Three anti-government rally groups came together on Saturday to wrap Democracy Monument in Bangkok with a huge cloth banner. The banner bared the messages denouncing the Thai government and called for reform.
The highly symbolic act followed an equally dramatic scene just two hours earlier, when hundreds of anti-government demonstrators turned their backs on a Royal motorcade.
As vehicles carrying Their Majesties the King and Queen to a ceremony to inaugurate a new subway extension. The anti-government demonstrators faced the other way, raised a three-finger salutes and sang the national anthem.
As the evening wore on, speakers in front of the covered monument reiterated their demands for a new constitution. They also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and reform of the monarchy.
The charter was the main focus of their attention, as Parliament is scheduled to debate amendments on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven bills, six of them drafted by political parties, are on the agenda. However the youth-led movement wants lawmakers to adopt the one drafted by the civil group iLaw.
Protesters converge on Education Ministry
The three groups — Bad Students, Free Women and Mob Fest — are all allied with the Free Youth group, which marked its first anniversary on Saturday.
Bad Students, mostly high schoolers who have been pressing for educational reform, were the first to take to the streets, arriving at the Education Ministry shortly after noon.
They brought a framed photo of Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan attending a right-wing demonstration in 2014, small paper flowers, lamps and a coffin — items associated with a cremation — to stage a mock ceremony.
The cheerful youth mob, some of them dancing to tunes by the K-Pop idols Blackpink, were greeted by a securely locked gate reinforced with chained iron barriers.
The students then propped Mr Nataphol’s photo against the logo in front of the ministry building as they decried his failure to solve their problems. They placed several gold stickers bearing an image of the Ratsadon plaque on the walls and a few small white ribbons on the ministry logo.
Wrap Democracy Monument
The protesters then set off to to join the Mob Fest nearby at around 1.50pm, carrying a 30-metre-square white cloth above their heads. The cloth, it turned out, was the one that would be used to wrap Democracy Monument later in the day, after demonstrators had been invited to write messages on it.
“Children are often compared to a blank canvas and this canvas will be written at Democracy Monument in Bangkok to show young people and citizens want to write their future with their own hands,” one of the group’s co-leaders said.
“People’s wishes will be written on this fabric,” she said. Free Women, the second group, met at Si Yaek Kok Wua at 4pm. Mob Fest gathered at Democracy Monument at 2pm. They also invited cabinet ministers, senators and MPs to come and listen to their problems.
The protesters, which describes itself as a flash mob demanding equality through creative means, asked people who joined them to drop a one-baht coin each in a box to keep track of the number of participants.
The request was made in response to claims by authorities that the protests have been losing steam with a drastic drop in numbers, according to one of the group’s Facebook posts.
Two kilometres away, thousands of royalists were waiting for the arrival of His Majesty the King at Sanam Chai MRT station near the Grand Palace, for a ceremony to inaugurate the Blue Line extension.
As the Royal motorcade passed close to the rally site, His Majesty was seen waving, but few of the demonstrators saw him because their backs were turned. – Bangkok Post