A poster in a protest at Bangkok Governor Office states "Stop obsessing in power. Stop being slaves. Time for the people to clear things up."

Protests demand PM to go by 24 Aug after 8 years in office

Protests have been staged at at least 5 sites around BKK demanding that the PM step down by 24 August, arguing that he will have reached the constitutional limit on that date, while the issue has been submitted to the Constitutional Court.

Protesters at Democracy Monument set up a traditional cursing ritual.

At least 5 protests were held in Bangkok on 23 August, which the opposition Pheu Thai Party says is the last day for Gen Prayut to stay in power, citing provisions in Sections 158 and 264 of the Constitution that limit anyone holding the position of PM to no more than 8 years. 

Speculations loom large over question of whether PM’s tenure expires on 23 Aug

Gen Prayut, the coup maker, became PM on 24 August 2014, so his tenure in office will be eight years on 24 August 2022. 171 MPs submitted a petition to the Speaker of Parliament on 17 August, seeking a Constitutional Court ruling. As of 23 August, it was reported that the petition had been submitted to the Court.

Separated in action, united in demand

There were also reports that containers had been set up around Government House since the night ahead of the several protests. Many crowd control police units and water cannon trucks were spotted.

On the morning of 23 August, representatives of 15 labour unions and workers’ rights organisations staged a protest in front of Government House demanding that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha resign by 24 August.

A protester gives a speech as they approach the Government House.

The network also called for an increase in the minimum wage to 425 baht per day, according to the promise made by the Palang Pracharat Party during its 2019 election campaign.

They also called for the minimum wage to be raised to 492 baht per day by January 2023 due to the rising cost of living, and demanded that petrol prices be lowered by 6 baht per litre, and that the authorities lower the price of goods to reduce the cost of living. 

Protesters then burned an effigy of Gen Prayut on the street at Chamai Maruchet bridge, which is blocked by a row of shipping containers. The police also closed off the roads around Government House between 22 and 24 August. 

Another protest, organised by the activist networks Ramkhamhaeng Network for Democracy and South Move On took place at 10.00 at the Parliament Complex, when the activists submitted a petition calling for the Prime Minister to resign. 

Meanwhile, a public poll conducted by 8 universities and 8 media outlets found that 93.17% of participants think that Gen Prayut should not stay in office for more than 8 years.

Another small group of protesters gathered at the Victory Monument in the afternoon to demand that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha resign before 24 August. 

A group of protesters stage a street music performance at Victory Monument.

The two largest protests were held in the late afternoon at the Democracy Monument and the nearby Lan Khon Muang area in front of Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA). The first was organized by the Ratsadon group, small factions of the red shirts, and the political dissident youth group Thalugaz while the second was held by a People’s Coalition, a gathering of conservative yellow shirts and some red shirts.

People wait in line for food at BMA front yard protest. The poster states "Stop! 8-year Prayut."

While the protest at the BMA switched from a full band music show to speeches, the protesters at the Democracy Monument performed a traditional cursing ceremony and burned a photo of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. They later occupied a part of the street and vowed to remain there until midnight.

Mint, a traditional dancer performs a dance to bless the people while cursing Gen Prayut.

Suthila Luenkam from the Labour Network for People's Rights said that the past 8 years have shown that the Prayut government failed in its administration of the country, since the economy has declined and people were not able to access Covid-19 vaccines, while the minimum wage was not raised as promised by the Palang Pracharat Party during its 2019 election campaign. 

Suthila Luenkam

Meanwhile, workers in the gig economy, such as food delivery riders and freelancers, are still not protected under current laws and their working lives are precarious as they are only paid for each job. 

Suthila said that workers have faced more hardship in the last 8 years, as people are being laid off and the minimum wage is only 331 baht per day, so people cannot afford to live without working overtime. 

She said that the country can continue without Gen Prayut as Prime Minister, and that he should respect the rules.

"He can go wherever. He can go and live in Sri Lanka with his friend for all I care," Suthila said.

For activist and former Bangkok governor candidate Waranchai Chokechana, Article 264 of the Constitution considers ministers in office when the Constitution came into effect, so Gen Prayut's term in office cannot be counted as beginning in 2017 or 2019.

Waranchai Chokechana

He said that for Gen Prayut to stay in office destroyed the Constitution, democracy, and freedom, and that the Prime Minister uses the Senate for himself, made laws for his own benefit, and is imprisoning young people. 

Waranchai said that dictators who want to stay in power have to face the people's demand for their resignation, and he wanted to tell Gen Prayut that his time is up. He also called on the Constitutional Court not to make a ruling that goes against the people.

A splinter group left the Democracy Monument for Nang Loeng Intersection, on the way to the Government House, vowing to stay overnight amidst the police guarding the perimeter.

Protesters move out from Democracy Monument to Nang Loeng Intersection at 21.30.

Around 21.30, the protesters from Democracy Monument moved to Nang Loeng Intersection to join forces with those who went there ahead of them.

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”