Three months have passed and the protests in Thailand have intensified. One of the main messages of the demonstrations has become clear—the protesters believe the monarchy is in need of immediate reform. In just three months, Thais have repeatedly stretched the boundaries of what is acceptable to discuss in public—and at large gatherings—regarding the monarchy.
Now that core leaders of the protests are in custody, the authorities are ramping up their suppression of demonstrators, and the possibility of life imprisonment has been mooted, it seems hard to imagine where this movement goes from here.
FORSEA issues the strongest condemnation statement against the Thai government. It urges the government to lift the emergency decree, release all those arrested, return free space for the people, and most importantly, stop using violent tactics against the protesters.
In 2014, Trade Justice Pilipinas supported the Philippines’ pursuit of favorable trade privileges from the EU, hoping they would deter human rights abuses. Six years later, that hope has disappeared, and so should those privileges.
Thai student protests are not just to shame the government, they also wanted to reform the monarchy – a long-held taboo in the Land of Smiles. The demand for immediate monarchical reform is now an official objective of the protesters.
Because of the outsize political representation handed to them at independence, Sabah and Sarawak parliamentarians now ironically hold king-making power over the fragmented Malay parties. That leverage could moderate the blatant governance abuses, provided the Borneo states learn to use their influence wisely.