Free speech is a healthy aspect of society, as has been demonstrated by a variety of evidence over the years. However, there must be limits to that free speech and it is possible to differ honestly over where those limits should be set. Many people would agree that making unfounded accusations of murder or attempted murder against specific individuals would be beyond the pale. In such cases, it is reasonable for those people who have been so accused to have recourse to the law to protect their reputation – even if they are subsequently brought to trial for the same alleged offence or similar, then it is quite possible that the accusations will prejudice the possibility of a fair trial and for that reason also should not have been made.
It is, therefore, a positive thing that the military chief General Anupong Paojinda has responded to evidence-light accusations that he was in some way linked to the attempted assassination of the convicted criminal Sondhi Limthongkul with a threat to sue anyone repeating the slur. Everyone should be treated fairly and equally before the law, no matter what position or opinions they hold. Problems tend to arise when free speech is suppressed (openly or otherwise) and the rule of law is not seen to be handed out impartially. This gives rise to conspiracy theories. People who live in Thailand will be aware of the kinds of rumours that are repeated every day – most of which could result in severe trouble for anyone who were to post them or publish them or is even overheard and reported.
Improvements in technology mean that the ability to record events has become more widespread. However, it is not yet true that this technology has made the truth available to everyone. Events remain contested and the state continues to try to privilege one side of the story.