tread lightly on. However in this post, we will look at what is driving the sudden explosion of lese-majesty in Thailand.
To put this in proper perspective, there is a clear need to both identify and point out the dots that are driving the sudden explosion of lese-majesty arrests and convictions in Thailand. There is also a need to look at this from the governments viewpoint as the Thai people tend to be more reactive and less proactive.
To start off we must keep one simple thing in mind, and that is the King of Thailand has been on the throne for a very long time. Over the years he has done a lot for the people of Thailand to help them prosper. He has changed what was parched and dry into a land the produces the world’s number one crop of jasmine rice. He has also done other things for the Thai people too numerous to list. In all the years on the throne, it is hard or impossible to find any negative in the King. Add to that his position as defined in Constitutions present and past, he really does not have the position to alter policy or laws that may be seen as negative by some people who have some personal or political agenda. Simply put, the King is in no position that he could do anything negative for the country even if he wanted to.
So to understand why the sudden surge in lese-majesty arrests and convictions, you must look at a time line of when the ramp up started and what was going on in Thailand at that time. When you step way back and get a low resolution view, you will note the increase in lese-majesty started just near the end of 2006. The Thaksin Shinawatra government was unseated by a military coup in September 2006. About 10 months prior to that in December 2005, the King gave his annual Birthday speech that was seen as a proper dressing down to then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Although it was full of metaphors, the intent was very clear. The body language of Thaksin during the speech showed he got the message and that his personal greed and desire for power was out of control.
After the speech Thaksin withdrew several complaints that he had filed in court against his political enemies. In fact for the entire month of December, Thaksin could be described by his enemies as a model Prime Minister. However in early January 2006 Thaksin’s greed got the best of him and he did something that caused a huge uproar across Thailand, and that proved to be the start of his slide from power that ended in a coup nine months later.
It was during this time that Thaksin concluded that the King was in his way and started working at turning the people against him. There was no one event that defined this, but it was clear the King stood between where Thaksin was and where Thaksin wanted to go. So when you consider that Thaksin supporters are vastly undereducated and secondly they tend to look at the present and not the past, it becomes easy to see how easily they can be manipulated.
So in a very subtle way early on, Thaksin supporters that stood to get huge financial gains from Thaksin should he be returned to power started using casual conversation and started drawing comparisons between the King and Thaksin. None of this was done in a way that would cause alarm bells to go off, but done so with just enough emphases that suggested the King was nearing the end of his life and that Thaksin would be the best choice to step in to lead Thailand. Considering that the Crown Prince is not viewed in the same light as his father the King, there was a certain simple logic to falling in line behind Thaksin.
Thaksin was seen as being generous to the people of Thailand and as it is all about today and we will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here thinking, Thaksin simply became the logical choice to the undereducated.
So as time went on Thaksin was clearly trying to force his way back into power. His psychotic nature would not allow him to accept he was a bad boy, he had to get what was taken from him and reset the clock to the day before the 2006 coup. So with the help of the Red Shirt movement, the negative views of the King were being applied a bit more thickly. Enough so that some of the speakers on the Red Shirt stage are now serving significant jail time for very clear lese-majesty violations. What was once casual quite discussion comparing Thaksin to the King as the successor who can deliver, had now gone main stream.
But naturally to pump up Thaksin, one has to put the King in a negative light, and that simply means to break the lese-majesty law. So very simply the reason there is more lese-majesty arrests going on is because Thaksin is simply trying to get back in power. So the increase in lese-majesty arrests is not because the government is getting to be nit picking, it is because there are more violations of the law.
In a twist that seems to come straight out of a Hollywood movie, the Pro Thaksin government is trying to appear to be more pro monarchy than the true pro monarchy government. But as nothing with the pro Thaksin government is as the face value appears to be, the investment in intrusive software to stop lese-majesty violations on the internet, will no doubt be later used against enemies of Thaksin should he ever come back to power. But that is another story for another day.
So as you start to connect the dots you can see that Thaksin manipulation is behind the increase in lese-majesty. Also true to classic Thaksin, he is no place nearby as to shield himself from being behind it. It is other people who will once again go to jail for Thaksin.
But the argument continues that the lese-majesty law is used frequently to silence political rivals, and that certainly looks to be a true statement. But seeing that the King is placed above politics, there should be no need to make mention of the King in any political battle or power grab. So with that understanding, to invoke the King in any political fray itself becomes disrespectful to the King and itself is lese-majesty.
So to summerize the reason that the number of lese-majesty arrests is up is very simply Thaksin wants to get back in power, and he simply does not care who is in the way be they of Royal blood or not.