Regular readers will have noticed that over the past week I have been somewhat distracted by the Lee Kuan Yew degree circus here at the ANU. Over the next week I will be turning my attention back to the situation in Thailand where the political climate is getting more and more ominous by the day. As the puppet government’s popularity plummets (Bangkok Pundit has a useful post on this) there are increasingly blatent displays of intolerence for the expression of alternative opinions. As a starter, let’s reflect on today’s news about the unfortunate Oliver Jufer.

A Swiss man was jailed for 10 years Thursday on charges of insulting His Majesty the King by vandalising His portraits during a drunken spree. Oliver Jufer, 57, had pleaded guilty to five counts of lese majeste — the crime of offending the dignity of a sovereign — for defacing several portraits of His Majesty with spray paint in the northern city of Chiang Mai. He had faced up to 75 years in prison, but the court sentenced him to 20 years and then halved the term because Jufer had confessed. “The court has punished him for insulting the King. This is a serious crime, and he was sentenced to four years for each of five counts, for a total of 20 years,” judge Pitsanu Tanbuakli said. “Because he confessed, the court has reduced his sentence to 10 years,” he said. Jufer’s court-appointed lawyer did not attend the sentencing, and Jufer said nothing as he entered or left the court. Prosecutors declined to comment on the case. [Agence France-Presse]