The Nation


Rajdamnoen Rally

PDRC claims Sunday rally one of the biggest ever

THE ANTI-GOVERNMENT People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led by Suthep Thaugsuban, claimed their Sunday rally in Bangkok was one of the biggest in Thailand's political history as they closed the capital for half a day in their effort to force caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from her post.

PDRC core-leader Satit Wongnongtaey claimed that 5.8 million people in Bangkok showed up on the streets on Sunday. The highest number recorded was over a million in Ratchaprasong.

Satit said the estimate came from three scientific calculations: One, from a helicopter taking photos from five protest sites and the Democracy Monument. Two, using six drones for aerial photography. And third, 24 members of the PDRC at the sites took photos at the entrance gates every half an hour, to be used to calculate the numbers of people passing through.

PDRC leaders admitted they were wrong in thinking such a large number of demonstrators would successfully pressure the premier immediately, or that the military and government officers would decide to stand alongside the people right away.

Yingluck showed no sign of giving up. As a result, new strategies have been set to accomplish their goals.

Before the rally last Sunday, the rally's stage organiser chief said a meeting of PDRC leaders, led by Kwansuang Atibodhi, a lecturer in architecture, planned a massive rally. They tried to erase the flaws in their previous "battle days" on November 24, and December 9, which had three main problems - all protesters could not access the main rally stages, communication did not smoothly reach protesters in the rally, and the debate over calculation of the number of protesters.

Location, logistics and accessibility were very important. These were the reasons why the PDRC designated rallies at five major stages and 10n minor sites, he added. The five major sites were Lumpini Park, the Asoke intersection, the Ratchaprasong intersection, Pathum Wan and Victory Monument. Bangkokians could reach the rally sites as they preferred using BTS, as well as rural people could join up easily because the major sites had nine roads leading to them, connected to the provinces, Satit said.

"You know, Bangkok's map is an "inverted Y". The Asoke stage can accommodate people who come from the east through Bang Na Road and Sukhumvit Road, the Democracy Monument stage can be accessed by southerners, and the Victory Monument stage by the North and Northeast demonstrators.

"Every area where we staged the rallies, we used to test the water first [by the reaction to the] previous gatherings," he said.

"We can create a new history of a people's movement. Many things must be carefully planned, but something might happen accidentally. You know why so many people called Suthep a "kamnan" (a village headman of tambon Tha Sathon)? It began when I was talking to Pong (Anchalee Paireerak, core member of PDRC) that Suthep was called a kamnan by the southerners. She said it sounded good and made him look like a man of warmth. She continued calling him "kamnan" on the rally stage and others called him that, too. Last week, several protesters called me "phuyai ban Rajdamnoen" [village chief]," he said with a laugh.

PDRC leaders are planning to create their next piece of history. The protesters will organise marches against Yingluck wherever she goes, if the caretaker premier and her Cabinet do not resign from their posts.

The anti-government protesters will today stage a rally in front of Yingluck's residence on Soi Yothin Patthana 3, parallel to Ekamai-Ram Indra expressway, to again put pressure on her to resign, Satit announced on the stage at Rajdamnoen.

Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra may have a strategy to show his younger sister is still strongly supported by rural people. However, he needs to rethink because the PDRC will step up a campaign to show the public that the Yingluck administration is a "failed government", according to Satit.

"We will win if Yingluck quits or the military and government officials are brave enough to fight alongside the people. If they ignore the people's demands, the great mass of people will walk on every street and shutdown Bangkok or the country for a full day. We will rise up to show the people's power to fight the Thaksin regime. We imagine that people will celebrate their victory at the Democracy Monument," Satit said.

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