Thai police to deploy thousands for protest over King's powers

BANGKOK • Thai police will deploy nearly 6,000 officers today at the office that manages the royal fortune as the kingdom braces itself for a demonstration by protesters demanding that King Maha Vajiralongkorn give up personal control of the assets.

Police said yesterday that no protesters would be allowed within 150m of the Crown Property Bureau, where royalists have also said they plan to gather in defence of a monarchy that faces its biggest challenge in decades.

Mr Piya Tavichai, the deputy head of Bangkok police, said the two groups would be kept apart. "Depending on how protesters behave, we will take appropriate measures," he told a news conference.

More than 50 people were hurt last week when police used water cannon and tear gas against thousands of protesters at Parliament, in the most violent day of more than four months of rallies.

Protesters are seeking the removal of former junta leader and now Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and want a new Constitution, but have also broken taboos by demanding reforms to curb the powers of the King. One of the demonstrators' demands is the reversal of changes that gave the King personal control over a royal fortune valued in the tens of billions of dollars.

The Free Youth protest group said in a Twitter post that it would demonstrate today to "reclaim the property that is meant to belong to the people".

The Royal Palace has made no comment since the protests began, although the King had said the protesters were loved "all the same".

Mr Prayut has rejected the calls to resign.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2020, with the headline 'Thai police to deploy thousands for protest over King's powers'. Print Edition | Subscribe