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“No more coups”, Thailand’s new military commander

Caitlin Ashworth

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“No more coups”, Thailand’s new military commander | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today
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There will be no more coups d’état, the new military commander in chief General Chalermpol Srisawat says. He vows that the army will no longer get involved in politics and says the military is in place to protect the country. His pronouncement has been made on the 44th anniversary of the Thammasat University Massacre, a pivotal event in Thai politics in 1976.

There have been 12 military coups in Thailand since the country’s first coup in 1932 which ended nearly 800 years of absolute monarchy. The last coup was in May 2014, lead by then-army general Prayut Chan-o-cha, now the encumbent PM. A number of army officials now serve on the Thai Senate, but Srisawat did not comment on their role in politics.

6 Senate positions are reserved for the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, the defence permanent secretary, the national police chief, and the heads of the army, navy, and air force, who are all senators ex officio. As of 2020, 104 of the 250 senators are military or police officers – Wikapedia

Srisawat spoke at a meeting with new chiefs in the military, calling on them to abide by the Defence Ministry’s policies and principles of protecting the monarchy. He says the military’s job is to protect the country and its institutions.

While a number of pro-democracy protests over the past few months, calling for an end to the military government and a rewrite of the constitution, Srisawat says people have a right to express their opinions, as long as the comments don’t affect national security. He also says the National Police should provide security during the October 14 pro-democracy rally.

“Like the public, we believe a democratic government with the King as head of state is not the worst kind of regime. So, we have to think about how to encourage people to use their rights to improve their quality of life.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mike White

    October 6, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    They don’t need anymore coups the military is already in control

    • Avatar

      James

      October 6, 2020 at 9:01 pm

      Mike

      You beat me to that comment, you took the words right out of my mouth.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    October 6, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    He believes in democracy. Force an election next month. Elections are banned.
    General don’t talk rubbish.

  3. Avatar

    Takky

    October 6, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    What a joke ! The army already ‘involved in politics’. It created a political party to make sure it wouldn’t need any more could. And then around a third of the uneducated masses voted for it! No hope for political basket case country

  4. Avatar

    Suchart

    October 7, 2020 at 12:15 am

    No more coups… until Peu Thai wins an election with the majority of the vote. And then… the military will remove them. You can bet your life on it.

    • Avatar

      Brian Dunbar

      October 7, 2020 at 9:23 am

      You hit the nail on the head!!

  5. Avatar

    Dirty Farang

    October 7, 2020 at 2:43 am

    👍👍👍

  6. Avatar

    Suchart

    October 7, 2020 at 5:36 am

    The function of an Army is to protect a country against external (foreign) threats. It’s not supposed to form a government !!

    • Avatar

      Noneya Bidnizz

      October 13, 2020 at 9:09 am

      I Pray the ` a Merikun Army can see it that way in the NEAR Future —

      Wishful thinking from an a White ,Male, Redneck , Biker `a Merican —

      And I Thought Prayut was Bad ( He IS !) We , in ` Merica , Have tRump !!! –( They should make babies together to protect THEMSELVES ! )

      May Lord Jesus AND Lord Buddha save Us and have Mercy on us All —

      And , Yes , I MEANT to spell the way I did !!!

      “ Issan John“ should go kiss and hug, maybe bend over for PM prayut now , Maybe invite POTUS tRump for a threesome !!!

      Dont forget the Coconut Oil John !!!

  7. Avatar

    Rangsan Rayanasuk

    October 7, 2020 at 11:48 am

    They never call what they’ve been doing as coups. Should they do it ever again, they then won’t call it a coup… It’ll be “peace keeping.

  8. Avatar

    Alex

    October 7, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    Still waiting for the part that says “and happily ever after they lived” so I can pass out after this cheap, crappy, fairytale…

  9. Avatar

    Issan John

    October 8, 2020 at 2:05 am

    “and then around a third of the uneducated masses voted for it!”

    I think you’ll find that actually pretty much all of the “uneducated masses” voted AGAINST it, as they always have since they had the chance.

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      October 10, 2020 at 10:48 am

      Same old method Idiot John?
      Post nothing original of your own, but criticise other posters’ comments.
      And to do so you just make unproven statements with no proof whatsoever.

  10. Avatar

    yo

    October 8, 2020 at 4:32 am

    without military control there would be civil war and the yellow shirts would lose

  11. Avatar

    James Pate

    October 9, 2020 at 4:23 am

    “And it’s deja vu all over again!”

  12. Avatar

    안전한놀이터

    October 16, 2020 at 2:49 am

    Best view i have ever seen !

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Protests

House speaker proposes extraordinary parliamentary session in wake of political unrest

Maya Taylor

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House speaker proposes extraordinary parliamentary session in wake of political unrest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The speaker of the lower house of Parliament, Chuan Leekpai, is proposing an extraordinary session of parliament as the political protests around the country intensifies, especially around Bangkok. Nation Thailand reports that Speaker Chuan plans to discuss the matter with government and opposition politicians today.

Anti-government protests, which began in mid-July, have grown in intensity and frequency, as activists demand the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the dissolution of parliament, and fresh elections. They are also calling for a re-write of the constitution and for reform of the Monarchy.

Most observers see the demands, laid out by protest leaders in a 10-point manifesto, as a “bridge too far”, and that there is little room for compromise in the current political structure. The government’s pro-royalist and conservative agenda, and its support from the Thai Army, is in stark contrast to the protester’s demands for greater democracy, reforms in Parliament and the role of the country’s revered monarchy.

Several protest leaders have already been arrested and the PM has declared a State of Emergency in Bangkok, banning gatherings of more than 5 people. Protesters continued to defy the ban over the weekend, assembling in their thousands, both in the capital and around the country. On Friday, riot police used high powered water cannons to force an end to a peaceful protest in the capital, a decision greeted with widespread criticism from human rights groups, political observers and social media.

In response to Chuan’s proposal, Suthin Klangsaeng from the Pheu Thai Party, says the party is ready for a special parliamentary session, calling on government MPs to prepare themselves too. An extraordinary session of parliament requires the support of a third of parliament, which totals 488 MPs and 250 senators. At least 35 votes are required from government MPs.

The government’s decision last month to postpone a debate on a constitutional re-write, one of the key demands of activists, appears to have added fuel to the fire, escalating political unrest around the country.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

So who are these Thai students, and what are the protests about?

The Thaiger

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So who are these Thai students, and what are the protests about? | The Thaiger

What’s behind all the protests in Thailand right now? What are the protesters demanding? Who are they?

Since August, an organic, mostly young Thais, political movement has been building. It’s different from every other protest movement in the past. The people attending the rallies don’t really align themselves, or identify with, the past political factions. They’re not red shirts or yellow shirts. They are new and claim they’re seeking key changes to Thailand’s political system and the role and powers of the Head of State.

What are their demands?

In a 10 point manifesto read out for the first time on August 10, they demanded the standing down of the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the dissolution of the Thai parliament, a new constitution to replace the 2017 Thai Charter, police to stop “harassing” them, and curbs on the powers of the Thai monarch. They claim the election was “fudged” (our interpretation of their words) and that the selection of the Thai PM by the Thai parliament was invalid.

Are their demands realistic?

It is unlikely that the current government would entertain any of the demands as it would result in their loss of “power”.

Who are the protesters?

They are mostly students with an average age well under 25 years old. The two largest groups call themselves the Free Youth Movement and the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration.

Beyond that, it’s sort of complicated. There are other splinter groups pushing this and that issue including LGBT and women’s rights groups. But they are all united in the main thrust of central demands. The current protest phenomenon has also reached into secondary school classes with the Bad Student movement, which has seen the defiant raising of the 3 finger salute by previously compliant Thai school students during the morning assembly, flag raising and singing of the national anthem.

As a new generation of Thais, they also have little fear in raising “uncomfortable” issues that limited the previous generations of Thais. They’re the first protest movement to publicly utter the “unutterable” and openly criticise the role of the Thai monarch

What are their tactics?

So far the protesters have remained peaceful during the rallies, except for a few minor scuffles with police. Their main advantage is their youth, their weaponising of social media, their consistent, and relentless, demands and their resolve. In the latest round of cat-and-mouse protest games with police, the protesters have shown that are able to keep one step ahead of officials and can switch their tactics and locations in moments.

There’s also lots of them and have no problems in attracting rally crowds of 30,000+

How has the Prayut government responded?

The Thai PM had made it clear that he wanted to avoid violence at all costs in the past few months of student protests. But when a royal motorcade headed into a throng of protesters on Wednesday, the situation changed quickly and a State of Emergency was enacted less than 12 hours later.

How, or why, the motorcade was allowed to take a route straight into the path of an announced protest is up for debate, but the royalist prime minister saw the “interaction” as a bridge too far.

The government imposed a State of Emergency that bans gatherings of more than 5 people anywhere in Bangkok. It also forbids publication of posts, news or online information “that could harm national security”. It also allows police to arrest anyone linked to the protests and secure “any area” it deems necessary. That State of Emergency will last until November 14, unless the proclamation is extended.

Does it have anything to do with the Covid-19 pandemic?

No. The changes demanded by the protesters have been welling up for many years, long before the Covid-19 pandemic happened.

What reforms to the Thai monarchy are the protesters seeking?

Protesters are demanding a reverse in HM the King’s revised constitutional powers, which were put in place in 2017.

The activists say that the newly acquired powers are a wind back of the changes from Siam to Thailand in 1932 when the absolute powers of the monarch were removed by a new constitutional monarchy enshrining representative democracy (the country was formerly renamed on June 23, 1939). The protesters claim the monarchy is now “too close” to the Thai army and argue that this relationship is undermining Thailand’s democracy.

The protesters want HM the King to relinquish the additional controls he reclaimed over the palace fortune estimated to be in the vicinity of 30 billion dollars. He also took direct control over 3 battalions of the Thai army.

They’re also angry because HM the King endorsed PM Prayut and the Palang Pracharat party’s election and stitched-together coalition after the March 24, 2019 election. Opposition figures claim the election was “fudged” by using legal over-reach to cancel the votes of opposition MPs and disband parties.

Finally, protesters say that the Thai King spends most of the year in Bavaria in Germany, and point to his alleged extravagant lifestyle.

What’s the lèse majesté laws?

The lèse majesté laws are a draconian set of laws that prevent criticising or insulting the Thai monarch or royal family. Infringing the laws can result in a 15 year prison sentence. The monarchy is protected by Section 112 of the Thai Penal Code.

Has the palace or monarch made any comment about the current situation?

No

How do the lèse majesté laws work in practice?

In June, PM Prayut announced that the lèse majesté law would no longer be applied on the express wishes of His Majesty. But there has never been an official comment relating to this from the Palace.

But the police have still arrested and charged Thais for anti-monarchy or anti-King comments on social media by applying the Computer Crimes Act and laws relating to Sedition.

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Protests

Thai PM says he won’t resign as he has done “nothing wrong”

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai PM says he won’t resign as he has done “nothing wrong” | The Thaiger

Unsurprisingly, Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is dismissing calls for his resignation as protests continue to escalate and protesters defy bans to rally in the streets of Bangkok. Rally organisers have already announced that they will be massing again today from 4pm, rumoured to be at numerous BTS stations around the central capital area.

Out of a list of 10 key demands, one of them calls for the stepping down of PM Prayut.

The PM declared a state of emergency for Bangkok in the early hours of Thursday morning this week in response to the growing rallies being held by students who are, above all, demanding his resignation and reforms to the country’s constitutional monarchy.

Yesterday morning, before a cabinet meeting which would go on to endorse a 1 month State of Emergency in Bangkok, the PM said that “certain groups of perpetrators intended to instigate an untoward incident and movement in the Bangkok area by way of various methods and via different channels” (whatever that means), “including causing obstruction to the royal motorcade”.

He said he had no plans to resign as he had done nothing wrong.

“The government hopes it can drop the state of emergency ahead of its normal 30 day duration. If the situation improves quickly.”

Police, armed with riot gear, shields, batons and high-power water cannons with blue-dyed water containing a chemical irritant, charged at the crowd. The protesters lined up, armed with little more than a few broken barriers, plastic chairs and flimsy umbrellas. The police quickly dispersed the protesters and onlookers. Police claim that the blue dye was to mark protesters for possible later arrest. A member of the Thai media was also arrested and his Facebook live stream switched off as police ordered media to stop filming the crackdown. In the end several hundred live streams made their way onto global social media, some of them clocking up 500,000+ views already.

In addition to changes to the Thai charter, drafted by the military and voted in a 2017 referendum, the protestors are also seeking reform to the position and influence of the monarch. The Thai monarchy is also protected by strict “lese majeste” laws. If you break the laws you could serve a prison sentence of up to 15 years although HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn expressly asked the PM earlier this year not to prosecute the draconian laws.

Pro-democracy protesters shouted at a royal motorcade as it drove past crowds of protesters lining the road between the Democracy Monument and Government House on Wednesday. They held up the 3-finger salute, popularised in the Hunger Games movies and now adopted as a symbol of defiance and solidarity. There was no obstruction to Wednesday afternoon’s motorcade but PM Prayut has used perceived threats to the occupants of the Rolls Royce as part of his reasoning for introducing the State of Emergency.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights claim at least 51 people have been arrested since Tuesday in connection with the protests. There will be more added to the last after last night.

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