Police and City Hall at odds on protests

The Metropolitan Police Bureau and City Hall were at odds on Monday over ongoing anti-government rallies, after a senior officer questioned whether officials are taking necessary measures to prevent protesters from occupying a public space at Uruphong intersection on Rama VI Road.

It began with a letter from MPB commissioner Kamronwit Thoopkrajangsent to Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra questioning the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's (BMA) handling of the Uruphong rally.  

In the letter, Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit said the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand had been rallying in a public space on Rama VI Road near Uruphong intersection since last Thursday and had set up a stage, put up tents and hung or placed their belongings in the area. 

The letter said the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order and the MPB wanted to know whether the protesters asked the BMA before they set up the stage or put up tents, if the BMA gave official written permission for them to use the venue, and if the BMA was enforcing the 1995 Cleaning and Orderliness of Public Spaces Act by ordering protesters to demolish structures blocking the road.

Wasan Meewong, BMA spokesman and adviser to the Bangkok governor, fired back, demanding to know what Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit hoped to achieve with his questions.  

Mr Waree said the demonstrators at the Uruphong intersection had not sought permission from the BMA, nor did any of past political groups do so when holding rallies on the streets of Bangkok. 

He said the BMA provided mobile toilets and other basic amenities to all groups equally. 

On prosecuting the protesters, the BMA would base its decision on facts and evidence first. The agency usually took legal action when its property was damaged by protesters, he said.

“I believe Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit understands this because the same working method applies to police too, which is to gather facts and evidence before proceeding,” Mr Waree said.

“The police have never asked about the BMA’s work before, so I don’t understand why they are asking now.

“I don’t know what Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit wants or if he decided to send the letter by himself or his boss ordered him to. If he wants the BMA to prosecute the protesters, we have to do the same with all other groups in the past too.”

Responding to the allegation that city hall supports the anti-government protesters, Mr Waree cited the fact that the BMA provided necessary amenities when the red shirts organised their previous mass rallies in Bangkok, treating them in the same way as the current protest group. 

He added that no one complained when BMA officials treated the red shirts well. 

Related search: Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, City Hall, Metropolitan Police Bureau, Kamronwit Thoopkrajang

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