BANGKOK, Nov 20 – The stage is set. The crucial day is approaching. The man behind the political rally is keeping his fingers crossed, hoping to draw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators — or he will call it quits.
Leader of the anti-government Pitak Siam group, retired Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit, said today that only tens of thousands of demonstrators in the Saturday rally at the Royal Plaza will be insufficient to “chase out” the government.
“We will need hundreds of thousands of people. If the crowd fully occupies the Royal Plaza and spills to the nearby Government House, it is insufficient. I will not carry on the rally,” he said. “The crowd must spread to Pan Fah bridge (on Ratchdamnern Avenue), and I will continue the activity.”
Assuring that the rally will not take longer than two days, Gen Boonlert said it will not be chaotic though the government has repeatedly said so since there will be security measures and guards at the rally site and the group has coordinated with the police to maintain public order.
He said the national security authorities’ estimation of 40,000-70,000 people in the rally was baseless.
“In our previous rally, their estimation was 10 times lower than the actual turnout. So, add it 10 times higher this Saturday,” he claimed.
Gen Boonlert said his understanding of “freezing Thailand” was to get rid of evil politicians but he had never wanted the opposition Democrat Party to take the helm of the country.
Pol Maj Gen Piya Uthayo, Royal Thai Police spokesman, said an intelligence report estimated over 50,000 demonstrators would appear at the Royal Plaza. He claimed that some are hired at Bt300-1,500 per person to travel by bus or train to join the rally.
They were told to prepare themselves for a few nights stay in the capital and bring with them umbrellas, goggles and vinegar (in case attacked by tear gas), he said.
Government deputy spokesman Pakdiharn Himathongkam said the cabinet was told today that some demonstrators will enter the capital from provinces such as Ratchaburi, Samut Songkram, Si Sa Ket and Surin.
About 5,000-8,000 police will guard Government House, he said.