6 June 2024

Former red-shirt activist Tanat Thanawatcharanont, better known as Tom Dundee, was released from Bangkok special prison this morning (Wednesday) by Royal pardon after having served five years and eight days behind bars on a conviction for committing lèse majesté.

He was welcome at the prison gates by his wife and several members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, including Jeng Dokjik and Suriya Chinapant, as well as anti-junta activist Ekkachai Hongkangwan.

Tom told the media that the suffering he endured in prison had taught him the meaning of happiness “for without suffering, one will never find happiness.”

He compared life in prison to life in a boarding school, where one could learn a lot of things and survive with the help of religion upon which one could rely. He said he wants to make merit and return to his music career with some unfinished songs that he would like to complete.

Commenting on democracy, Tom said that democracy cannot be achieved by one person, but by the masses, who have to pool their efforts to attain it “like millions of grains of sand form a beach.”

Tom was indicted on two charges of lèse majesté in connection with speeches he made during the UDD’s anti-government protests in November, 2013. He was found guilty and sentenced to ten years and 10 months.

Due to his good behavior in prison, his sentence was halved to five years and five months by virtue of a Royal pardon in May this year.