The protest by the Pitak Siam group beginning on Nov 24 must not be ignored since it could potentially topple the government, red-shirt co-leader Jatuporn Prompan warns,
He urged the administration and the red shirts to manage the situation carefully.
Mr Jatuporn told the Bangkok Post in an exclusive interview Tuesday that about 30,000 protesters are expected to turn up on the first day of the rally at the Royal Plaza and another 40,000 would be there on the second day, brining the total number to 70,000 _ large enough to fill the entire plaza and extend all the way to parliament.
- PM tells Brits: Democracy will triumph
"They want to play a fast game and want to end it as soon as possible," he said.
The disqualified Pheu Thai list-MP said the worst-case scenario could see the rallygoers storm and seize parliament and Government House.
"We don't know how far things will go, but we will not underestimate them," he said.
Mr Jatuporn said the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship would carefully handle this sensitive situation.
"We know, if we go out and confront them, it will bring about a coup. If we don't do anything, the government may be toppled by an undemocratic power," he said.
So the red shirts might hold a mass rally elsewhere to demonstrate their power and to avoid a direct confrontation with the Pitak Siam protesters.
He said those behind the Pitak Siam group do not want the Pheu Thai Party-led government to remain in office any longer.
"They don't have much time. At this rally, they must finish it _ to overthrow the government. If they don't, they will lose," Mr Jatuporn said.
After the Democrat Party was defeated by Pheu Thai in the general election on July 3 last year, former deputy prime minister and former democrat secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban said the Democrats did not lose to Pheu Thai, but to the red-shirt movement.
Therefore, Mr Jatuporn said, the Democrat Party also wants to launch tit-for-tat moves against the Pheu Thai. The party has taken its anti-government campaign to the provinces and set up its own television (Blue Sky) channel.
Mr Jatuporn said over the past year, the Democrats have established a supporter base on a par with the red-shirt movement. He said what Boonlert Kaewprasit, the Pitak Siam leader, has said and done is well scripted and meticulously planned.
Mr Jatuporn said the censure debate by the Democrat Party from Nov 25-27 is timed to coincide with the Pitak Siam rally to put maximum pressure on the government which has to face a grilling from an opposition trying to employ parliamentary tactics to throw the government off balance. He said Pitak Siam comprises the same group of people who toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra, Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat administrations.
"This may be the same situation that unseated former prime minister Somchai _ when the People's Alliance for Democracy announced that Mr Somchai would not have an audience [with His Majesty the King] on Dec 4, 2008. As it turned out, the Constitution Court ruled to dissolve the People Power Party on Dec 2, 2008," Mr Jatuporn said, adding that crunch time for the Yingluck government is likely to be before Dec 5.
He said if the prime minister calls on other ministers to answer questions on her behalf or if she cannot answer questions herself, she will face mounting pressure from protesters outside parliament, who will not accept the outcome of the censure vote, Mr Jatuporn said.
The prime minister will survive the no-confidence vote anyway because of the government's overwhelming majority in the House.
Mr Jatuporn said if the Pitak Siam group attracts enough support, it could try to petition independent organisations to take legal action against Ms Yingluck over pending cases. He did not give any further details.
Meanwhile, up to 50,000 police officers will be on duty at the Pitak Siam rally, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said yesterday.
About the author
- Writer: Nattaya Chetchotiros