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

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 is 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.

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)

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.

Ahead of the rally, organisers 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.

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

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.

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.

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

The demonstration on Thursday is part of Thailand’s youth-led movement, which has been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha 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.

Pro-democracy demonstrators flash a three-finger salute of defiance during a protest rally in the Silom business district of Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. The protesters continue to gather Thursday with their three main demands of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s resignation, changes to a constitution that was drafted under military rule and reforms to the constitutional monarchy. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Pro-democracy protesters perform on a mock “red carpet” fashion show billed as a sort of counterpoint to a fashion show being held by one of the monarchy’s princesses nearby in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. The protesters continued to gather Thursday, led by their three main demands of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s resignation, changes to a constitution that was drafted under military rule and reforms to the constitutional monarchy. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Protesters perform on a mock fashion “red carpet” while taking part in a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. The protesters continue to gather Thursday, led by their three main demands of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s resignation, changes to a constitution that was drafted under military rule and reforms to the constitutional monarchy. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Pro-democracy demonstrators flash a three-finger salute of defiance during a protest rally in the Silom business district of Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. The protesters continue to gather Thursday with their three main demands of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s resignation, changes to a constitution that was drafted under military rule and reforms to the constitutional monarchy. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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.”

By : Pichayada Promchertchoo – CNA

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