Lesson : Thai Royal Family Reform


Anti-establishment demonstrations continue in Thailand. Young people demand royal family reform, which has been taboo in Thailand. "Thai-style democracy", which is based on a parliamentary democracy where the king is a figurehead, is being questioned by young people who seek change. For the Prayut regime, which has been run by the military government that has relied on the king's authority, it is difficult to accept this reform movement.  Avoiding prolonged demonstrations will prove to be unlikely.  [Kana Takagi, Bangkok]

A diplomatic relations official said that "It was hard to believe how young people criticized the royal family without hesitation."

"The huge national budget that should be spent on the development of the country is devoted to the king's propaganda." On November 25th, in front of the Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) head office in Bangkok, young people went up to the stage at an anti-establishment demonstration and one after another criticized King Maha Vajiralongkorn (68).

The king is the largest shareholder of SCB. The Royal Property Administration, which controls and manages royal assets, owned shares of stock in SCB.  But in 2018, the stocks' shareholder name was changed to the King. The protesters also pointed out the king's accumulation of huge assets, and called for royal reforms.

Under the Thai Constitution the king is sacred and inviolable.  The constitution also stipulates that he is the commander of the armed forces and a defender of Buddhism. Portraits of the king and former King Bhumibol, who died in 2016, are displayed everywhere, and songs praising the king are played at event venues and movie theaters. Insulting the king (lese majeste) calls for a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.  It was taboo to even talk about topics that could lead to criticism of the royal family.

For that reason, a diplomatic relations official was surprised, "I couldn't believe how young people were openly criticizing the royal family. I thought Thailand was definitely at a turning point."

The anti-establishment demonstration began mainly among university students in February when the Constitutional Court issued an order to dismiss the opposition party, the New Future Party, which made a breakthrough in the general election in 2019. Initially, they called for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut and a constitutional amendment, but it was in August that "royal reform" was openly called for.

Vocabulary Flash Card Drill

anti-establishment     (はん)体制(たいせい)
  • A great anti-establishment movement began in the USA in the 60's, often referred to as the "counterculture".  
  • 大きな反体制運動は60年代にアメリカで始まり、しばしば「カウンターカルチャー」と呼ばれていました。
demonstration     デモ
  • The Black Lives Matter demonstration lasted all weekend.  
  • ブラック・ライヴズ・マターのデモは週末中続きました。
reform     改革(かいかく)
  • The students demanded a long list of school reforms, including healthier lunches.  
  • 生徒たちは、より健康的な昼食を含む、学校改革の長いリストを要求しました。
taboo     タブーの
  • The gourmet chef considers any dish made from canned goods to be taboo.  
  • グルメシェフは、缶詰から作られた料理はタブーだと考えています。
propaganda     プロパガンダ
  • The government spent a lot of money producing propaganda last year.  
  • 政府は昨年、プロパガンダの制作に多額の資金を費やしました。
criticism     批判(ひはん)
  • The criticism the king received for his behavior was incredible.  
  • 王が彼の行動に対して受けた批判は信じられないほどでした。
breakthrough     突破(とっぱ)
  • There was a breakthrough in negotiations between the corporation and the union last night.  
  • 昨夜、企業と組合の間の交渉に突破口があった。
resignation     退陣(たいじん)
  • He handed in his resignation today after the scandal was exposed by the newspapers.  
  • スキャンダルが新聞に取り上げられた後、彼は今日辞表を出しました。
constitution     憲法(けんぽう)
  • One hundred years ago, an amendment was added to the constitution that provided voting rights for women.  
  • 100年前、女性に投票権を与えるという改正が憲法に追加されました。
diplomatic relations official     外交(がいこう)関係(かんけい)(しゃ)
  • Mr. Kato, a lifelong diplomatic relations official, was fired for reasons that are still secret.  
  • ずっと外交関係公務員の職についていた加藤氏は、まだ秘密にされている理由で解雇された。
royal family     王室(おうしつ)
  • The royal family will all attend Prince Harry's wedding in November.  
  • 王室は全員、11月のハリー王子の結婚式に出席します。
parliamentary democracy     議会制民主主義
  • Thailand's government, like England, is a parliamentary democracy.  
  • タイの政府は、イギリスのように、議会制民主主義です。
stipulate     (さだ)める
  • He stipulated that his employment contract last at least 5 years.  
  • 彼は彼の雇用契約は少なくとも5年続くと定めた。
prolonged     延長(えんちょう)された
  • The prolonged drought in the western US caused a lot of wildfires.  
  • 米国西部での長引く干ばつは、多くの山火事を引き起こしました。
accumulation     累積(るいせき)
  • The accumulation of wealth by the upper class has increased substantially over the last several decades.  
  • 上流階級による富の蓄積は、過去数十年にわたって大幅に増加しています。
inviolable     不可侵(ふかしん)
  • The king and the royal family are inviolable, so anyone who attacks them will be punished.  
  • 王と王室は不可侵であるため、彼らを攻撃した者は誰でも罰せられます。
turning point     転換(てんかん)(てん)
  • The turning point in the World Series was the home run by Babe Ruth in Game 5.  
  • ワールドシリーズの転換点は、5ゲーム目でベーブルースが本塁打を打ったことでした。