'Wing Lai Lung' on track

'Wing Lai Lung' on track

Event goes ahead after requests to hold briefing at two places turned down

University student Thanawat Wongchai (centre) announces his group's plan to organise the 'Wing Lai Lung' running event, at Thammasat University in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
University student Thanawat Wongchai (centre) announces his group's plan to organise the 'Wing Lai Lung' running event, at Thammasat University in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

A group of anti-military university students has finally been able to hold a briefing on their "Wing Lai Lung" (Run to Oust the Uncle) event at Thammasat University after their earlier requests to use two places for the press conference were denied.

The group calls the event "Run Against Dictatorship" in English. But its Thai name, "Wing Lai Lung", literally meaning "Run to Oust the Uncle", apparently refers to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is widely called "Lung Tu" (Uncle Tu). Tu is his nickname. 

The running event will be held on Jan 12 although police have yet to approve their proposed 6km route.

Thanawat Wongchai, an economics student from Chulalongkorn University and strategist of the Student Union of Thailand, told reporters at the university the run would start from the university via Phra Arthit Road, Phra Sumen Road and Phan Fa Bridge to the Democracy Monument. They will make three rounds around the monument before heading back to the university’s football field.

Participants could gather at the university from 4.30am and the run would start at 5.30am.

The organiser estimated a turnout of 2,000. No fee is charged for registering but for those who want a set of souvenirs — a jersey, medal and sticker, the registration fee is 600 baht, Mr Thanawat said.

When the runners reach the line, Mr Thanawat said they would declare their stand by demanding the government solve economic problems and fulfil their electoral pledges in three months, amend the constitution and unlock people’s rights and liberties and stop abusing power to help its cronies.

Mr Thanawat told reporters that his group had sent the running route to police for approval two weeks ago but had yet to receive a response.

In any case, his group would go ahead as planned since the organisation of a sports event did not require prior approval from authorities, Mr Thanawat said.

He denied that his group received support from any political party, saying the money used in organising it was raised from students, online media users and the sales of souvenirs.

The group also offers a trade-in programe with political undertones. Those who joined the pro-military People's Democratic Reform Committee protests five years ago could show their photos at the rallies or trade their whistles, a fashionable symbol of the demonstrations back then, for copies of the Safeguarding the Constitution medal for free.

The medal was awarded to both soldiers and civilians for their contribition to the crackdown of the Boworadet rebellion, led by a royalist army faction in 1933. The rebellion sought to revert the rule of the country back to absolute monarchy after Khana Ratsadon changed it to constitutional monarchy in the previous year. 

Last week, the group asked to use the FCCT office at Maneeya Center on Phloenchit Road for the briefing but was later turned down.

The FCCT explained it had been pressured by Pathumwan police, who found the title of the event was “objectionable” and that they considered it likely to create a “mob”.

“They also stated that there would be serious consequences for the FCCT — suggesting possible closure — if it did not comply with their request,” the FCCT wrote on Facebook on Dec 9. 

On Monday, the students were again turned down by the management of Royal Rattanakosin Hotel on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. They claimed the management was also pressured but the hotel’s staff told some Thai media one of their members called them to cancel it.

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