Rice farmers 'conned' by Chada
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Rice farmers 'conned' by Chada

Chada Thaiseth is known as an influential figure in Uthai Thani and a supporter of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as proven by his endorsement of the universal amnesty bill.

Outside Uthani Thani, however, when his name is mentioned the first reaction most likely will be "Chada who?".

The former Chartthaipattana MP from Uthai Thani burst into the broader public limelight this week when he led a colourful procession of about 2,000 rice farmers from several central provinces, complete with dozens of farm trucks. They were en route to Bangkok Friday to demand long-overdue payments for farmers.

Originally, the group planned to rally at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Friday supposedly to put pressure on the government. Mr Chada assured the public and the government that the farmers would not disrupt any services at the airport. He also said they would meet only with caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nobody else to settle the rice payment issue.

Former Chartthaipattana MP Chada Thaiseth addresses rice growers on Friday. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Why Suvarnabhumi Airport instead of the Commerce Ministry, where all the other disgruntled farmers have been gathering? Mr Chada did not explain why and the farmers he led didn't question his decision either.

But he sternly announced that his famers would not return home until they were all get paid.

Mr Chada and the farmers camped out overnight by the roadside in Bang Pa-in district of Ayutthaya before getting ready to continue their journey to Suvarnabhumi on Friday.

However, critics pointed out something suspicious about Chada's protest procession. They noted that it was escorted by about five leading police cars which cleared the traffic on the Asian Highway for Mr Chada's group. This is highly unusual given the reception other groups of protesting farmers received. They were met either with attempts to block their vehicles, or with tyre-puncturing spikes.

Truth is permanent, so it is said. The truth was out on Friday about Mr Chada's farmers – either they are fake or several of them were duped.

The former MP abruptly told the farmers that he had already met Ms Yingluck, who promised that all of them would get paid next week.

Then the procession was ordered to turn back and head for home. It was not even known whether Mr Chada had actually met the prime minister. When the meeting took place remains a puzzle as the farmers did not question him.

But my guess is that this whole exercise was just a charade to lend moral support to the embattled premier. Anyway, I pity the real farmers among the group who were duped by the ex-MP.

Will they get paid next week as Mr Chada said they would? It seems that only the politician and his co-conspirators know the answer.

Mr Chada warned that he would lead farmers to Bangkok again if the farmers are not paid as promised. But one charade seems to be more than enough for the real farmers.

I wonder how many real farmers he will be able to mobilise the next time he leads another protest march to Bangkok?

Veera Prateepchaikul

Former Editor

Former Bangkok Post Editor, political commentator and a regular columnist at Post Publishing.

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