In the central part of Bangkok, people have demonstrated in a bid to prompt the resignation of Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is the Prime Minister of Thailand. Demonstrators claim they will protest on a daily basis “until he leaves office.”
Taking place on Thursday at the “Asoke intersection” of Bangkok, the protest was amongst the largest of its kind for this year, even though coronavirus curtailments have prohibited street gatherings.
It has been since late June that protests against Prayuth have been carried out. And protesters who took to the streets in 2020, have come back in larger numbers, with people who are now frustrated with the leader’s handling of the pandemic.
According to Reuters, the country has seen over 1.2 million cases of coronavirus and over twelve thousand deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. What’s more, the majority of cases and deaths have taken place more recently, from April 2021 onwards.
Prayuth is currently under intense questioning in parliament during a “censure debate” which commenced this week. Those opposing Prayuth, have claimed that “five other cabinet ministers” as well as the Prime Minister are guilty of mishandling the country’s economy, acting corruptly, and responding incompetently towards the coronavirus.
However, the ministers as well as Prayuth himself have not accepted these claims, arguing in favour of their actions under leadership.
Reuters reports that a “no-confidence vote” will take place on Saturday, but Prayuth and the cabinet ministers are likely to make it through this, considering the fact that the government has a “parliamentary majority.” Despite this, protestors have said that they will continue putting up a fight.
A prime co-ordinator of the protest, Nattawut Saikua, said: “The members of parliament have to choose between the people and Prayuth who has failed, causing losses and deaths of more than 10,000 people.”
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Saikua added: “If Prayuth passes the no-confidence vote and remains prime minister we will continue to drive him out.”
The Asoke protest was non-violent, however, a small number of demonstrators have reportedly started rioting, setting fire to car tyres and also setting firecrackers off near Prayuth’s home, which is in a different area of Bangkok.
According to Al Jazeera, the protestors hold Prayuth accountable for the lack of sufficient and opportune levels of vaccines. It has also been reported that out of Thailand’s population of over 66 million, just 13% have been fully vaccinated.
What has led to Thursday’s protest?
Prime Minister Prayuth, who was previously an army chief, has been in power since 2014. And Al Jazeera reports that “a military-drafted constitution” enabled a Senate that was appointed by the military to vote for Prayuth. As a result, this aided his ability to stay in office, after elections were held in 2019. However, numerous people feel that this election was “rigged” for Prayuth’s advantage.
Although Thursday’s protest was extensive in size, the 2020 demonstrations against the Prime Minister were also widespread. According to AP, The objective of these protests was to lead the prime minister and his government out of office; improve the democratic quality of the constitution; and to rectify the system of the monarchy, increasing its ability to be “accountable.”
Despite the strong cause, the 2020 protests were discontinued due to the arrest of leaders as well as anxieties and restrictions over the pandemic. Moreover, the “controversy” surrounding the protesters’ censure towards the Thai monarchy, which is reportedly strongly protected by Thailand’s ruling powers, such as the military, was also a major factor explaining the fizzling away of protests.
But more recently on Sunday, AP reported that an extensive amount of trucks, cars and motorbikes “wended” along Bangkok, in protest against the Prime Minister and his government, in what was labelled a “car mob.”
So it is becoming increasingly evident that the Thai people feel let down by their prime minister and his government. And whilst last year’s planned protests’ drew to a halt, this year’s protestors’ appear to be determined in their thirst to bring about change. But, arguably, dissenters may have a tough time making their voices heard and bringing about a better future, considering the parliamentary majority of the ruling government.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com.— In the Featured Photo: People protesting in Bangkok, Thailand. Featured Photo Credit: Kitthitorn Chaiyuthapoom