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Protesters mustn’t insult monarchy: army chief

Jack Burton

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Protesters mustn’t insult monarchy: army chief | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Human Rights Watch
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Thailand’s army chief warned student protesters today against insulting the monarchy in their anti-government campaigning. At a news conference, with tears in his eyes, Apirat Kongsompong urged students to respect the Royal Family and refrain from using offensive language about them. His remarks followed some veiled references to the monarchy at the protests, which as of today have continued for almost a week.

“I’d like to ask Thai citizens to set a neutral mind and consider what they see at the protests. I understand that they’re exercising their rights under the democratic regime, but I think those criticisms and inapt language are making many feel uncomfortable.”

Apirat said he was hurt to see such inappropriate remarks, when the Chakri Dynasty has accomplished so much for the Thai people. But one of the protest organisers said his comment reflects an overbearing attitude toward the people. According to Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, who helped led the Saturday’s large protest:

“He’s belittling the citizens’ voice. People came out because they wanted to see the change. I say once again that we’re not hired or backed by anyone.”

Apirat was speaking on the same day the army held ceremonies to celebrate His Majesty the King’s birthday, which falls on Tuesday.

Although protest leaders say the rallies are aimed at the government, placards held by many of the protesters went far beyond that and made subtle references to the monarchy. Criticism of the Royal Family is widely considered taboo and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under Thailand’s lèse-majesté law.

Apirat, an self-desribed hardline royalist, also characterised the students as part of a “conspiracy” against Thailand’s institutions. He said the army is monitoring their activities, but declined to answer reporters’ questions whether politicians are masterminding the plot.

“I can’t say more than that. I’d like to cite a 2015 story by BBC Thai about conspiracy theories. I think it’s interesting because it involves many parties and I see that they’re now operating systematically. We as an army only keep our eyes on it.”

When asked about the Tuesday rally in front of the army headquarters where activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak tore up his portrait in protest, the general jokingly referred to the 1992 film “Batman Returns”.

“It’s fine. I’ll ask Batman to take care of it because he defeated the penguin”, an apparent reference to Parit’s nickname.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    MARK GOODYEAR

    July 24, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    maha vagina-longhorn!!!!!!!

  2. Avatar

    Roberto Zabarte

    July 25, 2020 at 9:29 am

    It’s easy for many to ridicule the Thai government. To say this and that about freedoms.
    But look at the US. Freedoms come with a whole boat-load of responsibility attached. When those responsibilities are ignored then other’s freedoms, of life, liberty and property, are ignored. The result, chaos, destruction, hatred and death. Bad bad on top of more bad.

  3. Avatar

    Alexandra

    July 28, 2020 at 9:01 am

    King Rama X should be arrested on les majeste for his insult to the Chakri dynasty by bringing shame, embarrassment, selfishness and a disdain for fulfilling his duty to country and citizens. King Rama X isn’t worthy of respect. What’s the value to Thai to have this king?

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    July 29, 2020 at 11:15 am

    The king has announced he wants no one arrested under this les majeste law. He is not offended, yet this copper want to hang onto this power.
    Why? to put down a protest?
    If his men watch closely he might spot the protesters littering, and then he can put down the protests. He is a puppet of a dictatorship.

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