PM: We'll be gentle, but stay away from govt buildings
Weekend rally 'increases risk of covid transmission'
published : 17 Sep 2020 at 17:06
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has promised protesters will be handled gently during this weekend's rally, but warned them not to attack government buildings, to avoid violence.
He was responding to reporters' questions at Government House ahead of the anti-government rally planned to start at the Tha Prachan campus of Thammasat University in inner Bangkok on Saturday.
"Officials will do their duty. I told them to respond gently because they [protesters] are young," Gen Prayut said. Most of the demonstrators are expected to be students.
He did warn that government premises are protected by law and should not be interfered with.
"I ask that they refrain from wrongdoing. Government places have rules and there are laws. Any action that would cause fighting should be avoided," Gen Prayut said.
There were people and groups who were trying to trigger violence, to create an uncontrollable situation, but the government was trying to prevent that, he said.
The prime minister said that demonstrations could interrupt the government's efforts to bring back tourists to help the national economy. Protesters should think about whether their activities could conflict with economic solutions and the public interest.
He said his government should also be treated fairly, because it had solved national problems, and its solutions were making progress.
Later, the prime minister issued a statement warning demonstrators that their rally would tremendously increase the risk of transmission of coronavirus disease, which could lead to another round of business lockdowns and massive layoffs.
He asked demonstrators to be patient and wait for the Covid-19 crisis to end. He said his government was listening to them.
Meanwhile, opposition parties voiced support for the anti-government protest.
Opposition leader Sompong Amornwiwat, of the Pheu Thai Party, said the demonstrators had the right to expression of opinion and the government must protect that right and open a public area for their rally.
Members of opposition parties would observe the rally, he said.
Demonstration leaders plan to rally at the Tha Prachan campus of Thammasat University on Saturday and stay overnight there before marching to Government House on Sunday. The management of the university has refused them permission to use the campus grounds.
The demonstrators are calling for the prime minister's resignation and the dissolution of parliament, a new constitution, and an end to harrasment of government critics.