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Media, don’t be fooled by protesters – Finance secretary

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Khaosod English

Media outlets are being duped by highly visible protesters trying to attract media attention in their efforts to receive the 5,000 baht “No One Left Behind” handouts, according to Finance permanent secretary Prasong Poonthanate. He even accuses the protesters and says many have already received the subsidy cash, but are demanding more. As an example he mentioned the recent case of a taxi driver who tried to scale the perimeter fence of the Finance Ministry as media filmed the incident.

The cabbie, identified as Pongpicharn Thanathirapong, was at the Ministry on Thursday to demand that the handout be wired to his account that day, saying he’d gotten a text message telling him to show up at the Ministry to file his claim.

Prasong told the media on Friday that the Ministry is ready to help people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that his officers have been working nonstop to speed up distributing the money those in urgent need. He also mentioned another protester who, he alleges, brought arsenic with him, which he had intended to swallow in front of the media.

On Monday, a 59 year old woman swallowed a large volume of rat poison in front of the Finance Ministry after shouting “None cares about me! There’s no one to take care of me!” She collapsed and went into shock, and was rushed to hospital. She survived. Several other suicides have been linked to desperation over the financial ruin brought by the pandemic.

Prasong alleged another incident in which a woman collapsed in front of the Finance Ministry, then falsely accused a guard who rushed to help her of trying to assault her.

“What can we do? We are civil servants who must be patient and try to explain the situation to them. We asked them to return home after completing complaint forms, to avoid the risk of spreading the virus, but some refused.”

He urged the media not to accord the protesters “an undue level of coverage.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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