General Prayut was at the Foreign Ministry where he met the United States -ASEAN Council. His comments come as police on Tuesday issued over a dozen summonses to all protest leaders who are facing a range of charges under the Criminal Code and the Computer Crime Act including Section 112 counts for Lèse majesté. Senior security officials have been warning, for the last week, that a crackdown was coming using the full scope of the law as both the Prime Minister and the Army Chief, in the last few days, have been forced to reject media speculation on the imposition of martial law or a coup to deal with the situation.
As more protests kicked off in Bangkok on Wednesday, the government and senior security officials appear to be relying on the application of legal measures against the leaders of the movement to bring the situation under control. On Tuesday, it is reported that over a dozen police summonses were issued against key protest organisers including Parit Chiwarak or ‘Penguin’ who has been charged under the draconian Section 112 provision of the criminal code for Lèse majesté which could see him jailed for up to 15 years. Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha said on Wednesday that protest activity was normal in a democracy but warned that all those breaking the law will be pursued and prosecuted. General Prayut ruled out any dialogue with the ‘mob’ who he accused of disrupting life in the capital.
On Wednesday, following a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he addressed the United States-ASEAN Business Council, the Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, emphasised that the government would be relying on normal laws and legal measures to contain the ongoing protest movement.
He warned that all those breaking the law would be prosecuted. His comments come after over a dozen summonses were revealed overnight against the main student protest leaders issued by police in Bangkok relating to the ongoing struggle.
PM points to Wednesday’s traffic gridlock in Bangkok and blames protesters for causing chaos in the city
General Prayut pointed to the chronic traffic problem experienced by Bangkok motorists on Wednesday as police took measures to protect two locations in Bangkok targeted by the protest movement.
Both are linked with the monarchy.
Overnight, the protest leaders switched the targeted location of the protests from the offices of the Crown Property Bureau to the headquarters of one of the country’s main banks, Siam Commercial Bank.
He said he would not talk or negotiate with the ‘mob’ who he accused of threatening not only the government but the people of Bangkok through their actions which have caused disruption and chaos in the city to people’s daily lives.
No martial law, no coup as protesters directed to major bank headquarters linked with the monarchy
The PM categorically ruled out both the possibility of the use of martial law by the government and a possible coup d’etat this week as protests again took to the streets with rival groups opposing each other.
General Prayut appealed to those taking part in the protests to have regard for police officers doing their duty as extra reinforcements were deployed on Tuesday to protect the offices of the Crown Property Bureau in Bangkok after the Ratsadorn protest movement initially identified it as a location.
The protesters then switched to the head office of the Siam Commercial Bank in which the monarchy is a major shareholder.
Army chief urges media to put a lid on coup speculation as General Prayut blames protest leaders for fermenting such rumours as a scare tactic
On Tuesday, the Commander and Chief of the Thai army also rejected speculation of a coup in Thailand.
He explained that helicopter flights, linked with the army’s operations, were normal over Bangkok after social network reports linked them to ongoing rumours and speculation of a coup.
General Narongpan Jitkaewthae said the reports were fake news and wished that the media would stop using the term.
He reiterated a claim, made also by the Prime Minister, General Prayut, on Tuesday, that coup rumours were being fermented by leaders of the protest movement to destabilise the public’s confidence and gain attention for their activities.
The army chief said he felt that such speculation was damaging not only to the Thai economy but also the mental health and well being of the public.
Pressed by reporters who suggested that the heightened tensions between the government and the protest movement may precipitate a crisis, General Narongpan said he thought there was a way out of every situation.
Police roll out summonses to protest leaders
Meanwhile, Thai police are reporting that legal proceedings are being taken against all those involved in the protest activity to date.
On Tuesday, Metropolitan Police Bureau Commissioner, Lieutenant General Phukphong Phongpetra, said that his department was currently investigating 107 cases relating to the protests on the streets of which 24 have been sent to public prosecutors.
‘Penguin’ who raised concerns of a military coup on Sunday summonsed on Tuesday for Lèse majesté
On Tuesday, Parit Chiwarak, who on Sunday raised suspicions about a pending coup, received a police summons from the Metropolitan Police Bureau relating to, among other offences, a charge under the Lèse majesté law or Section 112 of the criminal code as well as Computer Crime Act violations under Section 14(3).
The protest leader must appear before police on December 1st to answer the charges.
The charges appear to have originated from the Technology Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police.
Not intimidated by the charges
The protest leader said that the investigating officer was the Deputy Chief of the agency, Police Colonel Siriwat Deephor. The Penguin said he was not intimidated by the charges.
‘The summons have come to my house, two charges of Section 112 and the Computer Act. To the person who is thinking, use this section of the law. Let me tell you, right now, that I’m not afraid. The ceiling is broken. Nothing will cover us again’, he concluded.
Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn also met with investigating police on Tuesday over Election Commission’s shareholding complaint
On Tuesday morning, the leader of the Progressive Movement and former leader of the Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, had a meeting with investigators at the Metropolitan Police Bureau who are also pursuing charges against him.
The case relates to a file presented to police at Thung Song Hong police station by the Election Commission which initially had Mr Thanathorn removed last year as an MP after it sent a case to the Constitutional Court alleging that he breached the Elections Act 2018 by having a media shareholding when he declared his candidacy, in early 2019, for the General Election.
Now, the commission has passed the case onto police who are investigating possible criminal charges against Mr Thanathorn under the law.
The consequences for breaching the act, which Mr Thanathorn has always denied, but on which the Constitutional Court upheld the complaint made against him, could see him jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to ฿200,000 and face another ban from politics of up to 20 years if convicted by a criminal court.
Wealthy political leader facing constant harassment
After he met with police, Mr Thanathorn was upbeat.
He is currently involved in supporting candidates for limited local elections being held in key constituencies throughout Thailand this year.
The wealthy heir to a billionaire auto parts tycoon, who took over the family business after his father died in 2002 when the young man was only 23, told the media that there was a constant campaign to thwart his activities including instances where he has been blocked by hostile crowds, mainly royalist supporters, in recent weeks demanding that he leave the country.
Rejected charges against him over a defunct magazine
He repeated the defence to the allegations which lawyers, on his behalf, submitted to the top court last year, asserting that he had disposed of the shares in a long-defunct airline inflight magazine before officially declaring himself as a candidate in early 2019.
He said that it was clear that he intended to dispose of the shares to his mother and that the police and courts should bear this in mind.
He also claimed that a similar situation had arisen with a government party MP against whom no action was taken after the MP explained that the media business had closed.
The progressive leader called on the police and those in government to be more tolerant and to listen to what student protesters are saying on the streets.