PHUKET: Former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has arrived for a rally in the heart of Phuket Town to protest the reconciliation and amnesty bills that the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) are have been protesting against in Bangkok this week.
Also on the island to join the rally tonight is Sathit Wongnongtoey, current Democrat MP for Trang province and former Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office under the former administration of Abhisit Vejjajiva.
The rally, which began at 5pm, is being held at Queen Sirikit Park, on Thalang Road.
Mr Suthep is expected to address the crowd at 8pm.
The event is scheduled to end at 10pm.
Hundreds of supporters are expected to turn up to the event, organized by the “We Love Phuket Club”, headed by Boonsupaa Tanthai.
Mr Boonsupaa on May 10 led protests at Phuket Provincial Hall against a red-shirt event planned for the island.
Speaking to the Phuket Gazette immediately after coming off the stage early this evening, Mr Boonsupaa said, “We are holding this rally to protect our country from the ‘fake’ reconciliation bills from being passed through Parliament. These bills are fake because they are intended to help specifically just one person.”
“We have the right to hold this rally. It is the Thai people’s right to express what they want,” he said.
Speaking to the Phuket Gazette late this afternoon, Phuket yellow-shirt coordinator Don Limnunthaphisit explained that Phuket PAD supporters returned from the Bangkok protests at about noon today.
“We were planning to leave Phuket for Bangkok 6pm tomorrow to rejoin the rally, but since the situation has changed, we will wait until Monday and check with other PAD supporters in Bangkok to see whether or not we should return to the capital to join them,” he said.
Thailand’s House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont called off the debate on the reconciliation bills, scheduled for this afternoon, indefinitely as yellow-shirt activists and protesters blocked lawmakers’ access to parliament, reported state-run news agency MCOT.
Mr Somsak earlier called for the House to reconvene at 1:30pm only to cancel it shortly afterward, when 20 police vans carrying ruling Pheu Thai party MPs from party headquarters were unable to access the parliament building due to the protesters’ blockade.
All the vans were forced to return to the party headquarters.
The protesters continued their demonstration into the third consecutive day in frustration with the Speaker pushing forward discussion of the reconciliation bills onto today’s agenda.
The decision sparked the chaotic scenes in Parliament that have been nationally televised for the past two days.
“The postponement is just a strategy. The government knows we do not have much financial support,” said Mr Don. “They know if they keep postponing, they will finally get to push the bills through Parliament.”
He explained that the Phuket PAD supporters did not organize tonight’s protest in Phuket Town.
“We were not planning on holding a protest in Phuket. Instead we were just organizing a fundraiser. Just going up to Bangkok for the three days cost us 40,000 baht for each of the three buses,” he explained.
— Chutharat Plerin
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