Friday, February 26, 2021

Thai king declares ‘love’ for all after months of pro-democracy protests

'Thailand is the land of compromise,' says King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Other News

March 15 hearing for Mat Sabu’s ex-aide

The prosecution is expected to call 37 witnesses.

Perbicaraan kes rasuah RM6.35 juta bekas SU politik Mat Sabu pada 15 Mac

Azhar berdepan dengan lima pertuduhan menerima dan meminta suapan berjumlah RM6.35 juta daripada sebuah syarikat kontraktor.

Upacara perkahwinan bukan Islam dibenar di kawasan PKP, PKPB, PKPP

Keputusan itu dibuat kerajaan bagi membolehkan upacara perkahwinan bukan Islam yang tertangguh semasa tempoh PKP 2.0 dapat dilaksanakan.

Perkasa perlu bayar RM150,000 kepada Lim Guan Eng kerana memfitnahnya

Mahkamah membenarkan rayuan Lim untuk mengenepikan keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan yang membatalkan keputusan Mahkamah Tinggi.
00:15:16

Talk, Now with Art Harun

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun talks to Dangsuria Zainurdin about his childhood and music, the joy of kampung life, the sorrows of high posts, and the personal toll that comes with it – in this pilot episode of Talk, Now.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn called Thailand the “land of compromise” in unprecedented comments Sunday, during which the once-unapproachable monarch declared “love” for all Thais after months of protests calling for reform to the monarchy.

The 68-year-old ruler sits at the apex of Thai power, and comments to the media are rare due to protocols dictating formalities with the royal family.

Societal taboos also prohibit Thais from speaking to – or questioning – the monarch, who is protected from criticism thanks to a draconian royal defamation law with a broad legal interpretation.

But the once-untouchable institution faces unprecedented challenges from a growing pro-democracy movement, some of whose leaders are demanding reforms to the monarchy, including for the law’s abolition.

On Sunday, royal devotion was on display as thousands wearing yellow shirts – the royal colour – waited near the Grand Palace clutching portraits of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida.

Zigzagging through the crowd to greet supporters, the monarch was stopped by a reporter with Britain’s Channel 4 who asked him about protesters calling for reform.

“We love them all the same,” he told the reporter repeatedly according to a clip posted on Channel 4’s official Twitter account.

When asked if there is room for compromise, he said: “Thailand is the land of compromise.”

As Vajiralongkorn moved through the crowd, royalists chanted, “We will live loyally, die faithfully” and “Long live the King!”

The ultra-wealthy monarch is supported by the kingdom’s military and billionaire clans, wielding unparalleled influence across every aspect of Thai society.

He spends long periods of time in Germany, but has been in Thailand in recent weeks to mark a Buddhist holiday and the anniversary of his father’s death.

The visit has coincided with non-stop demonstrations from mostly young activists, who have staged guerrilla rallies drawing thousands to Bangkok’s most traffic-clogged intersections as a show of defiance.

While the movement is leaderless, they are united in their demand for the removal of Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, a former military chief who came to power after staging a coup in 2014.

Controversial demands

But calls for reform of the monarchy have drawn a backlash from Thailand’s conservative bloc, rousing royalist groups to stage their own rallies.

“We came here to show our loyalty to the king,” said Bin Bunleurit, a former Thai actor who decried the students’ demands.

Controversially, the students have also called for a clear accounting of the palace’s finances – which the extremely wealthy king took control of in 2018 – and for the monarch to “stay out” of politics.

“It is not reform, it is about overthrowing the monarchy,” Bin insisted to reporters outside the palace.

The growing show of force from royalists – as well as their increasingly harsh rhetoric online against the pro-democracy bloc – has observers worrying about violence spilling onto the streets.

Thailand is no stranger to political bloodshed, with previous pro-democracy movements forcefully put down by the arch-royalist military, which positions itself as the monarchy’s sole defender.

A notable example was a student massacre in 1976, which saw ultra-royalist militias and armed forces kill, stab and lynch protesters rallying against an ex-military dictator.

So far, the anti-government protests have remained peaceful.

But scores of students and activists have been arrested and charged – some with the serious crime of sedition.

Over the weekend three high-profile student leaders were released on bail, only to be swiftly accosted as authorities attempted to re-arrest them on another charge.

A scuffle with plainclothes police landed them in hospital.

On Sunday night one of the trio, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, pledged in a Facebook post that they would keep pushing for their goals.

“If the people do not step back, we will not step back,” he wrote.

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/malaysianow

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news and analyses.

Related Articles

Thailand favours vaccine passports to rejuvenate tourism in third quarter

Since October the country has allowed a limited number of tourists to return on long visas, but the uptake has not matched official expectations.

Hong Kong to disqualify disloyal politicians, officials

A list of offences includes acts that endanger national security, advocating for independence or refusing to accept China's sovereignty over Hong Kong.

Thais protest outside parliament after PM survives no-confidence vote

Protests are returning after a lull brought on by a second outbreak of Covid-19.

UN condemns Myanmar junta after 3 killed in anti-coup unrest

Much of Myanmar has been in uproar since troops detained Suu Kyi on Feb 1, with massive street demonstrations in major cities and isolated villages across the country.

We’re watching, Thai govt warns protesters using Clubhouse app

Clubhouse users discussing forbidden subjects is drawing the attention of governments in several Asian countries.