Tag: Thai

Thai protesters surround Government House

Thousands of protesters broke through police cordons and surrounded Thailand’s seat of government on Wednesday, marking a symbolic moment in their three-month campaign against the establishment.

About 10,000 demonstrators converged on Government House in the capital, Bangkok, settling in for what organisers said would be several days of protests.

The student-led demonstrators are calling for the resignation of the government of former coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, the writing of a new constitution and an end to the harassment of political dissenters.

They are also making what were until recently unheard of demands for limits on the wealth and powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who spends most of his time in Germany.

On Wednesday the king’s wife, Queen Suthida, was jeered as her limousine passed within a few metres of the protests. Demonstrators cried “My tax money!” and gave her their defiant three-fingered salute, taken from the film The Hunger Games.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida on their way to the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Wednesday
King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida on their way to the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Wednesday © Jorge Silva/Reuters

The royal couple has been in Thailand only on brief holiday visits this year, but returned on Saturday for what is expected to be a longer stay, and is now encountering a protest movement that incubated during the coronavirus lockdown.

On Tuesday police violently dispersed a pro-democracy protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument close to where the king’s motorcade was due to pass, and arrested 21 people. Human Rights Watch said those detained were charged with intent to cause violence, using loudspeakers without permission and several other offences. 

On Wednesday protesters gathering at the monument ahead of the march on Government House were met by pro-government demonstrators in yellow shirts, the colour of the royalist establishment. Some of those wearing yellow shirts were said to have been police.

Pro-democracy protesters dressed in traditional Thai costumes take part in the anti-government rally
Pro-democracy protesters dressed in traditional Thai costumes take part in the anti-government rally © Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty

The anti-government protesters broke through metal barriers around the monument, which commemorates the 1932 uprising against absolute monarchy, and removed the plant pots put in place after the 2014 military coup to keep people away.

Apart from some fistfights and minor scuffles, the unrest has been peaceful so far. However, the mood has turned uglier in terms of the rhetoric being used by both sides, and the apparent move by the Thai government to muster police on their side. 

“We’re seeing some signals from the opposite side that they are trying to provoke people,” said Napat Chaunrumluek, a 21-year-old student at Thammasat University. “It started in the morning, and there was a little chaos.” 

On Tuesday, hashtags insulting the king and other royals were traded on Thai social media including one saying “the king is trash” and another asking “why does the king exist?”

Additional reporting by Ryn Jirenuwat

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Thai Government Says ‘Can Handle’ Student-Led Protest | World News

BANGKOK (Reuters) – The Thai government said on Monday it was not concerned about a student-led demonstration on Wednesday as protest leaders sought to escalate their push to demand a new constitution and oust Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

During three months of protests, anti-government activists have also broken a taboo by calling for reforms of the powerful monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is “enthroned in a position of revered worship” according to the constitution.

Protesters, who drew tens of thousands of people to a demonstration last month, said they planned to gather on Wednesday at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument before moving to Government House and would camp there overnight.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters that he did not expect huge turnout.

“We’re prepared and not worried,” he said. “I think we can handle it.”

The protest leaders, organising under the new banner of the People’s Movement, said their focus would be a call for constitutional changes before a parliament sitting on Nov. 1.

“We also want to oust Prayuth,” said Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, one of the leaders, adding that she expected even more people than at last month’s protest in Bangkok.

Protesters say the constitution was engineered to ensure that Prayuth, who first seized power in a 2014 coup, continued in office after an election last year. He says the election was fair.

Some protesters also want a reduction in the king’s powers to reflect Thailand’s status as a constitutional monarchy.

Raising the prospect of an encounter between the king and the protesters, his motorcade is due to pass Democracy Monument on Wednesday as he presides over a ceremony at a royal temple during a rare visit to Thailand.

Police said they would urge protesters to choose another location or at least clear the way for the motorcade.

Arnon Nampa, another of the protest leaders, said last week that demonstrators would not obstruct the motorcade but would show a three-finger salute – a symbol of resistance – if it passed by.

(Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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E-commerce firm Shopee in Thai twitter storm for banning anti-government store

BANGKOK (Reuters) – E-commerce firm Shopee has reversed a ban on a store linked to a dissolved opposition party in Thailand, a spokeswoman said, after online criticism of its perceived pro-government stance.

The building housing the office of e-commerce platform Shopee in Singapore February 16, 2020. REUTERS/Tim Chong/File Photo

#BanShopee became the third highest trending hashtag with over 57,000 uses on Saturday and many Twitter users saying they’ve deleted the app.

“Double standards @ShopeeTH,” wrote Twitter user @chanson_2013. “You need to explain why you banned the stores of those advancing democracy but allow businesses who are pro government to sell on your platform.”

Shopee, a unit of Tencent-backed Sea Ltd, is the latest business in Thailand to be targeted by pro-democracy campaigners for appearing to support the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The campaign also comes a week ahead of the crucial online shopping event, 10.10.

“Our platform is neutral, and everything is up to company policy,” a Shopee Thailand spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that its policies were applied equally to all sellers.

Companies in Thailand are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate political division. In August, after calls for a boycott, Burger King and others pulled advertisement off the Nation television, which activists branded as pro-government.

Shopee says Democstore had violated its terms several times before the ban for posting “politically sensitive” material.

Democstore is run by the Progressive Movement, a group founded by banned politicians from upstart opposition Future Forward party, which was dissolved in February.

“We were selling urban camping equipment for the protesters and we were banned,” Progressive Movement spokeswoman Pannika Wanich told Reuters.

In September, ten thousand protesters joined an overnight demonstration calling for amendments to the constitution and reform of the monarchy.

DemocStore said it would continue selling t-shirts and mugs with the group’s logo on the chat app, Line.

Anti-government memorabilia are fast becoming hot items online.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Christina Fincher

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E-Commerce Firm Shopee in Thai Twitter Storm for Banning Anti-Government Store | World News

By Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK (Reuters) – E-commerce firm Shopee has reversed a ban on a store linked to a dissolved opposition party in Thailand, a spokeswoman said, after online criticism of its perceived pro-government stance.

#BanShopee became the third highest trending hashtag with over 57,000 uses on Saturday and many Twitter users saying they’ve deleted the app.

“Double standards @ShopeeTH,” wrote Twitter user @chanson_2013. “You need to explain why you banned the stores of those advancing democracy but allow businesses who are pro government to sell on your platform.”

Shopee, a unit of Tencent-backed Sea Ltd, is the latest business in Thailand to be targeted by pro-democracy campaigners for appearing to support the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The campaign also comes a week ahead of the crucial online shopping event, 10.10.

“Our platform is neutral, and everything is up to company policy,” a Shopee Thailand spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that its policies were applied equally to all sellers.

Companies in Thailand are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate political division. In August, after calls for a boycott, Burger King and others pulled advertisement off the Nation television, which activists branded as pro-government.

Shopee says Democstore had violated its terms several times before the ban for posting “politically sensitive” material.

Democstore is run by the Progressive Movement, a group founded by banned politicians from upstart opposition Future Forward party, which was dissolved in February.

“We were selling urban camping equipment for the protesters and we were banned,” Progressive Movement spokeswoman Pannika Wanich told Reuters.

In September, ten thousand protesters joined an overnight demonstration calling for amendments to the constitution and reform of the monarchy.

DemocStore said it would continue selling t-shirts and mugs with the group’s logo on the chat app, Line.

Anti-government memorabilia are fast becoming hot items online.

(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Christina Fincher)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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