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Thai PM: Protesters ‘Went Too Far’ Seeking ‘Monarchical Reform’

Pro-democracy students hold posters of a missing Thai activist during a protest at the Thammasat University in Pathum Thani, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Aug, 10, 2020.

Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chanocha, said Tuesday that protesters “went too far” after they called for a 10-point plan for monarchical reform. The Thai monarchy is often viewed as a sacred entity in the country.

About 3,000 to 4,000 protesters, mostly students, stood Monday night in Thammasat University outside Bangkok, chanting, “Long live democracy.”

Some gave speeches, many advocating for Prayuth’s resignation. He became prime minister through a 2014 military coup, and many see him as a symbol of the military domination of politics in Thailand.

Protesters from the Thammasat University Pro-Democracy group are calling for a 10-point plan to reform the monarchy.

The plan includes the removal of a 2019 order transferring two army units to the king’s personal command, as well as a 2017 law giving him full control of the monarchy’s property.

Thailand has “lese-majeste” laws, however, that make insulting or defaming the king illegal. Breaking these laws can be punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

In a statement to reporters, Prayuth said he is very concerned about the protests. “There are a lot of people in trouble waiting for their problems to get fixed, just not the young people. So, is doing all of this appropriate?” he asked.

“It really went too far,” he added.

Protesters were warned by Prayuth about insulting the monarchy in June. King Maha Vajiralongkorn told Prayuth not to arrest anyone, though, for breaking the “lese-majeste” laws.

Thammasat University published a public statement apologizing for Monday’s protests. The statement said legal action would be taken, because “some references to the monarchy” can “impact people’s feelings.”