Fencing the Royal Ground Versus Its Vital Role as a Civic Space

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Pornpan Chinnapong


The reopening of the Royal Ground (Sanam Luang) in 2011 with new iron fences has affected the roles and functions of this historical place. Sanam Luang was fenced and gated with new Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) legal rules controlling operating hours and activities. Homelessness and all political activities were prohibited. Sanam Luang’s vital role as a civic space has diminished for the sake of orderliness. Nevertheless, due to Thailand’s prolonged political conflicts, Sanam Luang was used again as a base for political mobilization. The south section of the plaza, in front of the Royal Palace, was covered with tents and temporary sheds tied with iron fences that encircled the plaza. The iron fences were used as a structure to shelter protestors over nights. This event came into question. Did fencing the Royal Ground contribute to the orderliness for this historical place? However, after Thailand 2014 coup d’etat by The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), political gathering was forbidden by law under NCPO leader’s command. Furthermore, with the new Thai Public Assembly Act enacted in 2015, public assembly over the Royal Ground has become impossible and illegal. Sanam Luang has lost its important democratic function as a free space for public and its civic space that needed for Thai civil society. However, when people’s rights under governmental suppression, insurgency of democratic society came to occur. This research investigated powers that ruled over the Royal Ground including the role of the urban plaza as a civic space after being fenced.


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