Thousands join Bangkok’s biggest protest since 2014 coup

Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, above, has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the government headed by former military ruler Prayuth Chan-ocha. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 14 December 2019

Thousands join Bangkok’s biggest protest since 2014 coup

  • The demonstration was called a day earlier by Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit
  • Thanathorn has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the current government

BANGKOK: Thousands of people joined Bangkok’s biggest protest since a 2014 coup on Saturday, after authorities in Thailand moved to ban a party that has rallied opposition to the government of former military ruler Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The demonstration, called a day earlier by Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a 41-year-old billionaire, revived memories of the spasms of street protest that have roiled Bangkok periodically over the past two decades of turbulent politics.
But there was no sign of a major police presence or attempt to block the biggest demonstration since Prayuth seized power in 2014 in the name of ending street violence.
“This is just the beginning,” Thanathorn told the cheering crowd that spilled across walkways and stairways close to the MBK Center, in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping and business district.
“Today is a show of strength so that in future others may join us. We’re just here today as a test run. Prayuth, don’t be afraid yet. The real thing is next month.”
Thanathorn has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the government headed by Prayuth, 65, since an election in March that the opposition said were manipulated to favor the army.
Thailand’s election panel has asked the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party, accusing it of infringing laws governing political parties by accepting multi-million dollar loans from Thanathorn.
Last month, the Constitutional Court found Thanathorn guilty of holding shares in a media company on the date his candidacy was registered for the election, disqualifying him as a member of parliament. Thanathorn disputed the ruling.
At the protest, demonstrators chanted “Long live democracy, dictatorship get out.”
Thanathorn earlier signed an agreement with six parties in an opposition alliance to push for changes to the constitution that was drawn up by the junta before the election.
He also won their support for the protest.
Among those parties was Pheu Thai, which won the most seats in the 500-member House of Representatives lower house but has taken a lower profile in challenging the government than Future Forward, which came third in the election.
Palang Pracharat, the pro-military party formed last year by members of the junta’s cabinet, came second. Prayuth told reporters on Friday it was inappropriate to organize a demonstration toward the end of the year.


Coronavirus: India expected to surpass US as worst-hit

Updated 20 September 2020

Coronavirus: India expected to surpass US as worst-hit

  • Over 60 percent of the active cases are concentrated in five of India’s 28 states

NEW DELHI: India has registered 92,605 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and is expected to surpass the United States as the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks.
The Health Ministry on Sunday also reported 1,133 additional deaths for a total of 86,752.
Sunday’s surge raised the country’s virus tally to over 5.4 million. India, however, also has the highest number of recovered patients in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Its recovery rate stands at about 80 percent.
Over 60 percent of the active cases are concentrated in five of India’s 28 states – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced scathing criticism for its handling of the pandemic amid a contracting economy that left millions jobless.