Many conservatives and royalist in Thai society are upset that the student protesters are touching upon the role of the institution and calling for reform.
They accuse the protesters of being disloyal and not understanding what it means to be Thai. While that is a debate to be had for another day, I think the conservatives and royalist are missing one salient point when it comes to the royal institution and the monarchy.
In the past 20 years, no single party, not the students or the anti-institution critics living abroad, have done more to hurt the monarch’s standing in Thai society than the coup-leaders and generals who constantly evoke the royal institution to further their own aims and goals.
By constantly bringing the monarchy into the political realm, the generals have paved way for the discontent that we see today in society.
Oftentimes it is the loudest among us that have the most to hide and that certainly seems to be the case with the coup-leaders whether it is Prayut Chan-ocha or Sonthi Boonyaratglin.
How else do you explain their need to involve the monarch in signing off on their coup constitutions which explicitly pardons their overthrow of a democratically elected government. By doing so do people not think that it builds resentment not only against the military but also the hierarchy of the country?
Or take people like outgoing army chief Apirat Kongsompong who mentions the institution at the drop of a hat. He’s always going on about how he would die to defend the institution, how enemies of the institution are not Thai, how he will bring tanks out onto the street before he lets it fall.
If he would just shut up about it and not drag something many Thais see as sacred through the mud maybe we would not be in this mess.
But instead he chooses to talk about it at every turn, creating resentment and causing rifts in society just to further his own credentials as an ardent defender of Thainess.
Perhaps the most damning thing that the generals have done to hurt the institution in this country is that every time they carry out a coup, they say it is to defend the crown when in reality they are just there to further their own power, to bring in their own cronies and to line their own wallets.
Tell me, do you need people like Thammanat Prompao and Newin Chidchob to help you defend the crown? Or are you sullying the reputation of the institution by associating (even distantly) people like the aforementioned.
I understand that many conservatives are mad at the students for touching a subject that has previously been taboo. Who they should really be mad at are the generals.