The Nation



Diverse group of protesters taking on government to push for reform

Middle class and elderly people - even a monk - were among the protesters involved in clashes with the police last Sunday and Monday. Photos from the scene showed mainly young men waving Thai flags in a fog of tear gas, but there were others who were less typical as well, including a lecturer and a 68-year-old man.

Dr Sukhum Poommarinvarakul, 37, is a lecturer with a doctorate. He was washing the faces of protesters troubled by tear gas at Chamai Maruchet Bridge. While not in the forefront of the action, he was only 30 metres from barriers, and thus also affected by tear gas.

Sukhum was also concerned about the possibility of heavier weapons being deployed while he was there. Asked why he was involved, he said: "I went because of conscience and compassion" - if not full political support.

And while he has attended the protests since its beginning at Samsen Intersection, he did not agree with every strategy proposed by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban.

He said he believed in reform from the political "nepotism" currently, but was personally against marching to government buildings, including the Metropolitan Police Bureau.

Meanwhile, Prasert Rithsom-rerng, 68, was fully in support of the move to storm government buildings. He was in clashes at Nang Lerng and admitted his eyes were sore from the tear gas, but said he was not afraid. "I'll do whatever it takes to make them go," he said, referring to the Shinawatra family and the current government.

Prasert said that pressuring the government through seizing state offices was the start of political reform that would clean the land and root out cheaters and corrupt politicians.

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