HM King Puts Stop on Uses of Royal Insult Law: PM

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House on April 14, 2020.

BANGKOK — PM Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday said His Majesty the King has instructed the authorities to refrain from pressing royal defamation charges against members of the public.

Gen. Prayut said King Vajiralongkorn has expressed his clemency and called for no further use of Article 112 of the Penal Codes, known as the lese majeste law, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail. However, the Prime Minister said Thais shouldn’t take the opportunity to insult the monarchy.

“His Majesty the King has … instructed me personally over the past two to three years to refrain from the use of the Law,” Prayut said. “Why don’t you think of it this way? Why do you still cross the line?”

He continued, “Everyone who loves the nation, religion, and monarchy must come together. Thailand is not the same as other countries that have gone through violent revolutions.”

PM Prayut also said he’s concerned that some anti-monarchists may use the upcoming anniversary of the 1932 democratic revolution to defame the monarchy. The anniversary, which marks the end of absolute monarchy, falls on June 24.

Negative remarks or actions toward the monarchy can be punished under several laws in Thailand. Apart from the draconian lese majeste offense, insurrection and cybercrime charges have been used in other royal insult cases.

Some exiled activists who criticized the monarchy were also abducted in recent years. Dissident Wanchalearm Satsaksit was the last to disappear, having been kidnapped by a group of men in Phnom Penh on June 4.

Prayut asked Thai people to disregard any messages that aim to harbor hatred in the society.

“I have to say this today because I want to see peace,” he said. “Those who are operating from abroad should think about what they should or shouldn’t do, where else could if they faced problems in that country? I feel pity as they are Thai citizens.”