The lese-majeste law is a devastatingly effective political weapon. But the more politicians abuse it, the more they damage the monarchy. In the worst-case scenario, it could become a self-fulfilling accusation. By backing the red shirts into a corner where their criticisms of the elites are accused of being anti-monarchy, the government could split society on the role of the monarchy.

But even if that doesn’t happen, the military’s use of the lese-majeste law could alienate the monarchy from the Thai public, thus reducing the level of reverence which has been carefully built up over decades. It is a powerful way to tear down the royal institution, not safeguard it.

– Extracted from Pavin Chachavalpongpun, “Thailand’s military on the offensive”, The Wall Street Journal, 20 April 2011.