The Advent of Democracy, just in Time for Christmas

It’s more than half a decade since the arrival of military intervention in Thai politics with its dictatorship being shoved down Thai people’s throats. Not many successful political gatherings have happened since then. But the one-hour flash mop on 14th December 2019 right here in the heart of Bangkok marks the dawn of a new period in Thai political history.

It was 16.30, half an hour earlier than the appointed time. A week-long wave of cold winter breeze had just swept past Bangkok, but not without the lingering of the chilling air. At least the weather was not going to be a problem. Hundreds of participants were already there and more still to come. I walked around to see and learn what a protest is like as this was my first time in a political gathering. I saw people holding signs expressing their anger toward the current government; some of them were shouting “Prayuth, get out”, “Democracy, flourish”; some of them taking photos as evidence of their hands in bringing Thailand back to the democratic path.

At first, I thought that with such a short notice from the Future Forward Party’s leader, Thanathorn Jungrungreangkit, not many people would turn out. However, I was so glad that my prediction was wrong. From a tweet I have seen this afternoon, a civil engineer roughly estimated the engagement number from the space of the skywalk to be in five figures. But just in my opinion alone, Thai people turned out enough to make an impact.

Although it has been reported so many times that the Future Forward Party mostly gains their popularity in a young demographic, it has come to my surprise to see that more than half of the participating protesters leaned toward the older side of the spectrum. I could say that many of the people there were veterans in political arenas. Not that I complain there were too few youngsters. There were quite a number of them there, and it was good to see so many fresh faces engaging in what concerned to be a great matter of the country.

I was able to make my way into the crowd enough to hear the party leaders’ speech but the view was blocked by cameras of many news agencies. The speech was led by Thanathorn, Piyabutr, Pannika, and Pita. This was the moment when the police tried to squeeze themselves inside to stop the leaders from continuing this protest. I was very proud to see the crowd push them back outside the circle, away from the people exercising their constitutional right.

Back to the speech, it was touching, as well as, inspiring. The essence of the speech orbited around the injustice of the judiciary, the government’s incompetent, and the military’s intrusion in civilian’s matters.

With such common democratic themes, the protest attracted not only Future Forward Party’s supporters but also many Pheu Thai Party’s advocates, many of whom were in red-shirt protest, who would like to join in a demonstration as an opportunity to make their stance on democracy publicly known. All the left-wing came together to show whom the country belongs to, expressively with the chant “Pra-Cha-Chon” (the people) led by Pannika.

The speech was about 30 minutes long. Then, the party leaders spread around the venue to meet the participants personally. This gave them a chance to show their support with words and by having a photo together. The public attention was not limited only to the party leady but also the celebrities in the gathering. John Winyu was one of the most surrounded stars in the event.

The meet and greet session took about half an hour before the leaders came together again to lead the singing of the Thai national anthem. At this point, I got goosebumps. The Thai national anthem was usually used as a tool to make young students in school be patriotic. It’s simply melodious propaganda. But now at the convention of democracy seekers, the anthem was used to show who the real ‘Thai’ are and where the priority should be placed, by the very people who are deemed by the right as “Chang-Chart” (Nation-Haters). The song, instead of being used to oppress individual identities, was a tool to liberate ourselves from the yoke of junta government.

With that very song, the event concluded. Participants were heading home, some in groups, some alone, knowing in our heart that we made our voices heard, that we declared our stance, and we would not bow to the oppressive regime again.

This was the most successful with the highest participants number since the coming of the National Security Council, and I was proud to be a part of it. I doubt that the wall separated us from democracy would soon be broken, but we at least made a little crack in it.

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