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5,000 pack Bangkok’s central shopping district to continue the protest

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PHOTO: Free Youth

Police have been taken aback by the huge amount of support for a protest at Bangkok’s famous Ratchaprasong Intersection, the site of the 2015 Erawan Shrine bombing incident where 20 people died. Bangkok, currently under a State of Emergency, declared by the Thai government in the early hours of this morning, is on edge this evening as huge crowds swarmed into the city’s main shopping precinct.

At this stage the protesters have filled a large chunk of Ratchadamri Road after being blocked by police to assemble at the Ratchaprasong Intersection. The estimate of 5,000 participants is from 2 leading news sites but is not official. As of mid evening, around 9pm, the protest shows no sign of dissipating.

Large numbers of university and school students also headed to the intersection to join in following their classes today. Most were still in their school uniforms and even proudly posed to police whose main ‘weapon’ was their cameras which they say will help them identify protesters and supporters.

This afternoon’s protest at Ratchaprasong Intersection is in defiance of the State of Emergency which stated that not more than 5 people could assemble following the declaration. Although no official estimates are currently available, there are more like 5,000+ attending this evening’s assembly, rather than 5.

People attending the protest were openly displaying the 3 finger salute, the defiant symbol of these protests, and yelled “release our friends” and “down with dictatorship” at the attending police. In the early hours of this morning more than 20 people were arrested in relation to yesterday’s protest and march.

After being initially blocked by police, the crowd moved onto the adjacent Ratchadamri Road. One of the busiest intersections in the city, the city’s afternoon peak was thrown into confusion.

Protesters also shouted “my tax money” – a controversial chant that was yelled at a yellow Rolls Royce as it passed through the protest route late yesterday afternoon in a 200 metre-long motorcade.

Rally leaders diffused this afternoon’s rising tensions by urging the protesters for “calm” and emphasised a non-violent approach to this and their other protests. So far, over the 3 months of protests, restraint has been shown on both sides and, despite a few minor scuffles, there has been no major violence or injuries.

Police were deployed to the intersection and were in force by 4pm when the crowd began to swell.

Meanwhile, news started to spread that Arnon Nampa, one of the protest organisers and a human-rights lawyer, had been flown back to Chiang Mai to face “sedition charges” following rallies in Chiang Mai and Pathum Thani in August and September where he spoke out against Thailand’s monarchy, calling for reform.

Arnon posted he had been denied access to a lawyer on his Facebook page, shortly before it was taken down.

Meanwhile, 3 police, including one officer charged with overseeing crowd control during yesterday’s royal motorcade, have been transferred to inactive posts. They’ve been identified as deputy chief Metropolitan Police Somprasong Yenthuam, the city’s 1st division commander Prasai Jittasonthi, and Security and Crowd Control Commander Manop Sukonthanapat.

Reasons for their removal have not been officially made public but it has been widely leaked that their side-lining is linked to the failure of police to clear protesters from Phitsanulok Road yesterday afternoon before a royal motorcade, including Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, passed along the same route as the protesters, on their way to a religious ceremony at War Arun.

Video footage from yesterday clearly shows the angry protesters shouting slogans and swearing at the passing yellow Rolls Royce, just metres away from the car, whilst police ran along the side of the vehicle trying to clear the way as they went, forming a chain of defence. Some of this footage can be seen in today’s Thailand News Today.

Just after 4am this morning, an order was issued by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, under the terms of the current emergency decree, for a State of Emergency in Bangkok, citing, in part, “obstruction to the royal motorcade”.

No protesters stood in the way of the motorcade, according to numerous reports from yesterday’s incident. Some commentators are questioning the timing and route taken by the royal motorcade. Before his arrest today, protest leader Arnon Nampa, responding to the speculation, said that the police brought the motorcade towards the protesters, not the other way around. He suggested the situation had been staged to make the protesters look bad.

As the evening drags on in Bangkok, there are no signs of the crowds diminishing in the city’s central shopping district.

5,000 pack Bangkok's central shopping district to continue the protest | News by Thaiger

Screencapture from live stream on Facebook/FreeYouth this evening around 8.40pm

5,000 pack Bangkok's central shopping district to continue the protest | News by Thaiger

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    At last the Thais have begun to rebel.
    The more the dictators arrest the more the citizens will become enraged.
    I hope it keeps fine for the protesters.

  2. Avatar

    Suchart

    Friday, October 16, 2020 at 4:31 am

    Down with dictatorship !!

  3. Avatar

    Yuki

    Friday, October 16, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Not 5000

    At least 50,000

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Politics

Deputy PM declares Thammanat Prompow controversy finished

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thailand's Deputy Agriculture Minister Prompao talks to reporters after a government cabinet meeting in Bangkok (via Reuters)

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says that the debate is over regarding Thammanat Prompow, the controversial Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives and influential Palang Pracharath Party ‘fixer’.

The Constitutional court has already ruled that he is qualified to hold office under Thai law and will keep his position, though a huge backlash followed the ruling, and the public wondered how his 1993 heroin trafficking conviction in Australia. Then using the name ‘Manat Bophlom’, he was convicted of conspiring to import a traffic able amount of heroin, serving 4 years of a 6 year sentence.

According to Wikipedia, Thammanat parliamentary declaration of assets in August 2019 listed “2 wives, 7 children, and a net worth of about $42 million, including a Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz along with 12 Hermès and 13 Chanel handbags, luxury watches, and Thai Buddha amulets.”

Thai law says that no one who has been convicted of an indictable offence is eligible to hold public office, but the new decision seems to imply that anything that happens outside of Thailand’s border does not qualify. A legal expert, the Deputy PM says that this ruling is not in opposition to the rules about convicts holding office.

He says that a conviction by Australia’s New South Wales Court is not legally binding in Thailand and therefore does not disqualify Thammanat. Only a jail sentence from a Thai court would be considered a roadblock to a candidate being confirmed to hold government office.

Thai immigration law, however, determines that convictions in home countries will bar people from entry into Thailand. The decision also calls into question the legitimacy of the Australian/Thailand extradition treaty which saw Thammanat deported back to Thailand after serving 4 years of his 6 year sentence.

But the Council of State had declared that someone in jail for 2 years cannot hold office within 5 years of release, regardless of whether the jailing was in Thailand or in another country. The 4 year jail term Thammanat served in Australia ended in 1997 so the 5-year grace period has already passed.

The Deputy PM says that this ruling by the Constitutional Court does set a new precedent for future issues of possible MP candidates that may have been in trouble with the law outside of Thailand. But he stopped short of supporting Thammanat’s prior conduct unconditionally, declining to comment.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has been under pressure to investigate Thammanat and whether his conduct has been ethical. The Deputy PM said that the Constitutional Court ruling does not whitewash any other issues Thammanat may face.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

BMA admits Covid virus spreading fast in Bangkok, speeds up testing and jabs

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Stock photo via Flickr

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says it is speeding up mass Covid-19 testing and inoculations in communities hit strongly by the virus, after admitting the virus is spreading fast in Thailand’s capital.

The city clerk says the administration, along with the Public Health Ministry and other agencies, are speeding up the collection of nasal swabs for Covid-19 tests, with a plan to test 3,000 people in high-risk groups per day. Those people deemed to be at an increased risk of the virus have been clustered by districts, with testing units in each of the 6 districts…

Laksi district, 70 Pansa Min Buri park in Min Buri district, Huai Khwang stadium in Huai Khwang district, under the Rama III expressway in Yannawa district, a public park under Rama VIII bridge in Bang Phlad district and The Mall Bangkae shopping centre in Bang Kae district.

The virus has been found in densely populated, low-income areas such as the Klong Toey community in Klong Toey district, Bon Kai community in Pathumwan district and Ban Khing community and The Mall Bangkae in Bang Kae district. In an effort to help those residents stay at home to prevent the possible spreading of the coronavirus, community-level organisations are teaming up to provide food, water, and supplements to those in the areas.

But stay at home orders are a problem for many as starvation is more frightening than the virus and 90% of residents in the slum communities still need to leave for work each day to keep food on the table. The daily average income for those in the slums is around 120 to 150 baht. The CCSA yesterday declared that is is focusing on containing major Covid clusters in 3 key Bangkok communities – the Klong Toey ‘slums’, Bon Kai in Pathumwan and Ban Khing in the Bang Kae district, on the west side of the Chao Phraya.

Today’s nationwide Covid update includes compiling the regional totals from yesterday, with a total of 27 new Covid-related deaths and 2,044 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours. The numbers continue a statistically consistent rise in the number of Covid infections over the past 2 weeks.

Meanwhile, talking about Phuket’s plans to open in July, the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said yesterday that the number of new cases on the island must reach zero before the government can contemplate the ‘Sandbox’ plan for no-quarantine travel.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Friday Covid UPDATE: 27 more deaths, 2,044 new infections

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The Friday report, compiling the regional totals from Thursday, indicates that has been 27 new Covid-related deaths and 2,044 new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours. The numbers continue a statistically consistent rise in the number of Covid infections over the past 2 weeks.

The CCSA yesterday declared that is is focusing on containing major Covid clusters in 3 key Bangkok communities – the Klong Toey ‘slums’, Bon Kai in Pathumwan and Ban Khing in the Bang Kae district, on the west side of the Chao Phraya.

Meanwhile, talking about Phuket’s plans to open in July, the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said yesterday that the number of new cases on the island must reach zero before the government can contemplate the ‘Sandbox’ plan for no-quarantine travel.

He also disclosed that the government are planning to set a levy of 300 baht to be collected from foreign tourists starting from January 2020 “to set up a tourism fund for emergency use”. Speaking to Bangkok Post…

“Once the spread is under control, the government will resume travel bubble discussions with Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia.”

 

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