Never had His Majesty King Rama 10 been so active in publicity campaigns.
From the royal walkabouts to the chat with Channel 4 News’s Jonathan Miller, from the selfies with loyal subjects to the BTS photo-ops, seated with Her Majesty the Queen on the chairs, officials crawled on the floor covered by a red carpet.
The decision to remain in Thailand rather than return to his home in Germany is to cement the monarchy as the heart and soul of Thailand’s royalists and spread the institution’s popularity.
Meanwhile, the Ratsadon Movement keeps up its political activities. Yesterday’s mob fest was a grand affair of talks, performances, food, music, and reminders of “what we are fighting for.”
These recurring protests and festivals are to keep up the pressure on the government and spread the messages to gain more support.
The highlight of the day, however, was when the royal motorcade passed through. Protestors turned their back to the royal motorcade and raised the three-finger salute at the Democracy Monument.
There’s a popularity contest in Thailand between the monarchy and the democracy to see which side the “silent majority” prefers. It’s the wrong kind of competition, created by a false narrative that benefits the third party in this love/hate triangle, the Prayut Chan-o-cha Government.
Ratsadon’s goal is for Thailand to become a democratic constitutional monarchy with the king as the head of state. Hence, monarchy and democracy are not in competition. They ought to be in partnership. But the narrative has been stolen by the Prayut Regime.
Last week, Ratsadon marched to the Grand Palace to deliver letters to the king. Yesterday, they turned their back to the royal motorcade and raised the three-finger salute to the democracy monument.
What does that mean?
It means, in the false popularity contest between monarchy and democracy, the one who’s pulling ahead is the Prayut Regime. As long as the regime continues to successfully monopolize the narrative of “overthrowing the monarchy,” General Prayut does not need to give an inch to Ratsadon’s demands.
He has the full backing of the armed forces, the entire government apparatus, and millions of royalists. As well, so long as the false narrative is potent, the “silent majority” would remain at home, ruled by fear and paranoia.
General Prayut has all those backings because he’s able to monopolize Thailand’s traditional core value “In the name of the King.”
In the war of information, you don’t sing the same song over and over to the people who already love your music.
The next step in Ratsadon’s strategy ought to be separating the monarchy from the military and creating a narrative of the monarchy in partnership with democracy by speaking to the silent majority.
After all, neither Royalists nor Ratsadons will ever change their hearts and minds. But the silent majority is still up for grab.
The Ratsadon Movement is motivated by ideals, as so it should. But success will depend on whether they can shape realities. When(if) there’s a national referendum on reforming the constitution, they need the votes.
Which means they need the silent majority.
As well, there will be another election, constitution amendment and 250 junta-appointed senators notwithstanding. In the 2019 national election, Palang Pracharat Party received 8.4 million votes because of the false narrative of monarchy versus democracy.
Which means, Ratsadon needs the silent majority to vote for the political party most likely to uphold democratic principles.
Thailand’s competition for power is between the military versus democracy.
A democratic constitutional monarchy by definition is a political system founded on a partnership between monarchy and democracy.
Ratsadon must shine the light on the real narrative for the silent majority.