Tuesday, August 03, 2021


Foreigners do have some valid points to make

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Re: “Lese majeste law has nothing to do with foreigners”, Letters, March 1.



I can understand why Dusit Thammaraks is irked by foreigners expressing their opinions on Thai laws. I also get annoyed when I read derogatory remarks by foreigners about, say, our parliamentary system in Britain.
I do believe, however, that most foreigners who express their views in the Letters column understand Thai culture to some extent. And, while these do differ from Western values, I do not think the differences are as great as some claim. In any case, here as elsewhere, they are being gradually eroded due to the Internet and the social media. 
Mr Dusit, like many others, appears to misunderstand Rudyard Kipling’s famous line “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” Kipling was not implying that an unbridgeable chasm exists between Europe and Asia, as becomes apparent if one reads the full poem, “The Ballad of East and West”.
Likewise, the reference to the “semi-divine” status of the Japanese emperor is misleading, since that was abolished in the post-war constitution, along with the ban on criticising the imperial family. Neither of these measures appears to have affected the monarchy’s popularity.
Finally, Mr Dusit claims that the people established the lese majeste law. In fact it was first introduced before the change from absolute monarchy, so it had no democratic endorsement. I am sure the law does enjoy the support of a large number of Thais, and any change to the law should not be made without their approval. But that should not rule out open discussion and debate, even among foreigners who take a genuine interest in the matter.
Robin Grant

Published : March 04, 2016