Monday, June 9, 2008

Thai politics follows Monty Python script

Lately there have been a slew of lese majeste cases filed in Thailand. (Lese mageste is the crime of insulting the Thai monarchy, which caries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years). The question remains: who is behind these charges? The answer keeps getting weirder and weirder.

The Bangkok Post reports (hat-tip Bangkok Pundit) that the Thai police officer who has been filing these charges -- against BBC correspondent Johnathan Head and a leading Thai politician named Jakrapob -- is working in concert with a mysterious foreigner (allegedly British) who goes by the name Akbar Khan (presumably a pseudonym).

The Bangkok Post reports:
Pol Lt-Col Watanasak, a Nakhon Sawan native, said his parents had taught him since he was young that Thais must show reverence for His Majesty the King.
He conceded, however, that he was not alone in this fight to protect the monarchy and bid to bring an offender to justice. A British friend, Akbar Khan, alerted him to Mr Jakrapob's speech.
The article provides background on the mysterious Akbar Khan:

Mr Khan, a former English teacher for police at the Special Branch Police and the Crime Suppression Division, listened to Mr Jakrapob at the FCCT that night.
The 42-year-old British citizen later translated the speech into Thai and submitted the paper to many police, but none were prepared to file a complaint against Mr Jakrapob.
Mr Khan, who accompanied Pol Lt-Col Watanasak to an interview with the Bangkok Post, said he could not sit back and watch Mr Jakrapob show disrespect to the monarchy and looking down on the Thai attitude towards the monarchy.
"I have been living in Thailand for 20 years. I have never heard any Thai speak like Mr Jakrapob before. Worse, he spoke in front of foreign reporters who are ready to write it and spread it out to the world," he said.
Mr Khan said Mr Jakrapob's speech was not only offensive to the monarchy, "but also insulting to Thais, their culture, society".
"Mr Jakrapob is a Thai national. He should not have made such a remark, which I find really disgusting," said Mr Khan, who works as a freelance translator and reporter.
Mr Khan said it was hard to convince any police he knew to take legal action against Mr Jakrapob.
Are we to believe that an Englishman, running around Thailand, has taken it upon himself to decide what is or is not proper behavior for "the natives"? The audacity! Taken at face value, Akbar Khan's performance sounds like something out of George Orwell's Burmese Days. But colonialism implies a victimized nation. Recalling how Thailand's political and judicial systems sprung into action the moment this Englishman snapped his fingers, it is impossible to feel sympathy for the Kingdom. No, this is not Burmese Days.

If only Thai civil liberties and the well-being of the accused were not at stake, I would say this looks like something right out of Monty Python.
The story that Akbar Khan could be behind the recent lese mageste charges was first broken by blogger Bangkok Pundit. See his earlier post concerning Akbar Khan and especially his most recent post (which includes links to background information about recent lese mageste charges).


  1. Sounds like the Afghan Taliban is in town! There is a street named Akbar Khan in Kabul!!

    This is strange, it is NOT a British name and therefore the work of an imposter.

  2. It's Akbar Khan he used to be the Chief Reporter for the Phuket Gazette.

    I don't know where he's from but it probably is his real name.


  3. Again a gentle post. Thank your friend

  4. Of note, he has just filed a charge against the API reporter in Korat. Check the FCCT site. Some people should not be allowed to leave their home countries. Such a pantywaist.


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