Call for monarchy reform lands Piyabutr in lese majeste trouble

FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2022

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Progressive Movement's secretary-general, will meet police investigators on June 20 about a lese majeste accusation levelled against him.

The academic-turned-politician said in a Facebook post on Thursday that police had initially summoned him for questioning on June 12. However, he and his lawyer were busy and asked to postpone the meeting to next Monday at 10am.

The summons is in response to a complaint filed by independent historian Thepmontri Limpaphayom accusing Piyabutr of insulting the monarchy under Article 112 of the Criminal Code.

Piyabutr, who gave up his job as a lecturer of law at Thammasat University to enter politics in 2019, has maintained that his comments about the Thai monarchy and calls for reforms were purely aimed at helping the institution survive modern-day challenges.

“None of my comments suggested transforming [the Thai political system] into that of a republic. No insults were levelled against the monarchy,” Piyabutr wrote on Facebook. “I have only goodwill for Thai society and want Thailand to become a democracy for one and all. Those with differing views should be able to coexist peacefully and the monarchy institution can be retained,” he said.

Piyabutr added that he has been making written and verbal comments about monarchy reform for over a decade, since his time as a law lecturer at Thammasat University.

“None of my comments can be seen as violating Article 112,” he said.

The former secretary-general of the now-defunct Future Forward Party noted that this was the first time he has been formally accused of lese majeste, adding that it was “undoubtedly politically motivated”.

He claimed that legal action by “those hyper royalists and ultra-royalists” was aimed at discouraging him from commenting on reforms of the monarchy.

“They want to make me stop speaking, but they can’t,” he said.