Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sulak's Banned Book Via Fringer and Bangkok Pundit

Originally from Bangkok Post:

The Special Branch Police has banned a book on Thai democracy written by respected scholar Sulak Sivaraksa.

The ban on Khawn Sattawat Prachatippatai Thai (Thai Democracy After More Than Half A Century) was issued by Pol Maj-Gen Sombat Supacheeva, chief of the Special Branch Police printed media affairs section, who claimed the book ''undermines social order and public morals''.

Police said sales and distribution of the book are prohibited. They will confiscate copies already on sale.

Here is the citebite link courtesy of ThaiCrisis. Bangkok Pundit's blog post here. Here is the link to Prachatai

Here is the permalink to Fringer's blog about the Sulak book.

Here is the pdf link to the book.

Frankly, I have only finished 8 pages of the 34 pages in the pdf.

It is interesting so far. There are parts of the book that are critical of the monarchy. From my perspective, I wouldn't necessarily call it lese majeste, but I can see how the powers at be would interpret it that way.

From what I have read so far, Sulak is critical of the propaganda surrounding the monarchy, arguing that it is anti-democratic and inherently unhelpful to Thailand's democratic development, because the language and culture that surround the monarchy supports a socially stratified society. He is right: The social, political, spiritual and economic stratification propagated by the culture of the monarchy doesn't support democracy in Thailand. He is also critical of the propaganda surrounding Orthodox Thai Buddhism that supports the notion that your life is predetermined by your karma. So if you are poor, then that means that is your destiny and there is nothing you can do about it. Conversely, if you are rich, powerful and beautiful, you should be treated with awe and respect because of your superior karma. He is also critical of how the monarchy takes advantage of Thai people's proclivities towards magic, superstitions, and miracles. For example, he brings up the imagery of the King's so-called rain-making abilities. I agree with this. Just look at the rain-making imagery in the pre-movie propaganda films. He is also critical of how official Thailand cajoles the people, sometimes against their will, into supporting the propaganda apparatus that surrounds the monarchy.

Indeed, he is critical of the government resources that are being spent in propping up the aura of the monarchy, e.g. the recent celebrations concerning the 60th anniversary of the king's reign, especially when there are so many poor people in Thailand. Why spend so many resources on celebrations and festivals when Thailand has many social problems that need to be addressed? Sulak also addresses sufficiency economy, the king's finances, and the lack of discussion and openness concerning both.

He talks about Pridi Banomyong, Buddhadhasa Bhikku and rants about the evils of commercialism and materialism as usual.

Lots of good stuff. I don't always agree with Ajarn Sulak, but I do applaud him for going out on a limb and for his courage. Fringer is also going out on a limb, as is Prachatai for linking to the pdf.

As a I get more deepers into the book, I'll probably comment more on it. Actually, I am really busy, but just wanted to throw this up when I had the chance.

My Thai to English interpretation might not be entirely correct. So if I got something wrong, please let me know. I don't want to incorrectly paraphrase Sulak's words.

If there is a section of the book that you want me to comment on, send me the section, because I don't have the entire book.

1 comment:

fall said...

It is about time someone brought it up.
The king said he can be criticize, does this act of banning constitute lese majeste by the police for going against the king word?

All media are bound by lese majeste law to spread only love message. And all people are taught and bound by lese majeste law to express only love. An ultimate benevolent diety(find your own word substitute).

It would be quite ironic if the most love and rever king in the world come to throne in time of democracy and left with strong military play and an enormous wealth for CPB.

And again, all Thai are forbidden to criticize about current or past reign. Dont know what that call, but if no lesson are learnt. History tend to repeat itself.

(All above comment are of most loyal to the monarchy and with utmost respect, off course.)