People's Democratic Reform Committee

The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) or People's Committee for Absolute Democracy with the King as Head of State (PCAD)[note 1] was a reactionary[citation needed] umbrella political pressure group in Thailand.[9] Its aim was to remove the influence of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra from Thai politics by deposing the incumbent Pheu Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra and creating an unelected "People's Council" to oversee political reforms.[10][11] The group played a key role in the 2013–14 Thai political crisis and the lead up to the 2014 Thai coup d'état, organising large-scale protests within Bangkok and disrupting voting in the 2014 Thai general election in order to prevent a predicted victory by Pheu Thai.

People's Democratic Reform Committee
คณะกรรมการประชาชนเพื่อการเปลี่ยนแปลงประเทศไทยให้เป็นประชาธิปไตยที่สมบูรณ์ อันมีพระมหากษัตริย์ทรงเป็นประมุข
AbbreviationPDRC; กปปส.
Formation31 October 2013 (2013-10-31)
29 November 2013 (2013-11-29) (formed officially)[1]
Dissolved22 May 2014 (2014-05-22)
Legal statusDefunct[2]
PurposeRemoval of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's influence on Thai politics
Political reform (before election)
Location
Region served
Thailand
Membership
  • Former members of the Democrat Party[3]
  • Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NPRST)[4]
  • The PAD rebranded as the "People's Movement to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime" (PMOTR)[5]
  • Dharma Army [6]
Secretary-General
Suthep Thaugsuban
Budget
>10 million Thai Baht daily (January 2014 estimate)[7]

The group was formed on 29 November 2013 by Suthep Thaugsuban, who resigned from his post as Democrat Party secretary-general and MP, and appointed himself as PDRC secretary-general.[11] Although much of the movement's message revolved around anti-politics,[12] the PDRC was a diverse coalition united by little more than opposition to the government of Yingluck Shinawatra;[13] it was made up of members of the opposition Democrat Party, the People's Alliance for Democracy (a coalition opposed to Thaksin known as "Yellow Shirts"), student activist groups, state workers' unions and pro-military groups.[5] The PDRC's support stemmed mostly from affluent Bangkokians and Southerners.[14] Whistle-blowing was a central symbol of the protests.[15]

By accusing the government of lacking legitimacy, Suthep Thaugsuban announced the intention of the People's Democratic Reform Committee to take back power from the government and proceed with national reform through a non-elected royalist council, in order to "eradicate" the "Thaksin regime".[16][17] Suthep outlined plans for the council to "act as a legislative body, amend laws and regulations, as well as carry out a reform plan in the country".[18] He also explained the council would have 400 members, 300 of whom would be representatives from various professions. The remaining 100 would be selected by the PDRC from scholars and well-respected senior citizens.[19][20]

The ultimate goal of the PDRC was to have the prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra resign as the head of the caretaker government[21] in order to create a power vacuum,[22] then invoke articles 3[note 2] and article 7[note 3] of the 2007 Constitution.[23] This would have allowed the head of the senate to appoint a new premier. Yingluck and nine other senior ministers were removed from office by Constitutional Court on 7 May 2014. The military then seized power in a coup d'état on 22 May, a move which was applauded by many PDRC protesters.[24] The PDRC was disbanded shortly after the coup.[2]

Formation and role in 2013-14 political crisis edit

Thai politics has been characterized since the 1950s by periodic shows of popular force; mass Yellow Shirt protests immediately preceded the 2006 coup, and a pro-Thaksin Red Shirt rally that engulfed central Bangkok in 2010 was violently crushed with more than 80 civilians killed and around 2,000 injured.[13]

After three consecutive election victories for various Thaksin-backed political parties, the newly formed People's Democratic Reform Committee, a coalition of Yellow Shirt groups fiercely opposed to the ruling Pheu Thai party, decided to begin street protests in Bangkok.[25] The direct precursor of the protests was a proposed amnesty bill which aimed to reconcile differences between supporters and opponents of Thaksin; it would have pardoned Thai politicians from various crimes since the 2006 coup, including murder charges against Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban, politicians opposed to Thaksin, for their role in the 2010 crackdown.[26] PDRC protesters accused the proposed bill of being a backdoor attempt to allow Thaksin Shinawatra to return home from self-imposed exile without facing a corruption conviction.[27] After opposition from both the Democrat Party and parts of the pro-government Red Shirt movement, the bill was rejected unanimously by the Senate of Thailand on 11 November.[28] On 20 November the Constitutional Court also ruled that a government-proposed amendment to the 2007 constitution that would have made the Senate a fully elected body was invalid.[29][30]

PDRC protests in Bangkok continued, disrupting economic life and government functioning with a series of rallies at 11 key sites across the city. The protests reached their height in mid-January 2014, at which point they involved nearly 500,000 people. By late-April they had declined significantly and involved no more than several thousand protestors.[13]

Prime Minister Yingluck dissolved the Thai parliament following the recommencement of protests and announced a new election in accordance with the Thai constitution. The constitution stated that elections must be held 45 to 60 days from the date that parliament is dissolved. The PDRC opposed the election announcement and stated that it would boycott the process. The election was held on 2 February and the PDRC disrupted polling in parts of Bangkok and southern Thailand, causing the result to be annulled by the Thai courts.[13]

Despite attempts by the private sector,[31] military[32] and caretaker government[33] to find a solution to the crisis, PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban said he would not negotiate with the government, the military or any other mediator, but would fight until the PDRC achieved its goal of having a royally-appointed people council conduct reforms before any election to eradicate the "Thaksin regime".[34][35] Yingluck Shinawatra continued as caretaker prime minister for three months after the annulled election until she was controversially removed from office by the Constitutional Court on 7 May over the transfer of a senior security officer in 2011. The military then launched a coup later in May.[13] In 2021, political scientists Duncan McCargo and Naruemon Thabchumpon wrote that the PDRC "bears a significant degree of responsibility for the fact that Thailand remains under a hybrid form of military rule today."[13]

Organizations aligned with the PDRC edit

Leaders edit

  • Suthep Thaugsuban, Secretary-general of PDRC; former Democrat Party secretary-general, former MP from Surat Thani, former deputy prime minister (2008–2011)
  • Akanat Promphan, former Democrat Party MP for Bangkok[49]
  • Chumpol Julasai, former Democrat Party MP for Chumphon[50]
  • Issara Somchai, former Democrat Party MP for Ubon Ratchathani, former minister of social development and human security[51]
  • Nataphol Teepsuwan, former Democrat Party MP for Bangkok[50]
  • Puttipong Punnakanta, former Democrat Party MP for Bangkok, former deputy governor of bangkok[50]
  • Sathit Wongnongtoey, former Democrat Party MP for Trang, former minister to the office of the Prime Minister (2008–11)
  • Thaworn Senniam,[52][53] former Democrat Party MP for Songkhla, former deputy interior minister
  • Witthaya Kaewparadai,[54][55] former deputy chairman of the Democrat Party, former minister of public health (2008–09)

Major allies edit

Many Thai artists, actors, singers and celebrities expressed support for the PDRC, including Yong Lookyee, Jetrin Wattanasin, Jirayut Wattanasin, Pongpat Wachirabunjong, Sinjai Plengpanich, Chatchai Plengpanich, Sattawat "Tae" Sethakorn,[76] Pongsak "Aof" Rattanapong, Pakin "Tono" Khamwilaisak, Pattaratida "Tangmo" Patcharaveerapong,[77] Thep Po-ngam, Rang Rockestra, Caravan, Chintara Sukapatana,[78] Jarunee Suksawat,[79] Sarawit "Mor Kong" Subun,[80] Atom Samphanthapab,[81] Sakchai Guy, Pornthip Rojanasunand, Krisana Kraisintu, Kamron Pramoj na Ayudhya, Achita Pramoj na Ayudhya, Nussaba Punnakanta, ML Piyapas Bhirombhakdi, the Chirathivat family, Chai Rachwat, Kanok Ratwongsakul, Teera Tanyapaibul, Suthipong Thamawuit, Santisuk Promsiri, Rattanaballang Tohssawat, Lalita "Mew" Panyopas, Kijmanoch "Kru Lilly" Rojanasupya,[82] Treechada "Nong Poy" Petcharat.[82]

Notes edit

  1. ^ Full title: Thai: คณะกรรมการประชาชนเพื่อการเปลี่ยนแปลงประเทศไทยให้เป็นประชาธิปไตยที่สมบูรณ์ อันมีพระมหากษัตริย์ทรงเป็นประมุข, lit.'people's committee for changing Thailand into a complete democracy with the king as head of state'[8]
  2. ^ "The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution."
  3. ^ "Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional convention in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State."

References edit

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