Thai newspaper: US govt comments on lese majeste ‘an interference in Thailand’s internal affairs’By Bangkok Pundit Dec 09, 2011 1:03AM UTC
The Bangkok Post recently had an editorial calling for reviewing and updating lese majeste laws (as blogged about here), but its sister Thai language publication Post Today has an editorial also about lese majeste law, but this time essentially defending the law and criticizing the US. It relates to a statement by the US State Department as per AP:
Thailand is a U.S. treaty ally, and State Department spokeswoman for East Asia, Darragh Paradiso, said the United States has utmost respect for the Thai monarchy. But she said the U.S. is “troubled by recent prosecutions and court decisions that are not consistent with international standards of freedom of expression.”
Unfortunately, the Post Today editorial (page 14, December 7) “US has no manners” is only available behind a paywall, but BP has summarized it below (screenshot of editorial is at the end of this post):
The negative reaction from Mrs. Darragh Paradiso, the State Department spokeswoman for East Asia, about the Thai legal system where she stated that the US has a problem with the prosecution of Mr. Amphon, who is aged 61, where the US views that that the prosecution under Section 112 is not in accordance with international standards of freedom of expression.
Even worse than that was the web blog of the news editor Tom McGregor for the Web site Dallas Blog who reported that President Barack Obama is currently looking for a international way to ban the Thai government from punishing anyone under that law.
It is to the extent that the US is coordinating with the European Union to issue an international law enabling all people to be able to fully criticize and Obama contended that all Thais have the right to criticize fully.
However, after that the US Embassy issued a denial of the report of Mr. McGregor that it was inaccurate, but accepted the position of Ms. Paradiso was accurate.
BP: You are probably thinking, who on earth is Tom McGregor of Dallas Blog? Well, he is the news editor of CRI English, a China state-owned media outlet (UPDATE: Someone with a CRI English e-mail advises that McGregor no longer works for CRI English), and BP has reproduced the contents of his blog post below:
 President Barack Obama contends that all Thai citizens have the inalienable right to insult their king. He’s calling for an international ruling to ban the Thai government from punishing any person who publicly rebukes the Thai monarchy.
 The Houston Chronicle reports that, “the United States said Monday it is troubled by recent court rulings in Thailand inconsistent with international standards of freedom of expression.”
 The Thai court on November 23 sentenced 61-year-old grandfather Amphon Tangnoppakul to serve 20 years in prison for sending text messages considered offensive to the Thai Queen. He was punished under tough laws that are intended to protect the monarchy and fight computer crimes.
 According to the Houston Chronicle, “Thailand is a U.S. treaty ally, and State Department spokeswoman for East Asia, Darragh Paradiso, said the United States has utmost respect for the Thai monarchy. But he said the U.S. is ‘troubled by recent prosecutions and court decisions that are not consistent with international standards of freedom of expression.”
 Obama is coordinating with the European Union to enact an international law that permits everyone to insult the Thai monarchy.
BP: Paragraphs 2-4 correctly quote a Houston Chronicle article – actually an AP article – but there is no source for paragraphs 1 or 5. Either he made it up or the Chinese state media has special access to Obama, but then again Mr. McGregor is not even claiming that. The bizarre thing is that Post Today even gives it any credence. What next quoting someone’s bizarre conspiracy theories….
The editorial continues:
This means that the US is severely breaching diplomatic manners (protocol?) and is interfering in another country’s internal affairs especially a country such as Thailand which has had long relations with the US.
Relations of both countries should proceed with respect for each other and there should have understanding as to the differences in culture including administrative systems of each country.
Especially conflicts over Section 112 [lese majeste] which is a severe point of political conflict in Thai politics. The US position is inflaming the situation and making the problem worse.
In addition to the US unnecessarily interfering with Thailand’s internal affairs, it also means that the US is taking sides in the political conflict which may cause a political group in Thailand to refer to this to their advantage.
Therefore, the US position here is behavior which is a severe breach of manners and is a mistake that a superpower should not do to a country which has been an ally for half a century such as Thailand.
BP: Am a little confused, is the rest of the editorial on what Mr McGregor said or just what the actual State Department spokesperson said? Must confess that BP assumed that no one would believe Mr. McGregor, but now on reflection BP is no longer sure as the rest of the editorial is so over the top that it resembles a parody. Hence, am unsure whether the Post Today editors are so totally clueless or just absurd. Neither one is much comfort.
*Screenshot of editorial is below: