Protesters being misled by lies, deceit

Protesters being misled by lies, deceit

A prominent lover of Thailand says pro-democracy demonstrators are in the minority

Satish Sehgal at a condominium in Bangkok's Saladaeng Soi 2 with a painting of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great in the background. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Satish Sehgal at a condominium in Bangkok's Saladaeng Soi 2 with a painting of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great in the background. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Indian-born businessman Satish Sehgal, who motivated the crowd with his speeches about his love for Thailand during the anti-Yingluck government protests, believes the young protesters demanding reform of the monarchy do not represent the country's entire younger generation.

Mr Sehgal feels the anti-establishment groups who have organised tomorrow's major rally at the Democracy Monument are in the minority, are not properly educated about the country's history and misled by false information.

Otherwise, he said, they would not have behaved in such a way.

A man known for his love for Thailand and respect for the monarchy, Mr Sehgal said the institution had made great contributions to the country and it was the vision of the monarchy that helped protect the country's sovereignty while several other countries, including India, fell to colonialism.

He also criticised the young protesters' call for democracy, saying when they talk about democracy, they focus only on rights while falling short of responsibilities.

Asked about the protesters' claim that the institution was linked to military coups, he described the seizing of power in recent years, such as the 2014 putsch led by then-army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha, as not so much a coup, more like a military intervention.

He said that until 2014 the country had been in disarray and the Yingluck administration, which was a caretaker government, had no full authority and had failed to intervene to stop violence against the street protesters led by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

He also defended Gen Prayut's return to power following last year's general election, saying the government came out of elections held in compliance with the 2017 constitution that had been adopted in a public referendum.

He said the charter was also offered for public input ahead of a referendum that was accepted by more than 16 million people.

"So there is nothing illegitimate about the Prayut government. It's only some who aren't happy with it," he said.

The resignation of the prime minister is one of three demands unveiled by those running tomorrow's protest.

The other two are the passage of charter amendment bills to pave the way for a brand new charter and reforms of the monarchy.

"I doubt the number of those joining the anti-establishment groups will grow as I believe it is propaganda from a minority of people and they are not true representatives of the young generations in the country,'' Mr Sehgal said.

He said the protesters lacked experience and were unknowingly playing with fire.

He lambasted political groups for allegedly trying to manipulate the young for their own personal gains while stressing that he does not belong to any camp and does not have any stake.

Asked about the protesters becoming more aggressive and talking about the issue at the protests in a disrespectful manner, he said groups loyal to the institution of monarchy would not sit idly by.

They would make their positions known to the army chief, he vowed.

However, he said those groups had so far decided not to take action in order to avoid confrontation with young protesters who, he said, were guided by emotions and false or distorted information.

"Why don't the real protest leaders get on stage? Why do they manipulate the youth?" he said.

Mr Sehgal is confident that groups loyal to the institution will come out in force when necessary but noted that tomorrow's protest was not enough to warrant them taking action yet.

He also said violent confrontations between two groups with opposing views were also highly unlikely in Thailand, whose citizens always tended towards compromise.

"People who love and respect the institution are not the kind that will mobilise first but when the time comes they will be ready to demonstrate that they do not want any other system," he said.

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