From the International Herald Tribune:
A police officer filed a criminal complaint Tuesday seeking to have a journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation charged with insulting Thailand’s king. Lt. Col. Wattanasak Mungkandee said he filed a complaint against British reporter Jonathan Head in connection with remarks he allegedly made when moderating a panel discussion last year about Thailand’s monarchy. Insulting the monarchy, known as the crime of “lese majeste,” carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The statute reflects the deep devotion almost all Thais hold for the monarchy, and especially 80-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej. However, the charge is often used for political purposes as a way of smearing its targets, and relatively few cases come to court, with even fewer successfully prosecuted. Wattanasak said the police Crime Suppression Division will have to translate the evidence he presented to see whether it would pursue the case. Head said he had no immediate comment.
The report in The Nation (posted here by a New Mandala reader) indicates that the comments were made at a December 2007 event hosted by the Foreign Correspondent’s Club (FCC). I presume this was the launch of the special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Asia on Thaksin and the coup previously discussed here.
An article on the monarchy and the lèse majesté law by Jonathan Head is available here.
I have previously written (in relation to discussions of the monarchy at the International Conference on Thai Studies which was held in Bangkok about a month after the FCC event):
The key message of the panels was that the persistent self-censorship imposed by the international academic community can now be cast aside. The sky will not fall in if we talk freely and frankly about the king’s role in contemporary Thai politics. Let’s make sure this is a starting point for ongoing frank and public discussion.
I hope I am not proven wrong.