Thailand Protests Grow Fiercer Against Military Ruler & World's Richest Billionaire Monarch
Mass protests in Thailand demanding the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former military ruler, have grown fiercer over the weekend despite days ago the government banning all political gatherings of five or more people. Thursday's anti-gathering order is part of a crackdown against the unrest and anger that's been on for months.
The protests have also increasingly been aimed Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, officially known as King Rama X, widely considered to the most wealthy monarch in the world, with estimates putting his fortune starting at $30 billion up to $43 billion.
It's highly risky to direct public criticism at the king, something rare in the country's politics, given harsh majeste laws on the books which can result in 15 years in prison for "insulting" the monarchy.
The Thai government declared a state of emergency starting Thursday after tens of thousands brought central Bangkok to a standstill this week, which included an incident where a royal motorcade seeking to pass was obstructed. Beyond the removal of the prime minister, protesters are demanding major reforms to the monarchy and a new constitution.
Clashes with police are expected to continue through the weekend given the emergency law enraged the public further as it banned any news or online content that “could create fear or intentionally distort information” by harming the country's reputation or hindering peace and order.
This includes content on social media or blogs - a harsh response akin to the situation that developed last year amid Hong Kong unrest leading to China's controversial national security law.