This week, Hong Kong’s opposition activist Tam Tak-chi became the first person charged with sedition since its handover from British colonial rule in 1997. The charge is over “seditious words.”
For example: “Rogue cops and their families go to hell” and “Disband the police force.”
In Thailand, the government has charged 31 pro-democracy activists with various crimes. They include violating public orderliness and cleanliness and COVID-19 preventive measures.
The most severe charge is Article 116, sedition, of which activists Anon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok were arrested and jailed (3 September) and released on bail (7 September).
Words of Sedition
Hong Kong’s prosecutor said Tam’s words:
“Bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to raise discontent or disaffection among inhabitants of Hong Kong, or to counsel disobedience to the law or any lawful order.”
Take the keywords: Hatred, contempt, discontent, disaffection, and disobedience. They are the same keywords Thailand’s government leaders use to accuse the pro-democracy protestors.
The Thai authorities also claim the protesters are against the country’s three pillars: “nation, religion, and king.”
The Politics of Hate
The politics of hate play on the fear and paranoia of the rest of the population who otherwise are not politically active.
It’s a propaganda method painting the opposition as hateful, divisive, and unlawful. Hence, they endanger society’s peace and order with chaos and anarchy.
As such, those people who succumb to the propaganda would either turn a blind eye to or gleefully cheer on, as they give the government the “moral authority” to persecute individuals for saying words the government doesn’t agree with.
The crime of Free Speech
For Hong Kong, Tam Tak-chi saying someone’s family should “go to hell” is a crime that violates Section 10 of the Crime Ordinances, punishable by a fine of 645 US dollars and two years imprisonment.
Meanwhile, in Thailand, both Anon and Panupong face seven years of imprisonment for uttering the “seditious words” to reform the monarchy institution so that Thailand would become a democratic constitutional monarchy with the monarch as the head of state.