Assistance offered to 4 civil servants charged with joining protests


BANGKOK, Feb 12 – Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has calmed four Commerce Ministry civil servants who were charged with violating the emergency decree with assurances that the anti-government movement would look into their plight and will extend assistance.

Speaking on stage at the Pathumwan rally site last night, Mr Suthep said the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) would assign lawyers to help civil servants who have been mistreated and intimidated by what he called ‘the Thaksin regime’.

Yanyong Phuangrach, caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister, vowed to take disciplinary action against the four officials whom, he said, should not take sides in the political conflict.

Mr Suthep told supporters at Pathumwan that the PDRC collected Bt24.3 million during their two-day march on Bangkok’s major streets to seek donations from city residents to help farmers who have been awaiting payment for their rice crop for as long as six months.

Farmers from several rice-producing provinces have rallied at the Commerce Ministry since the weekend.

“More donations are pouring in. We will definitely get at least Bt25 million. The money will be handed over to the president of the Lawyers Council of Thailand to help farmers in their lawsuits against the government,” said Mr Suthep.

Tarit Pengdith, director general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), said members of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) resolved to thoroughly check the financial status of 136 major financiers of the PDRC.

A preliminary report has provided the names of 58 financiers who will be charged by DSI, he said, but refused to name them.

Regarding the CMPO’s earlier decision to deport leading Indian businessman Satish Sehgal for his involvement in the anti-government protests, Mr Tarit said CMPO has instructed the Interior Ministry to accelerate the legal process and inform CMPO today if Mr Satish’s residence permit could be revoked.

Mr Satish has lived in Thailand for the last five decades and is widely recognised in the Thai-Indian business community.

Mr Tarit added that Phra Buddha Issara who led the PDRC rally site on Chaeng Wattna Road had ordered security guards to arrest two policemen who mingled with protesters.

He said the policemen were assaulted and would be hospitalised for at least two weeks, adding that the protesters’ attack was a serious legal offence.