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Protests

Head of development think tank calls for dialogue to resolve political crisis

Maya Taylor

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Head of development think tank calls for dialogue to resolve political crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times
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The president of the Thailand Development Research Institute is calling on both sides to resolve the ongoing political impasse through “dialogue and democracy”. In a report in the Bangkok Post, Somkiat Tangkitvanich warns that the situation is reaching a “crisis point” as he lays out his proposals for how both sides can reach an agreement.

A new round of protests started again on the weekend are a short pause in activities following the Thai PM’s speech to the nation, offering a few olive branches to the protesters and asking them to “stand down” in return for rescinding the State of Emergency, after having it in force for the past 7 days. The protesters largely ignored the laws forbidding gatherings of more than 5 people.

Today an emergency session starts at the national parliament with an emergency joint sitting to discuss the political conflict. There is also a rally proposed for this afternoon where protesters will march from Sam Yan intersection to the German Embassy in Sathorn Road. Government supporters and “royalists”, most likely clad in their yellow uniforms (showing their loyalty to the Thai monarchy), are saying they will assemble at Lumpini Park, right in the middle of this afternoon’s march route.

Posting on Facebook, Somkiat Tangkitvanic points out that the country is currently divided politically, partly based on their age, which he says is still preferable to being split by religious or racial differences. He adds that each side still needs to live alongside the other and that “the only way out of the current impasse is through dialogue”.

“For many Thais, the main question is what kind of political and governing system we should have and how the Monarchy should play a role. Many have expressed their own opinions, and it is obvious there are still huge differences. Whatever happens, we will still continue to co-exist in Thailand and we cannot expel or get rid of the side just because they hold different opinions.”

One of Somkiat’s suggestions is to use the House of Representatives and the parliamentary process to find a solution in the first instance. If this fails, the next step would be to hold a referendum and allow the people to decide. In the event of a referendum, each side should have equal opportunity to argue their case without intimidation, so that voters can make a fully informed decision.

He adds that, in addition to the formal process, a mediator acceptable to both sides could chair informal talks between them, but warns that these should not be held publicly, in order to avoid pressurising negotiators into a corner where they’re unable to change their stance.

“In order for both sides to work together and learn to trust each other, the government must release everyone currently being held on politically-related charges and listen to what they have to say.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

A student protest leader is facing charges of contempt after he made statements on Facebook critical of the Constitutional Court ruling to acquit PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, allowing the Thai prime minister and former Army General to continue occupying a military-owned residence. Critics have argued that allowing Prayut, a retired general, to say at the Army residence is a conflict of interest.

Director of the Constitutional Court’s litigation office and police officer, Montri Daengsri, filed the charge against pro-democracy protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak. Montri says the Facebook posts made by Penguin were defamatory to the court and had tarnished its reputation.

In addition to the Facebook posts, Montri says the protest leader made an offensive speech following the court ruling at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. He says the speech was defamatory and violated Thailand’s Criminal Code. Police are investigating the claims to determine if charges should be pressed.

Prayut occupies a military reception house at the 1st Infantry Regiment residential area on Phahon Yothin in Bangkok, according to the Royal Thai Army. Tenants in army welfare houses have to pay for utility bills while those who live in the reception houses, like retirees, do not pay for household expenses and the utility bill is covered by the Army.

The Constitutional Court ruled this week that Prayut did not violate the Charter by occupying the residence. The court says under military regulations, former officers can remain at their Army residence after their retirement at the discretion of the Thai Army commander.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Schoolgirl bursts into tears meeting Panasaya, fearing for activist’s safety

Maya Taylor

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Schoolgirl bursts into tears meeting Panasaya, fearing for activist’s safety | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.prachachat.net

Protest leader Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, has been pictured consoling a young schoolgirl who broke down in tears, concerned about the activist’s safety. Rattapol Kaiipah Promsuwan, who witnessed the exchange, has shared a photo of the moment on social media. She says the girl, who is in Grade 6 (making her around 11 years old), had gone to the organisers’ area during Wednesday’s rally at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. There, she asked to meet Panusaya, a hero of hers.

The girl’s sister says her sibling has an interest in politics and is concerned about reports that Panusaya faces lèse majesté charges. Thailand’s lèse majesté law prohibits insulting, defaming or threatening the nation’s revered Monarchy, and carries a punishment of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. During her meeting with Panusaya, the girl cried for half an hour, with the student activist trying to console her, and a Facebook photo showing her hugging the child.

Panusaya has received a new summons from the Technology Crime Suppression Division, as a result of a police complaint lodged by royalist supporter, Nitipong Honark, a music composer. She is now being summonsed on December 9, to hear additional charges of lèse majesté and violating the Computer Crimes Act .

Meanwhile, the BBC has named her in its list of the world’s 100 most influential and inspirational women of 2020.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Protests

K-Pop fan-funded billboards move from BTS and MRT stations to tuks tuks to support protesters

Caitlin Ashworth

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K-Pop fan-funded billboards move from BTS and MRT stations to tuks tuks to support protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter: @katipunera

K-Pop fan-funded “happy birthday” billboards are moving from mass transit stations in Bangkok to tuk tuks after the BTS Skytrain and MRT Bangkok Metro temporarily shut down services during pro-democracy protests last month.

The world’s K-Pop fans are weaponising their huge numbers and online ‘power’ by supporting Thailand’s pro-democracy movement. In 3 days last month, Thai and overseas K-pop fans raised more than 3 million baht to support the growing student-led movement calling on government and monarchy reform. A lot more has been raised since then.

A Thailand fan page for the South Korean K-Pop band BTS (not to be confused with Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain) urged fans to stop paying for the “happy birthday” billboards displayed in BTS and MRT stations. The fan-funded signs celebrate the birthdays of the 7 members of the band.

The band members also issued a statement asking their fans (known as ARMY) to stop paying for signs in the BTS and MRT stations because the mass transit systems “inconvenienced protesters and normal citizens from getting home and putting them in danger.”

The “happy birthday” signs have been seen on tuk tuks throughout Bangkok while some have posted photos of empty advertising space in the transit stations.

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