Thai police chief tells lese majeste suspects to leave country, offers air tickets

Royal Thai police chief Chakthip Chaijinda.
PHOTO: AFP

As the government began a hunt for lese majeste fugitives abroad, national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said yesterday insulting the monarchy would not be tolerated and outbound air tickets were offered to people who wanted to commit such crimes.

"I don't know why people want to insult the monarchy. How can a human being think about that and do such a thing during this time of grieving? If they don't want to live in Thailand, they should go abroad," he told reporters.

"For the sake of the nation's [security], I am willing to go into debt, owing money to pay for air tickets for those people."

The government has launched a campaign to hunt for lese majeste fugitives as well as to take steps to prevent people overseas from engaging in what it regards as insulting the monarchy.

Talking about the monarchy has been especially provocative since wide political divisions opened more than a decade ago, with royalists saying they believed their opponents wanted to discredit the monarchy and some members of the Royal Family for political gain.

Authorities have prosecuted many people on lese majeste charges while others have escaped prosecution by leaving the country.

The government has expressed concern that discussions about the monarchy following the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadejon on October 13 could get out of hand.

Many people overseas have posted criticism of and speculation about the institution of the monarchy on the Internet and via social media.

Police have charged more than 20 people for insulting the monarchy since the passing of the King, alleging improper or defamatory posts on social media. Many people's social media feeds are under close surveillance.

Chakthip said police had notified Interpol to take legal action against people who insulted the monarchy from overseas, but he declined to give further details.

On behalf of the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry has sent formal requests to seven countries requesting the extradition of 19 fugitives accused of lese majeste charges.

Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday that seven or eight countries had informed him that they were willing to co-operate to control the movement of lese majeste fugitives within their jurisdiction although extradition would be difficult due to legal complications.

"I received positive signs from foreign embassies that they understand our situation and the root cause of the problems as well as the feelings of Thai people," he said. "If we obtain good co-operation from them, I believe the problems will be eased.

"It would be difficult to bring all individuals to go through attitude adjustment programmes," he said.

The minister added that only 10 people were actively spreading defamatory messages about the monarchy but the content spread quickly on social media.

"If the public does not pay attention, such messages will be phased out," he said.

PM Lee pays last respects to late Thai King in Bangkok

  • President Tony Tan Keng Yam paid his respects to Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday in the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
  • Dr Tan, who was accompanied by his wife Mary, as well as officials from Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry, laid a wreath by the late monarch's royal urn and signed a condolence book.
  • His visit came three days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong travelled to Bangkok to do the same.
  • "King Bhumibol was also a close friend of many countries, including Singapore. Under his long reign, the bilateral relations between Singapore and Thailand strengthened significantly," wrote Dr Tan.
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching have paid their last respects to the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyade at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
  • The Singapore leader laid a wreath at the Royal Urn in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall and also signed the book of condolences on Oct 21.
  • A scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Lee and Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha was cancelled due to last-minute scheduling difficulties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
  • The prime minister had earlier paid his respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Thai Embassy in Singapore on Oct 14, a day after the 88-year-old died at a Bangkok hospital.
  • PM Lee Hsien Loong signs the condolence book at the Thai Embassy in Singapore, 14 Oct 2016.
  • People pay respect and sign condolence book for the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Thai embassy in Singapore on 15 October 2016 .
  • According to the embassy, a condolence book will be open for signing at its premises at 370 Orchard Road, from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 4.30pm.
  • Visitors can access the embassy via its Claymore Road entrance.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • This group of students were at the Royal Thai embassy this morning and were told that the embassy would only open at 4pm.
  • A group of close to 33 St Francis Methodhist School students wait outside the Royal Thai embassy on 14 Oct 2016. They were told to return at 4pm when the embassy would allow well-wishers in.
  • A student from St Francis Methodist stands outside the Royal Thai embassy gates on 14 Oct 2016.
  • (L-R) Stamp Promphan, 15, and Pirapat Chaiya,13, from St Francis Methodhist School outside the Royal Thai embassy on 14 Oct 2016.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • The Thai flag flies at half mast at the Royal Thai embassy in Jakarta on October 14, 2016.
  • The Thai flag flies at half mast at the Royal Thai embassy in Jakarta on October 14, 2016.
  • Ms Darunee sobbing after hearing of Thai King Bhumibol's death on Oct 13.
  • She had planned to go home next month but is flying back to Bangkok today to pay her respects.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • People react shortly after it was announced that Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej died at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2016.
  • Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was the world's longest-reigning monarch, died in hospital on Thursday, the palace said in an announcement.
  • The palace did not give a reason for his death. He was 88 years old.
  • The king was credited with restoring the influence of Thailand's royalty during 70 years on the throne and earning the devotion of many of his subjects.
  • For the majority of the country's 68 million people, the king was a pillar of stability in rapidly changing times.
  • King Bhumibol, who ascended the throne on June 9, 1946, was seen as a force for unity, and there have long been concerns that the political tensions that have riven Thailand over the past decade could worsen after his death.
  • A well-wisher gestures in front of a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • A well-wisher hold up a portrait of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • Well-wishers wear pink shirts as they pray in front of a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher wears a pink shirt as she prays in front of a portrait of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as she prays for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher weeps as she prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.

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