Bangkok gridlock, protesters warn of harsher action


BANGKOK, Dec 23 – Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has threatened to paralyse Bangkok on a working day instead of weekend in retaliation against the government’s insistence to hold on to power.

In a speech at Democracy Monument last night, he thanked Thai people for pouring onto the capital’s streets yesterday, claiming that the total number was higher than the recorded  demonstration on December 9.

The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), of which Mr Suthep serves as secretary general, estimated the December 9 demonstrators in Bangkok at five million people.

“Today, we shut down Bangkok for half a day. Next time, we’ll gather for an entire day and on a working day. If it (government) is stubborn, we’ll close the capital for seven days,” he said.

Yesterday’s gridlock in Bangkok was from midday until dusk.

Mr Suthep knelt down on the stage and gestured a “krab” (a traditional Thai expression of thanks)  to express deep gratitude to Thai people who came out in full force yesterday to show their strong protest against the Yingluck Shinawatra’s government and demand political reform before the next general election.

He said provincial people throughout the country also came onto the streets to chase Ms Yingluck out of the caretaker premiership.

“This is a historic day with a new record of people rising to protest with bare hands in a peaceful and non-violent manner,” he said.

The former Democrat MP added, “If the government and Election Commission insist to move on with the elections, they are challenging the Thai people. We are not against elections, but we want fair and clean ones, without vote buying or the crooks running the country.”

Mr Suthep vowed to continue the anti-government demonstrations, organised every day since October 31, until the government steps down.

“Please do not ask when (the protest) will end. We’ll carry on until they are no longer in power. We have clearly stated that we want to reform the election system and impose new regulations,” he said.

“Millions of people countrywide who have risen will not step back. We’d rather fight until death, instead of living as slaves.”

He said a huge group of people would gather at the Thai-Japan Stadium in Din Daeng since last night to protest against the registration of party-list election candidates which starts today.

The party-listed candidates for the February 2 elections are required to submit their applications in Bangkok between today and Friday. The registration for constituencies seats set for December 28- January 1 and provincial candidates can register in their respective provinces.