The lèse majesté law has once again reared its ugly head with a 27 year old man facing charges for refusing to stand and pay his respects to the king at the start of a movie in a Bangkok cinema. Mr Chotisak Onsoong explained his actions:
"Not standing up is not an offence against anyone – that's what I think," Mr Chotisak said in yesterday's Bangkok Post, after being charged on Tuesday. "The public have the right to make a choice whether to rise or not . . . I would like to stress that what I did was not intended to insult or express vengeance to the King. I was simply enjoying my right to freedom of expression."
Prachathai has an interview with Chotisak. There is also a link to an online petition you can sign to support Chotisak.
The Bangkok Post has an article on the origins of the practice of paying respects to the king in movie theatres in Thailand. The practice began in Britain in the early 20th century and was later imported into Thailand.
The practice was "imported" to Thailand by British-educated Thais and theatre owners, said the historian.
A picture of His Majesty was shown on the screen along with the Royal anthem at the end of a movie and all movie-goers were supposed to rise.
Around the 1970s, Thai theatres began to play the anthem before the movie and this practice has continued until the present day.
This case only highlights the continuing absurdity of the lèse majesté law.
*links via 2Bangkok.com and Google News.