Taunting the regime II

11 08 2020

As King Vajiralongkorn prepares for his third flying visit to Bangkok, courtesy of the taxpayer and Thai Airways, pressure on the regime and the monarchy is rising.

Taxpayers fleeced

The Nation reports on Sunday’s rally in Chiang Mai. It refers to Arnon Nampa’s speech, noting that he “continues speaking out about the role of the monarchy despite facing the risk of being thrown behind bars again and getting his bail cancelled.”

Arnon maintains that “he was exercising his basic constitutional right to join a peaceful demonstration and make comments about the monarchy.”

In Chiang Mai, Arnon is reported to have:

reiterated that the junta-sponsored charter gave excessive power to the King, which is not in line with the principles of a democratic and constitutional monarchy as it allows the King to directly supervise some military units and control the Crown Property Bureau.

Anon also pointed out that His Majesty spends most of his time in Germany at the expense of Thai taxpayers, and urged MPs to raise the issue in Parliament as part of moves to amend the charter.

Interestingly, Arnon was given support by historian Nidhi Eowsriwong. He said “the public has every right to debate the monarchy’s role, as the institution belongs to the country and its people under a democracy.” He added:

military dictatorships, both in the past and present, have tried to separate the monarchy from democracy and use the institution* for their own benefit, which actually puts the monarchy in danger. He also said that military dictators also often use the institution as a tool to destroy other political groups.

Other protest rallies have been held in various places, including in Phitsanulok, where several reports say that student leaders were detained. Khaosod states that officials “detained six anti-government protest leaders…”.

Five leaders “were seized at a protest site close to a temple, and taken to a bizarre ‘attitude adjustment lecture’ deep inside a jungle.” They were taken “to a house inside a forest, where officials questioned them on who funded or supported the protests…”.

The group, who were all released without charge, said they “were given a lecture on history and supernatural forces in the province.”

“They talked about many Thai kings and how they were related to Phitsanulok, what good deeds they did for the country, as well as the sacredness of various supernatural spirits in the province,” the group wrote in an online post.

“They told many other illogical, unprovable myths about the place that we were going to hold the protest at as well.”

Police denied everything, saying: “It’s all fabricated news. It’s all false news…”.

Meanwhile, on Monday, protesters rallied in front of parliament, while at Thammasat University students “launched an anti-government rally under the theme ‘Thammasat will not tolerate’ at their Rangsit campus.”

The regime is also responding, threatening protesters and seeking to promote pro-government/pro-monarchy counter-rallies.

The Bangkok Post reports that Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta protesters that “they must not violate the rights of others nor offend the highest institution* in the country.” He said that “[p]rotecting the monarchy was not only the duty of the government but of the people too…”.

The Post neglects to mention that Buddhipongse is a former leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee. As Thai PBS notes, the PDRC “engineered the mass protests against the administration of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra about six years ago” and promoted the 2014 military coup.

Buddhipongse reportedly “dismissed allegations that the PDRC is linked to the royalist protesters.” He did not say anything about his links to the group “led by retired Lieutenant General and a former PDRC core leader Nanthadet Meksawat, [who have] vowed to protect the [m]onarchy.”

Other rightists and ultra-royalists have been busy warning and rallying with regime support. Suwat Liptapanlop sponsored an “event” supposedly “marking Kamnan and Village Heads Day, which was attended by more than 700 kamnan and village heads…”.

The president of the military-backed Association of Kamnan and Village Heads, Sakchai Chartphudsa,  also called on protesters to stop “insulting” the monarchy. He said: “We don’t want them to speak in a way that offends the institution.”*

*”Institution” is a royalist terminology for the monarchy, meant to imply it has a status above law and constitution.


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13 08 2020
Hardening lines | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Phasuk at Human Rights Watch warns that legal measures and intimidation of pro-democracy protesters “is getting more and more […]

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