Arnon on the monarchy

6 08 2020

Arnon Nampa’s speech on the monarchy, made to pro-democracy activists on Monday is important. It seems clear that his brave speech was meant as a challenge to the status quo. The best translation we have seen so far is in Prachatai. We reproduce in full the part of that article dealing with Arnon’s speech:

Anon Nampa calls for monarchy reform and open criticism of the crown

Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa was the last speaker to appear on the stage, wearing a black gown and a red and yellow scarf, holding a wand, and said that he was invited by the organisers to speak at the event on a topic many would like to hear but no one has spoken about formally, and insisted that, with all due respect to the monarchy, it is absolutely necessary for him to speak about the role of the monarchy in contemporary Thai politics.

“We have swept this issue under the rug for many years. No one has really talked about this issue, which led to attempts to solve the problem that did not get straight to the point. We have to accept the truth that students and citizens have risen up to protest today partly because many people would like to raise questions about our monarchy,” Anon said.

Anon said that, even though placards mentioning a person who lives in Germany have been seen at recent protests, these mentions will hold no weight if we don’t talk about the issues with reason and directly according to the principles of constitutional monarchy.

The main problem, said Anon, is that today there is a process which is taking the monarchy further and further away from democracy, with certain articles in the current constitution and subsequent legislation giving the monarchy power beyond the democratic system.

He also mentioned that, following the constitutional referendum in 2016, then-NCPO leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha presented the draft constitution to the king, who ordered several changes to be made – something which could not happen in a constitutional monarchy, since it is considered interference with the process of drafting and implementing the constitution.

Anon then touched on the issues that resulted from King Vajiralongkorn taking residence in Germany, including the possibility that the King will have to pay taxes according to Bavarian state laws, which would come from Thai taxpayer money, and the fact that foreigners are criticising the Thai monarchy because the King lives overseas.

Additionally, he touched the issue of managing crown property and the transfer of troops to the crown.

“All of this means that we have a democratic system of government with the monarch as head of state, but the monarchy already has power beyond what is allowed by the system. This is an issue that we need to talk about seriously, and everyone must talk about it publicly and with respect to the system and to the monarchy. If we don’t talk about this issue, there is no way to solve the problem. Talking like this is not overthrowing the monarchy, but it is for the monarchy to exist in Thai society with legitimacy in accordance with the democratic system of government with the monarch as head of state,” he said.

Anon proposed that parliament amend the constitution to require the king to appoint a regent while he is not in the country and to return public property to the people, as well as to make sure that the crown’s use of the national budget is accountable and can be criticized.

He also called on the crown to take action against people like Maj Gen Dr Rientong Nan-nah, who are using the crown’s name for their own benefit and to claim legitimacy in harassing other citizens.

Anon said that he believes the students who have been protesting since the start of this year know these issues very well, but no one was brave enough to speak of it directly. He hopes that from now on, we will be able to discuss these issues in public. He also called on members of parliament to speak on behalf of the people and to not let ordinary people who speak about the monarchy face harassment by themselves or let political refugees who are speaking get abducted and brutally murdered.

“From now on, no one else who speaks about the monarchy should be accused of being mad, of being insane, or carried off to hospital even though they are speaking the truth,” said Anon.

“If anything is going to happen from me speaking the truth, whether it is threats, prosecution, or killing me, I do not regret it, because today I get to say the truth, and this truth will stay with my fellow citizens and will haunt the dictator until we get true democracy,” Anon concluded.


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