Thai TV show draws army wrath for lese-majeste debate
BANGKOK (REUTERS) - A television show is testing the boundaries of controversial laws protecting Thailand's monarchy, drawing a rebuke from the army chief and criticism from a government minister who ruled out changes to the country's draconian lese-majeste rules.
Thailand's 85-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej is often portrayed as an almost divine figure, but this view is hard to challenge when the world's toughest lese-majeste laws can make anything deemed an insult or a threat to the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
State-owned Thai Public Broadcast Service (Thai PBS) broadcast a rare debate starting last week on the merits and misfires of the lese-majeste law, featuring a historian, a former foreign minister, a self-proclaimed "ultra-royalist" and an opponent of the monarchy.
Part of one episode in the week-long series covered the nature of public loyalty displayed towards the monarchy and whether it was genuine, something rarely questioned. Another episode showed a heated debate between the ultra-royalist and the critic on whether the lese-majeste laws should be amended.