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.
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.
Thai society needs to be able to speak openly now about the role of the monarchy. For decades, the Thai monarchy has dominated the Thai political space, firmly supported by the military.
The Royalists Marketplace stands for freedom of expression. Crude censorship from the Thai government crushes the freedoms that Thais are entitled to. In blocking the page, Facebook is cooperating with the authoritarian regime in obstructing democracy and cultivating authoritarianism in Thailand.
The student gatherings at the Democracy Monument and at Thammasat University in August were a turning point in the course of the ongoing protests in Thailand. Calls are now being made for an immediate reform of the monarchical institution to locate back into the constitutional framework.
The failure of the Thai government takes many forms. Ex-generals occupying top political positions whose frame of thought is confined within their military expertise were not the right people to lead the country against this non-traditional threat.
After printing "I'm losing faith in the monarchy" on a tee shirt, a critic of the monarchy was locked in a mental asylum. Not surprisingly, it did little to reassure Thais that authorities were acting in their best interests.
Thailand's current Prayuth government may like to think that Thailand could play a balancing game between the United States and China. But the Thai domestic problems have compromised its position.
From the judges and the police, to the army and officials in the ICT, they all serve as defenders of the monarchy, thus making the Computer Crime Act as effective as the lèse-majesté law in purging dissent from Thai society.