Chalerm to discuss anti-govt rally planned for Sunday
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung will meet General Boonlert Kaewprasit, chairman of the Pitak Siam (Protecting Siam) group, to try to thwart plans for an anti-government rally scheduled for Sunday.
Chalerm will discuss the rally with Boonlert and deputy national police chief General Voraphong Chiewpricha tomorrow.
Playing down fears of a massive anti-government rally, Chalerm said the protest - meant to be held at the Royal Race Track - will only be a symbolic gathering with no aim to create disturbances.
"I will buy two roast ducks for him and will answer any questions he may have," Chalerm said of the upcoming meeting with Boonlert. "As for the demonstration on Sunday, we cannot stop it because it is their right. But we will ensure that it is orderly."
When asked if there was any attempt to destabilise the government, Chalerm said the administration needed some shaking up in order to be alert because politics was a "serious" matter.
Meanwhile, First Army Region Commander Lt-General Paibul Khumchaya played down the red-shirt rally scheduled for Saturday, saying he did not expect untoward incidents during the demonstration and that police should be able to keep peace and order. He said that if things get out of hand, police could ask Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha to send in soldiers and that the First Army Area was always ready to help police.
Paibul said he did not expect any violence when Boonlert's group is planning to protest. Boonlert's group and its allies will gather on Sunday on the theme "joining forces to stop national crisis and disaster".
"Though rallies will be held by supporters and opponents of the government, I don't think there will be any untoward incidents," the First Army Region commander said.
Meanwhile, Chalerm discounted criticism from opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva that reconciliation forums to be held by the Interior Ministry were nothing more than political rallies. Chalerm responded by saying the ruling-Pheu Thai Party did not need to do that because it would beat the Democrat Party by a landslide in the next elections.
The first such forum will be held in Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday.
As for allegations of corruption in the government rice-pledging scheme, Chalerm said no irregularities had been found in 470 of 800 warehouses scrutinised so far.
In a related development, Democrat MP Thepthai Senapong said the planned reconciliation forums were biased, adding that Democrats should be allowed to be co-moderators. He said academics like Thirayuth Boonmee and Seksan Prasertkul should also be involved as well as senators like Kamnoon Sitthisamarn, because they had experienced politically tumultuous times in the 1970s.