Royalists Find Future Forward’s Lack of Coronation Pic Disturbing

A file photo of Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

BANGKOK — Ultra-royalists accused a progressive party on Wednesday of disrespecting the monarchy because it did not change its Facebook cover photo to mark His Majesty the King’s coronation.

Future Forward failed to follow other parties in changing its feature photo to a banner praising King Vajiralongkorn, leading hardline royalists on social media to accuse the party of neglecting to honor the auspicious occasion. A spokeswoman for the party denied the allegations.

In a phone interview, Pannika Wanich referred a reporter to an interview she gave to another media agency yesterday, in which she said many members of her party joined in celebrations during the ceremony. The coronation lasted from Saturday May 4 to Monday May 6.

She declined to comment further, saying “this issue is now over.”

While other political parties last week changed their Facebook cover photos to banners congratulating King Vajiralongkorn on his coronation, Future Forward kept its cover photo featuring party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

A coronation banner posted by Pheu Thai Party.
Future Forward’s cover photo

The break from common practice did not escape the attention of ultra-royalists, who soon accused the party of disloyalty.

“The Future Forward Party has shown its true colors whether or not it participated in the royal coronation. The public can see through it,” user Sedthawut Yuyen wrote in a comment thread. “Future Forward Party’s Facebook page did not present news about the royal coronation at all, unlike other political parties.”

“The entire party disrespects the monarchy,” user Areesri Palida added. “Their sec-gen disrespects and is trying to overthrow the monarchy. Their party leader also assists people who want to overthrow the monarchy.”

Ultra-royalists have levelled similar allegations against Future Forward before. The party was co-founded by secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a law scholar who used to campaign against the royal defamation law, or lese majeste.

Although Future Forward has insisted that it will not push for lese majeste reform or touch the monarchy if elected to power, the pledge failed to convince hardline royalists.

In early April, a group of 30 royalists filed a petition to the police, urging them to investigate Piyabutr on suspicions of harboring ill intent against the royal family. No formal investigation has been convened so far.