Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai activists’ plaque scrapped after calls for monarchy reform




Thai activists’ plaque scrapped after calls for monarchy reform

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Protest leaders installed a commemorative ‘People’s Plaque’, which had vanished by Monday. AFP

Thai activists’ plaque scrapped after calls for monarchy reform

A plaque installed on the weekend by activists in Bangkok declaring Thailand “belongs to the people” was removed on Monday, after a show of force by pro-democracy protesters calling for the royal family to stay out of the country’s politics.

The kingdom has seen near-daily protests for the past two months led by students demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former army chief who masterminded the 2014 coup.

Some 30,000 demonstrators rallied on Saturday close to Bangkok’s Grand Palace – where organisers took a stronger line on monarchical reform – before installing a commemorative “People’s Plaque” the morning after.

But by Monday, the plaque had vanished.

“I heard it’s missing and we’re investigating the case,” Bangkok’s deputy police chief Piya Tawichai said.

The almost-immediate removal of the plaque “reflects the fact that arch-royalists are not only incensed by demands for monarchical reform but are not going to put up with any symbols that even reflect opposition to the palace”, said Paul Chambers of Naresuan University.

The plaque, placed in the historic Sanam Luang field, had read: “The people have expressed the intention that this country belongs to the people and not the king.”

At its installation during Saturday’s protest, prominent activist Parit Chiwarak shouted “Down with feudalism, long live the people”, as the crowd cheered.

The new medallion referenced the original brass one embedded for decades in the grounds of Bangkok’s Royal Plaza.

It commemorated the end of royal absolutism in 1932 after a revolution that transitioned the kingdom into a constitutional monarchy.

But it mysteriously disappeared in 2017 – after King Maha Vajiralongkorn took power following the death of his father – replaced with one bearing a reminder for Thais to remain loyal to the “nation, religion, king”.

The largely leaderless youth-organised movement, partly inspired by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, is calling for Prayut’s government to be dissolved, a rewrite of the 2017 military-scripted constitution, and for authorities to stop “harassing” political opponents.

Some factions within the movement – including the organisers of the weekend demonstrations – have also called for frank discussions on the monarchy, a once-taboo topic due to tough royal defamation laws.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen says Kingdom not a 'satellite country'

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia had sent diplomatic notes to various embassies demonstrating its stance and clarifying allegations that the Kingdom is a satellite country of China which will allow it exclusive access to the Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province. The response

  • Vast Prince Manor fun park opens to much fanfare in Kandal

    Chinese-owned Prince Culture and Development Co Ltd officially launched the $85 million Prince Manor entertainment centre in Kandal province on Wednesday. Prince Manor is located along National Road 1, 20km from the centre of Phnom Penh. It is the first major theme park project in Cambodia and

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Cintri strike ends, workers’ contracts to be terminated

    CINTRI (Cambodia) Ltd rubbish collectors who have been on strike for the past 13 days agreed to return to work starting Wednesday evening after the company agreed to terminate their contracts at the end of January next year and provide seniority payments and other benefits to