PM gives a last warning to red shirts

PM gives a last warning to red shirts

Fraud centres 'will not be allowed'

From left: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, and red-shirt core members Nattawut Saikuar and Jatuporn Promphan. (File photos)
From left: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, and red-shirt core members Nattawut Saikuar and Jatuporn Promphan. (File photos)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has given a final warning to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship not to open provincial fraud investigation centres ahead of the Aug 7 referendum.

The prime minister, returning from an official visit to India, let the red shirt group know it was risking retaliation after it dismissed his government's previous warnings over the fraud centres. The UDD plans to launch the centres today.

Gen Prayut said the centres could not be permitted and action was being considered.

"I have ordered authorities to consider taking legal action on the issue," he said.

"I'm asking them to think about the country's situation. I insist that the centres can't be opened as the law bans [political] gatherings of more than five persons."

He also warned Pheu Thai politicians not to wear T-shirts or post Facebook messages saying that they reject the constitution. That could result in charges.

Core red shirt members yesterday gathered at a coordinating centre at Imperial World mall in Lat Phrao to witness the launch of the centres across the country.

Defying the government's warning, UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan said the plan will go ahead as the centres will not be illegal because they involve fraud monitoring, not politics.

"If the regime considers this is illegal, come and arrest us. We're ready. Don't go after the leaders in the provinces," he said, adding that it is important for the group to bring in observers.

The UDD has sent invitations to international organisations and embassies and the National Human Rights Commission to observe the centres.

Nattawut Saikuar, a UDD co-leader, said the group has done nothing illegal and it will not mobilise its supporters to confront the authorities.

Tida Thawornseth, another UDD co-leader, said the anti-fraud centres are the right thing to do and the red shirts will proceed with the plan. Ms Tida said while the provincial plans might be disrupted by the authorities, violence is unlikely to erupt.

An NCPO source said the junta is not convinced that there is no political motivation behind the centres because the red shirts continue to engage in political activities which can disrupt peace and order.

"Why are they doing this? How can these centres work? What can they do when they have no authority? The regime will act if the red shirts' activities are illegal," said the source.

The source said troops in the provinces have been keeping an eye on the UDD and will take legal action if they find the red shirts' activities inappropriate. However, they will try to talk the red shirts out of acting first.

NCPO spokesman Piyapong Klinpan said yesterday the UDD's anti-fraud centres are considered "a political activity" and counteract the regime's ban. He played down the group's efforts to bring in international bodies.

"I believe the people who follow the news will be able to see their pattern," he said.

Col Piyapong also clarified two documents, one of which allegedly ordered military officials to "delete" hard-core anti-coup leaders if they resisted.

He said one of the documents circulated online, which involves a policy to crackdown on illegal influential figures, is genuine and belongs to the peacekeeping force attached to the 38th Military Circle. However, the other which authorises the killing of anti-coup leaders is false.

The fake document divides individuals into categories and issues instructions on how to deal with them: "Delete (hard-core leaders -- eliminate if resist arrest), Catch (second generation leaders -- arrest), Restrict (academics and media members -- warn or use threats) and Service (politicians, senior state officials and influential figures -- exploit for benefits)".

Third Army chief Lt Gen Somsak Nilbanjerdkul said he has ordered authorities to investigate the fake document and take legal action against people behind it.

Meanwhile, the latest findings by Suan Dusit Poll indicate that people have doubts about the UDD's anti-fraud centres.

The survey on June 13-17 found people were suspicious about the UDD's motives.

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