‘Is It Appropriate?’ Prayut Turns Down Students’ Reform Calls

Anti-government rally at Thammasat University on Aug. 10, 2020.
Anti-government rally at Thammasat University on Aug. 10, 2020.

BANGKOK — PM Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday said he is personally troubled by the recent calls for reforms of a certain institution made by anti-government protesters.

Gen. Prayut said the protesters, who rallied last night at Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus, had gone too far and called upon the university administration to show its responsibility over the students’ remarks.

“I’m monitoring every development and I’m not comfortable,” Prayut responded to a reporter’s question about yesterday’s protest. “It’s their right to protest, but this one has gone out of line.”

“Answer me, the media must also suggest how to keep our country in order and overcome the COVID-19 pandemic together,” he continued. “Is it appropriate? What should we do? Where is the law? Don’t say that we use law to oppress them since everyone must be prosecuted if they violated the law.”


The latest wave of anti-government protest broke out on July 18 and demanded a new election, a new Constitution, and an end to harassment of critics.

Last night’s protest appeared to be the largest rally against the government in months. Organizers said about 10,000 people showed up last night, though the police estimate was far lower, at 2,500.

But Jutatip Sirikhan, a leader from the activist group Student Union of Thailand, said the new demands made at Thammasat were not associated with the original three demands announced at the July 18 protest in any way.

She said the government will continue to be the main target for the upcoming rally on Sunday at the Democracy Monument.

“We will be focusing on the new charter,” Jutatip said. “If the new Constitution is drafted, anything can be said.”

Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, the deputy dean of Thammasat, also publicly apologized over the protest following criticism from pro-establishment politicians.

Although the university approved the use of its venues to express political opinions, such expressions must be within the boundary of the law, he said.


“Organizers should exercise caution on sensitive matters that could lead to social division,” Prinya said in his Facebook statement. “As it appeared that some of the contents crossed the line, myself as the deputy dean who approved the assembly can’t deny responsibility for what happened.”

No one has been arrested or charged with yesterday’s protest so far, though police said investigators were monitoring the protests closely.

“We can’t reveal the details at the moment,” deputy metro police chief Jirapat Poomjitr said.