Lese majeste and cruelty III

13 03 2021

Yet again, the royalist courts have “rejected the bail applications by four core leaders of the anti-establishment Ratsadon group on the grounds that there is no justification for changing the court’s previous order to remand them in custody.” This refers to Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, and Piyarat Chongthep.

The new applications for bail “were filed today by Mr. Krisadang Nutcharat, a lawyer from the Centre for Human Rights Lawyers, and a group of lecturers from Thammasat and Mahidol universities.” Krisadang said “that he and the lecturers were seeking bail for the three students, namely Parit, Panusaya and Chatuphat, because they are about to take examinations.” The case of Piyarat has to do with “pre-emptive” arrest (as far as we know he has not been charged with 112).

In another report, it is stated that “Kritsadang also complained about Mr Parit’s transfer to Area 5 of the prison, usually designated for inmates already convicted.” He condemned this action, making an argument of the presumption of innocence. We doubt the royalist courts even know what this is as they take orders from the top.

The pattern emerging is one of lese majeste torture, seen in several earlier lese majeste cases. Keeping them locked up and seeking to separate them from their fellow political prisoners is a way to break their spirit and solidarity. It is also reflective of the nastiness seen in other cases involving those who “cross” the king.





Concocting “victory”

9 03 2021

With three more pro-democracy campaigners locked away on lese majeste charges, the regime seems confident it has a royalist political victory in sight.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok and Jatuphat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa – were each charged with 112 and other “crimes” and denied bail for the Thammasat University rally back in September 2020. Along with 15 other pro-democracy protesters, they also face sedition charges.

Some of those locked up. Clipped from France24

The other 15 were bailed, marking the regime’s 112 strategy as now involving lengthy jail stints waiting for a trial before royalist judges and potentially very heavy sentencing. The regime and palace – which gives the orders on 112 – want to stamp out all signs of anti-royalism.

They join Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem who have already been held for about three weeks without bail on similar charges. Also banged up on 112 charges is Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka Ammy the Bottom Blues.

Jatuphat called on followers: “Fight on everyone…”, while Panusaya, “who is facing eight other royal defamation charges, believes the pro-democracy movement will continue to exist although most of the leaders could be locked behind bars”: “No matter how many people are locked up, people outside will continue fighting, they do not need us…. “I am not concerned at all that the movement will stop.”

The regime thinks it has them beaten. With its carefully managed violence and targeted arrests, these detentions signal that the regime believes that the leaders will not get broader support.

The mainstream local media does not challenge regime stories of violence and weapons, although some of the international media has a different reporting. We conclude that the local media has come under enormous pressure to follow the regime’s lead and that corporate owners are willingly propagandizing for the regime. Why else would the Bangkok Post be interviewing and publishing outlandish conspiracy manure from anti-democrats? The media that lambasted the protesters for allegedly straying from the path of non-violence have been regime pawns too.

Such concocted claims have been seen from royalists many times in the past – from Pridi shot the king to the Finland Plot and more – and they continue. We can but speculate that these claims will lead to a deeper repression across the country, as they did in the past.





Further updated: 112 updates

9 02 2021

It is reported that lese majeste case No. 58 of the current round of repression has been lodged – we seem to have missed cases 56 and 57 – with a 37 year-old man being charged “with the royal insult, or lese majeste, for allegedly mocking the monarchy at a shopping mall in December…”.

A fanatical royalist from Thai Pakdee accused Pawat Hiranpon “of feigning to genuflect and saying ‘Long Live Your Majesties’ at Siam Paragon on Dec. 20 when several pro-democracy activists were walking past him…”. The mad monarchist thinks he was being sarcastic.

At about the same time, UN human rights experts are reported to have “expressed grave concerns over Thailand’s increasingly severe use of lèse-majesté laws to curtail criticism of the monarchy, and said they were alarmed that a woman had been sentenced to over 43 years in prison for insulting the royal family.”

They stated: “We are profoundly disturbed by the reported rise in the number of lèse-majesté prosecutions since late 2020 and the harsher prison sentences…”. They added: “We call on the authorities to revise and repeal the lèse-majesté laws, to drop charges against all those who are currently facing criminal prosecution and release those who have been imprisoned…”. The regime will not heed such calls. It never has. It heeds the king, and it is he who has directed this repression strategy.

Meanwhile some better news, with the Criminal Court having “dismissed a petition by the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to remove a clip criticising the government’s Covid-19 vaccine policy by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.” The ministry claimed it constituted lese majeste. He criticized the secret deal between regime, the king’s Siam Bioscience, and AstraZeneca.

After being ordered to take down his half-hour analysis, Thanathorn challenged the order. He was successful after the full clip was played in court, with the court “saying no part of the clip clearly showed he criticised or raised questions in any way that could be deemed insulting to the monarchy.” It added: “There is no clear evidence it affects national security…”.

The court asked Thanathorn why he used the term “royal vaccines”. His reply was wonderful, pointing out that “he was not the first to use it.” He pointed out that: “It was Gen Prayut and government agencies who first used or implied it that way…”. They were milking propaganda for the king and that was turned back at them, and the court agreed: “The court viewed the term was borrowed from what the government had said earlier about the local vaccine production to show the mercy of the king. Mr Thanathorn’s use of the word was therefore not a lie, which could cause damage to the king.”

Of course, the regime is now scrambling on vaccines, issuing statements that seem designed to mollify growing criticism. For a useful report of further questioning of the king’s Siam Bioscience, see Khaosod.

Update 1: Prachatai reports on the 112 case facing Pawat (using Phawat ‘Pocky’ Hiranphon). It states that the “charge was filed by Acting Sub Lt Narin Sakcharoenchaikun), a member of Thai Pakdee…”. Further,

the investigator gave as the reason for the complaint to a cosplay activity at Siam Paragon on 20 December 2020, where Phawat was seen paying respect by bowing, giving a ‘wai’ (the Thai greeting) , saying ‘Long live the King’, and presenting flowers to Parit Chiwarak and Panussaya Sitthijirawattanakul, who cosplayed King Rama X and the Queen wearing crop tops.

The investigator alleges this was an act of mockery toward people paying respect to King Rama X.

Phawat is seeking evidence to file a complaint against Narin, as he sees the complaint as politically motivated and damaging to his reputation and income. Narin also is not the one offended by Phawat’s action.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post has an editorial calling for the regime to get on with vaccination rather than defending itself. The editorial notices:

Bombarded by criticism that it has been too slow and overly reliant on two sources, AstraZeneca and Sinovac, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha tried to explain the government’s immunisation strategy last Sunday.

The PM was far too keen on defending the government than shedding light on the crucial vaccine drive. Although he addressed some of the main points of criticism, the PM offered no new information.

His claims and promises also appeared unsubstantiated, with little or no detail at all.

Self-censoring, it doesn’t say much at all about the king’s Siam Bioscience.

The public health minister has only made things worse. Bent on protecting himself and the government, Anutin Charnvirakul essentially told people to keep quiet and stop questioning the vaccine procurement and immunisation plan. He also told other politicians who are not in the government to keep their advice to themselves.

Mr Anutin’s tantrum only reinforced his image as being out of touch.

Self-censoring, it doesn’t say much at all about the king’s Siam Bioscience.





Updated: The 112 tally

15 01 2021

It is now almost three months since Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “declared that “all laws and all articles” will be enforced against protesters who break the law.” And we can amuse that recent lese majeste charges and arrests reflect his recent demand that various “agencies to speed up their investigations into lese majeste cases regarding unlawful online content and to take legal action against the suspects.”

We might also assume that this changed of direction on lese majeste – from not using it to an avalanche of cases – must reflect an order from the king. After all, Gen Prayuth stated that the king told him not to use it, and it would be unimaginable that Prayuth would change this policy without a direction from the palace.

Using Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) data, Thai PBS tallies some of the results of the regime’s extensive Article 112 campaign:

At least 234 people were charged in 145 criminal cases stemming from the rallies between July and December 2020, TLHR said.

Among them are six juveniles who were charged with sedition and lese majeste….

Between November 24 and December 31 last year, the group handled 24 cases involving 38 individuals charged with lèse majesté. The accused included one minor and several university students….

Prominent anti-establishment figures facing charges include Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, who has 26 cases, Arnon Nampa (20 cases), Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul (10 cases), and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok (16 cases)….

Less than two weeks into the new year, some 20 protesters have already met police to acknowledge charges of Royal defamation [Article 112].

Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon faces “nine charges, including lèse majesté, and is waiting to see whether public prosecutors decide to indict her.” Arnon said “he did not remember how many lawsuits have been triggered by his role in youth-led protests.”

Meanwhile, with protests on virus hold, “leaders have been keeping the campaign alive by posting regular social-media messages slamming the government.” In addition, there’s a “guerrilla campaign”across the country with banners and graffiti appearing regularly. Banners calling for “the repeal of draconian lèse majesté law have also been spotted around the city, including at Hua Lamphong Railway Station, Thammasat University, a shopping mall and pedestrian bridges.” Other efforts have targeted king and regime.

The regime is now seeking to use lese majeste against the “guerrillas.”

Update: The recent anti-monarchy campaigns online have seen royalists, regime and military using online resources. They are supporting lese majeste.





Updated: New year, new charges

6 01 2021

The Voice of America has reported the fact that “Thai authorities January 1 made their 38th arrest of a pro-democracy activist in recent weeks under the country’s tough lèse majesté law…”.

This refers to the case of “Nut,” the “Facebook administrator of a protest group and [who] was bailed out January 2 after being charged under Section 112 for selling a calendar using the movement’s satirical rubber duck symbol to allegedly mock the monarchy.”

As the report indicates, “In just a matter of weeks 112 charges have continued to surge…”, with several of those charged facing multiple cases.

The regime and palace have been panicked by widespread anti-monarchism. Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk made the obvious point: “Even the slightest critical reference to the monarchy is now punishable…”.

In Nut’s case, Chulalongkorn University’s Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang pointed out that the police who filed the charge “couldn’t even answer to the lawyer how this [calendar] violated Section 112. This was purely political…”. In other words, the cops are under orders to arrest people and charge them under 112 even if they are clueless about the actual “offense.” It is Orwellian “protection” of the monarch.

Read more on lese majeste charges here.

It isn’t clear that the tactics being used by the regime and palace are effective:

Authorities are now struggling to catch up with protesters whose attacks on the monarchy – and the law which shields it – are visible both on banners hung from bridges and across the internet in memes and hashtags.

Recent social media posts from across the country also show defaced portraits of the king and queen, often featuring additional photos of them in crop tops and so on.

Attapon Buapat, a protest leader who has been charged under the 112 law, says:

People do not fear 112 anymore…. Everyone fighting this battle has been prepared for our freedoms and rights to be violated one day. We have stepped beyond that fear for quite some time now. Whatever will be, will be….

Update: Prachatai reports on three new 112 cases. They say this means 40 cases. We think there are maybe more than this. Difficult to keep up. The first is that of Nut or Nat mentioned above. The second refers to 3 January, when “Thanakon (last name withheld), 17, also received a summons on a Section 112 charge issued by Buppharam Police Station.” Thai Lawyers for Human Rights say “the charge is likely to be related to a demonstration on 6 December 2020 at Wongwian Yai.” The third case is “Jiratita (last name withheld), 23, [who] was also charged with royal defamation for a speech given at the protest on 2 December 2020 at the Lad Phrao intersection.” It seems that this latter charge relates to complaints made by a member of the public.

Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Shinawat Chankrachang and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul were also hit with 112 charges for their involvement in this protest. Parit is now facing 12 counts of lese majeste, Arnon 8 counts, Panusaya 6 counts, and Panupong 5.





Year-end articles II

31 12 2020

The local English-language press now has some year-end reflections on the year just about gone:

Khaosod, “Our Person of the Year 2020: Rung Panusaya, the Woman Who ‘Shattered the Ceiling’.

… the demonstrations truly took a historic turn that shocked all when a 22-year-old student named Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, or Rung, stepped onto a stage at Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus on Aug. 10. There, she read a 10-point manifesto that challenged the institution at the very top of Thailand’s social strata [they mean the monarchy].

Clipped from Prachatai

Khaosod, “Opinion: 2020 is a Year to Reflect on What We Have, and What We May Lose,” by Pravit Rojanaphruk.

Khaosod, “‘Tappanai, Pan the Camera!’ 7 Top Moments of Khaosod English’s FB Live Duo.

The Nation, “2020: the year youth rose up in Thailand.

Thai Enquirer, “2020’s 20 Most Important Moments in Thailand.

Thai PBS, “The movers and shakers behind Thailand’s 2020 protests





Updated: 5 activists acknowledge 112 charges

1 12 2020

Thai PBS reports that Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul and Arnon Nampa “reported to Chanasongkhram police station in Bangkok today (Monday), to acknowledge lèse majesté charges related to protests at Sanam Luang on September 19th and 20th.”

The four remained defiant. Arnon stated “they are not worried about the charges and are ready to defend themselves in court.” He added that the “protests will continue and will be escalated next year, as he advised the police to prepare more cargo containers to set up road blocks.”

Rung “insisted that the protesters merely want to reform the [m]onarchy, not to overthrow …[it].”

Clipped from Khaosod

According to Khaosod, Mike stated: “The monarchy should be eligible for scrutiny and criticism…”. Penguin stated that such “backward” charges “will only encourage more people to support the movement, which seeks to limit the monarchy’s influence in politics and abolish laws that censor discussions about …[it].” He added: “People will feel there is no justice in our country…”.

That report also has Patiwat Saraiyaem reporting to the police on the same charge, so our headline is for five. Reports of other activists facing charges are contradictory and there may be between 14 and 20 facing 112 charges.

Thai PBS adds that “Parit will face lèse majesté charges in connection with the protest on November 14th at Kok Wua intersection, in Bangkok, and protests in the northeastern provinces of Roi-et and Ubon Ratchathani.”

All were released without having to post bail.

Update: Prachatai confirms that five protesters heard lese majeste charges. It states that “Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, Jutathip Sirikhan and Tattep  Ruangprapaikitseree, leading protest figures, received summonses from Bangpho Police Station for ‘defaming, insulting or expressing malice to the monarch’. They have to report to hear the charge on 7 December.” The report lists 12 persons who have been or are likely to be summoned to hear 112 charges, but we believe this list is incomplete.

 





Further updated: Lese majeste complaints begin to flow

23 11 2020

In sync with The Dictator’s announcement that lese majeste was back, two reports of complaints and/or charges being filed against protest leaders.

The Nation reports that Protest leader Parit Chiwarak or Penguin stated on Sunday that “police had contacted him to hear a charge of lese majeste against him. However, he was not sure the charge related to which demonstration. The protest leader assured people that he would not flee Thailand to escape the severe charge.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Nitipong Hornak, reportedly a “songwriter, founder and major shareholder of Grammy Entertainment,” has “filed a lese majeste complaint against Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul, a co-leader of the People’s Movement.” He is reported to have “filed the complaint with the police Technology Crime Suppression Division on Friday afternoon…”. The incident the complaint focuses on is not known.

We may be missing something, but the Stock Exchange of Thailand does not list Nitipong as a major shareholder of Grammy/GMM and nor is he listed at Wikipedia as a founder of the company.

Update 1: Matichon reports that lese majeste charges are now out for 12 protest leaders, including Rung and Penguin (mentioned above):

1. นายพริษฐ์ ชิวารักษ์ หรือเพนกวิน (Penguin)

2. น.ส.ปนัสยา สิทธิจิรวัฒนกุล หรือรุ้ง (Rung)

3. นายภาณุพงค์ จาดนอก หรือไมค์ (Rayong Mike)

4. นายอานนท์ นำภา (Arnon)

5. น.ส.ภัสราวลี ธนกิจวิบูลย์ผล หรือมายด์

6. นายชนินทร์ วงษ์ศรี

7. น.ส.จุฑาทิพย์ ศิริขันธ์

8. นายปิยรัฐ จงเทพ

9. นายทัตเทพ เรืองประไพกิจเสรี

10. นายอรรถพล บัวพัฒน์

11. นายชูเกียรติ แสงวงศ์

12. นายสมบัติ ทองย้อย

Update 2: Several English-language outlets now report the 12 lese majeste cases: Bangkok Post, The Nation, Thai PBS.

Interestingly, “Protest leader Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul has been named as one of the world’s 100 most inspirational and influential women of 2020 by the BBC.”

Meanwhile, Thai Enquirer argues that using lese majeste is merely inviting rightists to expand their fascist royalism.





Updated: Thailand’s Skyfall

15 11 2020

We might say that the earth moved but, in fact, in Thai terms, the sky fell. Nikkei Asia has the headline: Thailand’s young protesters turn backs on royal motorcade.

RT has it that:

Protesters in Bangkok have shown their disrespect to the Thai King by turning their backs on a royal motorcade as it passed by. People have been rallying for months, demanding the resignation of the PM and reform of monarchy.

Reuters reports:

As the motorcade carrying the king and Queen Suthida passed by they turned their backs, gave the three-fingered “Hunger Games” salute of pro-democracy campaigners, and sang the national anthem in the latest show of disaffection with the monarchy.

For video, see here:

RT and Reuters reckon there were some 2,500 demonstrators at the Democracy Monument when the motorcade sped past, but numbers grew substantially later in the evening.

This is a big deal.

Such an open display of disrespect will draw yellow shirt and official responses.

The demonstration continued, promoting various causes, with some using “ladders to cover the three-meter-tall centerpiece of the monument with a massive white cloth, that featured various insults and slogans accusing the country’s rulers of stealing the people’s ‘bright future’ and assuring that ‘democracy will prevail’.”

Clipped from Thai PBS

The Reuters story has a clip which includes the motorcade and very direct comments from Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul including on the power of the people, sovereignty being with the people rather than “one person,” and this: “Without the people, the government and monarchy will have no power…”.

At the same time, she offered the regime something of an opportunity: “Are they willing to take a step back or find a consensus that we can agree on?”

The Bangkok Post reports that

The charter was the main focus of their [protesters] attention, as Parliament is scheduled to debate amendments on Tuesday and Wednesday….

The three groups — Bad Students, Free Women and Mob Fest — are all allied with the Free Youth group, which marked its first anniversary on Saturday.

Bad Students, [are] mostly high schoolers….

Quite a day.

Update: Another video of the back turning, from Prachatai:





The king and his rightists I

10 11 2020

Yesterday PPT posted on an award to Australian journalists for their reporting on Thailand’s minister Thammanat Prompao, a convicted heroin trafficker.  We felt readers might like to see the latest from one of those journalists. We reproduce it in full, with photos added by PPT:

King of compromise? Thailand’s Vajiralongkorn plays the long game in face of protests

By Michael Ruffles
November 8, 2020

The tyres hit the tarmac of Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport. The prince steps out in his army uniform. It has been a long flight from Perth, where he has been training with the SASR for months since completing four years at Duntroon, but his day is not over yet. The 24-year-old is off to temple on a political errand.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn meets a saffron-robed figure, a monk who for 10 years was Thailand’s military dictator before being ousted. The sanctuary in the temple is a signal of royal support, and the meeting is a pointed one as political protests grow at the university campus nearby. It does nothing to quell the anger. It is October 2, 1976. Four days later the campus is the site of a massacre that haunts Thailand to this day.

When King Vajiralongkorn flew in to Bangkok from Germany on October 9, 2020, he landed in a similar political storm. For all the social and economic changes over the decades, young protesters are similarly angry at the military’s dominance and thwarted democracy.

It is also personal: the King’s life in Germany, the women in his life and use of taxpayer money are all the target of criticism, satire and outrage. Yellow-clad supporters counter that the nation, religion and monarchy are core to the Thai identity.

Exiled academic and royal critic Pavin Chachavalpongpun says it is as if “somehow politics got stuck”.

“Almost everything, if you just close your eyes it seems like we go back to 1976,” Pavin says from Kyoto. “The source of the problem has remained with the monarchy, and in particular with the same figure [Vajiralongkorn]. And with the kind of tactics, building up vigilante groups, supporting hardcore royalists to come out, using both propaganda and violence to intimidate the pro-democracy movement.

“This is amazing that we have changed very little from that point to now.”

Vajiralongkorn was an important, if perhaps unwitting, figure in 1976. Actors in a student play were accused of staging a mock execution of the then crown prince and on October 6 a coalition of right-wing militia and police launched a pre-dawn assault on Thammasat University. Forty-three were killed, including five who were lynched. No one has been held accountable. The army seized power in the name of defending the monarchy.

In the past month, protest leaders have been arrested multiple times, flash mobs have sprouted across Bangkok and tear-gas and water cannon have been deployed. Riot police have been out in force but unable to stop protest tactics adopted from last year’s demonstrations in Hong Kong. The words “republic of Thailand” have appeared at protest sites and populate segments of Thai social media with alacrity.

The three official aims of the self-styled People’s Party, or Khana Ratsadon, are the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a rewrite of the military-backed constitution and reform of the monarchy. The royal reforms they want include greater transparency and accountability, and to rein in the use of taxpayer funds at a time when Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy has been hammered. The issue of the monarchy is the most contentious and has brought issues that have long been suppressed by harsh laws and media self-censorship to the fore.

The tensest moment came after a Rolls-Royce carrying the King’s youngest son, Prince Dipangkorn, and Queen Suthida strayed into a protest zone on October 14. British foreign correspondent Jonathan Miller described it on Channel 4 as a “major security lapse”. The more suspicious saw it as a ruse to turn public opinion against the young demonstrators.

Through it all, Vajiralongkorn has stayed in the spotlight. He has lived mostly in Germany since 2007 and had the constitution rewritten to make it easier for him to rule from abroad, but has postponed his return to Europe. Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made pointed comments about Vajiralongkorn being unable to rule from Bavaria, which has complicated matters. “I think the King is wise to not go back now because at least they want the story to fade away,” Pavin says.

Vajiralongkorn has also been greeting supporters. Together with Queen Suthida, his Noble Consort Sineenat and his two daughters, the King has walked among them, posed for selfies and offered moral support. At one such event last Sunday, Channel 4’s Miller stood behind a staunch royalist former monk and scored a scoop. He asked the King what he would say to the protesters.

“I have no comment,” Vajiralongkorn said, waving the question away. “We love them all the same. We love them all the same. We love them all the same.”

Miller asked if there was room for compromise, to which he said “Thailand is the land of compromise” before moving away.

Political commentator Voranai Vanijaka, the editor-in-chief of news website Thisrupt, says the events are designed to rehabilitate the prestige of the monarchy and strengthen the royalist base.

“With the King remaining in Thailand, royalists now have the presence of the King as motivation, something near and dear to fight for,” Voranai says.

“The royal walkabouts are designed to do just that. In recent weeks, we have seen increased activities from royalists, with more royalist celebrities coming out to lead protests and gatherings. This is a push back against the Ratsadon Movement.

“The game is to win public legitimacy, which side has more support, which side can claim millions, which is the greater cause, monarchy or democracy.

“The words by the King are as they are, something he’s supposed to say. Royalists say it’s a shining example of the King’s greatness. Ratsadon makes sarcastic memes and signs.”

Activist Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, who has led the push for reform of the monarchy and faces sedition charges, tweeted in response: “Yes, land of compromise. But protesters are arrested, cracked down on, assaulted. Those criticising the institution are kidnapped. Yes.”

Pavin, an associate professor at Kyoto University whose Royalist Marketplace Facebook group boasts two million members, says Vajiralongkorn and his immediate family have been filmed telling supporters in almost identical terms that they need to fight to correct a misunderstanding of the monarchy.

“Himself, two wives and his two active daughters are totally in sync, this is not coincidental,” Pavin says. “They have to defend the monarchy, that I understand, but if you read closely whatever these people say to the loyal subjects is the same thing. This has been calculated.”

As far as compromise goes, Pavin believes the King “did not mean what he said”. Talk of replacing the Prime Minister has been circling – there is often talk of a coup in Thailand, where there have been a dozen successful putsches in the past century.

Pavin says the fate of the Prime Minister could be a bargaining chip for the King, giving the protesters a victory. But it was more likely the monarchy and military wanted to exhaust protest leaders and outlast the movement.

“This is a tactic that the King has been adopting for some time now. I think eventually they just hope that the persistence on the part of the palace and the government would eventually win, meaning that as long as they can hold on to the status quo then they would emerge as the winner.”