Thailand could see street protests again if establishment forces continue to resist democratic change, said the leader of Future Forward, the nation’s most high-profile opposition party.
A flash point could come if the party is dissolved by judges next month, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said in a briefing late on Monday.
Future Forward and some of its officials face more than two dozen cases, stemming from the police, the attorney general, the Thai Constitutional Court and the Thai Election Commission, he said.
“The establishment are pushing people out,” he said in Bangkok. “They seem certain they could contain it and control it, but many think otherwise. I’m not convinced. I think this is a very dangerous gamble.”
Thanathorn, a critic of the royalist establishment’s grip on power, opposes military influence in the government of a country with a history of coups.
He was barred from the Thai National Assembly in a court ruling last month for breaching media shareholding rules, accusations he said were politically motivated.
Thanathorn said that he has no control over the timing of protests, adding that the “anger of the people is real” and that an anti-government rally expected next month — in the form of a run — would be a test of sentiment toward the ruling coalition.
Thailand held a disputed general election in March after almost five years of military rule.
A pro-military coalition led by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former junta leader, took office in July with a razor-thin majority.
A spokesman for the alliance’s biggest party, Palang Pracharath, yesterday said that he disagreed with Thanathorn’s comments.
“He should respect the justice system. Nobody knows how these legal cases will play out,” Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said. “The majority of people don’t want to see street protests again. They don’t want to see chaos and disruption in the country.”
Future Forward emerged as the third-largest party and became part of an opposition bloc that controls almost half of the assembly’s lower chamber.
The deeply divided legislature and the government’s slim majority have put the spotlight on political risk in Thailand, where officials are straining to revive a struggling economy.
The administration in October managed to get the annual budget bill through an initial vote, with more due next month.
Analysts remain split on whether the coalition will survive future tests.
Judges dissolved a party opposed to military rule in the run-up to the election.
The party, Thai Raksa Chart, was linked to exiled former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thanathorn said that he does not support violence, but added that tension is rising and that a “storm” might be coming.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative