Pro-democracy demonstrations have continued in Bangkok amid reports that Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has flown to Germany.
King’s second home: On Monday, Vajiralongkorn arrived in Munich and booked an entire floor of the Hilton Munich Airport hotel for his entourage of 250 people and 30 royal poodles, reported South China Morning Post.
- An image of the 69-year-old king walking towards the hotel swimming pool emerged in the local newspaper Bild.
- He was purportedly accompanied by a young woman thought to be a security guard.
Unwelcome guest: Vajiralongkorn attracted controversy in Germany after he made a similar trip to the German state of Bavaria last year amid mounting protests against him.
- German politicians questioned the king’s prolonged stay in the state and expressed concern that he was conducting official duties from Germany.
- According to Reuters, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas told the German federal parliament: “We have made it clear that politics concerning Thailand should not be conducted from German soil. If there are guests in our country that conduct their state business from our soil we would always want to act to counteract that.”
- Many Thai citizens view the king’s display of his lavish lifestyle in poor taste given the country’s economic hardships throughout the pandemic.
Trip’s timing: The king’s latest trip coincided with a controversial verdict by Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday, which ruled that the pro-democracy protesters demanding monarchy reform violated a provision that bans any move to “overthrow” the royal institution, reported the Guardian.
- The court called for an end to the protests and deemed demonstrators’ demands as an “abuse of the rights and freedoms and [harmful to] the state’s security.”
- Social media erupted with the hashtags #subversion, #royalreform and #reformisnotsubversion, coinciding with posts and images of protesters calling for the abolition of the controversial lèse-majesté law, also known as Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code.
- Student organizations from 23 universities in the country also released a joint statement rejecting the verdict.
- Observers believe the verdict will negatively affect efforts to push for a parliamentary debate on Section 112, which allows jail time of up to 15 years for those convicted of insulting the monarchy.
- According to the organization Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, 154 of the 1,636 people charged in protest-related cases since last year are facing lèese-majesté charges.
Included among the pro-democracy protesters’ primary demands are a constitution drafted by representatives of the people, monarchy system reforms, and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government, as NextShark previously reported.
Featured Image via Channel 4 News