General Prayut Chan-o-cha came to power because of tanks; remains in power because of a rigged constitution; escapes no-confidence votes because of unscrupulous politicians.
He has managed to convince a sizeable portion of the Thai population that without him, evil traitors and ungrateful nation-haters will overthrow the institution.
No matter how democratic or tyrannical, every leader needs popular support and this is General Prayut’s main support basis.
Nattharavut Muangsuk is a journalist always on the frontline. He has done many interviews with motorbike-riding youths of the Talu Gas Group.
The youths constantly clash with crowd control police at the Din Daeng Intersection, the road to the house of General Prayut inside the 1st Army Regiment, not the road to the Grand Palace.
Recently he interviewed some youths on the topic of the institution and posted a portion on his Facebook Page.
According to a youth nicknamed Joe, not every protestor thinks the same. Some support the institution. He said:
“Sometimes we talk about it. Argue about it. We may even hate each other because of it, but we are all people. Even at home, we don’t think the same. I think the big demand [monarchy reform] is already out there. It’s to reform, not to overthrow.”
“But talk to Porsche. He supports the institution.”
Porsche, whose father is a police officer, said:
“I can’t speak for others. But I challenge you. You can’t even talk about it with the other side. They believe to love the institution is to support Prayut. To kick out Prayut is the same as not wanting the institution. There’s no reasoning or conversation here. I think the institution is fine without Prayut. I want the institution to exist because of respect and belief. I don’t want people to use [the institution] as an excuse to destroy others. We see this constantly.”
Nattharavut asked, “At home, do you talk to your father about the protest?”
Porsche replied, “We see each other in the morning before he goes to work. But we don’t talk.”
Dear fellow Thais, let’s talk. It’s just talking. Talking shouldn’t be a crime.