Speaking in Singapore, former Foreign Minister, diplomat, royal advisor and scholar, Tej Bunnag has said that the lese majeste laws cause Thailand a lot of problems. The Straits Times reports:
Dr Tej Bunnag … defended the need for legislation protecting the royal family, and noted that under the law, the police and courts had to act on any accusation of lese majeste. “There are always lese majeste cases before the Thai courts. It takes up a lot of people’s time,” he said. “It causes Thailand a lot of problems, we are fully aware of this.” The frank acknowledgement by a veteran diplomat who has headed Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and served briefly as foreign minister last year, came at a public lecture at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies yesterday. … Dr Tej replied that there were ‘moves’ to amend the laws but he did not elaborate. But he also pointed out that Thailand’s lese majeste laws were not unique. Countries like Singapore, he noted, had laws protecting people from slander. “Certain institutions in certain countries are very sensitive,” he said. “You cannot compare the members of the royal family of the United Kingdom with members of the royal family in Thailand.”
Tej was visiting Singpore to give a presentation demonstrating that frank and fearless discussion of the “institution” really is possible:
Topic: The King of Thailand and Development
Speaker: Dr Tej Bunnag
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the ninth King of the Chakri Dynasty, which began in 1782. He ascended the throne on 9th June 1946 and he has been serving his people since. He is the first Thai monarch to have visited every region of the country. Starting in 1952, His Majesty, accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, visited the least developed areas in different parts of Thailand to see for themselves how their people lived. His Majesty’s desire to visit the people in all places, regardless of terrain or personal inconvenience, was not just to follow the royal tradition or for his own pleasure but to learn directly of their plights and needs, so that he may utilize resources available to improve their living condition. Known as the Developer King, he is dedicated to relieving the people’s hardship, raising their living standard and enhancing their quality of life.