A little late to post this article, but a piece I wrote for Thai Enquirer last week:
Often we do not know that we are living through historical turning points but it is unmistakable for someone living in Thailand in 2020.
Amidst all that is not well with the Thai body politic — besieged by a pandemic, livelihoods being taken down with a cratering economy — the current protests underscore that we are living through a critical juncture.
Taboos once unbreakable are being broken on a daily basis. Old certainties no longer hold true.
A few weeks ago one could have debated the strategic wisdom of the protestors and encouraged a change in direction but that point is now moot. After the protest on September 19th, Thailand has clearly and irrevocably crossed the Rubicon.
One of the heads of this movement is Anon Nampha, a protest leader who has dared to say the unsayable in Thailand. But Anon, as fiery as he is, is also a lawyer, and he still dares not challenge one constant: professed loyalty to the monarchy. Ultimately, he claims, his movement seeks to ensure that the monarchy will remain secure in its position as an object of reverence for the Thai people.
Most royalists scoff at the notion, seeing it as merely an empty claim. Indeed, they have reason to be uncomfortable with the movement he leads. Nobody likes seeing their cherished norms be torn apart. They can question law-breaking. They can — and I certainly have — question the unnecessarily divisive images and rhetoric used.
But while they can dismiss the messenger and his message, they cannot ignore the turbulent times that have brought him to the forefront of history.