Activists, academics urge investigation into missing 1932 Revolution plaque

Activists have filed a complaint to the police over the mysterious disappearance of the plaque commemorating the 1932 Revolution of the People’s Party, which ended the absolutism of the Chakri Dynasty.

On 16 April 2017, four people lodged a complaint at Dusit District Police Station, Bangkok, urging the police to investigate the disappearance of the brass plaque commemorating the 1932 Revolution.

The four are: Parit Ratanakulserirengrit, 30, a grandchild of Luang Ratanakul Serireongrit, aka. Gen Charoon Ratanakul Serireongrit, a member of the People’s Party, Phakchira Kiratiwibunwong, 19, a political science student from Chulalongkorn University, Sutthida Watthanasing, 21, a Kasetsart university student, and Khunnaphat Khachana, 22, a Ramkhamhaeng University student.

The three students demanding an investigation into the disappearance of the People’s Party’s 1932 Revolution plaque 

“[We] are concerned because the plaque is an important historical object of the political transition [initiated by] the People’s Party.....it is related to an important historical event of the nation although it has not been registered in the Royal Gazette,” states the complaint.

On the same day, Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights (TANC) issued a public statement to condemn the replacement of the plaque.

“The destruction and replacement signifies disrespect towards the ancestors of every party because it was the monument to remind [us] of the success and failure of [our] ancestors in bringing about democracy,” reads part of the statement.

Chamnan Chanruang, a former law lecturer at Chiang Mai University, has started a campaign on Change.org to call for the return of the plaque and the prosecution of those responsible for its removal. At press time, the campaign has generated 2,333 signatures.  

No one knows when exactly the plaque was removed, but a new plaque was found in its place and made headlines nationwide on 14 April. The replacement prompted public outcry, especially among democracy activists, progressives, and academics.

The old plaque might have been removed between 4-5 April during reparation of the area around Equestrian Statue of King Rama V when tents were installed to cover the area.

Parit Ratanakulserirengrit (Photo from Banrasdr Facebook page)

The police said they were not aware of the removal of the memorial plaque while Fine Arts Department Director-General Anan Chuchote also said his Department is not responsible for the removal, adding that it is not the job of the Department to take care of the plaque in any case.

The old plaque, located close to the Equestrian Statue of King Rama V, was installed by the first political party of the nation, the People’s Party (Khana Ratsadon), which staged a bloodless coup d’état on 24 June 1932, which ended 150 years of absolutist rule of the Chakri Dynasty.

The message written on the old plaque reads “At this place, at the dawn of 24 June 1932, we the People’s Party have given birth to the Constitution for the progress of the nation.”

It was replaced with another plaque with the message “May Siam prosper forever [with] happy fresh-faced citizens to be the force of the nation.” and around the rim “Respect and loyalty to the Buddhist Triple Gems, to one’s family clan, and being honest towards one’s King are tools for making the state prosper.”

Many pro-democracy Thais regard the old plaque as a symbol of the birth of democracy in Thailand and have gathered around the plaque to commemorate the 1932 Revolution, while ultra-royalist Thais have threatened on many occasions to destroy it.

Thepmontri Limpaphayorm, a conservative Thai historian, on 31 October 2016, posted a message on Facebook, asking for the owner of the plaque, adding that he and his friends would dig it out if no one claims it by 30 December 2016.

The brass plaque commemorating the 1932 Revolution

The happy fresh-faced citizens memorial which replaces the 1932 Revolution plaque

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