Opposition MP could face Lese Majeste charges over parliament speeches

After bringing a no‐confidence censure motion to the PM and his cabinet, the opposition MP is now facing potential charges of lese majeste for allegedly defaming Thailand’s monarchy at yesterday’s censure debate. Rangsiman Rome, a Move Forward lawmaker, allegedly claimed that a certain few “government favorites” and a “royal aide” have been given powers to shuffle around members of the police force at their own discretion.

The Assistant Minister to the PM Office, Suphon Attawong said Rangsiman’s speeches were transcribed word for word and included referencing the monarchy. According to Khaosod English, their legal team looked into it and found that the information is sufficient for prosecution under Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, which is also known as the lese majeste law.

Section 112 prohibits anyone from insulting or defaming the royal family. Violators, if found guilty, can receive a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison per count of defamation.

The 27 year old activist, who switched over to lawmaking, was met with protests by pro‐government leaders during his speeches. In those speeches, he said that police officers could obtain promotions without going through the legal hiring process if they receive a “ticket” that was signed by General Torsak Sukvimol, who is the Ratchawallop Police Retainers Commander, King’s Guard 904.

Rangsiman’s presentation showed a document that can be submitted directly to the Royal Thai Police Commissioner to recommend certain police officers’ promotions or rank changes. The final decision, according to his presentation, is then endorsed by PM Prayut and Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan. According to Khaosod, he asked “Does General Prayut have the courage to insist that this is a fair and transparent way to appoint police officers?”

Back in 2018, police colonel Kantapong Nilkham posted on Facebook that a career advance within the police is near impossible without the “ticket,” according to Khaosod.

“If you have a boss, if you have money, if you have The Ticket, you’ll get everything. How can this nation survive? And who will the people depend on?”

Khaosod English also reports that Rangsiman made a “damning allegation” concerning a so‐called “Elephant Ticket,” which allegedly could fast track promotions by cutting through the police force structure. He allegedly went on to say that the scheme was run by a man that serves as Lord Chamberlain to the royal palace, without having any formal position in the police force.

The accusations by Rangsiman sparked immediate protests for him to essentially stop talking. He was encouraged to wrap up the speech and leave out any further mentions of the monarchy.

Rangsiman allegedly followed the recommendation but insisted he was just doing his duty as the Representative of the People. According to Khaosod, he says he’s aware that it could be a “dangerous mission,” but people chose him for the job and he has to carry out his duty to the best of his ability.

But Rangsiman allegedly kept talking by bringing up the allegations at a news conference.

“These Tickets cost millions of baht. So in the end, police have to live off bribes from gambling dens, illegal businesses, and human trafficking,” he said, according to Khaosod.

The 4 day debate ended yesterday, with the no‐confidence vote taking place this morning. Since the coalition parties retain a majority of the seats in parliament, it was expected that all Cabinet members would survive the session, and they did.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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