Political parties take stance on 112 as debate rages on

Many major political parties have announced their stance on the lese-majeste law this week following a widespread protest carried out by young protesters this past weekend.

Thailand’s lese-majeste law, one of the world’s harshest, forbids the insult or criticism of the reigning monarch and his immediate family. Rights groups have called the law “draconian” with many pointing out that it is often used by governments to silence dissent.

The law carries a jail sentence of three to 15 years.

Here is what the parties have said:

Move Forward Party (MFP) – Amendment

The MFP has been advocating for the decriminalization of defamation laws and a reduction of penalties for the lese-majeste law and the party has a clear stance that the law must be amended because they believe that it is against the freedom of expression.

They also believe that it is being used as a political tool to silence dissidents and political opposition by the government of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha.

“As we can see, it is clear that many people who are against this government are now in jail and many are waiting to be jailed and one person that would definitely benefit from this is General Prayut,” Rangsiman Rome, the party’s deputy secretary-general told Thai Enquirer.

Party leader Pita Limjaroenratsaid in February that they want to eliminate the imprisonment penalty for defamation.

Pheu Thai Party – Unclear  

Pheu Thai announced in a statement last Sunday that the use of criminal charges such as lese-majeste, sedition, and the violation of the Computer Crime Act to silence political expression is “problematic.”

They said it is causing people to lose faith in rule of law and the justice system in the country.

They said they are willing to support the petition to call for the amendment of these laws and bring it into the parliament. There they would follow the democratic process to check on the authorities that are using the law to see whether Section 112 was being used as intended.

However, Thaksin Shinawatra, former prime minister and the party’s backer wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday that there is nothing wrong with the lese-majeste law.

He said it is the people within the justice system that were wrongly enforcing it and the people who are using it to create a fracture within the society who are the problem.

Seri Ruam Thai Party – Amendment

Party leader Seripisut Temiyavet said on Wednesday that his party wants to take a “neutral” stance by supporting the amendment of the lese-majeste in order to clearly separate the defamation charge and the charge for the intention to harm the monarch and his family – the two components within the law.

He also said the jail penalties should be lowered from three to 15 years down to two to five years instead.

Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) – Against

The PPRP has a clear stance against the amendment of the lese-majeste law.

Its leader, Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, told reporters that his party is willing to listen to all views, so long as it does not affect the stability of the country, religion, and the King which are the three main pillars of the country.

Democrat Party – Against

Democrat party leader and Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit said this week that the party will strictly stick with the constitutional monarchy system that has the King as the head of state, therefore, they have “never thought” of amending the lese-majeste law.

Bhumjaithai Party – Against

Bhumjaithai party leader and minister of health Anutin Charnvirakul said on Wednesday that the lese-majeste law “cannot be touched”.

He said his party will not provide support for the amendment of the law and they will only want to make it “stronger” and that the party cannot see anything that is making the law “weaker” at the moment.

KLA Party – Against

Attawit Suwanpakdee, the secretary-general of the party, said on Monday that he disagrees with the call to amend the lese-majeste law.

He said it would lead to more insults towards the royal institution, more social conflict between the two sides and that would lead to fighting on the streets and eventually lead to a new political crisis.

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