THE Thai junta’s frosty relations with the West cooled further this week as authorities hit back at critical comments from the U.S. and U.K. ambassadors.
The Obama administration’s newly installed ambassador Glyn T. Davies is being investigated for criticizing Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws at a Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) event last month.
The BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head confirmed Wednesday on Twitter that the FCCT has been asked to cooperate with authorities’ investigation into Davies’ comments.
— Jonathan Head (@pakhead) December 9, 2015
Just nine weeks into his Bangkok posting, the U.S. ambassador told the sell-out FCCT event: “We’re also concerned by the lengthy and unprecedented prison sentences handed down by Thai military courts against civilians for violating the lese majeste law.”
He added: “We believe no one should be jailed for peacefully expressing their views and we strongly support the ability of individuals and independent organisations to research and to report on important issues without fear of retaliation.”
Thailand’s lese majeste law, Criminal Code Section 112, makes it illegal to defame or insult the Thai monarchy. Earlier this year two Thais were sentenced to 30 and 28 years for insulting the monarchy on Facebook.
The full FCCT event can be viewed here:
The junta also this week hit back at British ambassador Mark Kent for “supporting law-breakers” in a tweet relating to a clampdown on an anti-corruption demonstration earlier this week.
Authorities detained 33 students and other activists who were headed to a park honoring past kings that was allegedly built with money from shady dealings involving several senior officers.
Kent fell foul of authorities after tweeting:
I had hoped the fact 200 people allowed to demonstrate at the US Embassy, might be relaxation on freedom of assembly https://t.co/GRrQ9t7Vzj
— Mark Kent (@KentArgentina) December 7, 2015
The Bangkok Post reported Wednesday that the junta is considering whether to summon the ambassador for talks, quoting deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak as saying, “It is disappointing that the ambassador took a position that has supported a group that has often broken the law and disrespected judicial processes.”