Civil society calls for changing Thai National Day back to 24 June

Representatives from the People's Party for Freedom (PPF), the 24 June Democracy Movement and the Greater Rangsit Area Labour Union Group submitted a petition to the House of Representatives demanding that the government declare 24 June as Thai National Day and reserve 23-25 June for celebrations as previously designated by the People’s Party.

The right board sign says "24 June, the day of the nation. This country belongs to people"

On 24 June, the Greater Rangsit Area Labour Union Group representative Sriprai Nonsi and the People’s Party for Freedom representative Patchanee Kamnak submitted a petition to change the National Day back to 24 June to Dr Sukit Atthopakorn, advisor to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The submission took place at the same place and time as the 1932 Siamese Revolution commemoration event at the National Parliament held by the Committee Campaigning for a People’s Constitution (CCPC) in which separate demands called for a more democratic constitution.

24 June 1932 was the day of the Siamese Revolution that transformed Thailand from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Sriprai said there were three branches of government introduced, which led to many improvements to the nation in terms of local government, education, freedoms, rights  the economy and city planning.

The groups believe 24 June is a meaningful day for Thais as it was declared the Thai National Day on 18 July 1938 by Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena. 23-25 June were also designated for the National Day celebrations beginning in 1939.

The statement stated that the Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had diminished the significance of 24 June by removing the legacies of the People’s Party, which highlight the power that belongs to the people, such as the removal of the 1932 Revolution memorial plaque and the Constitution Defence Monument.

It stated that these actions symbolised the betrayal of the resolutions of the People’s Party and the destruction of the foundations of democracy.

“To express the value of democracy and the pride of the people in the nation,” the petition said, “even though at present Thailand has not become a true democratic nation as there have been 20 coups in the past 88 years.”

On 21 May 1960, the National Day was moved to 5 December to coincide with the late King Bhumibol’s birthday. The move was imposed under the military dictatorship of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat.

The Thai monarchy, constitutionally supposed to be a figurehead after the 1932 revolution, has gained increased political visibility since the 1947 coup dominated by the conservatives and royalists. The coup also marked the end of the People’s Party’s political influence. 

The coup, occurring in the global context of the Cold War, was followed by the restoration of the royal institution’s power by the revival of many royal traditions. In 1960, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat made Thai National Day the birthday of former King Rama IX which was later celebrated as Thai Father’s Day in 1980. In 1976, the Queen Sirikit’s birthday was made Thai Mother’s Day.