And it kicked off with coffee on Charoenkrung.
Thailand's newest political party—a youthful team of hipsters and activists—made its formal launch on Charoenkrung this morning (Mar 15).
The Future Forward Party—so named after a Twitter hashtag brainstorming—was founded by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the billionaire president of auto parts manfuacturing company Thai Summit Group, and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a former law professor of Thammasat University.
Over a "coffee session" at Warehouse 30, the party outlined its pro-democratic stance and also introduced its 26 founding members, a diverse crew of mostly 20- and 30-somethings with roots in social activism. (A 60-year-old, a 50-year-old and two 40-somethings lift the average age somewhat.)
Here's a run-down of some of the key players.
Kritthanan Ditthabanjong, 20, is a student at Ramkhamhaeng University who is also the leader of The Children and Youth Council Thailand where he works directly with HIV patients. Infected with HIV at the age of 15, he is a staunch advocate for healthcare for everyone.
Kath Khangpiboon, 32, is a transgender LGBT activist who recently won her discrimination case against Thammasat University, who she claims fired her as a lecturer on the basis of her gender identity.
Nalatporn Krairoek, 25, is the founder of ThisAble.me, a disabled news and lifestyle website. Nalatporn herself is wheelchair-bound.
Thararat Panya, 22, is a fourth-year law student at Thammasat University who went public with her story of sexual assault and helped start a conversation about Thailand’s rape culture. Thararat was a recent panelist on a talk about the #MeToo movement in Thailand at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Thailand.
Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, 29, is a law-grad who came to public notoriety when he got busted for brewing beer at his home last year, prompting Prayuth Chan-ocha to utter the timeless line, “would you want to drink beer that’s brewed in a toilet?”
Channarn Chanruang, 60, is the former president at Amnesty Thailand, a human rights activist, and a political and law lecturer.
Currently, the party's exact policies remain vague. Their stated mission is simply to break away from color politics. "It is the people against the dictatorship," said Kath Khangpiboon.
Meanwhile, the elections promised for Nov 2018 remain delayed indefinitely (news stories this morning say Apr 2019).