Thai Pro-Democracy Protests May Lead To More Authocratic Regime
The potential candidates who could replace the current Prime Minister are not democrats, but protesters vowed to continue the demonstrations if Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha would not resign.
As thousands of Thai protesters are trying to keep up anti-government rallies, dozens of Bangkok hostels have thrown open their doors to give weary demonstrators a refuge, many for free.
Since mid-July, protesters led by young Thais and students, often organised online, have defied crackdowns to keep calling for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to resign. The anti-government protesters are also challenging a longstanding taboo by wanting monarchy reform.
With anti-government protesters at times facing water cannon and playing cat and mouse with police in sweltering conditions until late into the evenings, many have been sleeping on the street.
I felt bad for those who didn’t have places to stay, stated a 23-year-old medical student, who declined to give her name due to concerns about being targeted by authorities. She has been offering free rooms online to protesters, she said.
A Twitter account Mobmeeteenon (“protesters have places to sleep”), is helping to link up protesters to rooms after the government brought in an emergency decree this month and cracked down on people camping outside government houses.
Another 25-year-old volunteer, who has also helped organize places to stay, said around 500 people had been hosted since the effort to provide rooms started. Besides a bed, anti-government protesters are given three meals per day and transportation to and from the protests.
There is plenty of space in hotels and hostels in usually bustling Bangkok that is virtually empty of foreign tourists since authorities shut Thailand’s borders to most commercial flights in April to contain the Wuhan virus.
One protester from Chonburi province east of Bangkok was surprised to be offered a bed when he thought he would be sleeping on the street after a recent rally.
“There are four people sleeping in this room. This is my spot,” said the 27-year-old, speaking from a hostel in central Bangkok.
The pro-democracy protesters gave 3-days ultimatum to current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to resign but it is not clear who could replace him to soften authoritarian system.
Some analysts say his successor could be new army chief Gen. Narongphan Jitkaewthae, analysts said.
Asked whether a coup was possible, Gen. Narongphan, 57, told reporters this month, Every army chief has been asked this question, and he invariably says the chance is zero — on condition that no one causes a conflict that leads to violence and unrest.
Gen. Narongphan is “considered extremely loyal to the current monarch,” said Paul Chambers, an international affairs special adviser at Thailand’s Naresuan University.
Another possible successor is hard- line former army chief Gen. Apirat Kong-sompong, who trained in the U.S. and has made some menacing comments about the protests.
The disease that cannot be cured is the hatred of the nation,” Mr. Apirat, who now is a top official in the royal household, declared after protesters added limits on the monarchy to their political demands. He has previously accused anti-government forces of “working with some foreign-educated and far-left academics to plant wrong ideas into the minds of students.”
Mr. Apirat’s father, the late Gen. Sunthorn Kongsompong, led a junta after staging a coup in 1991.
But analysts say the endgame is not clear and that Mr. Prayuth’s determination to cling to power should not be underestimated.