Throughout 2020, Thailand has experienced mass protests over the dissatisfaction with the monarch and constitution. Many of these protestors include demands for the monarch of the resignation of the current Prime Minster, Prayut Chan-o-cha, and a revised constitution. Protests did get violent at times between anti-government protestors and parade supporters.
On September 19th, protestors were gathered in Bangkok to speak their demands to the king. A student protestor even went as far to directly address the king during a protest, which is a punishable offense. Protests are occurring due to the dissatisfaction with the Thai government and its king, Maha Vajiralongkorn. The demands included were the dissolution of parliament with new elections and constitution, as well as ending the use of intimidation against political activists. Other demands included limits on the king’s power, tighter controls on palace funds and transparent discussion of the monarchy.
This is not the first time Thailand has experienced political upheaval and protests. There have been several coups that have taken over the Thai government in the past few decades. The goal of these coups has been to restructure the Thai government and allow for more citizen involvement within parliament. These goals have not been achieved as the monarch still has a strong hold on citizens freedom. Activists are growing tired of the military’s continuous control over the government and the repression of civil rights.
The Thai government has also been accused of corruption through use of the Royal Thai Police to intimidate citizens. The police have often been dispatched onto civil protests with many of them ending in violence. Higher-ranking policemen have also been accused of corruption through stealing funds of officers below them.
On October 26th, a young policeman had to publicly explain a photo of him accusing his superiors of corruption. The man, who is a “low-ranking Border Patrol policeman,” held up a sign that accused superiors of withholding the full payments to overtime workers during the lockdown. These complaints were coming in from across the country from low-ranking police that their bosses were stealing parts of the funds they were owed. The police officer in question stated he was only trying to show the banner to his friend before throwing it into the trash. The officer was not punished for this action but was asked to write a report to his commander.
Corruption in the Thai government is nothing new to citizens or public officials as the government has been experiencing political upheaval for decades over requests for a new regime. There is very little trust between the monarchy and the Thai people as there have been countless failed promises to help society. Accusations of high-ranking officials funneling money is not surprising and will most likely continue until the monarch is held accountable.
Thai protestors have worked countless days in 2020 to make their voices heard to the monarch and achieve their goals. In November, protestors demanded the backing of a new amendment created by the Internet Law Reform Dialogue group. (iLaw) The bill would take away national reforms and strategies that were implemented by the National Council for Peace and Order. It changes how local administrators are elected and how members of independent organizations are selected. There are seven bills in this amendment that could spark the beginning of dissolving the current charter in Thailand. The bills focus on the changes that should be made to the constitution so a new one can be made.
The issue within Thai politics is the lack of accountability within parliament members, the Royal Thai police, and the PM himself. The Royal Thai police has continued to carry out violent acts against protestors without receiving any repercussions. Thai citizens are unable to trust their own government and often live in fear of being arrested for questioning the regimes intentions.