Three demands have not been met . . .
Almost exactly one year ago, Thailand’s progressive Future Forward Party, critical of the establishment, was dissolved by the country’s Constitutional Court, setting in motion a series of large-scale, pro-democracy protests that rocked the country for months. While COVID-19 outbreaks put a halt to their activities, protesters continue to push for three core demands: the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, amendments to the constitution, and reforms to the monarchy. None of these demands have been met, but political awareness among the Thai people has forever been changed: never before have politics and the role of the monarchy been so publicly discussed.
Police corruption leads to renewed protests . . .
The anniversary of the pro-democracy movement coincided with a vote of no-confidence in parliament, a motion brought forward by a group of opposition lawmakers alleging government mismanagement of the pandemic. The Prayut government comfortably survived the motion thanks to its majority hold in the ruling coalition. However, the widely-watched debates revealed evidence of corruption in the police force. Protesters took the streets on Tuesday to denounce the so-called ‘Elephant Ticket,’ a list of officers to be fast-tracked to higher positions through their connections. Some pro-democracy supporters are hopeful that more people will join their ranks as support for the government erodes.
Uphill battle ahead . . .
Due to restrictions on gathering in groups, COVID-19 resurgences, and the fear of lese-majeste charges, the pro-democracy movement has recently shifted online. Thousands of Thais joined the controversial audio chat app Clubhouse, where many prominent activists, progressive politicians, and even former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have criticized the current government. Despite optimism that the movement will forge ahead, some believe that the fight may need to be much longer than anticipated. Recent protests in neighbouring Myanmar have re-energized Thai protesters in their own pro-democracy battle, but have also led some to wonder how to unite a Thai society still highly divided between younger and older generations, and even within the pro-democracy movement where ideological differences have caused a rift.
- Khaosod English: Year of dissent: Activists reflect on anniversary of street protests
- South China Morning Post: Thailand protestors swarm streets anew, with police and ‘Elephant Ticket’ the new targets
- Thai Enquirer: Opinion: A year without a future