Rangsiman Rome is a law student, or he may already be graduated. He’s going to be a great lawyer, one day if the junta doesn’t manage to destroy him first. He has an impressive ability to analyze a situation and persuasively summarize a case. In researching him (by googling his name), I was pleased to find that so much of his story is in his own words, including analyses in English).
An early article by him titled “Corruption, Lèse Majesté and the Thai Junta,” published in The Huffington Post begins: “The Thai junta is using the lèse majesté law to conceal their own corrupt acts.” He describes how the junta tried to stop people from sharing a chart detailing alleged corruption in the construction of Rajabhakti Park -- corruption involving top junta officials. They didn’t use the defamation law (for defamation of ordinary individuals) but instead adapted the lese majesty law (for defamation of the King, Queen, and Heir Apparent), which doesn’t naturally apply to the case. Rangsiman Rome explains that they did this for a reason:
“The junta is well aware that connecting the sharing of the chart displaying corruption in the Rajabhakti Park project with violation of Article 112 will make the issue slip away. No one will dare to examine corruption in the Rajabhakti Park project any further. . . . This strategy has resulted in swift success for the junta. When the issue shifts from one of corruption to one of lèse majesté, no one will remain interested in whether or not the NCPO is corrupt. They will only be interested in whether or not those who engaged in symbolic action to prompt an audit of the corruption are loyal to the monarchy.”
This article could be almost instantly updated and recycled just by changing “ Rajabhakti Park project” to “Prime Minister Prawit’s watches.” The article Rangsiman Rome wrote over two years ago also describes his current predicament.
He was recently charged for leading a protest on Skywalk, a protest that featured a large graphic illustrating the scandal of Deputy Dictator Prawit Wongsuwan’s undeclared watches collectively valued at a $1.25 million dollars. Like with the Rajabhakti Park case, the government claims to be investigating the alleged corruption and so the legitimacy of the public’s concern is officially admitted. Unable to shut down the protesters based on the merits of the case, the protesters have been charged with not only sedition, but staging a rally within 150 meters of a palace. This is code. Never mind whether the protesters are right or wrong about corruption at the top levels of the junta government (after the junta overthrew an elected government in order to wipe out corruption in government) -- the argument now becomes whether or not the protesters are disrespectful, including disrespectful of the palace. Once again, the junta has signaled to all involved to run and hide before the junta can find a way to twist this into a lese majesty charge. And Rangsiman Rome concludes (with my one editorial insertion):
“In the end, the audit of the junta’s corruption will arrive at a dead end. No one will dare to demonstrate any further how the junta engaged in corruption in the Rajabhakti Park project [in the Prawit’s watches case]. The junta is therefore the sole class in Thai society that is able to get away with corrupt use of the people’s tax money without anyone daring to come out to audit them.”