Thai protesters stage ‘people's runway’ in downtown Bangkok against princess’ fashion brand

Thai protesters stage ‘people's runway’ in downtown Bangkok against princess’ fashion brand

Thailand fashion runway protest
Protesters gather on Silom Road in Bangkok on Oct 29, 2020. The protest adopts the theme of “People’s Runway” and coincides with the fashion show organised by Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana for her brand’s new collection. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

BANGKOK: Protesters gathered in Bangkok’s business district of Silom on Thursday (Oct 29) to voice their opposition against a royal fashion brand belonging to King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s daughter, Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana.

The princess’ fashion brand Sirivannavari was scheduled to showcase its autumn/winter 2020-2021 collection at 8pm on the same day in the “French Flair Runway” show at Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok.

Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana
Thailand's Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. (Photo: Sirivannavari website)

The protest on Thursday adopted the theme of “People’s Runway” and took place on Silom Road, starting from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. It is a satire on the princess’ fashion business.

As night fell, protestors spoke out against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's government and repeated their calls for monarchy reform, with some expressing their dissatisfaction through performances.

People's Runway - dancers
Protesters were in a dancing mood on Silom Road in Bangkok on Oct 29, 2020, but their serious calls for reform remained the same. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

Ahead of the rally, organisers had announced the gathering plan on social media. They also cited an earlier local media report which allegedly detailed Thailand’s national budget Bill for 2020 and allocations worth more than 29 billion baht (US$929 million) set aside for the monarchy. 

These included a budget of 13 million baht for the Department of International Trade Promotion to exhibit products of the Sirivannavari brand in foreign countries.

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The protest on Thursday marked another challenge to Thailand’s monarchy, which is protected by the strict lese majeste law. The law punishes whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent with imprisonment of three to 15 years.

People's Runway 13 million
A mock runway on Silom Road in Bangkok on Oct 29, 2020, with a sign saying: "Commerce Ministry’s 13-million budget supports the business of Sirivannavari". The sign refers to a local media report on the 2020 national budget bill and the 13 million baht allocation to promote Princess Sirivannavari’s fashion brand. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

On Monday, protesters marched to the German embassy in Bangkok to submit letters for the German government, asking them to investigate whether King Maha has exercised political power during his extended stays in Bavaria.

Protesters also demanded clarification from Germany on whether the King is required to pay inheritance tax as stipulated by German law, after inheriting a fortune from his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters the government was following developments in Thailand and that it was aware of the demonstrations.

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The demonstration on Thursday is part of Thailand’s youth-led movement, which has been protesting against Prayut's government for months. They are calling for an end to his rule, charter amendment and reform of the monarchy.

Prayut staged a coup in 2014 to topple a democratically government of Yingluck Shinawatra and controlled Thailand for five years, before an election in 2019 installed his political party to government.

People's Runway - Protest Salute
A poster displayed on Silom Road as part of the "People's Runway" protest in Bangkok on Oct 29, 2020. It depicts a three-finger salute - a symbol of defiance used in Thailand’s youth-led protests - locked up in a golden cage. The Thai constitution sits beneath a throne on top of the cage. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

On Tuesday, the prime minister dismissed calls from opposition parties to resign at a parliament session he had called to discuss months of protests. 

This came after he addressed the nation last week and called for a parliamentary solution to the ongoing rift in society.

“The protestors have made their voices and views heard. It is now time for them to let their views be reconciled with the views of other segments of Thai society through their representatives in parliament,” Prayut said.

“Let us respect the law and parliamentary democracy, and let our views be presented through our representatives in parliament.”

Source: CNA/hs(aw)

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