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What’s behind Thailand’s protests?

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

What’s behind Thailand’s protests?


Context:

Anti-government protests have escalated in Thailand in the last three months.

What are the demands of protesters?

  1. Removal of present Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
  2. A new constitution.
  3. An end to the harassment of activists.
  4. Demands to reform the monarchy

What’s the problem with the present system?

It all started in 2017 when King’s constitutional powers were increased.

  1. Pro-democracy activists say Thailand is backtracking on the constitutional monarchy established when absolute royal rule ended in 1932. They say the monarchy is too close to the army and argue that this has undermined democracy.
  2. Protesters also seek the scrapping of lese majeste laws against insulting the king.
  3. They want the king to relinquish the personal control he took over a palace fortune estimated in the tens of billions of dollars, and some units of the army.

What do the Lese majeste laws mean?

The monarchy is protected by Section 112 of the Penal Code, which says whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent shall be jailed for three to 15 years.

Challenges ahead:

Some conservatives are against reforming the monarchy. They say, monarchy is an institution the constitution says is “enthroned in a position of revered worship”.

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Sources: Indian Express.