Opponents of Thailand’s military government expressed fears for the future of democracy yesterday after the mysterious removal of a plaque marking a 1932 revolution that ended absolute monarchy.
No group has claimed responsibility, but the disappearance of the hubcap-sized brass symbol has stirred anger in Thailand, where elections are promised but power is firmly in the hands of the ruling generals and King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
The junta said it had no idea who had removed the plaque, which had been embedded in concrete at a square in Bangkok’s leafy historic quarter. It is close to parliament, to a royal throne hall and to an army barracks.
The plaque went missing on Friday, police said, and was replaced by one celebrating the monarchy.
Veerachon Sukhonthapatipark, a government spokesman, said: “Why should we take responsibility? If that is the case should we take responsibility for everything that disappears in this country?”
The removal of the plaque occurred nearly three years after the army overthrew an elected government in the name of ending violent political turmoil it blamed on corrupt politicians in the Southeast Asian country.
“The plaque was a symbol of equality in Thailand,” said Thanawut Wichaidit, spokesman for the opposition United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship group.
“Past governments never thought about taking the plaque out but this government, with its extraordinary powers that are above the law, has allowed this to happen which begs the question of when and whether Thailand will truly return to democracy.”