More than 3,000 crowd control police officers will be deployed today to handle an anti-government rally in Bangkok’s Sanam Luang.
Yesterday, Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) commissioner Pol Lt Gen Pakapong Pongpetra announced the plan to deal with protesters led by the Redem (Restart Democracy) group set to gather at Sanam Luang from 6 pm to 9 pm today.
However, there are no plans to set up barricades to restrict their movements as police have no intelligence suggesting that violence is brewing, Pol Lt Gen Pongpetra said.
But if there is trouble, barricades may be needed to safeguard important places around Sanam Luang, he said, but stressed police would try to maintain peace and order without them.
Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of the MPB, warned that those who take part today would be violating the emergency decree and face a jail term of up to two years and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht.
They would also be contravening the Disease Control Act which stipulates a fine of no more than 20,000 baht, Pol Maj Gen Tawichai said.
Yesterday, protesters greeted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s motorcade with three-finger salutes as he arrived at Government House, where military top brass had assembled to wish him a happy 67th birthday.
The motorcade drove past anti-government demonstrators from the Dern Thalu Fah (Walk Through the Sky) group camped at Chamai Maruchet Bridge.
They flashed the protest gesture and used loudspeakers to shout: “Prayut, get out! Down with feudalism, long live the people!”. They also demanded the abolition of the lese majeste law. No violence was reported.
Gen Chan-o-cha was due to chair the meeting of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration at 9.30 am yesterday.
However, high-ranking military officers and government officials kept arriving to pass on their regards as a government official had said this week that the prime minister will not open his residence to well-wishers this year, but instead make merit with his family.
In other news, the US embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath yesterday met the mothers of three detained activists concerned about the safety and treatment of their children.
The chargé d’affaires and other embassy personnel regularly meet with a broad cross-section of Thai nationals, including government, military, business, academic, and youth leaders, to learn about the goals, concerns, and priorities of Thai people, according to a statement from the embassy.
It was a meeting that coincided with a statement made by Tawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, who said that prison officials had prepared oral rehydration salts, milk and sweet drinks for anti-government protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak who has threatened to go on a hunger strike. Doctors and nurses are also on hand if urgent medical attention is required, Mr Chaiwat said.
Last Monday, Mr Chiwarak, who is being held at Bangkok Remand Prison, said he would go on a hunger strike and consume only water, sweet drinks and milk until the court returned his right to bail which is usually afforded to defendants in lese majeste and political cases.
He is among seven protest leaders charged with the offence who have seen their bail requests repeatedly denied.