Caretaker PM occupies Defence HQ as office despite intimidation


BANGKOK, Feb 4 – A protesters’ blockade at the Defence office yesterday did not deter caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who insisted on using it as her temporary office and going to work there as usual  today.

Protesters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) yesterday rallied at the Office of the Defence Permanent Secretary in an attempt to chase Ms Yingluck out of the building.

The protesters withdrew later in the day after being told that the prime minister had left. Ms Yingluck, however, remained in the building with several Cabinet members until 6 pm.

She said she will go back to work at the Defence office today but the weekly Cabinet meeting is cancelled.

“The Defence office is the place for me to work. It’s not the headquarters of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO),” she said.

CMPO, under the directorship of caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, was once located in the Defence office. It was later moved out after a seizure by PDRC protesters

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, concurrently CMPO chief adviser, stood firm that the prime minister and Cabinet members will not move elsewhere

“Protesters who seized the headquarters will be legally dealt with in accord with international standards. Police will be in charge of taking action against them. We have warned protesters that they would be arrested if they occupied the Defence office again,” he said.

The caretaker Cabinet has deserted Government House for more than a month after the surrounding areas have been occupied by protesters of the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand.

“We won’t tolerate the protesters’ intimidation any more. We will exercise stricter measures against the protesters who are no longer demonstrating peacefully as claimed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phra Buddha Issara who has led the seizure of  Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road since last month agreed to allow Justice Ministry officials to enter their office today.

He said protesters will permit the reopening of more government buildings except for the Department of Special Investigation.

The Buddhist monk said the rally stage on Chaeng Wattana Road would not be removed and he would, from now on, concentrate more on negotiations with the authorities.