Army keeps eye on Thammasat University ceremony

Army keeps eye on Thammasat University ceremony

King awards degrees amid security boost

His Majesty the King, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen, bestows diplomas to university graduates at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus on the first day of the graduation ceremony on Friday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
His Majesty the King, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen, bestows diplomas to university graduates at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus on the first day of the graduation ceremony on Friday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Military personnel have been brought in to provide security at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus in Bangkok while His Majesty the King presides over a two-day graduation ceremony which ends on Saturday.

The move came after a Facebook page named "Thammasat Graduates of the People" on Thursday posted: "Let's play a game. First hint: Big Surprise. At 5pm on Oct 31, meet a big surprise together!". The page has been posting about its "big surprise" since Tuesday using the #willnotreceive degrees and #graduatesofpeople hashtags, according to security sources.

Security agencies have been keeping a close watch on the matter, the source told the Bangkok Post, adding that soldiers have been brought in from several army units to bolster security during the graduation ceremony.

According to Thammasat, about 51% of the university's graduates have registered to receive degrees from His Majesty the King -- a similar proportion to most years.

According to Isranews, there are 7,756 graduates eligible for the ceremony this year while 3,763 of them (48.52%) joined the rehearsal for the ceremony.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday warned against any attempts to offend the monarch as His Majesty the King continues to personally hand out degrees to graduates, following in the footsteps of his father His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great who did so for several decades.

Meanwhile, a police source said that Phaya Thai police have summoned Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Progressive Movement, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of the group and Pannika Wanich, the group's spokeswoman, to report to police on Nov 5 to hear sedition charges under Section 116 of the Criminal Code.

Investigators have found evidence that the three were allegedly involved in efforts to persuade people via social media to join an anti-government rally at Victory Monument on Oct 21, the source said, adding that police were also preparing to summon 22 other protesters at the rally.

Shortly after, Mr Piyabutr took to Facebook to announce he will go to Phaya Thai police station as summoned and pose officers the question: "We all studied the same law book on the Criminal Code, but when becoming police, why choose to forget it all?"

In another development, the Criminal Court dismissed a police request for the further detention of protest leaders Panupong "Mike" Jadnok, Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul and Patiwat Saraiyaem, aka Molam Bank.

However, as of press time, only Molam Bank had been freed from Bangkok Remand Prison as police rearrested the other three over other charges they were facing.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal on Friday denied bail for anti-government protest leader Arnon Nampa, who is charged with sedition over the rally at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus and at Sanam Luang on Sept 19-20.

The court's decision was read out at the Criminal Court on Wednesday, according to Thai media reports, but not made public until Friday.

On Oct 27, Chana Songkhram police took Mr Arnon, 37, to the Criminal Court and obtained permission to detain him.

The Court of Appeal denied bail on the grounds the alleged offences could lead to damage or disruption with a wider impact. In taking to the rally stage, the accused had persuaded people to destroy state property without respect for the law.

The court also took into consideration police investigators' opposition to the suspect's release as he also faced similar charges filed by other police stations.

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