Thailand’s Lese Majeste Laws

Other countries have laws against speaking disrespectful words about their ruling monarchs. In Poland a man was arrested when he farted loudly after police asked what he thought of the leaders of the country.

In Thailand foreigners are routinely arrested for having shown disrespect to the His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, usually through what they’ve written though at times for not standing up in a movie theater as the national anthem played or some other blatantly disrespectful act.

Being American it’s hard for me to understand the idea, but not hard at all to follow it. There is a 15 year jail term awaiting anyone convicted for blatantly showing disrespect for Thailand’s King and most of us that visit don’t have any problem following the law. Few of us end up in jail over it.

Currently there is an Australian man in a Bangkok jail for printing a book (self-published) that was fictitious, about HM The King.

If you’re visiting Thailand you need to know that they take lese majeste very seriously. You might hear the national anthem being played while you’re at the park, in the street, wherever you are. Sometimes Thais ignore it and go about their work. The 8 am anthem that is played at all the schools across Thailand can be heard outside the school grounds, and is usually played on all the televisions across the country too. If you’re at the school or at a government work place you’ll be expected to stand silently while it plays.

If you don’t notice anyone else standing still and quiet then you can assume it’s safe and go about what you were doing too.

In movie theaters before every main feature staff play the Thai National Anthem. Stand like everyone else and you’ll be fine. If you don’t, you might get beat up by an angry mob of Thais that take respect for their King very seriously. It’s happened before.

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at ThailandeBooks.com. There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.