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Student protesters to hold anti-government rallies across Thailand


Student protesters to hold anti-government rallies across Thailand

s2 reutersmedia net
Photo: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Thai student activists will today hold a demonstration outside the Ministry of Education in Bangkok.

Today’s events are the latest in a series of protests provoked by the dissolution of the Future Forward Party in February. Following a lockdown-induced lull, the resumption of protests culminated in a mass rally at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on July 18.

At the crux of the protestors’ demands is the call for a new political order—one that respects human rights—as well as the concession of the ruling military government to proper democratic processes. Discontent has been festering since the 2014 coup d’état, although the controversial 2019 elections, which saw coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha retain the office of prime minister, was a tipping point; even the taboo of challenging the country’s “lèse-majesté” law, a safeguard against criticism of the royal family, has cracked.

Expect the protests to build in strength as the economic fallout of COVID-19 exacerbates political unrest. Despite rampant unemployment and a projected 2020 contraction of 8.5%, there are few short-term manoeuvres available to the export-oriented Thai government. In the long-term, the stability and credibility of the monarchy will depend on the cultivation of an economic system conducive to greater opportunity for the population as a whole, rather than Thailand’s most powerful families and conglomerates.

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