Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Conditioning and Lèse Majesté: The Royalists’ One-Two Combination

Opiates can cause a person to sleep their life away, not caring about eating, working, or even their loved ones, eventually sleeping themselves to death.  So with apologies to Karl Marx, in Thailand “the monarchy is the opiate of the masses.”

Thailand’s monarchy is used by the people in power to control the people who are not in power (the masses).  It is used like a drug to keep the people listless and sedated as an opiate or opium affects people. This convinces them to accept and endure the suffering and injustices committed by the government.  It also prevents the masses from questioning and ultimately changing the current ways so the people who are in power can stay in power.

Here’s a little example from a recent article in The Nation

The Thai ambassador to Singapore …  said in 2006 to diplomats who worked in the embassy, “If you criticize me, this can be regarded as you criticizing the King, since I am the representative of His Majesty.” This exemplified how the monarchy can be exploited to preserve the power position of an individual. Surely the Thai ambassador was not the first person who has taken advantage of the much-respected institution for his own ends.

So how do the people in power get the institution of Thailand’s monarchy to be so revered there?  They use a potent one – two combination of punches.
Firstly, they use extreme conditioning.  And Thai brainwashing is as subtle as a punch in the face; lots of pictures everywhere, royal family members on TV every day, and heavy indoctrination at school. Thais have rose-tinted blinkers fitted in primary school and most of them never learn to take them off.  

Propaganda and lies are fed ‘cradle to grave’ in order to perpetuate the “love” for the monarchy.  Sometimes it gets scary.  Here’s an example:  

On 24 Nov 2008, Dr Tul Sitthisomwong, a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University (generally cited as Thailand's most prestigious one) gave a speech saying that speaking as a doctor, love for the country and the king was embedded only in Thais’ DNA, not that of other peoples.  “It was a pity that many Thais had mutated and did not have the love for the king in their DNA and should not be called Thai,” he said.  

So, if you don’t love the King then you have become some sort of mutant and not worthy of being a Thai?  Now I don’t want to go into a discussion on genetics but Lysenkoism was completely discredited decades ago. In fact, there are only two groups of people nowadays which spew this eugenic claptrap anymore.

But why don’t more Thais see through all this conditioning? Could it be that when conditioning kicks in, intellectual capacity gets crowded out? It is ironic that the group of Chulalongkorn University students and lecturers Dr. Tul was leading that day was called “Siam Intellect."

It is interesting that when Giles Ungpakorn published "A Coup for the Rich," his own University (also Chulalongkorn) wouldn't stock it in its bookstore. At the time, there was no suggestion that anything in it broke the law, just the fact that it was a left-wing examination of the actions of a powerful right-wing faction.  Anywhere in the free world that ban would have produced howls of outrage from his colleagues on the basis of "I may totally disagree with what you write, but I will defend to the end your right to write it, and my right to read it." But there was never such reaction.  That many of those silent colleagues had studied for their higher degrees in Western universities and would be 'intellectually' aware of the concepts of freedom of speech and of publication within the law makes me believe that it must be their earlier conditioning that was overcoming or blocking out their ‘intellectual capacities.’

Giles Ungpakorn

Although conditioning is a powerful tool, it is not 100% effective. The fact is that some Thais, like Giles Ungpakorn, slip through the cracks and manage to break their conditioning.  These people are known as free-thinkers and the problem the current Thai royalist regime has with free-thinkers is that they tend to ‘stir the pot.’ Free-thinkers are also contagious – causing other Thais to be free-thinkers too or, in the twisted mind of Dr. Tul, causing normal Thais to mutate.  

This is where the draconian lèse majesté laws come in - the second ‘punch in the face’ of democracy.  These are laws that mandate a jail term of three to 15 years for any person who "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the Regent."

Pure and simple, Lèse majesté laws are made and enforced to suppress the free speech and civil liberties of Thais who object to those in power.   They claim they're protecting the royal family but in reality they're protecting their own sorry asses from criticism and opposition, and stamping the Royal Seal of Approval on their actions.

For instance, just recently a Thai-born American citizen named Joe Gordon (formerly Lerpong Wichaicommart) was arrested for posting a link on his blog back in 2007 while in the US to a download of the banned biographical book "The King Never Smiles." Mr. Gordon denies doing this and has requested help from the American Embassy. He was denied bail and now resides in jail at the Bangkok Remand Prison."

Apparently, posting a link on the internet four years ago to a book you can buy anywhere in the free world and under the counter in Bangkok, threatens Thailand's national security.  

What is interesting is that the story spread like wildfire all over the world and has sparked some extremely harsh criticisms and insults on Thailand and directly on the King.   Take a look at some of the reader comments on two different internet articles.

So why enforce lèse majesté on someone who posted a link on a website to a banned book while in the US when the repercussions of insults to the King and nation are far worse?

Because lèse majesté isn’t so much about protecting the monarchy from insults or criticism than it is for silencing free thinking and opposition to those currently running the Thai government (the Privy Council, Military and Democratic Party).  Lèse majesté is just a scam to attack, supress, silence and imprison enemies not of Thailand’s king, but of those who are in control.  

And why arrest this American now, when he has been in Thailand already for something he allegedly did 4 years ago after he has been in Thailand for over 6 months and wasn’t planning to leave until December?

The timing of this arrest screams pure politics. With the Election Date coming up early next month the arrest is obviously designed to try to scare Thais in the US, Australia, Europe and other overseas locations from posting anything anti government on the internet.  There is a large Thai community living overseas, some of whom tend to be more political than the people back home, and who are outspoken in their criticism of the monarchy and government. With the internet, they can be as effective posting from Bangor, Maine as they can be in Bangkok, Thailand.  Arresting Joe Gordon is most likely intended to scare them off the internet.

In my humble opinion, it isn’t going to work.  Nothing they have tried has worked.

Remember the failed threat from the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in the form of a booklet explaining Thai internet laws.  It was a clear warning to Thais overseas (it is in the Thai language after all) that all those who do not recognize regime propaganda as truth and attempt to portray a different picture of royalist Thailand under a military-backed regime will be persecuted (and maybe even prosecuted too).

Here’s a page from the MICT booklet:

The page reads: Michael: Does everyone know that the bill regulating computer crimes is subject to penalize the wrongdoer outside the Kingdom of Thailand as well? If there is anyone who starts a website outside the country to distribute information disgracing the monarchy, destroying the security of the juristic system or generating fear among Thai people, the wrongdoer will be persecuted by law and receive penalties inside the Kingdom of Thailand.

So, it appears it’s the last round for the current Thai regime. They’re on the ropes, scared and desperate and flailing away wildly with both fists – conditioning and lèse majesté, hoping for a last minute knockout – that will never come.  Their demise is at hand.

 BTW:  Here are some links to download some of Giles Ungpakorn's Books at RedThaiSocialist.com.  They have been banned in Thailand.  The Thai junta can bite me.

A Coup for the Rich  - in English 
Thailand's Crisis and the Fight for Democracy - in English 

Good Reading and Free Joe Gordon - He's Innocent!

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