Thai protesters shun Parliament, ask Germany to probe king
Demonstrators march to the German Embassy in central Bangkok, Oct 26, 2020. (Photo: AP/Gemunu Amarasinghe)27 Oct 2020 11:19AMShare this contentBookmarkBANGKOK: Demonstrators in Thailand have expanded their protests internationally, marching to the German Embassy to appeal to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to investigate whether Thailand’s king has exercised political power during his extended stays in Bavaria.
The protesters acted while criticising their own Parliament, which began a special two-day session earlier Monday (Oct 26) to address political tensions resulting from the near-daily protests demanding the prime minister’s resignation, constitutional changes and reforms to the monarchy.
AdvertisementAdvertisementThey believe the king wields an inordinate amount of power in what is nominally a democracy under a constitutional monarchy.READ: Thai protesters, 'human beings, not dust', march in challenge to kingDemonstrators march to the German Embassy in central Bangkok, Oct 26, 2020.(Photo: AP/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
The scrutiny and public criticism of the monarchy displayed by some of the protesters is unprecedented in a country where the royal institution has been considered sacrosanct. It has also led royalists to stage counter-rallies and to denounce the protesters for raising the issue, increasing the risk of confrontation.
AdvertisementAdvertisementThe protesters, estimated by an Associated Press journalist to number between 5,000 and 10,000, defied police warnings that they constituted an illegal assembly and marched to the embassy in an effort to bring attention to the time King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends in Germany. The king in recent weeks has been in Thailand with a busy schedule of ceremonial events.
A statement from the protest group said they presented a letter to embassy officials asking that Germany investigate whether the king “has conducted Thai politics using his royal prerogative from German soil or not".Demonstrators march to the German Embassy in central Bangkok, Oct 26, 2020.(Photo: AP/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
AdvertisementIt said such action could be considered a violation of Germany’s territorial sovereignty, and suggested that its government consider the protesters’ request with the aim of bringing the king back to Thailand to restore the country"to the path of the truthful constitutional monarchy".
In addition to asking whether the king is carrying out his official royal duties in Germany, the letter provocatively echoed points on which the protesters have previously criticised the king.Germany is seen as receptive to their entreaties.The German government already brought up the issue in early October, when Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, responding to a question in Parliament, expressed concern over any political activities the king might be conducting in the country.
READ: Thai opposition tells PM to resign at parliamentary debate about protestsDemonstrators march to the German Embassy in central Bangkok, Oct 26, 2020.(Photo: AP/Gemunu Amarasinghe)On Monday in Berlin, Maas spoke again, telling reporters the government was following developments in Thailand and was aware of the demonstrations and “people taking to the streets for their rights". He added that he also was watching the king’s activities in Germany.
“We have been examining this not only in recent weeks, but we are continuing to examine it in the long term, and if there are things we feel to be unlawful, then that will have immediate consequences,” Maas said.Vajiralongkorn has for years spent significant time in Germany, but it only became an issue after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in 2016.
Bhumibol was king for seven decades, and though he traveled extensively on state visits in the early years of his reign - including being welcomed with a ticker tape parade in New York City - he left the country only once after the 1960s, and that was an overnight stay in neighboring Laos.
READ: 'CIA'-like street food vendors first on scene to feed Thai protestersdemonstrators flash a three-finger salute of defiance in front of the Thai king's portrait as they march to the German Embassy in central Bangkok, Oct 26, 2020. (Photo: AP/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Vajiralongkorn’s ability to spend time abroad has been made easier by changes his office sought and received to the current constitution that no longer require him to appoint a regent when away from the kingdom.Defaming the monarchy can be punished by up to 15 years in prison under Thailand's tough lese majeste law.
Speaker of the House Chuan Leekpai cautioned at Monday's special Parliament session that it was not to discuss the role of the monarchy.In his opening speech, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he and his government are aware that this is an era of change, pushed by technology.
READ: Backpackers out, protesters in: Bangkok hostels offer secret refugePolice arrive outside the German Embassy in central Bangkok, Oct 26, 2020. (Photo: AP/Gemunu Amarasinghe)“But we have to admit that in Thailand, millions, tens of millions of people do not want to see change through chaos,” he said, referring to different points of view toward the protesters and their demands. “Everyone has their own beliefs.”
He called for Parliament to “creatively find a balance” between competing views.The protesters believe Prayut retained power unfairly in last year’s election because laws were changed to favor a pro-military party. The protesters also say the constitution, written and enacted under military rule, is undemocratic.
The protesters consider the government's response insincere, noting the agenda for the non-voting session of Parliament does not include the protesters’ concerns but instead has thinly disguised criticism of the protests themselves.The points of discussion released by Prayut's government concern the risk of COVID-19 spreading at rallies, alleged interference with a royal motorcade by a small crowd earlier this month, illegal gatherings, and the destruction of images of the royal family.Read more: CNA »
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Thai protesters to petition Germany over King Maha VajiralongkornThai demonstrators said on Sunday they would petition Germany to investigate King Maha Vajiralongkorn's use of his powers while he has been ...
Thai protesters say they will petition Germany over kingThai demonstrators said on Sunday they would petition Germany to investigate King Maha Vajiralongkorn's use of his powers while he has been ... partidazocope กล้ามากเก่งมากขอบใจ
Thai protesters say they will petition Germany over king BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thai demonstrators said on Sunday (Oct 25) they would petition Germany to investigate King Maha Vajiralongkorn's use of his powers while he has been staying in the European country, as thousands of people again took to the streets of Bangkok .. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Thai protesters plan to pressure Germany on King's legal status BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Thai protesters plan to march to the German Embassy on Monday (Oct 26) to submit a letter questioning King Maha Vajiralongkorn's legal status in the European country, stepping up pressure as they push for changes to the monarchy.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Germany drawn into Thai political conflictBoth royalists and pro-democracy protesters made contrasting appeals to the European country, where King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends much of his time.. Read more at straitstimes.com. .... and why is that King staying in a foreign country? 🙄
Thai Parliament set to meet in shadow of fresh wave of protestsCoronavirus infection risks from the protests and protesters' targeting of a royal motorcade are among the agenda.. Read more at straitstimes.com. I remember my favourite oldies - HE WILL HAVE TO GO