Ahead of the 14 October demonstration, protest leaders have united under three core demands:
- Remove the Prayut Chan-o-cha Government.
- Amend the constitution.
- Reform the monarchy institution.
After nearly five years of dictatorship power and over a year of 250 junta-appointed-senator power, even an ostrich with its head buried deep in the sand and ass exposed to the sky would recognize the appalling incompetence of the ruling regime and the systematic injustice of the constitution.
Even those who waved the national flag and blew whistles in 2014 are shaking their heads, “I, err, umm, I was just fighting against corruption.”
“Umm, ahh, I didn’t know this would happen.”
But it did happen, and so here we are.
The past exists so that we can learn from it. The present is our national suffering. The future is what we make of it.
But the silent majority is still muttering, “Yeah, I support their cause but, umm, err, ahh, I’m not comfortable with the mention of the monarchy.”
The silent majority is uncomfortable because, for far too long, Thailand has misplaced an individual and an institution consisting of a few people as our nation’s foundation.
We missed the point of the concept of nationhood. We still miss the point now.
Love the king. Revere the monarchy.
Everyone has the right to their personal feelings of love, affection, worship, and devotion. Let the monarchy be your heart and soul, the reason for your living and breathing.
But while love is a personal matter, the law is the foundation for nation-building.
We need a democratic constitution that guarantees human rights, civil liberty, and equality under the law. A constitution of good governance, just and sustainable, based on humanity, not exceptionalism.
Hence, the notion of nationhood.
There are 69 millions of us. We all exist.
But let’s also face reality.
Reforming the monarchy institution isn’t going to happen any time soon. Thailand’s traditional mindset is deeply entrenched and guarded by Ukrainian tanks and Chinese submarines.
At best, the protestors can initiate the removal of an incompetent regime and start the process towards drafting a people’s constitution.
This would be an essential step for Thailand as a nation, and it would be a far better thing than any general or prime minister has done for this country in the past 15 years of political conflicts.
Get over your prejudices.
Do not fear Anon Nampa, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Jadnok, and the others.
Their words might be angry, but that’s because they have been harassed and persecuted, as so many were before them. Their actions might be aggressive, but that’s because Thailand has been passively cowed under the rule of injustice for far too long.
They are not going to take over Thailand and rule over a republic. All they have done is act democratically and organize peaceful assemblies to pressure the politicians in parliament to initiate the legal process for change.
This is a far, far better thing than any of the previous protests have done.
On 14 October.
The silent majority may or may not come out in support on 14 October. The reality is the word ‘monarchy’ is an emotional barrier for the silent majority. But we must understand that the protestors demand reform, not revolution.
From hitting delete on the 250 junta-appointed senators’ power to any reform regarding the monarchy’s power, everything must go through a parliament debate. It must be put forth to the people as a referendum and must move forward under the legal process.
Essentially, there will be no reform to the monarchy institution if most Thai people do not consent.
At best, what the protestors can do is as they have already done, put forth for the monarchy institution’s question for discussion.
And it’s just a discussion. At least, we ought to be adult enough for a rational debate.
Look to the future.
Over the past months, the protestors have shown the rest of the country the meaning of courage, conviction, and sacrifice. At the very least, the silent majority should learn from these young people.
If and when we have a referendum, if anyone should want to vote no on reforming the monarchy institution, vote no. It’s your personal choice, your right, your freedom.
But for that one crucial step forward towards a better Thailand, have the courage and conviction to vote yes on deleting the power of the 250 junta-appointed senators, and everything else in the constitution that legitimizes the rule of injustice.
Nation-building is the responsibility of us all, not the privilege of the few. In this, we all should agree.