105 lecturers, from various universities across Thailand, issued a statement today defending the controversial speeches, delivered during the protest at Thammasat University on Monday night, as honest and legitimate expressions regarding the role in and relationship of the Thai Monarchy to Thai society.
The lecturers cited Section 34 of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of expression through speech, writing, publications, advertisements and other means and that such expression cannot be restricted, except by virtue of special laws to protect national security, the rights and liberties of the people, public order, good morals or for the protection of public health.
The lecturers said that this is the first time, for many years, that such views have been expressed in an open manner and that there is a proposal to amend the Constitution and related laws to retain the status of the Monarchy under a democratic system, with the King as head of the state.
The controversial opinions, said the lecturers, are in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a signatory.
They said none of the protesters’ ten proposals, regarding the Monarchy, contained any content which could be deemed as insulting or offending the highest institution.
“In their capacity as institutes of knowledge, universities have an important role in promoting the search for ways for Thai society to progress and, for that matter, they should be an open space for free expression, especially on issues which are of public interest,” the statement added.
“Condemning divergent views, as a transgression or improper, does not help Thai society advance intellectually. The whole dialogue will be reduced to just aggressive expression,” said the statement.
Meanwhile, Lt-Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, urged all members of the Thai public to warn student activists not to be used as a tool of political elements.
Although the Thai military respects the students’ right to free expression, he said they are very concerned about the activists’ allegedly improper references to the Monarchy, particularly regarding the proposal relating to the role of the Monarchy.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)