Apec protest risk worries govt

Apec protest risk worries govt

Govt keen to protect reputation at summit

A dancer performs a classical Khon dance at Suvarnabhumi airport on Tuesday as part of a public relations campaign ahead of the upcoming Apec summit next month. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
A dancer performs a classical Khon dance at Suvarnabhumi airport on Tuesday as part of a public relations campaign ahead of the upcoming Apec summit next month. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The government has raised concerns about possible protests during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit, asking protesters to help preserve the country's image.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri on Wednesday declared the country was ready to host the summit next month, saying all sectors are prepared for the event, including security.

Mr Anucha said another summit will be held on Nov 14 for senior officials ahead of the Apec economic leaders' meeting on Nov 18.

The welcome event will be held not only for economic leaders, but also senior officials and their spouses, and will be chaired by the premier's wife, Naraporn Chan-o-cha.

Asked if Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was concerned about possible protests, Mr Anucha said the government is trying to spread information about the summit to raise awareness of its importance to the country.

Mr Anucha said most Thais should learn about the event and the topics that will be raised, which will be shared on social media and via local artists.

As chair of the summit, the country must create a good first impression. The government is seeking the public's cooperation to be a good host, Mr Anucha said.

"We want people to be proud that our country has been selected to be the host, as it is quite difficult being selected out of all the 21 country members," he added.

"We should join together to be a good host and impress our guests. This event will be of great importance for Thailand's role in the global community," he said.

Most members have accepted invitations to attend, he said, declining to disclose details.

The government has also invited special guests from three non-member countries: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who will be accompanied by 800 Saudi dignitaries and businessmen, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Among other notable invitees, the government said earlier it has yet to be confirmed whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would attend.

Meanwhile, national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas said police were ready to provide safety for all attendees. Police will escort the convoys of leaders' cars to the summit destination.

The operation, joined by almost 20,000 officers, will be overseen by Pol Lt Gen Jirasan Kaewsaeng-ek, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB). The army, public health agencies, City Hall and the Metropolitan Electricity Authority will also take part.

"Police are preparing to talk to the protest leaders, aiming to prevent any violence or actions which could damage the country's image during Apec," said Pol Gen Damrongsak.

To ease traffic during the summit, the government announced special public holidays from Nov 16-18 for Bangkok and its surrounding provinces.

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