End of Thai protests possible


After the recent King’s birthday celebration and the call by the Thai monarch for unity, there may be some positive changes on the near horizon in Bangkok. December 9 may be a critical day.

The Nation reports today Ekanat Promphan, spokesman of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said the anti-government protest tomorrow would not be a pep-up but the “last day of the battle”.

Thailand’s Protest leaders are willing to surrender if they fail to dislodge the Yingluck Shinawatra administration and the so-called “Thaksin regime”, a spokesman for the group said yesterday.

“I still leave all the doors open. And I am ready for talks with him,” she said.

Yesterday, the PM gave interviews to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Financial Times, and the Straits Times.

The government will, however, place all ministry offices under high alert tomorrow and they expect protesters to try to enter some of offices, including at Government House.

“It must end on December 9. If not enough protesters come out or if it doesn’t succeed, all co-leaders will surrender themselves and will to be prosecuted under insurrection and other charges,” Ekanat said.

“However, if a million [protesters] turn out as on November 24 then we are confident that there will definitely be change.

“If the government won’t listen to the people, the PDRC will not give the government a chance any longer. This is the last demonstration and it won’t be a picnic.”

The PDRC also condemned the government’s move to mobilise conscript soldiers and to put those who have gone to compulsory military training on standby as provocative and a move that could lead to violent confrontation.

Surapong Tovichakchaikul, deputy prime minister and chief of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), issued an order dated December 6 to all government and state enterprises to take measures necessary within their authority to defend government buildings and premises.

“Reiterate to government officials under your supervision to take necessary measures in order to protect government venues under their responsibility,” part of the order read.

Diplomats will be invited to Government House at 8am tomorrow to see all preparations made to defend the site. Protesters said they would start marching towards Government House from 9.39am on Monday – so it was unclear yesterday if diplomats, plus local and foreign media would be allowed to stay until that time or not.

CAPO officials also said they had collected information about business groups supporting the insurrection through tracing of car licence plates numbers and other means and will notify people involved. No freezing of assets would be ordered yet at this stage, however.

Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut, secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC) said the government would stick to peaceful means to handle the protesters and international standards of handling protesters would be maintained if there was a confrontation. Less importance will be given to protecting the parliament than Government House, since the parliament has no meeting on Monday, he said.

“We hope the protesters will understand that violence won’t solve anything and that their leaders have broken laws.”

Paradorn claimed various groups had invested up to a Bt1 billion to support the demonstrations.

More CCTV would be relied on, said Paradorn. Tourists would also be kept informed and police patrols with interpreters available at various spots in the capital tomorrow to keep them informed.

Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont said yesterday both sides should talk and perhaps hold a referendum on how the country should overcome the political deadlock.

In a related development, leader of the opposition Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva, called a special meeting of party MPs today to discuss the situation and possible solutions for the country, party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said.