Thai Net Skeptical About Democracy Monument ‘Renovation’

The Democracy Monument on Thursday. Photo: Matichon
The Democracy Monument on Thursday. Photo: Matichon

BANGKOK — City Hall is having a hard time convincing the internet that one of Bangkok’s most recognized landmarks isn’t about to suffer the same fate as other monuments to Thai democracy.

Thai netizens appeared jittery Wednesday after photos spread showing the Democracy Monument, one of the last physical reminders of the end of absolute monarchy, covered with tarps and scaffolding. The city insisted it was only repainting the monument as part of plans to spruce up the grand avenue it sits on ahead of May’s coronation ceremony.

“We’d like to emphasize that there’s no political agenda in the renovation of the Democracy Monument,” said Sakchai Boonma, director of the Public Works Department. “The work will be fully completed in March.”

Read: Could Democracy Monument Be Razed? It’s Been Tried Before.

The photos, posted by Voice TV and shared more than 100 times as of Thursday afternoon, provoked anxiety following the disappearance two years ago of a plaque celebrating 1932’s democratic revolution that was replaced with one praising the monarchy. Late last year, a monument marking the defeat of an ultraroyalist counter-revolution was dismantled overnight in the capital district of Laksi.

Both were removed without explanation; speculating about their fates is taboo.

Some commentators likened the sight to representing a “broken democracy.”

“Will the offering tray be replaced with a tank?” user Kachatharn Hanhakhmee wrote, referring to the monument’s central feature symbolically venerating the constitution as a sacred object.

“It’s still under construction – since 1932,” user Patrick Stronger commented, citing the bloodless revolt that saw the nation transition to a constitutional monarchy.

“The Laksi Monument is now gone. In the photos is the next thing someone wants to make disappear,” user Munkong Jamsai wrote.

Due to legal concerns, Khaosod English has withheld some details from this story.

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