Protesters taunted the Prime Minister by paraphrasing the monarch’s praise for a loyal supporter on Friday. ‘Very brave, very brave, good job, good job – now get out,’ they chanted as they marched through the capital. Later a key leader who addressed the gathering said that General Prayut was the problem. Failure by parliament to concretely address the situation on Monday and Tuesday will lead to extreme concern as to what the exit strategy for the government will be.
Following a day of renewed protest activity in Bangkok on Sunday which again saw thousands on the streets, there is diminishing hope for a two-day session of parliament scheduled for Monday and Tuesday as student protest leaders reiterated their demands for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha and even more worryingly, continued to target the Thai monarchy.
A protest leader released on bail, only last week, has told a large protest gathered in the Ratchaprasong shopping district of central Bangkok, on Sunday night, that General Prayut Chan ocha’s term as Thai Prime Minister was finished.
Jatupat Boonpattararaksa of the Dao Din group addressed the crowd and said that this was the message to the PM from the day’s events.
Another veteran political activist and anti-junta campaigner who turned up on Sunday evening for the rally was Mr Sombat Boonngam. He said the resignation of the prime minister might create the right environment for talks but also was sceptical about what might come out of the two day sitting of parliament on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the crisis.
It follows a day of determined protest activity on Sunday which, worryingly, was not only focused on General Prayut’s removal from office but continued to call for reform of the Thai monarchy.
Protesters paraphrased the monarch’s remarks to taunt Prayut as they marched through Bangkok
Protesters chanted a phrase which was based on an expression of sincere gratitude which came from the King’s lips on Friday evening to a clearly delighted royal supporter who confronted protesters last week in Bangkok with his personal support for the monarchy.
On Friday, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, after being introduced to the loyal supporter by Queen Suthida on a walk to meet the public, said: ‘Very brave, very brave, very good, thank you.’
The brave young man had confronted the anti-government protesters last Wednesday in Bangkok with a portrait of both the king and his consort raised above his head.
On Sunday, the crowd appeared to deploy the now-famous exchange between the monarch and his subject with a new refrain directed back at Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.
‘Very brave, very brave, good job, good job – now get out,’ they chanted.
Public prefers the monarchy not linked with politics
The protester’s chants flew in the face of a latest reputable opinion poll which showed that over 60% of the Thai public do not want to see the Thai monarchy linked to politics.
Protests were called again for the Samyan intersection at 5 pm in Bangkok on Monday.
On Sunday, the key protest leader who addressed a crowd of thousands, Mr Jatupat or Pao Din, told his audience that he had little faith in the parliamentary session to be held on Monday and Tuesday to address the crisis.
On Saturday, a former Thai human rights commissioner, Angkhana Neelapaijit, said she had seen documents sent by the government to the speaker of the house and it appeared that the government was pursuing its one agenda targeting the protesters and justifying its actions.
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On Sunday, Mr Jatupat blamed the prime minister’s intransigence for the current predicament. ‘Prayut is the problem. The first obstacle that we need to remove,’ he said.
Agenda of the government is unclear right now with fears of either another crackdown or a coup
There are fears now at what happens next or even what the agenda may be for the government during the two day parliamentary session.
The insistence by the protest leaders in targeting the monarchy in its agenda and ongoing comments by protest leaders are a cause of grave concern.
There is also a warning for the government from a Suan Dusit Poll conducted by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University with a very large sample of over 5,700 respondents. The opinion survey was published on Sunday by the Bangkok Post.
In it, over 72 % of the public indicated that they wished to see meaningful talks between the government and the protesters while a significant 66% felt that the Thai prime minister had handled the situation badly.
Poll showed 57% thought protests were democratic
Another notable figure is that over 57% felt that the protest activity was within the scope of democratic principles.
The Prime Minister, General Prayut, on Saturday night, ruled out his resignation but did indicate that he was open to finding a negotiated way forward and reconciliation between the two sides.
There is a very real concern that the current standoff, if left unresolved and if protest activities get out of hand, could lead to a coup d’etat in Thailand which has seen over twenty such events since its emergence as a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
Another option may be another crackdown but on a wider and more legally legitimate basis than that imposed by the prime minister on October 15th last and subsequently withdrawn.