By Saksith Saiyasombut
A highly anticipated and interesting panel discussion on Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté law will take place on Thursday with a very illustrious panel hosted by Siam Voices contributor Lisa Gardner, featuring academic Benedict Anderson, Thai columnist Pravit Rojanaphruk, social critic Sulak Sivaraksa and former Reuters correspondent Andrew MacGregor Marshall, who became (in)famous for his articles about the WikiLeaks cables on the Thai monarchy and will therefore only be there via Skype.
The timing of this event is particularly interesting, since it takes place in the light of several cases that involve the lèse majesté law and have severe implications on Thailand’s constantly declining freedom of speech, such as the death of “Uncle SMS”, the lèse majesté complaint filed against Pravit (would be interesting to hear from him about this), the blatant misuse against the National Human Rights Comission and the sentence against Prachatai webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn held responsible for not deleting insulting web comments quickly enough.
I will be taking question from Twitter for the panelists, so tweet me tomorrow directly @Saksith or with the hashtag #LMRD.
Full blurb with directions to location can be read on their Facebook event page and here:
“Rhetoric and Dissent: Where to next for Thailand’s lèse majesté law?”
Date: Thursday, June 6, 2012 – 19.00h at
Location: 666 Jaroennakorn Rd. Banglumphoo Lang, Klongsarn Bangkok THAILAND 10600 (map)
A panel discussion featuring:
PROF. BENEDICT ANDERSON
Best known for his celebrated book Imagined Communities and scholarship which has been translated into over 20 different languages in some 400 publications globally, Prof. Anderson is widely regarded as an senior authority on the questions of nationalism, authority and society. Prof. Anderson serves most recently as Emeritus professor of International Studies, Government and Asian Studies at Cornell University.
One of Thailand’s most esteemed journalists and as senior writer for The Nation, Mr. Pravit Rojanaphruk has proved, over the course of his long-standing career, both meticulous and prolific in his coverage of political affairs. Mr. Rojanaphruk has often withstood great political pressure in order to document human rights abuses across the country, no less the plight of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. His work continues to set new standards in ethical and independent Thai media coverage.
ANDREW MACGREGOR MARSHALL
Andrew MacGregor Marshall is a freelance journalist based in Asia who work speaks to politics, human rights, political risk and media ethics. In his long-standing career at Reuters Mr. Marshall covered political conflicts from over thirty-six countries, in places as diverse as Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories, to Cambodia, Thailand and East Timor.
In June 2011 Mr. Marshall resigned from Reuters in order to publish what he considered one of Thailand’s most important and necessary stories. This has since become the epic ‘Thai Story: A Secret History of Modern Thailand’, an online publication since banned from publication in the Kingdom. The material draws upon an extensive collection of diplomatic cables (‘Cablegate’) released to Wikileaks in 2010, and an impressive array of historical and contemporary sources to produce one of the country’s most illuminating – and, in some cases, condemning – assessments of contemporary Thai political affairs.
As a result of Thailand’s harsh lèse-majesté, defamation and computer crimes laws, which criminalize the pursuit of truth regarding some of the country’s most powerful figures, Mr. Marshall will be unable to join us in person for this discussion. Instead, he joins us via Skype from Singapore, where he is now based.
AJARN SULAK SIVARAKSA
Sulak Sivaraksa is a prominent and outspoken Thai intellectual and social critic. He is a teacher, a scholar, a publisher, an activist, the founder of many organisations, and the author of more than a hundred books and monographs in both Thai and English.
LISA GARDNER (MODERATOR)
Lisa Gardner is an Australian freelance journalist based in Bangkok. Her extensive reports speak to key political events in light of a new and innovative era for online media, particularly in the pursuit of free expression and human rights. Her well-regarded reports are published widely on Asian Correspondent, Prachatai, World Pulse, Global Voices Online and elsewhere.