Royalists and government responds to former PM Anand’s suggestions; say more at stake than Prayut’s rule

Royalist leaders and the government responded on Friday to former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun’s advice for calm and to address concerns of pro-democracy protesters.

Anand said this week that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and his government should do their best to listen to the student demonstrators. Among his other suggestions were to rewrite the constitution and remove clauses related to the military-picked senate’s powers and amend the lese majeste law so that it is no longer a criminal offense.

Student-led pro-democracy protests have gripped the country for the past four months with demonstrators calling on the Prayut Chan-ocha government to resign, for the government to re-draft the military-backed charter and for the government to stop harassing dissidents.

At times, the students have also called for a reformation of the monarchy which has led to friction with the government and with royalist groups in society.

On Friday, Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of the royalist Thai Phakdee group responded to Anand’s comments and asked if the former prime minister realized that the students were insulting the monarch.

“You can hear the mob when they are calling for the PM to resign but do you hear or see when they are insulting the King?” he posted on his social media.

Warong said that the student protesters were encouraging royalist harassment because of their disrespect.

Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, a party-list MP for the Palang Pracharath Party, said on Friday that Prayut has been listening to the pro-democracy protestors’ demands but that the demands have evolved beyond just politics.

“The true target of the protestors is not in the change of PM but to change something that is higher than the PM, therefore, the resignation of the PM will not fix the problem,” he said.

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