On 8 November 2017, junta head Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha posed six questions to the Thai people, seeking their opinions on Thai politics and politicians, and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The questions have been interpreted as an indication that the junta is considering prolonging its power in the post-election era through military-supported political parties. Prayut intends to assign the Interior Ministry to collect responses from across the country. He did the same thing in May with four questions on elections.
In the aftermath of mourning for the late King, a provincial governor has faced a furious protest for his failure in organising a local cremation ceremony while the junta’s organic laws have caused public concern. After the royal cremation on 26 October, King Maha Vajiralongkorn allowed the cremation site to be open to the public throughout November.
While Thailand last week was overwhelmed by mourning for the late King Bhumibol, other significant issues seem to have been overlooked, such as serious flooding, the arrest of a former lèse majesté convict and use of the junta’s absolute power. The year-long mourning for the late King Bhumibol has now ended and the Thai people are returning to normal, colourful life.
A rock singer’s charity campaign has sparked debate over the ethics of donations, while a senior academic is facing a lèse majesté lawsuit for criticising King Naresuan, who ruled the kingdom of Ayutthaya 400 years ago. Thailand’s lèse majesté law is notorious for its excessive punishments and broad interpretations.
The proposal to collect water fees from rice farmers is the first step towards the commodification of water resources, which will accelerate the collapse of small-scale farmers who are already struggling to make ends meet.
October has brought a mood of mourning to Thailand as the late King Bhumibol's cremation approaches. But October has long brought memories of loss for Thai society, ever since the bloody 6 October massacre 41 years ago. In the early morning of 6 October 1976, right-wing groups massacred students at Thammasat University who had gathered to protest the return to Thailand of a former military dictator ousted after the October 1973 protests.
After the Criminal Court handed a five year jail term against Yingluck, the junta issued an organic law that forces her to appeal the case in person. Meanwhile, the junta’s National Strategic Plan has faced the ‘strongest’ rejection. Last week, the prosecution against Yingluck over the Rice Pledging Scheme (RPS) came to an end after the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions read its verdict on 27 September. The court gave Yingluck five years in prison without suspension.
This year’s university initiation season has been inaugurated with the message that “touching someone else’s genitals can create love and unity.” Meanwhile, an anti-Islam monk has been disrobed for inciting violence against Muslims. Too much love at a Thai university The beginning of the university year in Thailand is marked by reports of physical, mental and sexual abuse against freshman students during initiation activities.
The name Gen Anupong Paojinda turned up in various controversies last week.
“Today, the struggle is not over yet. This mother will struggle until the end...I believe that the perpetrators will not get away,” said Payao Akhad, mother of Kamolkate Akhad, a medic who was killed during the 2010 crackdown on red-shirt protesters. She spoke while lighting incense for her late daughter at Ratchaprasong intersection in central Bangkok on 31 August 2017.