In Thailand, it’s protesters versus ‘salim’ as Bangkok prepares for mass rally

In Thailand, it’s protesters versus ‘salim’ as Bangkok prepares for mass rally

  • The act of sitting or standing as the royal anthem plays in cinemas has become a marker for ‘salim’ – those seen as apologists for the Thai establishment
  • The term has become a loaded one as a youth movement takes on the monarchy and the Prayuth administration, with another protest planned for Saturday

In today’s Thailand, there are those who stand for the royal anthem before cinema screenings and those who don’t: an act of deference or defiance that separates the salim from a youth movement that for the past three months has taken the Thai government and monarchy head on.

Among protesters, salim – the name of a traditional Thai dessert – has become a near-ubiquitous expression of contempt aimed at someone seen as an apologist for the establishment and its conservative political and social values.

“This is not a fad,” said John Winyu, a leading Thai political pundit. “Earning a living and having a future are the most important things for the people. So when the dictatorial government and the elites show they can’t give them a future, the people have to call them out.”

The protesters have planned another rally for Saturday, as well as a march to Government House the following morning, in an anticipated show of strength that has raised fears of a possible crackdown in a country where pro-democracy movements nearly always end in state violence.