The case of Ah Kong, or Uncle SMS as he’s commonly referred to, is shocking in many ways.
What is known for sure is that an assistant for former Prime Minister Abhisit received four text messages which insulted and (reportedly) threatened Her Majesty The Queen. The text of those messages has not, however, been made public.
What is also known was that Ah Kong is barely literate (he scraped a living as an odd-job man) and he claimed not to know how to send text messages.
What appears to be the case is that those four messages came from his ‘phone, though that is not a 100% certainty; the ‘phones ID could have been faked on the messages.
What is definitely not known for sure is who sent the messages.
Despite the apparent lack of certainty in the evidence, Ah Kong was sentenced to 20 years in prison under Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté laws. Not a great outcome for a sick old man, his body riddled with cancer.
His lawyers made eight applications for him to be released on the grounds of ill health, and so he could receive medical treatment. Each was refused. Apparently a poor, sick man dieing of liver cancer is considered a “flight risk”.
The courts considered his condition “not yet life-threatening” and that “the prison infirmary could meet his medical needs”.
When he recently complained of stomach pains he was given a handful of painkillers. Only three days later was he admitted to the infirmary. It didn’t meet his medical needs, and he promptly died.
It’s a bitter twist to think that if he hadn’t appealed against his sentence, he could well have been granted a royal pardon long before now, and he could have spent his final weeks or months with his grandchildren and loving wife, rather than locked up behind bars.