Prayut asks legal team to look into 'RT' movement

Prayut asks legal team to look into 'RT' movement

The symbol of
The symbol of "Restart Thailand", a new movement launched on Sunday by Free Youth. (Photo from Free Youth Facebook page)

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has reacted cautiously to Free Youth’s launch of a new movement, which uses what looks like the hammer and sickle associated with Communism as its symbol.

The prime minister said he would ask his legal team to determine whether the RT campaign, short for “Restart Thailand” according to Free Youth, has an illegal agenda.

The government must suppress and stop the movement from going to “that point” by taking into account the intent of the organisers and all possibilities, he said.

He added that anyone who acts in a seditious manner would be prosecuted to the full extent of existing laws.

Responding to speculation by some sides that the idea of a republic is being pushed, Gen Prayut said: “Thailand is not a republic. It’s impossible.”

Free Youth teased the idea of a new “R” early on Saturday by outlining possible options for the Thai state of the future: “Remove, Reform, Repair or Re…”

It was followed by a post in the afternoon about “a state where the people reign supreme” and described what a republic was.

“A republic is a popular form of government all over the world. It focuses on decentralisation. A ruler must come from a free and fair election, not through the bloodline. There is no blue blood or blood of any other colour but ‘red’.”  

It ended with a quote by Thomas Paine: “Since all men are born equal, no man could have the right to establish his family as forever presiding over others”.

On Sunday, it launched RT, which it described as a “single-agenda movement”.

Its logo features the stylised letters RT, in white on a red background, resembling a hammer and sickle long associated with the Communist movements that originated in Russia more than a century ago.

“This is a new movement with none of the same to awaken awareness of all oppressed labourers. Whether you are a student, an office employee, a housemaid, a security guard, farmers civil servants, we are all the oppressed labourers,” it declared.

It defined the characteristics of the new movement as without “leaders, stages, guards, toilet buses, negotiations and bargaining”. It urged people to join “Restart Thailand” to create a society where “men are equal”.

Free Youth, a core faction in the protest movement in Thailand in recent months, originally had three agendas: resignation of PM Prayut, a rewrite of the new constitution and reform of the monarchy.

But after seven months of rallies, none of its demands has been met. Gen Prayut has insisted he would remain in office. Parliament rejected a constitutional amendment bill championed by the demonstrators. And there has been no response from the palace on their 10-point manifesto on monarchy reform.

Observers have noted its achievement so far has been more awareness of certain issues among the public, some of which have entered mainstream conversations for the first time in decades. TV debates between key supporters and opponents on each of its demands have drawn millions of viewers.

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