Protests in Thailand against the military government headed by Prayut Chan-ocha, who is backed by King Rama X, have been persisting for several months. It was not until lately that the Thai government intensified its suppressive powers by arresting many protesters, including youngsters, students, monks and people from all walks of life, and exercising excessively coercive police force, including water cannons. After all, many features of this Thai pro-democracy movement are similar to those of the Hong Kong anti-extradition pro-democracy movement throughout the past year.
There are common objectives of both Thai and Hong Kong protesters: to get rid of the existing corrupt authoritarian leadership and, more fundamentally, the existing non-democratic repressive system, as well as to fight for freedom, human rights, rule of law, transparency, justice, autonomy and real democracy. In other words, these fundamental and universal values, which need to be internalized and rooted in each unique culture, have been similarly embraced by protesters of the two places. In Thailand, a 22-year old student Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, nicknamed Rung, started to question why people should always obey the king when she was only 10 years old. In August, she proclaimed ten demands to reform the imperial system, including repealing the libel laws that protect the king and increasing transparency of the imperial wealth, while she fully understood that such a proclamation would have consequences against her. Protesters on the streets of Bangkok, inspired by Hunger Games, put up three fingers to ask for systematic reform or the king’s abdication. In Hong Kong, the situation is quite similar. There have been so many fearless youngsters and students, not only Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, openly questioning why people should always obey the Hong Kong government, which is not elected through universal suffrage and cannot represent them. Hong Kong people therefore have “five demands, not one less”. We put up five fingers on one hand and one finger on the other. We protested against the draconian extradition-to-China bill, ask for transparency to verify police unlawful acts by means of independent investigation, and have been fighting fearlessly for freedom, justice, autonomy and democracy. All these values are now commonly shared in the civil societies of the two places, which are widely known as part of the Milk Tea Alliance. This name comes from the fact that virtually all Indo-Pacific countries and cities have milk tea as one of our favorite drinks, while China does not. As of today, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand are the three core countries of the Milk Tea Alliance.
The tactics adopted by Thai and Hong Kong protesters are also similar. Overall, they are both peaceful resistances without looting and unbearable violence. Thai protesters also follow the no-leadership model having been adopted by Hong Kong protesters, so as to minimize the chance of head-hunting crackdown and maximize the chance of survival of different walks of protests in a movement. Besides, protesters in Bangkok lined up in the streets before the police-protesters clash spots and effectively passed along resistance materials from back-end to frontline. This feature is very similar to what was done by many street activists in Hong Kong protests in the past year. Umbrellas, helmets and goggles were deployed. Doubtless to say, Thai protesters have been learning from Hong Kong protesters in terms of both our spirit and our tactics. After self-reflections, they have even upgraded themselves to a higher level and have managed to exercise resistance tactics more effectively, wisely and accurately.
The countermeasures adopted by Thai and Hong Kong police force are quite similar as well: forceful suppression and mass arrests. They both aim at creating intensifying deterrence effect against forthcoming waves of protests, so as to shut them down and put them out. Water cannons spraying blue chemicals were mobilized. Thai government, headed by Prayut, passed and extended an emergency order to prohibit any gathering of more than four people until mid-November. Hong Kong puppet government, headed by bloody Carrie, passed and extended an emergency order of a similar magnitude being dressed up with the excuse of fighting pandemic and protecting public health. Thai government called upon people to love their “country” and respect the “king”. China and its Hong Kong puppet government called upon people to love their “country” and respect the “central government”. After all, people in Thailand and Hong Kong are angry, but we certainly will not bend our knees. Mass arrests, disappearances and tortures might happen, but we certainly will not give up.
Hong Kong is actually the pioneer and the lighthouse enlightening all semi-democratic and non-democratic Indo-China countries to fight against tyranny and strive for freedom. Protesters and activists in Thailand and Hong Kong not only imitate and learn from each other, but also help each other. Back in April this year, a Thai movie star, Bright, was alleged to have humiliated China, causing afterwards online quarrels between Chinese people and Thai people. Actually Bright liked a tweet labelling Hong Kong as a country, and many Chinese users went crazy against him, while many Hong Kong and Taiwan users supported him. As trust and passion increased among protesters in Thailand and Hong Kong, since the controversial Hollywood movie Mulan was boycotted after the passing of the national security law applicable to Hong Kong, the hashtag “Milk Tea Alliance” has become prevalent in the virtual world. Cheering voices for each other and interactive awareness regarding the CCP tyranny are increasing.
This time, when Thai protesters took to the streets, at least one protester waved a black bauhinia flag representing a fallen Hong Kong. Besides, a 18-year old Bangkok university student, Phuthanawat Chaphuwong, wore the attire of a typical Hong Kong protester, including a yellow helmet and a filter mask, and said “Hong Kong people fight for democracy, so shall we”. This is amazing and touching. In Hong Kong, a respectful actor, Gregory Wong, who had been charged as a rioter, put up his three fingers outside the court of Hong Kong before the reporters, in order to indicate his support for Thai protesters. He said “we step forward together and voice out for each other”. Furthermore, Hong Kong famous activist Joshua Wong sent a tweet to support the Milk Tea Alliance and believed that such an alliance can help to commence a pan-Asian grass-root movement that has already taken place in Hong Kong and Thailand, so as to promote the awareness of standing with each other and fighting for freedom. His tweet interested a 20-year old university student in Bangkok, Napassorn Saengduean, who became interested in Hong Kong protests and therefore participated in a peaceful demonstration before the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok by putting Lennon Wall stickers all over her body on the national day of China.
From the macro perspective of U.S.-China or freedom-autocracy conflict, such developments are remarkably positive trends within the free world. Fight for freedom is not just an isolated project within one city or one country. It should be an action originating from one place and then gaining support from allies all around the world, especially those in neighboring countries. Although Hong Kong is gone, Hong Kong people are not. Our hearts are always with all people in the world fighting for freedom, justice, autonomy and democracy. These are not values only attributable to the western world. Our fight for autonomy, freedom, justice and democracy is universally intrinsic to human desires, regardless of race and nationality. The monarchy in Thailand, which is not a truly constitutional monarchy, will be taken down one day or another. Dictatorship in China, despite being called a democratically centralized system, will also be thrown away one day or another. I strongly believe that the rebirths of both Hong Kong and Thailand are certainly forthcoming. It is not a question of whether. It is just a question of when.
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