BANGKOK — Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday criticized the opposition leader’s call for a public protest in downtown Bangkok set to take place tomorrow.
Hours after Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangruangruangkit urged his supporters who “don’t want to tolerate” perceived injustice against his faction to come out in force, PM Prayuth suggested the mobilization is inappropriate, and advised Thanathorn to respect the law.
“Is it appropriate to rally at this moment, when people are celebrating the New Year’s Eve?” he said to reporters, with anger in his voice. “Isn’t it his personal problem? Why does he need to bother other people?”
Asked if he has ordered authorities to step up security measures, Prayuth said it’s not his job.
“I don’t need to order anything,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about the case either because I’m not responsible for the judiciary process.”
Thanathorn made his first-ever appeal for a mass protest Friday afternoon on his social media platforms, calling those who “don’t want to tolerate the current condition any longer” to gather on BTS skywalk at Pathumwan Intersection 5pm tomorrow.
ถ้าใครเห็นด้วยว่าเวลานี้ประชาชนต้องลุกขึ้นสู้ ถ้าใครเห็นด้วยว่าตอนนี้ได้เวลาส่งเสียงประชาชนผู้ไม่ยอมทนอีกแล้ว มารวมตัวกันวันพรุ่งนี้ เสาร์ 14 ธันวา เวลา 17:00 น. บริเวณสกายวอล์ก สี่แยกปทุมวัน#กลัวที่ไหน #ไม่ถอยไม่ทน
— Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (@Thanathorn_FWP) December 13, 2019
“This is the time to make some noise,” Thanathorn wrote. “If you agree with me that it’s time for people to stand up and call for legitimacy and justice, meet me tomorrow.”
Political observers fear Thanathorn’s days in politics are numbered after the Election Commission announced that his 191-million baht loan to his party violated voting laws, and said it would ask the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward.
If found guilty, Thanathorn himself could be banned from politics for at least five years.
Metropolitan police chief Somprasong Yenthuam said 150 officers will be deployed to watch over the protest. He said the police have not received a request for public gathering from Thanathorn and it is too early to estimate the number of demonstrators expected to show up.
Maj. Gen. Somprasong added that Thanathorn would be charged with criminal offenses if he violates laws on public gatherings tomorrow.