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Tantawan Tuatulanon & Natthanon Chaimahabud: Youth Activism Clashes with Tradition in Bangkok’s Royal Motorcade Incident

In the bustling heart of Bangkok, a tale of youthful defiance unfolds, featuring 22-year-old student activist Tantawan Tuatulanon and her compatriot Natthanon Chaimahabud, members of the spirited Thalu Wang protest group. This duo found themselves embroiled in controversy following an incident on February 4, involving none other than a royal motorcade, catapulting them into the spotlight and onto the desks of the Criminal Court which, come Tuesday, had arrest warrants with their names etched upon them.

The charge? Sedition, among other offences, for what was described as an attempt to disrupt the regal procession. The Din Daeng police, on a rather brisk Tuesday morning, ventured to secure court approval for these warrants after Tantawan and Natthanon’s conspicuous absence. They had twice failed to acknowledge their charges, opting instead to dispatch a representative from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights with paperwork in hand, pleading for a postponement of their investigative rendezvous until February 20. The reason? A classic clash of schedules with their academic commitments.

However, this appeal for delay did not sit well with the police investigators, who reasoned that the student activists could have easily fulfilled their civic duties post-class. Thus, a rejection was promptly issued. Tantawan was slapped with charges including inciting unrest under Section 116 of the Criminal Code combined with a dash of the Computer Crime Act. Natthanon, not to be outdone, faces a quartet of charges, bounding from Section 116 violations to honking a car horn under the Traffic Act, with a sprinkle of officer insult.

Earlier, in a saga of legal back-and-forth, police from several Bangkok stations had mooted to public prosecutors the idea of revoking Ms. Tantawan’s bail. This was after the duo allegedly expressed their dissatisfaction with the royal motorcade of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn via a car horn, as she glided along a Bangkok expressway on that fateful February day.

In a twist, Tantawan, already under the microscope for royal insult charges linked to the incident, took to Facebook with an apology for what she termed ‘reckless driving’ that day, vehemently denying any intent to harass or obstruct the royal convoy.

The story takes a more tumultuous turn when, on a Saturday following the incident, Tantawan and the Thalu Wang group orchestrated an opinion poll at the bustling Siam BTS station. The query at the heart of their poll? Whether royal motorcades were a source of inconvenience. As fate would have it, royalists, under the banner of Thai People Protecting the Monarchy, emerged, leading to a violent skirmish that would not soon be forgotten.

Tantawan’s journey has been anything but ordinary. With two arrests in her activist portfolio, both in the springs of 2022 for allegedly transgressing the lese-majeste law, she has become a figure of resilience. Her defiance was sharply highlighted by a 52-day hunger strike aimed at securing the release of 16 individuals detained amidst the fervent anti-government protests that began in mid-2020.

May of the following year saw her, alongside eight others, charged with a trilogy of trespassing, destroying public property, and obstructing officers at Samran Rat police station. Tantawan Tuatulanon’s story is a vivid tapestry of activism, legal wrangles, and an unyielding spirit, chronicling the trials and tribulations faced by those who dare to question the status quo in a nation where tradition and modernity are in a perpetual dance.


  1. FreedomFighter99 February 13, 2024

    It’s about time someone stood up to the outdated practices and laws that stifle free speech. Tantawan and Natthanon are heroes for taking a stand. It’s ridiculous to be arrested for honking a car horn.

    • MonarchistKing February 13, 2024

      You’re missing the point entirely. It’s not about a simple car horn but disrespecting a royal procession. There are laws and traditions for a reason. The monarchy is a symbol of our nation’s unity and history.

      • LibertyLover February 13, 2024

        Respect goes two ways. A monarchy that doesn’t evolve with its people’s values is bound to see resistance. Tradition shouldn’t be an excuse to suppress free expression.

    • NeutralObserver February 13, 2024

      Isn’t this more about whether the laws are just, rather than the act itself? The debate here should focus on the balance between maintaining order and allowing free speech.

  2. Tradition101 February 13, 2024

    What happened to respecting historical institutions? The younger generation seems keen on challenging everything without understanding the value of what they’re opposing.

    • ChangeIsGood February 13, 2024

      But shouldn’t institutions evolve to reflect the society they serve? Blindly following tradition for tradition’s sake holds back progress.

      • Tradition101 February 13, 2024

        Progress doesn’t mean disregarding everything that came before. It’s about building on it. The monarchy is part of our cultural fabric; challenging it disrupts our societal harmony.

    • GenerationZ February 13, 2024

      Understanding value is one thing, blindly following superseded traditions is another. It’s time for our voices to be heard and respected, not silenced in the name of ‘tradition’.

  3. BangkokLocal February 13, 2024

    Living in Bangkok, royal motorcades do cause significant disruptions. While I respect the monarchy, there needs to be a practical solution to this issue.

    • SiamWatcher February 13, 2024

      Exactly, and questioning the inconvenience caused by royal motorcades doesn’t mean disrespecting the monarchy. It’s about finding a balance that respects both the royal family and the people living in the city.

    • RoyalDefender February 13, 2024

      These processions are a rare occurrence and a small price to pay for preserving our heritage and respect for the royal family. People can adjust their schedules accordingly.

  4. LawStudent February 13, 2024

    From a legal standpoint, the sedition charges seem to be a stretch. It’s worrisome to see such laws used to clamp down on what appears to be relatively minor forms of protest.

    • TheRealist February 13, 2024

      Legally stretching or not, it’s about sending a message. The authorities probably want to deter similar future acts of defiance. It’s more strategic than you think.

  5. HumanRightsChampion February 13, 2024

    What’s worrying is the escalation of legal actions against protesters. This isn’t just a Thai issue; it’s a global trend where governments use legal systems to silence dissent. We must support the right to protest peacefully.

    • PatriotWave February 13, 2024

      There’s a fine line between protest and anarchy. Not all forms of dissent are productive or peaceful. It’s crucial to maintain order and respect for law and country.

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