Rubber farmers rejected the Cabinet’s decision yesterday to offer financial aid to them at Bt1,260 per rai, at the maximum of 10 rai per household, and insisted on an increase of the rubber price to more than Bt80 per kilogramme.
The major protest site was at the co-op building in Surat Thani, and protesters were still blocking the Asian Highway at Nhong Klee intersection, in Phunphin district.
They threatened that if government representatives did not appear for talks by midday, they would block the Surat Thani airport.
Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na Ranong was reportedly scheduled to chair a meeting with 15 representatives from southern rubber planters at the Government Center on Chaengwattana Road in Bangkok.
However the rubber farmers network association led by Aeid Seng-aeid said planters would have no representatives at the meeting with Mr Kittiratt.
He said the prime minister's deputy secretary-general Pol Maj Gen Tawat Boonfueng was scheduled to meet the protester leaders in Nakhon Si Thammarat at 11am.
In Nakhon Si Thammarat, more than 1,000 protesters moved from Tha Sala district office to block the main road which links the province with neighbouring Surat Thani, and set up a stage on the road. Only one lane remained open to traffic.
They threatened to close the Nakhon Si Thammarat airport if their demand for a higher rubber price was not met.
In Surat Thani, over 100 protesters closed the Asia 41 Highway despite a warning by leaders against the blockade. The farmers carried on their demonstration and sealed off the road from Sabayoi district in Songkhla.
In Srinagarindra district of Phatthalung, one lane of the Phatthalung-Trang road was closed and protesters talked on stage, attacking the government and its handling of the rubber price slump.
Prapak Choothip, member of the provincial administration organisation, said the protest in Phatthalung was part of a multi-pronged demonstration in the South to put pressure on the government.
About 50 uniformed and plainclothes police officers were on duty in the area to facilitate traffic and keep public order.
The demonstration also went on during the day in Chumphon amid protesters’ dissatisfaction with the authorities’ indifference to their plight.
They dispersed on learning that rubber growers had gathered at the co-op building in Surat Thani, but said they would regather at Chumphon provincial hall today before moving to Phetchkasem Road in Tha Sae district.