Move Forward Party warns that if lèse majesté is not amended, it may be repealed
Thailand’s opposition Move Forward Party announced its determination to push for amendments of the lèse majesté law (Section 112 of the Criminal Code), warning that, if the law remains in its present form, resentment and resistance may escalate to breaking point, resulting in repeal.
At a press conference held at Parliament today (Wednesday), which was attended by many of the party’s MPs but not its leader Pita Limjaroenrat, party secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathong said that a monarchy working in parallel with a democratic system could not be achieved through the use of force or laws to suppress free expression.
Political institutions in modern society can exist legitimately only with the collective consent of the people, he said, as he claimed that an increasing number of people in Thailand are now demanding the repeal of the lèse majesté law and the release of those remanded on related charges.
“It is about time for the powers that be to return the right to bail for people charged with lèse majesté and other security-related offences,” said Chaithawat, adding that no one should be put in jail for political offences.
In February this year, the Move Forward Party submitted five draft bills to parliament for consideration, including one to amend the lèse majesté law. All except the one concerning the lèse majesté law were accepted by the House of Representatives.
The Move Forward Party wants to remove Section 112 from laws concerning offences against national security and have them grouped under a new chapter related to the honour of the King, the Queen, the heir apparent and the Regent, the only four figures the Section 112 protects.
The party also proposed that criticism of the monarchy, orally, in writing or in other forms, if bona fide and for the protection of a democratic system with the King as the head of state or for public interest, the alleged offenders are not committing lèse majesté and, if their criticisms are proven to be true, they cannot be punished.
The proposed amendment bill was rejected by the Office of the Secretary-General of the House and the Office of House Meetings on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
In its Facebook page today, the opposition party said that the lèse majesté law has problems in all aspects, the law itself andits enforcement.
“If we accept the truth that, if the House does not cooperate in making this law just and fair, society may have only one option left, which is to repeal the law for good, as demanded by people outside parliament,” said the party.