In recent weeks, thousands of Thai youth have defied COVID-19 restrictions by gathering to protest against the country’s government. The demonstrations are politically motivated but have been fuelled by bleak economic prospects. Due to the impact of the coronavirus on the tourism industry, the Thai economy is expected to shrink by more than 8% this year.
Although similar anti-government demonstrations have occurred more often in recent years, the current movement also occasionally (indirectly) questioned the authority of the King. The monarchy is generally considered to be ‘untouchable’ in Thailand and insulting the King is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Similar references would have been unthinkable in previous years.