German foreign minister tells Reuters that the German government is monitoring the situation concerning the presence of the Thai King in Germany as the issue took centre stage in Monday’s protest activity with royalist supporters claiming that the protest movement seeks the abolition of the monarchy while the protest leaders emphasised that their goal is limited to reform of the institution, a proposition which an opinion poll on Sunday suggests that Thai people do not agree with when it emerged that over 60% of the public do not want the monarchy linked to politics.
On Monday, the standoff between Thailand’s student-led street protesters and the government continued in front of the German Embassy in the Sathorn area of Bangkok which saw the Thai monarchy again at the centre of the struggle. Student-led protesters called on the German government to investigate the activities of the Thai monarch in Germany while emphasising that their demands were for constitutional reform so that ‘Thailand can return to being a genuine constitutional monarchy’.
Thailand’s political struggle continued on Monday on the streets and in parliament where an MP for the Palang Pracharat Party, Paiboon Nititawan, accused the student-led protesters of trying to overthrow the monarchy.
The central role now being played by calls by the protest movement for reform of the monarchy is increasingly deepening the division between the two sides of the political tug of war.
Two sides made submissions to the German Embassy in Sathorn at what were peaceful rallies
In the Sathorn road area of Bangkok on Monday, the two sides turned up at the German Embassy to make a submission to German authorities based on claims by the anti-government protesters concerning the part-time residence of the His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn in the German state of Bavaria.
On Monday afternoon, a crowd of royalist supporters took part in a demonstration outside the German Embassy during which they handed in a letter to Mr Georg Schmidt, the German ambassador.
German embassy asked the protesters to respect the Vienna Convention and its property
On Sunday, the German embassy had issued a letter of its own calling on all protesters to respect the Vienna Convention regarding the protection of its property as a diplomatic mission but also promised to pass on any information presented to it, in a peaceful manner, to the federal government in Berlin.
Royalists accuses the protest leaders of manipulating the younger generation though mass psychology
On Monday afternoon, the royalist demonstrators, led by lawyer Nititorn Lamlua and Pichit Chaimongkol of a group calling themselves, Thai citizens, warned Berlin of the danger of meddling in Thailand’s internal affairs by being drawn in by the anti-government protest activity.
It accused the pro-democracy protesters of persistently breaching Thailand’s laws and using the power of mass communication to influence and control the younger generation.
The royalists accused the protest leadership, or those behind a movement, of trying to sow intergenerational conflict in Thailand through the use of mass psychology techniques.
They deplored the assault by the student protest leaders on the monarchy as an attempt to fundamentally alter the nature of Thai society based on hatred and prejudice.
Royalist leader: ‘We don’t want a president’
Mr Nititorn accused the anti-government protesters of being ignorant about Thai history pointing out that the original Khana Ratsadon or People’s Party group in 1932 had subscribed to the definition of Thailand as one indivisible kingdom governed democratically but with the King as the Head of State.
He suggested that any reform of the monarchy must be approved by the Thai people. ‘We have witnessed a lot of improper behaviour,’ he said referring to the ongoing protest activity.
The leader of the royalist group accused the student-led protesters of wanting to replace the Thai monarchy with a republic. ‘We don’t want a president,’ he declared.
The royalist protest dispersed after more than two hours as the leadership determined it did not want to create an opportunity for conflict.
Pro-democracy protesters asked Berlin to probe the Thai monarch’s presence in Germany
On Monday from 3.30 pm, a crowd of pro-democracy protesters began to mass at the Samyan intersection in Bangkok. As the crowd turned out, the protest began marching to the German Embassy on Sathorn Road between 5 pm and 7 pm.
Outside the Embassy, protest leaders spoke in turns.
They called on the government in Berlin to examine the activities of the Thai monarch in Germany.
The protesters said they wanted to see the Thai King in Thailand and asked if the presence of their monarch in the foreign country might be counter to German laws or sovereignty because of the Thai King’s unique status.
The rally heard speeches in Thai, English and German from various speakers. Three representatives of the demonstrators were invited into the embassy and presented a letter to the German government.
Banner unfurled calling for reform
The protesters then unfurled a large banner outside the embassy which said ‘Reform the Monarchy’ before the protest ended peacefully at 9 pm.
During the protests outside the embassy, the protest leaders made it clear, in an official statement, that they are only calling for reform of the monarchy so that it operates constitutionally.
‘The request is aimed at reinstating His Majesty the King to Thailand so the Palace is placed under the Constitution and Thailand can return to being a genuine constitutional monarchy,’ a statement declared.
The Free Youth Group afterwards told the media that they believe that upwards of 100,000 people participated in the events of the day.
German Foreign Minister comments on the issue
It is reported from Berlin that the focus on the lifestyle of Thailand’s King in Germany is a cause of anxiety for the Federal Government which is said to be concerned about the presence of the sovereign in the European country for extended periods.
Interviewed by Reuters in the last 48 hours, the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Mass, appeared to confirm these concerns and said this: ‘We are monitoring this long-term, it will have immediate consequences if there are things that we assess to be illegal.’
Opposition leader Sompong in parliament calls on Thai Prime Minister Prayut to resign
Meanwhile, in the Thai Parliament, there was a call from the main opposition party leader for the Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, to stand down.
Sompong Amornvivat of Pheu Thai also called for the government to release all protest leaders still being held on charges relating to the unrest.
In parliament, there were many suggestions made on how to resolve the conflict including the use of a referendum or a special committee.
Jurin Laksanavisit, leader of the ruling coalition’s Democrat Party, proposed that a national reconciliation committee be set up to find solutions to the political unrest.
Mr Jurin, a veteran politician and also Minister of Commerce, called for a committee to be established to pursue national reconciliation measures and to find a solution to the current unrest and standoff between the government and the student-led protesters.
Phicharn Chaowapatanawong, an MP with the progressive Move Forward Party, closest politically to the protesters and the successor to the now disbanded Future Forward Party, called for an expedited constitutional reform process within parliament that included the protestor’s demand for reform of the monarchy.