Skytrain flashmob protests Constitutional Court ruling on PM’s term

A group of protesters rode the BTS Skytrain while wearing black on Sunday (9 October) in a flashmob-style protest against the Constitutional Court’s ruling to allow Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to stay on as Prime Minister.

Protesters riding the train, one of whom has a sticker saying #PrayutOut on his back.

Activist Sombat Boonngamanong returned on Sunday (9 October) with another flashmob-style protest in his “Black Sunday” campaign in opposition to the Constitutional Court's ruling to allow Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to stay in office as Prime Minister, despite the 8-year term limit imposed by the Constitution.

Sombat and other protesters dressed in black and rode the BTS Skytrain from the Siam station to the Mo Chit station and back, getting off the train and onto the next one at every station. Some protesters also carried protest signs and put stickers saying “#ไล่ประยุทธ์” (#PrayutOut) on their shirts.

This is the second event in Sombat’s campaign. Last Sunday (2 October), participants went to the Siam shopping district in central Bangkok and placed #PrayutOut stickers onto the metal sheeting around the area where the Scala Cinema used to be.

Sombat has also said that he will be organising an event every Sunday, but noted that they will not be blocking the streets and will stay on the footpath to avoid charges, after Thailand’s complainer-in-chief Srisuwan Janya said he will file a complaint against anyone who protests against the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

The campaign is among several protests which have taken place since the Constitutional Court ruled on 30 September that, despite the 8-year term limit for a Prime Minister imposed by the 2017 Constitution, Gen Prayut will be allowed to continue in office because his term should be counted as beginning from the date the Constitution came into effect.

Many participants in the Skytrain protest said they were dissatisfied with the justice system. Lek, 34, said that the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Prime Minister’s term has distorted the system, since those in power made the rule but refused to follow it and are only trying to find excuses to stay in power. Lek then asked the Court to “serve the people.”

Nont, 24, said he has been joining protests regularly and has free time so he decided to join Sunday’s event. He said that the justice system in Thailand is not just and called on the court to stay connected to the people.

“You have to take into consideration the things you have studied, that you have been taught to serve the people. You have the power to rule on things in this country. You should take into consideration the majority of people in this country who expect what should be, not serve someone’s power or some groups of people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sit, 60, said that he has been joining protests since Sombat ran his “Red Sunday” campaign in 2010 after the crackdown on Red Shirt protesters.

“Currently we are being lied to that this is democracy, so when there are activities like this again, it’s what I like” he said, and called on others who love democracy to join the protests.

Sombat Boonngamanong (second from right) with other protesters at the Victory Monument BTS station.

Before the protest ended, Sombat announced that he will be wearing black every Sunday until the Election Commission announces the date of the next general election. He hopes to use the campaign to slowly build momentum to demand Gen Prayut’s resignation and that people in other provinces or those who do not join the activities take action on their own.

“The format of wearing black every Sunday will evolve naturally. After some people join, people in other provinces or other countries will be able to design their own things, but at the beginning, it is absolutely necessary for some people to join the activity, giving up 1 – 2 hours of their time each week and take part in the activity,” he said.

Sombat said that he will announce the details of the next event on his Facebook profile page, but asked that participants still wear black. He said that large protests will follow activities of other kinds that draw people together, and organizing large protests is not an issue, but the current goal is to design activities people can participate in.

Whether the campaign will be successful or not, Sombat said that it has only just started, and that they still need to communicate that this is a political campaign and convince people that this is a valid way of pressuring the authorities.

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