On 14 May 2023, Thailand will hold a general election—its first after almost a decade. The vote will allow roughly 52 million Thai citizens to have a say in how a new 500-seat house of representatives will be populated. And, while this concept in and of itself is a complex and monumental one, we want to focus on one particular youth movement and political party who’re making plans to completely shake up the nation’s power structures.
Move Forward is a gen Z political collective who are passionate about democracy, social justice, and progressive change. Having set up its campaign headquarters in a low-budget building in the Ban Bon area, Move Forward has already garnered a lot of international attention. Formed in 2018, the party is especially focused on addressing issues like income inequality, armed forces intervention and access to education.
Since 1932, Thailand has experienced a high degree of political instability, with several military interventions, 13 successful coups and 20 different constitutions.
Then, five years ago, a radical new party named Future Forward exploded onto the Thai political scene. Rooted in progressive politics that opposed Thailand’s dominant military and armed forces, Future Forward had a big impact. However, as the story often goes, the party was ultimately suppressed and its leaders removed from the Thai political space, as reported by the BBC.
Move Forward, being a byproduct of Future Forward, is trying to reinvigorate these kinds of political ideas. Rukchanok (Ice) Srinork, a young and energetic 28-years-old candidate for Move Forward, spoke with the BBC about the party and its hopes of ending Thailand’s long cycle of broken promises and military coups, a topic that has long been considered taboo in the country.
Srinork explained how despite once being a die-hard royalist, she now feels differently: “I think that I’m doing this partly out of feeling guilty that I was part of a movement that encouraged the coup, a crime against 70 million people. At that time, I agreed with it and thought it was the right answer for the country. But later I asked myself, how could that happen? How could this nation support a freaking coup?”
The young people involved in this movement are also making the most of any means they can to organise and spread their message. In the extreme heat, they’ve pedalled through the winding alleys of Bang Bon, determined to connect with every resident. Armed with cheap bicycles, they’ve been tirelessly spreading their message for weeks.
Unsurprisingly, the youth movement has been met with serious resistance from Thailand’s royalist establishment—specifically a network of military officers who, for the past few years, have massively cracked down on political protesters and banned gatherings of more than five people.
Amnesty International previously reported in 2020 that police officers had entered school premises to question children and take photos of them, presumably in an effort to intimidate, harass and discourage them from taking part in further protests.
The youth movement in Thailand, and Move Forward in particular, is a powerful example of how young people can be agents of change in their societies. Their passion, creativity, and commitment to social justice is inspiring and has the potential to transform the political landscape in Thailand and beyond.
On Tuesday 9 May 2023, a jury found former US President Donald Trump guilty for the defamation and sexual assault of American columnist E. Jean Carroll. The jurors deliberated for a mere three hours before conclusively deciding that Trump was liable, not for rape but definitely for sexual assault.
And while the only penalty the business tycoon and fraud will face is financial, $5 million in punitive damages to be specific, those of us with half a conscience breathed a sigh of relief and contentedness yesterday, after realising that for once in his life, Trump was finally going to be held accountable for his actions.
For those of you unfamiliar with the case, the journalist first sued the former President in 2022, after New York passed legislation following the #MeToo movement which gave adult victims of sexual assault a window of one year to sue their assailants in cases where the statute of limitations has expired.
The assault which Carroll was seeking damages for occurred 27 years ago, in 1996 in a department store, as reported by The Guardian. Carroll stated that Trump cornered her in a dressing room and raped her.
The former Elle columnist also sued Trump on defamation grounds. When Carroll first went public with the allegations in 2019, Trump pursued an explicit and highly personal smear campaign, deeming Carroll a liar, insisting he didn’t know her and proceeding to damage her reputation. During a pre-trial deposition, Trump also stated that Carroll “wouldn’t be my type in any way, shape, or form.” Presumably, that was his attempt at an adequate defence position? Not sure what else I expected.
In a written statement addressing her victory, Carroll noted: “Today, the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.” Trump’s legal team have stated that they plan to appeal the decision.
Now that the jury has officially found Trump guilty, it’s important to consider what the future holds for the former The Apprentice host. Realistically, this civil case won’t inherently impact Trump’s goals of running once again for president in 2024. Trump hasn’t been charged with any criminal convictions and so, as the constitution states, he’s still fully eligible to run for the presidency.
According to recent polls, Trump’s reach may be slightly narrower than it was in 2016 when he first ran for president, however those who’re still donning MAGA hats and hoarding guns in their basements are as loyal as ever. In a hypothetical match of Trump versus current commander-in-chief Joe Biden, 93 per cent of polled voters who supported Trump in 2020 approve of the job he did as president. What’s more, 45 per cent stated that they are more excited about voting for him in 2024 than they were last time. Scary stuff.
As some of you may remember, Trump was officially arraigned in April—making him the first former president to ever face criminal charges. Clearly a fan of firsts this one with the Carroll civil case also making him the first former president to ever be legally found guilty of sexual assault. So, with this indictment in the works and the recent civil case verdict, is Trump officially about to be taken down once and for all?
Some of the most damaging investigations Trump is facing, aside from the ongoing Manhattan criminal case involving porn star Stormy Daniels, include: a classified documents inquiry, a New York State civil inquiry which concerns Trump overvaluing his assets, a Georgia criminal inquiry involving whether or not the politician interfered with the 2020 presidential election results in the Southeastern state and a final investigation involving Trump’s role in the 6 January Capitol riots and insurrection. In short, the man is going to be pretty booked up this year.
While it’s not fully known whether or not the fact that Trump has been officially found guilty of sexual assault will ultimately impact the other cases he faces, it’s important to note how historically significant this case has been. When it comes to the court of public opinion, Trump supporters have notoriously strong stomachs, so the only way we can finally put a stop to his nonsense is by getting him behind bars.
A number of the investigations facing Trump have so far been predominantly symbolic, ways in which to embarrass him publicly and maybe encourage the Republican establishment to take a firmer stance in distancing themselves from him. But, perhaps these recent revelations will be the smoking gun US prosecutors need to once and for all jumpstart a new era of American democracy and diplomacy. Or not…