Attack on the Progressive Movement leader by a crazed and eccentric businessman comes before a General Election is due to be called in Thailand in the coming months. It shows polarisation and political instability in the country have not gone away. It also points to the kingdom’s growing problems of mental instability.
The leader of Thailand’s Progressive Movement Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was throttled by the neck for one minute by a crazed businessman on Sunday night at the country’s National Book Fair. The violent assault came seconds after his attacker, known in Thailand as Mr K One Hundred Million, caused panic at the event by putting a case on the ground and declaring that he had a bomb. The disturbing event is the second violent incident linked to politics in a week in Thailand which has seen political activists being violently assaulted in public. On Monday, police at Lumpini Police Station reported that the assailant had been sent for a psychiatric evaluation and temporarily released pending an appointment with officers on November 8th to proceed further with charges.
The leader of the Progressive Movement in Thailand and founder of the dissolved Future Forward Party, the predecessor of the Move Forward Party in parliament, was violently attacked on Sunday at Thailand’s National Book Fair at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre in the centre of Bangkok.
Mr Thanatorn was grabbed in a chokehold and throttled for one minute by an eccentric and well-known businessman, known in Thailand as Mr K One Hundred Million.
Incident occurred on Sunday evening as the National Book Fair wound down. Mr Ganesha known as K One Hundred Millon stormed in shouting he had a bomb
The incident occurred on Sunday evening when a well-known businessman and character, Mr Ganesha Phisanuthep Chakrabhop Mahadecha who goes by the name ‘K One Hundred Millon’ stormed into the arena of the fair on floor LG of the centre carrying a hard square case and shouted that he had a bomb and laid the bag on the ground.
The 47-year-old then made a beeline to the stand at the fair where Mr Thanathorn was promoting progressive books at booth E11 and grabbed him tightly by the throat.
Afterwards, a visibly shocked Mr Thanathorn recalled what happened: ‘The incident happened very quickly. The period was probably less than a minute. During this time I was in a chokehold, I tried to breathe. At the same time, someone in the book booth tried to separate us. After that, people tried to grab Khun K Hundred million to the ground and call the officers to bring Khun Hundred million away. It all happened in about 3 minutes.’
Thanathorn said he, at one point, had been unable to breathe as the attacker throttled him in his booth
After the attack, when released from Mr Ganesha’s clutches, the business tycoon and political leader was reported to have been left bruised and told those attending him that he had, at one point, been left unable to breathe.
He later travelled to the Med Park Centre near Queen Sirikit Hospital to have a physical examination and ordered a report prepared for the police.
The Progressive Movement leader said it was very important that the actions of K One Hundred Million were dealt with by authorities.
Thanathorn said he was mindful of what happened weeks ago in Nong Bua Lamphu and that people with mental health problems should receive the appropriate treatment.
‘I have a few bruises caused by the chaos and when my neck was in a chokehold and he was pulling back and forth. This matter must be prosecuted. I think Mr K Hundred Million is a dangerous person. Been doing this behaviour for a while now. I sincerely hope that we will not cause more tragedy in a society like this.’
In a chokehold for one minute as the attacker tried to asphyxiate the 43-year-old business tycoon and pioneering political leader with his bare hands
43-year-old Mr Thanathorn estimated that he was held in the attacker’s grip or chokehold for approximately one minute and seemed disturbed by the attack and the chaos that ensued around him when K One Hundred Million shouted ‘I have a bomb’ in the midst of the book fair.
At the same time, he pointed out that many people at the event did not hear the man attacking him and just saw crowds running towards his booth at the fair.
The Thai Book Fair, themed Booktopia on the LG Floor of the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre saw publishers taking part from all over Thailand.
It finished on Sunday having run from October 12th last.
Lumpini police chief on Monday says attacker was released temporarily after a psychiatric evaluation
On Monday morning at 11.30 am, the Superintendent of Lumpini Police Station Police Colonel Nimit Nuphonthong addressed the incident.
He said police had taken the attacker K One Hundred Million for an assessment at Somdet Chao Phraya Hospital and that he had then been temporarily released.
He disclosed, at this time, the man was facing a misdemeanour offence under Section 384 of the Criminal Code for making a false statement causing others to panic because of his bomb threat which could see him face a month in prison or be fined ฿10,000 or both.
The accused man has been invited back by police for a further appointment on November 8th to address the case being prepared by investigators and to hear the results of a psychiatric evaluation.
The proceedings will then be submitted to the prosecutor’s office.
Complaint filed by Mr Thanathorn being investigated, police are awaiting a hospital report to decide on possible assault charges against Mr Ganesha
Police Colonel Nimit confirmed that Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit had filed a complaint against the businessman on Sunday night and that a report was being prepared for the police at the Med Park Hospital.
The senior officer said that on November 8th next, this matter may also be pursued when Mr Ganesh or K One Hundred Million attends the Police Station.
He suggested that both a case under Section 384 and whatever charges apply as a result of the alleged assault on Mr Thanathorn may be proceeded with simultaneously on that day.
It was reported that the Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (PUBAT), the organisers of the Book Fair had not yet filed a complaint against Mr K One Hundred Million for disrupting the National Book Fair on Sunday evening.
Two violent incidents have seen attacks on political activists just a week apart in Thailand, months from a General Election the basis of which is still uncertain
The incident comes in the same week when a leader of the Red Shirt movement, Mr Weerawich Runruangsiriphol physically assaulted well-known constitutional activist Srisuwan Janya, the leader of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution (APTC) with a kick to the chin at the headquarters of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) in Bangkok.
Disturbing TV footage showing a Redshirt leader kicking a constitutional activist at a police centre, highlights political divide and polarisation
That incident, caught on cameras which were present, happened as Mr Srisuwan Janya visited the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) to file a complaint against a well-known comedian who had poked fun at Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.
Political stunts in a week that appear to emphasise the kingdom’s potential for political instability
Thailand is preparing for a General Election in the next few months and Sunday’s attack on Mr Thanathorn must be seen as politically motivated given his support for a more progressive Thailand and reforms which are stoutly resisted by conservatives in the country.
Both incidents, the attacks on both Mr Srisuwan Janya and Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, appeared to have been staged for maximum theatre value by those who perpetrated them and were clearly linked to politics.
The fact that they have happened just months out from a General Election has had the effect of emphasising Thailand’s potential for instability.
It is still unclear what the ground rules for the next General Election will be with key organic election laws currently before the Constitutional Court which is due to rule on whether they are constitutional or not early next year.