The protest over the King is on-going and as thousands marched to the Grand Palace, Thai police used water cannons against demonstrators in Bangkok once again, raising tensions in a kingdom increasingly rife with controversy over its monarchy’s position.
The young demonstrators, who have been staging flash mobs all over the world since January, said they needed King Maha Vajiralongkorn to send letters of demand. They hauled along bright red fake mailboxes where they urged individuals to stuff their private letters. A giant mock-up of an envelope, forwarded simply to ‘Vajiralongkorn’, was also kept aloft.
Demonstrators want Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign, change the military-backed Constitution, and reform the monarchy. The last demand is the most controversial, provided that since he ascended the throne in 2016, 68-year-old King Vajiralongkorn has taken possession of two military units and partial possession of the multibillion-dollar crown estate. He is currently on an extended sojourn in Thailand though he maintains a home in Germany and spends most of his time there.
In line with Thailand ‘s position as a constitutional monarchy, protesters want to trim its powers. In view of the Covid-19-induced economic distress of the country, they also want him to rein in his expenditures. Despite the arrests of key leaders, the protests lasted for months and maintained their momentum, morphing into a fluid “leaderless” movement that mobilizes crowds quickly via social media.
The second time yesterday was characterized by police turning water guns on demonstrators. On Oct 16, their first use caused so much anger that Mr. Prayut was finally forced to lift a significant state of emergency in Bangkok to alleviate tensions. For this reason, at least 173 persons have been detained this year for their role in the demonstrations, according to the activist organization Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.