As a past resident of Thailand a number of people have asked me what I think of the Harry Nicolaides case. Nicolaides has just been jailed for 3 years for lèse majesté - specifically for insulting the Thai monarchy. Generally I am puzzled at what has occurred as Nicolaides has worked in Thailand since around 2003 - he should clearly have understood the reverence and respect Thais place on their monarchy. I find it difficult to believe his claim that he didn't understand the law since any foreigner working in the country finds about about this very quickly.
Moreover, it is not just a question of law. The fact is that the Thai do hold the monarchy in intense respect. They have an almost religious significance. Almost every household in this Kingdom has pictures of His Majesty the King (King Bhumibol) and other members of the Royal Family. There is affection and respect for the Royal Family. In addition the Monarchy are seen as unifying the nation.
Australians who are republicans or luke warm royalists might find it difficult to appreciate these attitudes but for the Thais they are genuine and heart-felt. Thailand is a very free and easy society - I don't believe it is too much to expect foreigners to appreciate these significant Thai attitudes.
Nicolaides seems at least to have been most unwise. As some have pointed out he seems to have even sought to draw attention to his poorly-written novel through his own actions. On the other hand life in a Thai jail is a fearful outcome and, given that he has already served some time in jail, I can only hope that His Majesty the King grants him a pardon. This has happened in the past in other cases of lèse majesté . I am uncertain that public protests outside of Thailand are the best way of achieving this outcome.
If you are travelling or living in Thailand you need to be respectful of the monarchy. And of course keep away from illegal drugs.