On a seemingly ordinary day that turned extraordinary, Deputy Interior Minister Chada Thaiset stepped out of his van with the kind of gravitas you’d expect from a high-ranking official. The location? None other than Government House, on the conspicuously significant date of December 12, 2023. The air buzzed with anticipation, as captured elegantly by the lenses of noted photographer Chanat Katanyu. However, beyond the spectacle of arrival and the flash of cameras lay an issue that was anything but ordinary — an issue that brought to light the complex interplay between tradition, respect, and the modern thrust of activism.
Minister Thaiset, wielding the combined authority of his office and his notable stance within the Bhumjaithai Party, did not mince words when he addressed what he perceived as an affront to royal processions. With a voice firm and resolute, he declared, “It is unacceptable and extremely inappropriate.” This stern warning against the obstruction of royal motorcades wasn’t just empty talk. Thaiset, a prominent figure from Uthai Thani, made it crystal clear: “I won’t let it happen again.”
What sparked this impassioned declaration? A scene unfolded at 6:20 p.m. on a serene Sunday evening that would soon ripple across social media channels and news outlets. A car dared to honk at the convoy of the venerable Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as she traversed an expressway in Bangkok — an expressway that, for a moment, became a stage for a striking drama. The car wasn’t just any car, and the honk wasn’t just any honk. Inside, sat Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon, a 21-year-old political activist with the audacity to challenge the status quo, previously charged with lese majeste over a daring opinion poll about royal motorcades.
Caught in the act, footage showcased Tawan in a fervent exchange with a police officer, her questions sharp, her demands for equality louder than the honk that began it all. Why this preferential treatment? Why now, when urgency beckons? Her journey to this moment was no less compelling, having been bailed by Pita Limjaroenrat of the Move Forward Party after a hunger strike had drawn eyes and hearts worldwide in May 2022. This wasn’t just a confrontation; it was a narrative unfolding, questioning, and demanding attention.
As the echoes of that Sunday evening’s audacity reverberated, calls for accountability sprang forth on social media, drawing lines back to the very doorsteps of leadership and activism alike. Yet, amidst this maelstrom of opinion and counter-opinion, Minister Thaiset stood firm, his allegiance to his roots unwavering. “Such incidents would never occur in Uthai Thani,” he proclaimed to Naewna news agency, his voice imbued with the pride of a province that would, without question, welcome the princess with open arms and hearts.
And why would they not? Princess Sirindhorn, after all, holds Uthai Thani close to her heart, her residence by the serene Sakae Krang River standing as a testament to her affection for the province and its people. A friend to the community, her noble request to keep the roads open in front of her home underscored a respect for public convenience over personal preference, a gesture that did not go unnoticed by Minister Thaiset.
In a world where roads meet rivers, and activism intersects with tradition, the tale of that fateful Sunday and the days that followed weaves a complex tapestry of loyalty, respect, and the relentless pursuit of equality. As for Minister Thaiset, his promise rings clear in the air of Uthai Thani and beyond: an assurance of respect, a vow of welcome, and perhaps most importantly, a commitment to understanding. In the landscape of governance, activism, and royal tradition, these moments remind us that dialogue, respect, and mutual understanding pave the most enduring roads.