BANGKOK • Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said student protesters had gone too far after some issued a 10-point call for reform of the monarchy, which is considered sacred in the country’s conservative culture.
Thousands of protesters chanted “Long live democracy” at the Thammasat University on the outskirts of Bangkok on Monday. Speeches were delivered calling for the resignation of Mr Prayut and an end to military domination of politics.
But protesters from the Thammasat University Pro-Democracy Group also issued a 10-point call for monarchy reform, becoming at least the third student protest group to break a decades-long taboo on questioning its powers.
Thailand has strict lese majeste laws against insulting or defaming the king, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Palace officials declined to comment on the student protests or on any criticism of the monarchy.
Mr Prayut, a former chief of the armed forces, said he was very concerned about the protests.
“There are a lot of people in trouble waiting for their problems to get fixed, not just the young people. So is doing all of this appropriate?”
“It really went too far,” he said, without directly commenting on the demands for royal reform.
In June, Mr Prayut warned protesters against involving the monarchy, but said King Maha Vajiralongkorn had asked him not to arrest anyone under the lese majeste laws.
The monarchy remains a sensitive subject and Monday’s protest prompted Thammasat University to apologise for the event.
It said that while the university supported freedom of expression, it did not condone “some references on the monarchy”.
The students’ new demands included reversal of a 2019 order that transferred two army units to the king’s personal command, and a 2017 law that gave him full control of the crown’s extensive property holdings.