Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s new stance on Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, or Article 112 of the criminal code, provoked heated debate on Wednesday, with several Thai activists remarking on the legislation.
Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, said in a Facebook post that the lèse-majesté law is not draconian, but the problem is the officials’ enforcement of the code which has resulted in abuse of power.
“The law has been in place for such a long time since Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat’s time in 1957,” Thaksin said.
In the past, The National Police Office established a committee to review a violation of Section 112 which was in accordance with the due process of law.
The former Prime Minister explained that instead of the demand to repeal Article 112, we all should question the justice system and those who have brought conflicts into the society.
The government’s attempts to strictly enforce the law and charges against people with different political opinions as a means to silence them is actually the problem, Thaksin said.
Thaksin’s comments sparked an immediate backlash as prominent critics of lese majeste law posted on social media and internet users weighed in.
“The legislation is not an issue,” said Somsak Jeamteerasakul, the embattled lese majeste critic and former Thammasat University history lecturer.
“Article 112 is used to prevent the demand for monarchy reform. How do [the problems] end if the demand remains refused?” Somsak said.
The Thalufah Group, a pro-democracy activist group, whose leader is being held in prison on lese majeste charges, also stood their ground that Article 112 is a draconian law and it contradicts people’s rights to expression.
There are now 27 activists accused of violating Article 112 and currently facing prison charges.
“We should all stop fighting and start over,” said Thaksin.
The Thaksin-aligned Pheu Thai Party recently stated that it would look into reforming the laws in a public statement.