Foreign minister says lese majeste law does not matter to most Thais prompting pushback from opposition MPs

Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that most people in Thailand were not affected by the country’s draconian Lese Majeste laws prompting pushback from opposition MPs.

Foreign minister Don Pramudwinai said during the parliamentary session on Wednesday that people affected by the enforcement of Article 112, or the Lese Majeste Law, was not a priority and the majority of people simply didn’t care about the law.

The statement prompted pushback from opposition MPs including Rangsiman Rome, from the Move Forward Party.

“If the Minister says that [Article 112] is not important, allow me to ask, why was #Cancel112 a top trend on twitter then?” Rangsiman asked

The discussion over 112 came during a parliamentary debate over the abduction of dissident Wanchalearm Satsakit.

The disappearance of Wanchalearm is not a top national security concern and the government would need to wait for answers from the Cambodian government, Don said at the started of the debate.

Wanchalearm was abducted by armed men outside of his apartment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Thursday. He had been critical of the Prayut led military government and coup as well as Thailand’s establishment.

Article 112 under Thailand’s criminal code makes it an offence to criticize the monarchy, with a jail term between 3-15 years.

Support for Rome

Former Future Forward MP Pannika Wannich told Thai Enquirer that she supported Rome’s stance in parliament.

“It is good to finally see that this topic is been raised in parliament, which is one of the three branches of government that has the highest authority in Thailand,” said Pannika. “This is something that we need to able to discuss in public and not about defaming the monarchy, but it is a law that violates human rights and causes problems within the Thai judicial system.”  

Pannika said she was disappointed in Don’s response in parliament.

“I am disappointed in the minister’s answer claiming that various international organizations are reporting this issue is just to attract attention and calling out foreign journalists for creating fake news,” she said. “A minister should not do that without any proof.”

“The role of the minister is to protect the rights of [Thai] citizens and we would like to know if he is just going to wait for an answer from the Cambodian government without any other actions?”

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