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Commentary: Thailand’s previous camps united in anti-government angst

MOUNTING ANTI-GOVERNMENT SENTIMENT

This 12 months, nevertheless, the anti-government demonstrations have gained extra momentum. The federal government’s failure to manage the COVID-19 pandemic has stirred up anger amongst different activist teams. These teams have joined forces with youth organisations towards the federal government.

One of many activist teams is the Thai Mai Thon (Impatient Thais) group, led by former Purple Shirt chief Jatuporn Prompan.

Earlier in July, one other group led by Purple Shirt activist Sombat Boonngam-anong staged a automotive mob, the place 100 automobiles took to the streets to strain political events to withdraw from the pro-Prayut coalition.

They demanded {that a} non-parliamentarian substitute Prayut beneath Part 272 of the Structure, which stipulates that two-thirds of members of each Homes can nominate a non-MP to function Prime Minister.

What offers the brand new anti-Prayut forces some ballast is what seems to be an unlikely alliance of former Purple Shirt leaders and a few of their Yellow Shirt counterparts, with the frequent purpose of rallying protestors towards the present administration.

One group is Prachachon Khon Thai (the Individuals of Thailand), led by Nititorn Lamlue. He’s a former Yellow Shirt and chief of the now-defunct Individuals’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which mobilised to topple former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

If a pro-democratic alliance of the youthful era and different activist teams can coalesce to confront the federal government, this might problem the steadiness of Prayut’s administration.

Ultimately, nevertheless, the unification of all pro-democratic teams – activist youth teams, the Purple Shirts and a few Yellow Shirt leaders – would possibly show to be transient. On the very least, neither the Purple Shirt nor Yellow Shirt leaders will undertake the youth motion’s name for the reform of the monarchy.

THE MINION ARMY

Within the reverse camp, a brand new pro-military and pro-royalist motion is looking for to counter the anti-government protests. The motion is led by the Thailand Assist Centre for Cyberbullying Victims, popularly referred to as the Minion Military.

The title is a reference to the yellow color favoured by royalists and the hue of the favored Minion characters within the fashionable American “Despicable Me” sequence of function movies. In these movies, the minions are comically portrayed as creatures hardwired to hunt out and serve a shrewd villain who subsequently turns over a brand new leaf.

Through the use of the Google Map monitoring system, this group tracks social media posts which can be seen to violate Part 112 of the Thai Felony Code, also referred to as the lese majeste regulation, in addition to Part 116, which punishes the crime of sedition. They then report violators’ names and private information to the authorities.

Not too long ago, this royalist group filed lese majeste expenses towards greater than 500 netizens and a number of other political activists, together with scholar activist Parit Chiwarak. These actions have sparked an internet confrontation between the 2 poles of the political spectrum and look more likely to improve political tensions.

All which means that the political battle between the pro-democracy and pro-government parts in Thailand is much from over. Many royalists had believed that the 2014 coup would deliver peace and reconciliation again to Thailand.

If the royalist group can develop its members and train extra political exercise past its on-line presence, we are going to seemingly witness political tensions and uprisings return to the political area. Political polarisation thus stays unresolved, regardless of Gen Prayut’s promise after the 2014 coup.

In reality, that coup more and more seems to have carried out nothing to handle Thailand’s deep-seated political divisions.

Punchada Sirivunnabood is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. This commentary first appeared on ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute’s Fulcrum.

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