Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, formerly the Secretary-General of the disbanded Future Forward Party, was visible on Wednesday night, some hours ahead of the government crackdown early on Thursday morning, when he appeared at Government House then surrounded by protesters and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.
Police walked in on a press conference at the Thai Summit building in Bangkok on Friday as the cofounder of the Progressive Movement and arch political foe of this government, Mr Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, was giving a press conference outlining his views on the latest developments during Thailand’s current political crisis.
A Thai police officer executing a search warrant walked into a room within the Thai Summit Building in Bangkok on Friday as the Secretary-General of the Progressive Movement was giving a press conference.
The officer from Makkasan Police Station told Mr Piyabutr, formerly the Secretary-General of the now-defunct Future Forward Party, that he was simply doing his duty under the new emergency decree issued on Thursday morning.
Former Future Forward leader and arch-foe of the current government surprised by police visit
‘I am here to check on law and order within my jurisdiction,’ the policeman announced. He then left the room where Mr Piyabutr had been speaking to the press from the podium before later returning.
The political activist, formerly an MP, a respected law professor and for a time, the leader of the disbanded Future Forward Party in the Thai parliament, appeared outside of Government House on Wednesday night as it was surrounded by protesters and called for the resignation of the Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, just hours before the government crackdown.
He was addressing assembled journalists on Friday when he encountered the police officer.
Mr Piyabutr spoke against the government’s actions and crackdown as well as the charges brought against two protesters over a royal motorcade
Mr Piyabutr was highly critical of the government’s actions on Thursday. He also spoke about the legal proceedings issued against protesters who were arrested on Thursday under Section 110 of the Thai Criminal Code after causing offence to Her Majesty Queen Suthida as her motorcade approached Government House in Bangkok at the height of Wednesday’s protest activity in the city.
Mr Piyabutr spoke at length to the police officer when he returned. The political activist even took the opportunity to invite the policeman to join the cause of the protest movement instead of diligently following his orders from above.
Police search warrant under new provisions
It is understood that police had obtained a search warrant to gain access to the corporate building in the centre of Bangkok owned by the family of former Future Forward leader Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and which serves as the headquarters for the successful firm built up by Mr Thanathorn’s now-deceased father.
The new emergency law, issued on Thursday morning and which was endorsed by the cabinet on Friday, gives police and government officials sweeping powers to thwart and bring to a halt any activity deemed to be a threat to national security, at this time.
Carla Boonkong is a magazine writer who writes extensively about woman's issues in Thailand. One of her key subjects is the story of Thailand's growing influence in the world and the role played by Thai women in the process. She is now a staff writer with Thai Examiner.com in Bangkok. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.