‘So­cially sanc­tion’ royal crit­ics, Thais urged

> Fresh videos emerge of mob jus­tice

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

BANGKOK: Thais should “so­cially sanc­tion” those who de­fame the monar­chy fol­low­ing King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej’s death, the junta’s jus­tice min­is­ter said yes­ter­day, as fresh videos emerged of mob jus­tice against peo­ple ac­cused of in­sult­ing the in­sti­tu­tion.

The death of the world’s long­est reign­ing monarch on Thurs­day has left the na­tion bereft of its key pil­lar of unity and seen re­mark­able mass out­pour­ings of grief from black-clad Thais.

But it has also un­leashed small but vo­cal ul­tra-monar­chist forces, in­clud­ing mobs and on­line cru­saders scour­ing the web and bent on pun­ish­ing any­one per­ceived to have in­sulted the monar­chy.

“There is no bet­ter way to pun­ish these peo­ple than to so­cially sanc­tion them,” Jus­tice Min­is­ter Pai­boon Koom­chaya told re­porters yes­ter­day, as he vowed to “pur­sue those peo­ple who vi­o­late the law”.

His mes­sage comes amid a grow­ing num­ber of cases of vig­i­lan­tism by roy­al­ist Thais against peo­ple ac­cused of in­sult­ing the monar­chy.

At 10.30am a video was broad­cast live on Face­book show­ing a mob beat­ing a man and forc­ing him to pros­trate in apol­ogy for al­legedly in­sult­ing the monar­chy.

Dur­ing the beat­ing, which ap­peared to take place in Chon­buri east of Bangkok, the man cried out: “I didn’t mean to do it, I love the king! It’s my fault.”

An­other video widely shared on so­cial me­dia showed an el­derly woman on a Bangkok bus be­ing be­rated by fel­low com­muters in the pres­ence of po­lice.

As she ex­its the bus, the woman is slapped in the face by an­other woman dressed in black. It is not clear when the in­ci­dent took place but the video was up­loaded on Mon­day evening.

Thai­land’s monar­chy is pro­tected by a dra­co­nian lese ma­jeste law that out­laws crit­i­cism with pun­ish­ments of up to 15 years in jail for each in­sult ut­tered.

Pros­e­cu­tions have surged un­der junta rule with record-break­ing sen­tences handed down in some cases. – AFP

REUTERSPIX

A Thai art stu­dent paints a portrait of King Bhu­mi­bol at the Sil­pakorn Univer­sity in Bangkok on Mon­day.

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