Protest comes after the ruling Palang Pracharat Party decisively won a by-election in Samut Prakan where its candidate won over 45% of the vote. On Tuesday, however, Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha indicated that the protest activity on Monday night had caused him to worry.
Veteran Redshirt leader, Japtuporn Prompan, on Tuesday, warned student protest leaders that they are on the wrong track after last Monday night’s protest on the campus of Thammasat University which appeared to target the Thai monarchy. The event, drew a strenuous call, on Wednesday, from constitutional activist Srisuwan Janya to have the students involved arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It is understood that a police investigation into the incident is already underway.
A staunch defender of constitutional provisions and legal activist, Srisuwan Janya, has called on the Royal Thai Police to speed up the arrest and prosecution of those behind recent student protests and to take urgent action following a controversial protest on Monday night at Thammasat University which has led to serious concern. Speeches from the stage made demands for reform which included key changes relating to the monarchy and its functions.
On Wednesday, Mr Srisuwan, the Secretary-General of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, called on police to expedite their investigation into the event organised by students at the university campus in Pathum Thani province which issued 10 demands to the government including a call for reform of the monarchy.
Activist: the protest speeches on Monday night were clearly a breach of the criminal code, calls for arrests
Mr Srisuwan said it was clear that an offence under Section 112 of the criminal code relating to Lèse majesté had been committed by the students and that charges should also be laid before those involved under Section 116 for sedition and stirring public unrest.
The campaigner, who is known in Thailand for activism which seeks to uphold the provisions of the constitution across both sides of the political divide, also made it clear that the university and key officials may be liable to prosecution for aiding and helping to support the event.
On Tuesday, an official at the university who sanctioned the protest, within specified guidelines, apologised for what had occurred and explained that the protest speeches went far beyond the remit agreed with students prior to permission being granted.
He explained that the radical nature of the event materialised as it progressed on Monday night.
Prime Minister expresses worry and unease
Mr Srisuwan also called for police to complete their arrests from what is reported to be a list of 31 people involved in the surprise student protest at Victory Monument on July 28th which sparked this period of unrest.
On Tuesday, the Thai prime minister expressed his grave concern at the recent protest.
He would not comment on the substance of what was said at the protest on Monday night at Thammasat and the demands put to the government by speakers from the stage which impinged on the monarchy.
He suggested that the remarks made at the event were inappropriate and made him uneasy.
Organisers of the rally misled university authorities when requesting permission to stage the protest
Following Monday night’s protests, Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, who is the deputy rector of Thammasat University apologised for what happened and what was said.
He explained that the organisers of the rally from Thammasat University misled him as to what was to be addressed by the gathering on the famous campus.
The university official had agreed with the students that they could discuss the original demands, made on July 28th at a protest in central Bangkok, seeking a dissolution of the House of Representatives, constitutional change and an end to what the opposition has termed as official harassment of political activists.
Police are investigating the incident
The university has confirmed that action will be taken against the students involved and also suggested that police are investigating the protest.
It is understood that students from another learning institution also played an active role in the protest activity.
The university has said it will cooperate with both police and students concerning any criminal investigation both in the interests of justice and also to uphold the law.
It also said that it will scrutinise closely all future events to ensure that they are held in full compliance with the appropriate legal provisions.
Thai senator warns of the danger of conflict
A Thai senator, Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, has warned that the incident could spark potential conflict with those who may have been deeply offended by the comments made.
The protest may engender deep bitterness and sow further division in society. He warned that all parties must tread carefully to avoid a repeat of the tragedy of 1976.
This was a black moment in Thai history when a large group of students were violently attacked and many killed by an armed group after staging a political protest which appeared to become highly critical of the monarchy.
‘I believe both the lower and upper chambers of the parliament agree that the actions of some protesters during the rally went beyond the proper limits,’ said Senator Kamnoon.
Redshirt leader says students risked being made illegitimate if they continue this line of attack
This is a point that has been made persistently by Redshirt leader, Jatuporn Prompan, who is the Chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) since the protests erupted on July 28th.
On Tuesday, he again pleaded with the students to heed his warning. He said that if this agenda was pushed, they were on a certain collision course with those in Thailand who see the monarchy as the lynchpin of the country.
The Redshirt leader who has been involved in pro-democracy movements since the 1992 protests and was a core leader in the 2010 Redshirt protest in Bangkok, believes that the student’s action, this week, will prove counterproductive.
‘Crossing the line will render the student movement illegitimate and in the end, they will achieve nothing,’ he warned.
Controversial protest staged after ruling party decisively won a local by-election near Bangkok
Senator Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana put this in context during the week when he expressed serious concern at Monday night’s developments.
He warned that the students risked impugning, with potentially dreadful consequences, ‘rights and feelings of tens of millions of Thai people loyal to the royal institution and the tradition of peaceful co-existence based on the mercy of the royal institution.’
The protest on Monday night, attended by 2,500 students, came as the governing Palang Pracharat Party, now led by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, won a by-election in Samut Prakan province, near Bangkok.
Winning candidate received 45% of the vote
Krungsrivilai Suthinpheuk, an actor, won 46,747 or over 45% of the vote compared to 21,540 for the main opposition Pheu Thai Party whose candidate was Salinthip Sukkhawat. This was some 20.7% of the votes cast.
The voter turnout in the election was over 58%.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit urged all MPs in the party to listen to the electorate and focus their energies on working for the good of people at local, constituency level.