Thailand heading for Tiananmen Square or Berlin Wall moment

4 November 2020

Now with the King's unprecedented public interview with a foreign journalist, we are seeing real signs that momentous political change might be in the offing.

Thailand appears to be heading towards either a Tiananmen Square-type bloody putdown or a rapid political shift like the collapse of the Berlin Wall, according to Southeast Asian security expert Dr Greg Raymond.

"Now with the King's unprecedented public interview with a foreign journalist, we are seeing real signs that momentous political change might be in the offing," Dr Raymond, from the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn has declared that "Thailand is the land of compromise", as a high-level committee for reconciliation is being convened.

The committee may include up to three former Thai ministers, as well parliamentarians from all parties, Dr Raymond said.

"The composition of the committee has not been finalised, but may include activists," he said. 

"Extraordinarily, there is still discussion of arranging a 'safe place' for discussing monarchical reform, although this remains highly contentious.

"At the same time, several leading activists such as lawyer Anon Nampha, who first read the list of 10 demands for monarchical reform in August, has been released along with other activists."

"What we are seeing could also be a government and palace exercise in tactics to try to relieve pressure without any real preparedness to accept change." 

The situation in Thailand remains tense and uncertain, Dr Raymond said. 

"This inevitably includes the possibility of another military coup, although the consensus amongst many observers is that this would achieve little for conservatives in the current climate," he said.

"What is more certain is that Thai politics remains extremely fluid, with unprecedented events occurring on an almost daily basis."