Protesters called on the government to reduce consumer goods prices, combat business monopolies and investigate an alleged cover-up of African Swine Fever blamed for rocketing pork prices.
They also demanded a minimum daily wage of Bt425, a rise in elderly monthly payments from Bt600 to Bt3,000, a monthly child-support subsidy of Bt1,200 and a reduction in VAT and school fees.
The demands were made in a joint statement by the Labour Network for People’s Rights, the 24 June Democracy Group, Nonthaburi’s New Generation Network, Thammasat students and Thalu Fah.
The crowd carried banners criticising the ruling Palang Pracharath Party for failing to honour its pre-poll promises.
Protesters began arriving at 10am and were met by police erecting metal barriers in front of Government House.
At 10.30am, police announced via loudspeaker that the rally was illegal as organisers had not obtained permission. They said protesters were also breaking the law by using a sound truck and warned reporters not to cross Chamai Maruchet Bridge towards Government House. The announcement was met with boos and shouts of “dictator’s servant” from protesters.
Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a leader of the June 24 Democracy Group, said police were blocking people from exercising their constitutional rights to demand the government solve their grievances. He added that the peaceful rally’s purpose was to submit an open letter to the government.
Labour Network for People’s Rights leader Thanaporn Wichan accused the government of mismanagement that had damaged the country.
“No past government has ever caused the price of pork to rise to Bt300 per kilo,” she said. Thanaporn also accused the government of issuing measures to benefit major businesses and monopolies at the expense of struggling small-time farmers.
She said Palang Pracharath had failed to keep its election promise to increase the daily minimum wage to Bt425 and salaries of university graduates and vocational school graduates to Bt20,000 and Bt18,000 respectively.
Speaking on a sound truck, another protest leader said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had severely damaged the country during his eight-year rule following his 2014 coup.
He said the Prayut government had raised the minimum wage once by Bt30 but the price of pork had soared from around Bt100 to nearly Bt300. Meanwhile the minimum wage was still at Bt336 despite the coalition leader’s promise to hike it to Bt425.
At 12.15 pm, the Thalufah group handed a piglet to government representatives in a symbolic protest to demand action over the pork price.
Published : January 18, 2022
By : THE NATION