The activist group Thaluwang (“Through the palace”) conducted a poll yesterday (8 February 2022) at Siam Paragon shopping mall on whether people think they face trouble from royal motorcades, but were obstructed by mall security and the police.
Mall security blocking the activists standing in front of the escalator
From 17.00 yesterday (8 February 2022), two activists stood in front of the shopping mall’s ground floor escalator holding a piece of paper saying “Do you think royal motorcades cause problems?” on which people could place a sticker to cast their vote. They later moved to the fountain courtyard connecting Siam Paragon with Siam Centre and the Siam BTS station, as well as to Sirivannavari Siam Paragon, the flagship store for the Sirivannavari brand, owned by the King’s youngest daughter, Princess Sirivannavari.
Ahead of their activity, Siam Paragon closed the doors on the fountain courtyard side. Mall personnel also stood in front of the activists, as well as making announcements that the mall is a private area and permission must be granted before any event can take place or the management will press charges. They also followed the activists while they were inside the mall, but despite the blockade, people continued to vote on the activists’ poll.
The activists standing at the fountain courtyard, their cardboard sign showing that everyone who participated in the poll said that they think royal motorcades cause problems.
After completing their activity inside the mall, the activists walked to nearby Sa Pathum Palace, Princess Sirindhorn’s residence, intending to deliver the result of the poll. They were blocked by police officers near the palace entrance. Plainclothes officers took hold of one of the activists from behind and tore the cardboard poll sign out of her hands. Nearby supporters later demanded that the officers apologize to the activist. The activists ended their event by standing in front of the entrance to Sa Pathum Palace and giving the three-finger ‘Hunger Games’ salute.
Plainclothes police took hold of one of the activists (Photo by Ginger Cat)
Tawan, one of the activists, said that they wanted to raise questions about the problems caused by royal motorcades, such as during Princess Sirindhorn’s visit to Nakhon Sawan, prior to which police officers harassed local activists, while the Department of Livestock Development had to clear stray dogs from the area. Roads are also closed during a royal motorcade, wasting people’s time and causing loss of income.
Tawan said that the activity was successful, since they have already communicated that royal motorcades cause many problems for people, and hope that the relevant authorities will be working on solving the issues. She also said that the police’s attempt to block their poll shows that they are afraid and did not want these issues to be discussed.
The two activists flashing the three-finger salute in front of the entrance to Sa Prathum Palace (Photo by Ginger Cat)
Even before the beginning of the pro-democracy movement in 2020, Thai netizens had begun to voice their frustrations at road closures caused by passing royal motorcades. The hashtag #ขบวนเสด็จ or ‘Royal Motorcade,’ trended on Twitter in October 2019, after a motorcade caused a traffic jam around Victory Monument in Bangkok during the evening rush hour, even halting ambulances. The hashtag appeared again in January 2020, with many tweets expressing how their daily routines are affected by these motorcades.