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Students say “Run Against Dictatorship” media event to go ahead

Jack Burton

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Students say “Run Against Dictatorship” media event to go ahead | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Apichart Jinakul

University students have finally been allowed to hold a press conference on the “Wing Lai Lung” (Run to Oust the Uncle) event at Thammasat University in Bangkok. Earlier requests for two other locations to hold their media gathering were denied.

One of them was the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand…

The professional committee of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand is concerned about pressure from Thai police to cancel a planned press conference. Over the weekend the FCCT’s management was asked by Lumpini police station to cancel a booking by a group involved in the ‘Run Against Dictatorship’ planned for next month. The group had agreed to pay to use the FCCT for a press conference announcing the event. The police explained that the title of the event was objectionable, and that they considered it likely to create what they called a “mob.” They also stated that there would be serious consequences for the FCCT – suggesting possible closure — if it did not comply with their request. After discussion with the group, the organizers agreed to find an alternative venue – FCCT Facebook page

The running event was foreshadowed at Saturday’s gathering of protesters in support of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and the Future Forward Party. The thousands that gathered on the skywalk linking the National Stadium and Siam BTS stations, heard the announcement about the proposed running event.

The anti-military student group calls the event “Run Against Dictatorship” in English. The Thai name, “Wing Lai Lung,” literally means “Run to Oust the Uncle,” a not-very-thinly-veiled reference to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, whose nickname is “Lung Tu” (Uncle Tu).

The 6 kilometre run is scheduled for January 12, 2020, although police have yet to approve the proposed route.

Whether the police considering the route will treat it as a political or sports event will soon become apparent. At this stage the government have had little to say about the proposed running event with the controversial name.

According to Thanawat Wongchai, an economics student from Chulalongkorn University and strategist of the Student Union of Thailand, the run will start from the university and head to the Democracy Monument. Runners will make three rounds around the monument before heading back to the university’s football field.

Participants are expected to gather at the university from 4.30am, with the run to start at 5.30am.

Final word about the application to hold the media conference from the FCCT…

Thailand has been under a civilian government since May this year, which should make such orders or even “suggestions” to curb free speech a thing of the past. In demanding the cancellation of this week’s event the police gave no legal justification, although they made it clear they were acting on orders from higher up.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | FCCT Facebook Page

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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.

Bangkok

Khao San Road remains empty during the day, night crowds keep the street alive

Caitlin Ashworth

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Khao San Road remains empty during the day, night crowds keep the street alive | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

Without foreign tourists at Bangkok’s infamous backpacker mecca, Khao San Road has gone quiet. While nights draw local crowds, it’s not what it used to be and the once bustling street remains empty during the day time.

While locals frequent the nightclubs and bars on the street, Khao San Road is not nearly what is was like before the pandemic. The deserted street during the daytime is an ongoing problem, according to the head of Khao San trader’s association Sanga Reungwattanakun. He says before 5pm, the street is empty.

Before the pandemic, Khao San Road generated a revenue of 1 billion baht each year and 99% of the customers were foreigners, Sanga says. Visiting the street has been considered a “rite-of-passage” for foreign backpackers.

The area is known for being crazy with party hostels, cheap alcohol and balloons filled with laughing gas. It’s also known for its eclectic street food like scorpion on a stick. During the day (pre-pandemic), tourists would get massages, go shopping, get some food or grab a drink. (or 2.. or 3…)

Without the foreign tourists, many of the hotels on the street are closed and Sanga says some traders were just too slow to adjust to the new market conditions.

During the lockdown, Khao San Road had a facelift. More than 48 million baht was put into the area for major renovations like leveling out the road and footpaths, adding some gutters and designing space for emergency vehicles.

Since the road’s official reopening with a Halloween event in October, local officials have been trying to figure out ways to pump more life into the street. The campaign “Go to Khao San 2435” was recently launched to try to draw more people to the area. Nightly opening hours have been extended to 1am, but the daytime still remains a problem.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Protests

Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

A student protest leader is facing charges of contempt after he made statements on Facebook critical of the Constitutional Court ruling to acquit PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, allowing the Thai prime minister and former Army General to continue occupying a military-owned residence. Critics have argued that allowing Prayut, a retired general, to say at the Army residence is a conflict of interest.

Director of the Constitutional Court’s litigation office and police officer, Montri Daengsri, filed the charge against pro-democracy protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak. Montri says the Facebook posts made by Penguin were defamatory to the court and had tarnished its reputation.

In addition to the Facebook posts, Montri says the protest leader made an offensive speech following the court ruling at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. He says the speech was defamatory and violated Thailand’s Criminal Code. Police are investigating the claims to determine if charges should be pressed.

Prayut occupies a military reception house at the 1st Infantry Regiment residential area on Phahon Yothin in Bangkok, according to the Royal Thai Army. Tenants in army welfare houses have to pay for utility bills while those who live in the reception houses, like retirees, do not pay for household expenses and the utility bill is covered by the Army.

The Constitutional Court ruled this week that Prayut did not violate the Charter by occupying the residence. The court says under military regulations, former officers can remain at their Army residence after their retirement at the discretion of the Thai Army commander.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Schoolgirl bursts into tears meeting Panasaya, fearing for activist’s safety

Maya Taylor

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Schoolgirl bursts into tears meeting Panasaya, fearing for activist’s safety | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.prachachat.net

Protest leader Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, has been pictured consoling a young schoolgirl who broke down in tears, concerned about the activist’s safety. Rattapol Kaiipah Promsuwan, who witnessed the exchange, has shared a photo of the moment on social media. She says the girl, who is in Grade 6 (making her around 11 years old), had gone to the organisers’ area during Wednesday’s rally at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. There, she asked to meet Panusaya, a hero of hers.

The girl’s sister says her sibling has an interest in politics and is concerned about reports that Panusaya faces lèse majesté charges. Thailand’s lèse majesté law prohibits insulting, defaming or threatening the nation’s revered Monarchy, and carries a punishment of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. During her meeting with Panusaya, the girl cried for half an hour, with the student activist trying to console her, and a Facebook photo showing her hugging the child.

Panusaya has received a new summons from the Technology Crime Suppression Division, as a result of a police complaint lodged by royalist supporter, Nitipong Honark, a music composer. She is now being summonsed on December 9, to hear additional charges of lèse majesté and violating the Computer Crimes Act .

Meanwhile, the BBC has named her in its list of the world’s 100 most influential and inspirational women of 2020.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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