Both sides of the argument
As the sentencing of media activist Somyos Prueksakasemsuk to 10 years in jail for lese majeste stirs criticism among Thais and the international civil society, below are arguments by supporters and opponents of the Penal Code's Article 112 (lese majeste law).
Other democratic nations have similar laws;
Article 112 cannot be compared to foreign laws as the Thai King has charisma and is unique;
Just as ordinary people are protected by defamation laws, the monarch should also be protected by a similar law;
Those punished under Article 112 often receive a royal pardon;
Lese majeste affects national stability;
People should avoid violating Article 112 and avoid talking about the monarch;
Every country has taboos and Thailand's taboo is the issue about the monarchy;
The lese majeste issue is sensitive and can stir up the sentiments of all Thais. If the issue is not handled by the judicial process, many Thais may take the law into their own hands;
Article 112 is related to Article 8 of the Constitution, which says the King shall be respected and shall not be violated.
Article 112 should be placed under the right section to prevent it from being used as a political tool. The current Article 112 should be removed from the National Security section and a new one should be placed under the section about the honour and reputation of the King, the Queen, the heir to the throne, and the regent. Relocation of the article will prevent exaggerated enforcement of the law by linking defamation of the King to national security.
The penalty should not be too severe and it should be reduced to respond to the magnitude of the violation.
No minimum penalty should be set. (The law prescribes a minimum jail term of three years.)
Sincere criticism should be differentiated from insult or expressing of hatred towards the King. Those who insult the King or express hatred towards the King should be punished, but those who make reasonable criticism for the sake of democracy should be exempted from punishment.
Only the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary should be allowed to file lese majeste charges. This will prevent Article 112 from being abused as a persecution tool.