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People's Democratic Reform Committee

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Covid-19
Abbreviation  PDRC; กปปส.
Location  Bangkok
Legal status  Defunct
Formation  29 October 2013 (2013-10-29)
Extinction  24 May 2014 (2014-05-24)
Purpose  Removal of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's influence on Thai politics Political reform (before election)

The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) or People's Committee for Absolute Democracy with the King as Head of State (PCAD) (Thai: คณะกรรมการประชาชนเพื่อการเปลี่ยนแปลงประเทศไทยให้เป็นประชาธิปไตยที่สมบูรณ์ อันมีพระมหากษัตริย์ทรงเป็นประมุข, กปปส., literally "people's committee for changing Thailand into a complete democracy with the king as head of state") was an umbrella political pressure group in Thailand, aimed at removing the influence of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra from Thai politics and achieve political reforms by an unelected 'People's Council'. The group played a leading role in the 2013–14 Thai political crisis, organising large-scale protests within Bangkok.

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The group was formed on 29 November 2013 by protest leader and former Democrat Party MP Suthep Thaugsuban, who appointed himself as secretary-general. The movement was supported by various organisations including the Democrat Party, the People's Alliance for Democracy (a coalition of opposition to Thaksin), student activist groups, state worker's unions and pro-military groups. The PDRC's support stemmed mostly from affluent Bangkokians and Southerners. Whistle-blowing was a central symbol of the protests.

By accusing the government of lacking any legitimacy, Suthep Thaugsuban announced the intention of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee to take back sovereign power from the government and proceed with national reform through a non-elected royalist council, in order to "eradicate" the "Thaksin regime". 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". 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.

The ultimate goal of the PDRC was to have the prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra resign as the head of the caretaker government in order to allow a power vacuum then invoke article 3 and article 7 of the 2007 Constitution. 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. The PDRC was disbanded shortly after the coup.

Formation and Role in 2013-14 Political Crisis

Thai politics has been characterized by shows of popular force; mass yellow-shirt protests immediately preceded the 2006 coup, and a red-shirt rally that engulfed central Bangkok in 2010 was violently crushed with more than 80 civilians killed and around 2,000 injured. 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 that loathe the ruling Pheu Thai party decide to take their fight to the streets of Bangkok. The object of their ire is a proposed amnesty bill aimed to reconcile differences between both groups that would have pardoned Thai politicians Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban over murder charges. However, protesters believe that it could be a backdoor attempt to allow Thaksin Shinawatra to return home after a self-imposed exile without facing a corruption conviction. 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.

On 20 November the Constitutional Court ruled that a government-proposed amendment to the 2007 constitution that would have made the Senate a fully elected body was invalid. 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 states that elections must be held 45 to 60 days from the date that parliament is dissolved. The People's Democratic Reform Committee opposed the election announcement and stated that it would boycott the process.

Despite the private sector, military and caretaker government attempt to find a solution to the crisis, The PDRC leader said he would not negotiate with the government or the military or any mediator but he would fight until the people achieve PDRC's goal to have a royally appointed people council to conduct reform before the election to eradicate the "Thaksin regime".

Organizations aligned with the PDRC

  • The Democrat Party, conservative and royalist backed by the military and most of the Bangkok-based elite with also strong support in south Thailand.
  • The Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT), the PDRC hardline faction under the leadership of Nithithorn Lamleua and Uthai Yodmanee.
  • The People’s Alliance for Democracy or "Yellow shirt" rebranded as the "People’s Movement to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime" (Pefot). The PAD consists of mainly of royalist upper and middle-class Bangkokians and Southerners, supported by some factions of the Thai Army, some leaders of Democrat Party, and members of state-enterprise labor unions. The PAD was responsible for the seizure of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in 2008.
  • The Dharma Army, led by former Palang Dharma Party leader Major General Chamlong Srimuang and a key leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. The Dharma army is a network of foundations and associations, the most known is the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect.
  • "Rubbish Collection Organisation" founded by Rienthong Nanna (director of Mongkutwattana General Hospital) that aims at persecuting citizens who — in their view — do not respect the monarchy sufficiently. The rhetoric of this ultra-royalist vigilante group has induced fear of a potential "witch-hunt" on dissenters. Their likening of opponents to "trash" has been condemned as dehumanising by Human Rights Watch and the Simon Wiesenthal Center's dean Abraham Cooper.
  • Leaders

  • Suthep Thaugsuban, Secretary-general of PDRC; former Democrat Party MP from Surat Thani, former deputy prime minister (2008–2011)
  • Luang Pu Buddha Issara, abbot of Wat Or Noi temple, Nakhon Pathom province
  • Chitpas Kridakorn née Bhirombhakdi, former deputy spokeswoman of the Democrat Party, granddaughter of Chamnong Bhirombhakdi, owner of Boon Rawd Brewery (best known for its product Singha beer)
  • Pipob Thongchai, advisor to the PDRC; education reform activist (Foundation for Children), former PAD core leader, former leader of the Campaign for Popular Democracy, co-leader of the Black May uprising 1992
  • Prasong Soonsiri, former chairman of the National Security Council, former minister of foreign affairs (1992–94), self-identified architect of the 2006 coup d'état
  • Sathit Wongnongtoey, former Democrat Party MP for Trang, former minister to the office of the Prime Minister (2008–11)
  • Seri Wongmontha associate professor of communication arts at the Naresuan University Graduate School, playwright and actor (e.g. Saving Private Tootsie), jury president of Miss International Queen
  • Somkiat Pongpaiboon, former assistant professor of education at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, former Democrat Party MP, former Assembly of the Poor activist
  • Somsak Kosaisuuk, trade union leader (State Enterprise Labour Relations Confederation), former PAD core leader, co-leader of the Black May uprising 1992
  • Sonthiyarn Chuenruethai-naitham, owner of T news agency; arrested on 10 February 2014
  • Suthin Taratin, shot and killed during a rally on 26 January 2014
  • Thaworn Senniam, former Democrat Party MP for Songkhla, former deputy interior minister
  • Witthaya Kaewparadai, former deputy chairman of the Democrat Party, former minister of public health (2008–09)
  • Sakoltee Phattiyakul, former Democrat Party MP for Bangkok.
  • References

    People's Democratic Reform Committee Wikipedia


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