Police closely monitored the anti-government rally with checkpoints to ensure that there were no provocative posters or placards. They estimated the crowd at just under 13,000 people.
The rival rallies in Bangkok against the government of Prayut Chan ocha and in support of the Thai prime minister appear to have passed off peacefully on Sunday with the organisers of both events expressing satisfaction with the outcome. It is believed that over 10,000 people attended the two assemblies with nearly 13,000 turning up for anti-government early morning run including Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
Two simultaneous rallies, one calling for the removal of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha and the other supporting him, took place on Sunday morning in Bangkok.
Initially, it appears that both events passed off peacefully and in a cheerful atmosphere. At Suan Rot Fai or Railway Park, the leader of the radical opposition party, Future Forward, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was pictured among the crowd which police estimate to have approached nearly 13,000 people.
10,000 people were earlier reported by the event’s student organisers to have already registered for the ‘Run against Dictatorship’ event which was initially advertised as ‘Wing Lai Lung’ or ‘Run to oust Uncle’ last month.
Event was approved by authorities but closely monitored by police checkpoints leading to the park
The event received permission to go ahead by authorities, but on Sunday, it is reported that police checkpoints were set up to ensure that those attending the event did not carry large posters with overt or provocative political messaging.
Student activist calls for action on the economy, constitutional reform and a halt to intimidation
At the anti-government-run, Tanawat Wongchai, one of the students at the centre of the event, voiced the sentiment of the people attending. ‘We want a truly democratic government, not a dictatorship in disguise,’ he told reporters.
He also said that the people wanted to see action in dealing with Thailand’s current economic woes, reform of the constitution with its military-dominated senate influencing the vote for prime minister and a halt to harassment and intimidation of the political opposition.
Legal cases brought against Future Forward by Election Commission and conservative activists
The latter is thought to be a reference to a series of legal cases being pursued by conservative activists and the election commission, a statutory authority, against the Future Forward Party which faces dissolution before the Constitutional Court for a range of infractions of Thailand’s strict electoral laws including the acceptance of a large loan of ฿192 million made to the party’s by its wealthy leader, Mr Thanathorn.
One case claims that the policy platform and political rhetoric pursued by Future Forward leaders seeks to undermine the constitution and the monarchy.
A ruling on this case, in particular, is due this month on Tuesday 21st January.
Event at Lumpini park in support of the government and prime minister started just before 6 am
Meanwhile, organisers of the event in support of the prime minister also reported a good morning.
At 6 am crowds began arriving at Lumpini Park in Bangkok for the ‘Dern Cheer Lung’ run or ‘Walk for Praut’ with over 1,000 initially in attendance.
This was reported to have swelled to over 10,000 as proceedings got underway with the national anthem being sung at 8 am and the run itself going head at 8.30 am.
A bulwark against corrupt politicians
At the rally, Haruthai Muangboonsri, a performer and on Sunday, a spokesperson for the campaign to support the Thai prime minister, pointed out that the current government elected under the new constitution was a bulwark against corrupt politicians.
Other spokespeople pointed out that there would millions more like them if large scale protests arise again in the kingdom.
‘Now Thailand is a peaceful country,’ Haruthai explained. She was joined by 52-year-old Thitimon Cottan, an employee of a government-owned enterprise who hailed the current prime minister for bringing back peace and stability to the country.
Protest run in Chiang Mai
There were other events planned by the opposition to take place throughout the country on Sunday, including a run from the Tha Pae Gate in Chiang Mai attended by Future Forward MP Chamnan Chanruang which saw 500 people participating in a 5 km run which went off peacefully under the watchful eye of local police.
Government gets budget bill through parliament
Thailand’s prime minister received a much-needed boost on Saturday when the budget bill survived a vote in the House of Representatives allowing the government to push ahead with much-needed government expenditure and investment projects to boost the economy in 2020.
The morale of the government was further boosted by a series of events in Bangkok and other population centres for children to celebrate Children’s Day including dinosaurs and a series of attractions at Government House in Bangkok.