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Translation by Nicha Rakpanichmanee

“Today, we witnessed the destruction of constitutional principles, legal principles, in a way that is unforgivable by those in parliament,” said Nuthamon Kongcharoen, Dean of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Law, during a protest in Chiang Mai on July 19, 2023.

This is one of many demonstrations continuing across Thailand, in response to the Constitutional Court’s verdict on July 19, 2023 to suspend Pita Limjaroenrat from parliamentary duties. Pita is the leader of Move Forward Party, winner of the general election on May 14, 2023.

Voter turnout on May 14 was the largest in Thai history, with 75.22% of registered voters casting ballots. Move Forward Party assembled an eight-party coalition to select a Prime Minister, but fell short of the 376-vote majority needed from Parliament. On July 13, 2023, the eight-party coalition received 324 votes, with 182 votes against and 199 abstentions.

Thailand’s Constitutional Court cited the need to consider whether to disqualify Pita for holding shares in the now-defunct iTV Broadcasting Company. This verdict was released the same day that Parliament voted to prohibit any Prime Minister candidate from being nominated more than once, preventing Pita from being re-nominated during the current parliament’s term.

Nuthamon condemned the destruction of Thailand’s constitutional and legal principles. She said the country has come very far in the last 3 - 4 years. She noted that the student-led protests of 2020 spurred conversations about government reform that used to be taboo in Thai society, and called on Thai people to stand up for their rights.

Full text of Nuthamon's speech: 

"I am furious, as a former law student, as a law professor.

Today, we witnessed the destruction of constitutional principles, legal principles, in a way that is unforgivable by those in parliament.

The people of this country are hurting.

There is no need to mention any legal principles any longer. Our society has spoken about them so much already. Today, I'd like to ask everyone of you, the people of this country: Let's take back our voices, give back what you fucking stole from us.

To those who say time is on our side, time won't come to our side if we do nothing. I never though we'd be here today, as a person who exercised her vote. We've come a long way over the past 3 - 4 years. The Free Youth group, other groups of this new generation, they've already pushed the boundaries. There used to be many things that I didn't dare say out loud, that I didn't dare to even write on social media, but today, this new generation of young people have sacrificed a lot to rise and resist.

I want to ask everyone of you: why are we putting up with this fucked up society, with our voices being robbed, democratic principles being robbed, legal principles that don't fucking exist in parliament? 

Don't sit still. Rise up and demand your right and what you want. Hands of the clock are not going to turn back. They have to be moving forward."

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