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Harry Potter-themed protest openly questions monarchy’s role

Jack Burton

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Harry Potter-themed protest openly questions monarchy’s role | Thaiger
PHOTO: A demonstrator holds up the anti-government "3 finger salute" - Reuters

Thai protesters strayed into more sensitive territory Monday night as they added the prickly, and largely taboo, topic of the Thai monarchy to the list of issues to include in their demonstrations. At a Harry Potter-themed rally, dubbed “Harry Potter versus You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, anti-government demonstrators at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument demanded changes to Thailand’s revered monarchy and called for curbs to its power, in an unusually frank public outburst.

Thailand’s royal family is held in high regard and deeply respected by a large percentage of the population. Legally, HM the King sits atop the country’s constitutional monarchy. Defaming the royal family is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws. Police did not stop the 6 speakers but said any suspected offences would be investigated.

Many of the 200 protesters were dressed as Harry Potter and other characters of the popular fantasy franchise, in what they said was a reference to increasing injustices under the military-backed government. Anon Nampa, a 34 year old lawyer, delivered an almost unprecedented public speech on the role of the Thai monarchy. He made a number of accusation directed at the palace, and spoke of inaction in the face of attacks on opponents of the government of PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha. He called for an open debate about the Thai monarchy’s role in order to avoid the risk of future violence between opposing political camps.

“The issue has long been swept under the carpet, resulting in country problems being left unsolved,” he told hundreds of demonstrators.

“Talking about this is not an act to topple the monarchy, but to allow the monarchy to exist in Thai society in the right way and legitimately under a democratic and a constitutional monarchy.”

After HM Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne in 2016, the palace required revisions to Thailand’s Constitution. HM the Kinging has since taken a greater role in overseeing some army units, as well as direct control over palace assets.

Speaking directly to the Government, he noted that activists have complained of harassment by authorities, saying at least 9 opposition figures living abroad have disappeared. 2 were later found dead, and the fate of the others, including Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who was kidnapped in broad daylight in Cambodia in early June, remains unknown.

PM Prayut said in a June speech that there have been no prosecutions under the lèse-majesté laws recently, at the king’s request, but warned against openly criticising the monarchy.

Criticism was exceedingly rare under HM the King’s father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose 70 year reign ended in 2016.

Harry Potter-themed protest openly questions monarchy's role | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Harry Potter-themed protest openly questions monarchy's role | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Reuters

Harry Potter-themed protest openly questions monarchy's role | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Reuters

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Reuters

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Edy F.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    Great! Something must change in Thailand.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    The king want no prosecutions but the PM ignores that because he wants to keep this power to put down his opposition.
    A dictator ignoring the will of the king for his own benefit.

  3. Avatar

    Patrick

    Friday, August 7, 2020 at 12:37 am

    Those kids are stupid enough to think they can mess the government or even the monarchy.

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok

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At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikipedia
At-risk members of Thailand’s Social Security scheme can get free Covid-19 tests in Bangkok starting tomorrow. The Ministry of Labour will provide the tests, covering members under Sections 33, 39, and 40 of the Social Security Act. The programme will be held at the Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan) in Bangkok’s Din Daeng district.
The ministry expects to test up to 300 people per hour, with results to be received in 1 to 2 days. If anyone is found to be infected, they will be sent to hospitals under the Social Security scheme for free treatment. Currently, 81 hospitals are registered with the ministry, offering a total of over 1,000 beds.
At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile, Thailand’s army is getting ready to deal with the influx of Covid-19 infections as its deputy spokeswoman says 2 more field hospitals are now in place. The hospitals are in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan to help ease the burden of hospitals.

Already, an army field hospital has been set up at the Thanarat military camp, in conjunction with the Fort Thanarat Hospital, to accommodate 69 Covid-19 patients from the Hua Hin Hospital and Rajamangala University of Technology’s field hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The Army Welfare Department and Phramongkutklao Hospital have also set up a field hospital in Bangkok’s Dusit district to help treat 86 additional Covid patients. And, in Songkhla province, the Rattanapol military camp is preparing to set up a 100 bed field hospital. Soldiers in PPE suits were also instructed to disinfect the Hat Yai International Airport.

Today, the CCSA announced 1,582 new Covid infections across Thailand in the past 24 hours. The small increase on yesterdays total will provide the CCSA with the information they need for this afternoon’s scheduled meeting, chaired by the Thai PM. It is expected that they will announce new restrictions but are unlikely to go for total lockdowns of provinces or ‘at risk’ districts. The Thaiger will bring this information to you ASAP after it is announced.

Here is the list of the current 18 red zone provinces which could have their restrictions raised at this afternoon’s meeting of the CCSA. Read more HERE.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai army sets up 2 more field hospitals to help with Covid influx

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Thai army sets up 2 more field hospitals to help with Covid influx | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikimedia

Thailand’s army is getting ready to deal with the influx of Covid-19 infections as its deputy spokeswoman says 2 more field hospitals are now in place. The hospitals are in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan to help ease the burden of hospitals in 2 of the hardest hit areas.

Already, an army field hospital has been set up at the Thanarat military camp, in conjunction with the Fort Thanarat Hospital, to accommodate 69 Covid patients from the Hua Hin Hospital and Rajamangala University of Technology’s field hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The Army Welfare Department and Phramongkutklao Hospital have also set up a field hospital in Bangkok’s Dusit district to help treat 86 additional Covid patients. And, in Songkhla province, the Rattanapol military camp is preparing to set up a 100 bed field hospital. Soldiers in PPE suits were also instructed to disinfect the Hat Yai International Airport.

The move to help accommodate hospitals was due to the army chief’s concerns over the recent 3rd wave, which has seen daily infections increase to the thousands. The chief instructed each army unit to provide extra beds and facilities to patients in each hospital after teaming with public health agencies.

Today, the CCSA announced 1,582 new Covid infections across Thailand in the past 24 hours. The small increase on yesterdays total will provide the CCSA with the information they need for this afternoon’s scheduled meeting, chaired by the Thai PM. It is expected that they will announce new restrictions but are unlikely to go for total lockdowns of provinces or ‘at risk’ districts. The Thaiger will bring this information to you ASAP after it is announced.

Here is the list of the current 18 red zone provinces which could have their restrictions raised at this afternoon’s meeting of the CCSA. Read more HERE.

Since April 1 there has been a steady growth of new infections, described as the third wave in Thai media – much higher than the number of daily infections in the first and second waves.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Songkran

Bangkok sees 7.87 million vehicles over Songkran holiday

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Bangkok sees 7.87 million vehicles over Songkran holiday | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Millions traveled for Songkran, but not nearly as many as usual, like this 2013 Songkran photo.

Covid-19 and its third wave be damned, close to 8 million vehicles travelled in and out of Bangkok so far during this year’s Songkran festival holiday period. Thailand’s Ministry of Transport released figures yesterday on the yearly holiday and revealed that more than 7.87 million cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes hit the roads and travelled into and out of Bangkok during the festival period, despite almost all official celebrations, events and gatherings being cancelled nationwide again this year.

The figures, calculating incoming and outgoing traffic between April 10 – 14, show that travel is much lower than originally predicted but massively higher than last year’s travel. The drop makes sense as many predictions may have been made before the last minute closures of entertainment venues and cancellation of Songkran events due to the recent third wave outbreak of the B117 strain of Covid-19.

The 7.87 million vehicles figure is about 30% lower than predicted. There were also an estimated 4.52 million people using public transportation such as buses over the holiday period, again lower than predicted, this time by about 36 per cent.

On the other hand, in what may be a bad sign for Thailand’s health, at a time when new daily records are being set for Covid-19 infections, many more people are ignoring the pandemic and travelling anyway.

The nearly 8 million vehicles on the roads to Bangkok during Songkran represent a nearly 35% increase over last years Coronavirus-muted figures. And when social distancing is of utmost importance, the 4 and a half million people travelling by public transport is a startling 74% increase over the nearly completely locked-down figures of 2020’s Songkran holiday period.

One final note for the “if Covid-19 doesn’t get you, climate change will” crowd: Of the 7.87 million cars, buses, trucks, and motorbikes on the road, a very non-eco-friendly 7.4 million of them were private vehicles.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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