Weekly News Roundup: April 22

Suthep's march at Asiatique calls for the last fight


Suthep's "meet 'n' greet" rally on Sunday, 20 April 2014. (source: fb.com/RatchadamnoenAvenue)


Suthep Thaugsuban meets his supporters at Asiatique the Riverfront on Sunday, 20 April (source: fb.com/RatchadamnoenAvenue)

People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters led by Suthep Thaugsuban marched from their main protest site at Lumpini Park to an open-air mall, Asiatique the Riverfront, on Charoen Krung Road last Sunday (20 April) to call on Bangkokians to join their next major “final rally”.

 
The PDRC's Facebook page showcases pictures of donors waiting in front of the mall to meet with "Uncle Kamnan" (subdistrict headman), another given name to Suthep. 
 
Speaking in the evening at Lumpini Park after the daytime march, the secretary-general of the PDRC said "Today's tremendous showing demonstrated the people's resolve to reform Thailand before the next elections, and to purify our electoral system to ensure true democracy in our country. I am certain that a clean and fair system will be established in our time." 
 
"The era of capitalist autocracy is over," Suthep added.
 
Suthep also announced that over the coming weekends he would lead PDRC supporters to visit more communities in the capital to personally meet and invite the public to join their “ultimate  fight against the regime.”
 
 
Grenade fired at high profile Ministry head and Suthep door-to-door meetings
 
On the same Sunday night (20 April), the Chaengwattana Road home of Dr.Narong Sahamethapat, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, was hit by a 40 mm grenade, leaving holes in his parking area and a concrete wall, although no one was injured. 
 
Last week, Dr. Narong refused an order of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) that called for a meeting of the Permanent Secretaries of all Ministries at the Royal Police Club. 
 
Kittipong Kittiyarak, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice appeared at the meeting, but did not sign his name to register. Both Dr.Narong and Kittipong are two of the four Ministerial Permanent Secretaries who met Suthep at their offices during Suthep's door-to-door meetings in the week before the Songkran festival.
 
The other two who met Suthep were Chavalit Chookajorn, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and Gen. Nipat Thonglek, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence. They joined the CAPO meeting on 17 April.
 
Suthep's purpose in the meetings was to clarify with the chief civil servant of each Ministry that his proclamation of a "sovereign body" was just an assumption that has not yet happened.
 
But he said the PDRC will proclaim itself a "sovereign body" after the ruling of the Constitutional Court which could disqualify Yingluck Shinawatra from the premiership.
 
The charter court will rule on an abuse of power case against Yingluck soon but has not yet set the date for the ruling.  The case was submitted by 27 Senators who accused her of abusing power when she transferred National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri in 2011.
 
Suthep also added that he will not be a "sovereign body" but it is the people who own such sovereign power and he will just act on their behalf and with their consent.
 
 
"Unarmed combat" training for red-shirt guards

Training programme for volunteer guards held by “Rambo Isan” in Nakhon Ratchasima Province. (source: Go6TV)
 
A red-shirt faction, the Democracy Protection Volunteers Group (DPVG), led by Suporn Atthawong, held its second volunteer guard training programme at a stadium in Nakhon Ratchasima Province on Sunday (20 April). He said the aim of the training was to protect the current government from all threats of a coup.
 
Viroon Phuensaen, former Deputy Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police and a member of the Pheu Thai Party, chaired the opening ceremony.
 
The training included hand-to-hand/unarmed combat and lectures on politics. At least 5,000 participants from red-shirt provincial groups took part.
 
Suporn, also known by his followers as "Rambo Isan", said the trained volunteers will support and safeguard UDD red-shirt supporters. He said their opponent was not the PDRC but any kind of dictatorship.
 
Suporn previously held the first training programme on 4 April, one day before the UDD/red-shirt mass gathering in Bangkok on April 5-7, 2014.