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Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today

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Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World
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And there it was, in full sight of the Grand Palace and shouted out across the royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang, a call to reform Thailand’s monarchy and the powers of the monarch.

The protests, which started yesterday in the grounds of Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan Campus, will continue today with a number of symbolic gestures to claim a new era of democracy and reform in Thailand, beset for almost a century with a cycle of military coups, calls for reform, new constitutions and elections – 13 in fact.

Around 25 – 30,000 people – the protesters enthusiastically claimed there were 50,000 – gathered around the university grounds to demand the most recent coup leader, and now Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-ocha to stand down and dissolve the parliament. Given the poor weather around Bangkok yesterday, the government may be thankful the weather wasn’t better, which would surely have attracted even more to the rally.

The rally, which started in drizzling wet-season rain, also attracted some familiar veterans from the “red-shirt” United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, a pro-Thaksin political group. Although many of them are based in Thailand’s north east, they came to Bangkok to throw their support behind the student movement and the renewed calls for political reform.

One of the protest leaders, and human rights lawyer, Arnon Nampa, announced last night declared “the country belongs to the people, not the monarchy”.

“Today, the 2020 People’s Party has officially been formed at this people’s field”, he said according to Bangkok Post.

This morning the group embedded a symbolic brass plaque, using statements from the 1932 “Siam Revolution” that ended absolute monarchy and introduced a constitutional democracy. The original brass plaque, embedded in the Royal Plaza leading up to Government House, was removed mysteriously in 2017. No one from the government was able to explain what happened to it or where it ended up.

Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today | News by The ThaigerAnti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today | News by The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Thai PBS World

The protests, which started in the middle of July have broken a cultural taboo by commenting openly, even criticising, the Thai monarchy. This round of demonstrations is palpably different as it is grass roots, mostly younger, Thais, instead of aggrieved politicians.

Hi Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn is understood to not be in Thailand at this time and the Palace made no official comment about the protests or the content of the protesters’ demands.

No matter is there were 50,000 attendees, or just 18,000, as claimed by government security officials, it’s still the largest gathering of protesters since the May 2014 you when ‘Uncle Tu’ (Prayut) seized power and then ‘managed’ the March 2019 general election to install a pro-military and pro-monarchy coalition government, and himself as the country’s prime minister.

Protesters are marching to Government House this morning to continue to protest after many camped out overnight. Another of the prominent protest organisers, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, says today’s march would feature a “big surprise”.

Speakers at the protest criticised the king for his absence and for his personal behaviour, comments that until recently would not have been made in public. Some of the speeches were directly aimed at Thailand’s Head of State, comments that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, according to Reuters, spoke to crowd late last night.

“The people want a king who protects democracy, not one who betrays the people’s democracy.”

The setting of the yesterday’s date wasn’t by chance. It was the anniversary of another military coup against the populist elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra back in 2006. Although 2 decades of red-shirt/yellow shirt political protests has been mostly left out of this year’s round of protests, there were plenty of red-shirt (pro-Thaksin) protesters who turned up to give the students their support.

Up to now the protests have continued being mostly peaceful, if not occasionally boisterous, affair. But around 15 protest leaders have been identified and detained, then released, over their breaking of laws, mostly to do with the current ’emergency decree’ to curb the spread of Covid-19. None have been charged with the country’s draconian lese majeste laws which forbid criticism of the monarch or royal family.

Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai PBS, Bangkok Post, BBC

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jeff

    September 20, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Unelected persons, appointed or otherwise should have no authority to legislate. Simple

  2. Avatar

    Gosport

    September 20, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Selling power bank or umbrella can make oneself financially survive the pandemic during the period.

  3. Avatar

    chris Burf

    September 20, 2020 at 9:57 am

    This was a brave report.

    Thank you. I hope mass arrests or bloodshed is avoided (heaven forbid).

  4. Avatar

    steen thomsen

    September 20, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Monarkiet skal opløses og pengene 200 milliarder skal overvejende bruges på det fattige Isaan, så det kommer op på niveau med resten af Thailand.

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    September 21, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    There either topple the government or become slaves, and live in poverty.

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Crime

Man arrested for growing 108 cannabis plants in Samut Prakan

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested for growing 108 cannabis plants in Samut Prakan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77kaoded

Police arrested an Argentinian man for growing cannabis at his house in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok. 35 year old Sagas Nur told police he planned to produce cannabis oil.

Medical marijuana is legalised – with limitations – while recreational marijuana is still classified as a category 5 narcotic. Sagas is facing charges of producing a category 5 narcotic. He could face 2 to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 1,500,000 baht.

Police were tipped off about Sagas’ alleged growing operation. They searched the house and say they found 108 cannabis plants that were about 1.5 metre high. Sagas allegedly told police he bought the seeds online with the intention to grow plants and then produce cannabis oil.

Thailand legalised medical marijuana in 2018, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. Recreational marijuana trafficking and operations continue to be busted by police while the government studies medical marijuana with plans to tap into the global market. The Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul even helped plant cannabis seedlings at a government-run facility with 1,300 plants.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | South China Morning Post

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Protests

Opposition MPs petition for Bangkok State of Emergency to be lifted

Maya Taylor

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Opposition MPs petition for Bangkok State of Emergency to be lifted | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.nandy0140.com

A group of opposition MPs and other activists will today petition to have the emergency decree currently in force in Bangkok revoked. Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha imposed the state of emergency last Thursday morning, in the wake of escalating political unrest in the capital. Now a number of Pheu Thai MPs and other opponents of the State of Emergency are calling on the Civil Court to retract it.

Last weeks declaration was “rubber stamped” the next day by an emergency meeting of the Thai cabinet.

One of those petitioning for the state of emergency to be rescinded, is the President of the Lawyers’ Association of Thailand, Narinphong Jinaphak. He says enforcement of the decree is illegal and that there is nothing to justify it, pointing out that political rallies have been peaceful, and protesters have acted within the confines of the law. He also points out that the Thai Constitution guarantees citizens the right to assemble.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that Cholnan Srikaew, Pheu Thai MP for the northern province of Nan, has described the PM’s announcement of the State of Emergency in the early hours of last Thursday as illegitimate. He adds that should the court decide the state of emergency is unlawful, the group may sue the government for having declared it.

The group is also petitioning for an interim injunction, to prevent authorities from using the emergency decree against protesters, while the court considers whether to revoke it altogether.

Meanwhile, national police chief, Suwat Jangyodsuk, says officers are still under orders to avoid the use of force when dealing with protesters, in order to protect them and the general public. He denies that water cannons used to disperse a protest in Bangkok on Friday contained chemical substances known to cause irritation.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Visa

41 foreign tourists to arrive in Bangkok today on Special Tourist Visa after 7 month ban

Caitlin Ashworth

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41 foreign tourists to arrive in Bangkok today on Special Tourist Visa after 7 month ban | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Patrick Tomasso

Just 41 foreign tourists are expected to arrive in Bangkok today, a small, yet major step forward after a 7 month ban on international tourists which was put in place in late-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The visitors are said to be travelling on the new Special Tourist Visa, which allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months. But the tourists departing from Shanghai, China and arriving in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport this evening will only be in Thailand for 30 days, and that includes a 14 day quarantine, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says.

Plans under the new scheme have been sketchy to say the least and reports have been conflicting. Reports circulated about a group of about 120 to 150 tourists under the new visa scheduled to arrive in Phuket earlier this month from Guangzhou, China. The flight was delayed. A few days later, a spokesperson from the Foreign Ministry announced no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and TAT just passed off a list of those “interested” in the scheme rather than those who were ready to fly.

Things seem a bit sketchy again. The flight arriving today was at first going to have 120 to 150 tourists, but now it’s down to 41, according to Pattaya News. Yuthasak did not say why only a limited number of tourists are arriving today, but says Bangkok’s ongoing protests are not a factor, adding that the tourists plan to travel to beaches outside the city once the mandatory quarantine period is over. He says 100 more Chinese tourists will arrive in Bangkok later this week.

Upon arrival, the tourists will be tested for Covid-19 and are required to register with a Covid-19 tracking application. They will then be transferred to certified quarantine accommodations to stay for the next 14 days.

“If the first batch of Chinese tourists is considered to be potentially successful, TAT might propose the idea of increasing more tourists to the CCSA (Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration) and the government.”

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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