Protest leader Suthep marches again today seeking financial aid for farmers

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BANGKOK, Feb 10 – Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban will march along Sukhumvit Road, from Ekamai to Asoke, today to seek people’s financial contributions to farmers who are demonstrating in Bangkok to press for overdue payments for their rice from the state’s rice pledging scheme.

He said the money would be for the farmers’ daily spending while in Bangkok and lawsuits against the government.

The farmers from many rice-planting provinces have rallied at the Commerce Ministry after having waited in vain for the government to pay for the rice they sold under the rice subsidy programme.

Mr Suthep said he expected to make more than Bt10 million from today’s march, which starts at Ekamai skytrain station and moves along Ekamai Road, New Phetchburi Road, Soi Thonglor and Sukhumvit Road. Asoke intersection where one of the rally sites is located will be his final destination.

Mr Suthep divided grieving farmers into three categories: those who delivered their rice but did not receive official receipts from rice mills; those receiving receipts after delivering their rice but had yet to sign contracts with the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC); and those having receipts and contracts with the BAAC after delivering their rice but have not been paid.

He said a people’s government must be set up as soon as possible so that rice in state stockpiles would be urgently sold to get money for farmers.

Akanat Promphan, spokesman of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said the government and ruling Pheu Thai Party were trying to discredit people who have organised a forum to seriously discuss national reform.

He said the PDRC would not give up holding more forums and encouraging people to join discussions on national reform.

He said the farmers’ protest for rice payments are not related to the ongoing political demonstrations and the government should neither mislead the public nor claim that those coming from rice-planting provinces were not genuine farmers.

Farmers are out on the streets because they are in deep financial trouble from the rice scheme, he said.