Thailand’s Senate has expressed their support for the kingdom’s controversial monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Senate President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai spoke on Thursday during a special meeting and stressed the need to “protect and uphold this noble institution.” The monarchy is absolutely “necessary” for Thailand, according to the politicians.
Vajiralongkorn, who is also called Rama X, has seen widespread protests across Thailand against his reign, the constitution and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets calling for reform of the monarchy, and some have torn down photos of the King and Queen and held up signs for a republic.
A couple of weeks ago, the government banned gatherings of five or more people to curb the protests, but it only made them grow. However, the Prime Minister lifted the state of emergency on Thursday and ban on gatherings.
Protests began in the capital but are no longer just in the capital of Bangkok. They have spread across the country with thousands taking to the streets to protest the junta government and monarchy in what is being seen as the biggest threat to the Thai monarchy in decades. Thailand has some of the strictest lèse-majesté laws in the world; those who insult, defame or threaten the monarch or Royal Family can face up to 15 years in prison.
Maha Vajiralongkorn has assumed more power since he took the throne four years ago when a new constitution gave the King more emergency powers. He has also personally taken control of military units and certain assets. The younger generation is not happy about this and demanding change and a curb on his power alongside a new constitution and the resignation of the junta government headed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The King primarily resides in Germany and is in Thailand with his wife, son and concubine for a brief visit.