February 06, 2014 00:00
By NIPHAWAN KAEWRAKMUK,
Move aimed at boosting safety, police ask group to open roads near Lumpini Camp
THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC Reform Committee (PDRC) is refining the management of its army of protesters, including adopting a hotel-style system of “guest registration”, checking protesters in and out to increase safety and improve the planning of rallies. Satit Wongnongtaey said yesterday that the new system will be applied first to the Pathumwan base after the big cleaning day on Sunday, when the demonstrators helped city crew tidy up the area from the King Rama VI statue to Silom Road. The rally site would be divided into zones of 50 people and about 20 tents each. Campers have to register and check in to receive a door key to their tent, which would be equipped with sleeping gear and eating utensils supplied by donors. The PDRC has also abandoned some protest sites and relocated supporters from some sites to others, for instance, withdrawing from Rama VIII Bridge to lay siege to the Education Ministry. Satit said PDRC secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban has sought meetings with professional groups, civil servants and educational institutions to brainstorm and draft the national reform blueprint. The PDRC must work on preparing the reform roadmap in parallel with its drive to oust the Yingluck government, he said. Pol Maj Gen Wallop Prathummuang, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 6, led a group of police to hold talks with PDRC leaders about allowing motorists to use roads around the Lumpini protest site, especially the Thai-Japanese flyover. Police said they would set up checkpoints about 300-500 metres from the rally site to increase security for protesters. The PDRC has yet to agree to the proposal, citing safety reasons. The meeting abruptly ended when the PDRC leaders were informed that arrest warrants for 19 PDRC leaders had been approved by the court. Police said they knew nothing about the arrest warrants. PDRC leader Witthaya Kaewparadai said up to 8,000 pro-reform supporters were camping out at Lumpini Park. They are provided with meals, nine areas for bathing and five more portable toilets. The PDRC is concerned about safety and is considering taking legal action against police for failing to protect the protesters. Rapid-response teams of protesters would be dispatched to ensure that seven stage agencies remain closed, including the Customs Department and Revenue District Offices. Since the PDRC agreed to allow some state agencies located at the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road to resume serving the public, Soi Chaeng Wattana 5 has been jammed with vehicles. Witthaya said Thailand Post has agreed to let four lanes in its compound be used to reduce traffic congestion. Representatives of the Department of Special Investigation are expected to hold talks with the PDRC to allow officials to return to work in their office located in the complex. Phra Buddha Issara, the PDRC leader in the area, has agreed to let Election Commission officials return to work at the complex tomorrow and Consular Affairs Department officials on Monday.