news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | July 7, 2014 | 2.14 pm IST

Apparently, the emperor does not like to be told that he is wearing no clothes.

The Thai military junta is fuming at, no, not political activists or its critics, but at a British comedian John Oliver, who has made fun of the junta, and also ridiculed Thai royalty.

Vice News reported that it had access to an official documents marked “highly confidential”, which basically showed that the junta was “paranoid” about the comedian, who has a show on HBO called Last Week Tonight. The documents were written four days after the episode aired on June 22. 

The report said: “The British satirist lampooned the “happiness campaign” launched by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the military regime's leader, to make Thais feel better about the junta’s crackdown on human rights and freedom of speech. Oliver also described Thailand’s crown prince as “buffoonish” and “an idiot.""

But that’s not all. 

“While discussing Thailand's draconian lèse majestè law, which punishes anyone mocking the royal family with three to 15 years in jail, Oliver showed a brief clip from leaked footage of a birthday party beside a swimming pool featuring the crown prince and his wife, who is shown topless. In the footage, the royal couple blow out candles on the birthday cake with their pet poodle Foo Foo, who holds the rank of Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Thai Air Force. The crown prince’s wife is later seen lying on the floor at her husband’s feet, posing with a piece of cake.”

How does anyone not make fun of that, Oliver asks.

Wait, there’s more.

The report also says that the military in 2010, had bizarrely defended itself after buying hundreds of devices that could supposedly detect explosives.
The report says: “In a farcical 2010 episode it was revealed that generals had been duped into buying hundreds of bogus explosives detectors. The devices had initially been sold as novelty dowsing rods for finding lost golf balls, but British conman Gary Bolton repackaged the devices, which cost as little as $3 to make, and sold them around the world for up to $25,000 apiece. When the deception was discovered, Thailand’s top brass held a surreal news conference and insisted that they worked. “This may not be explained scientifically,” said army chief Anupong Paochinda, “but I’m telling the truth.” For Thailand’s military, it seems, even the fundamental laws of physics can be ignored with impunity.”

The Thai military junta, formally known as the National council of Peace and Order, effected a coup in May this year, after prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from office by a court ruling. This is the 13th coup since monarchy was formally ended in 1932. The junta has killed several people, imprisoned political activists, journalists and dissenters. The junta has said that it is unlikely to hold elections until around October 2015, despite international pressure to return to democracy.

Writer of the report on Vice News Andrew MacGregor Marshall says: "As Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has observed, when ordinary people lose their fear of laughing at the ridiculousness of authoritarian regimes, dictatorships can quickly crumble."

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