Thailand’s next protest could draw 100,000 participants

BANGKOK • A planned anti-government protest in Bangkok next week is set to draw some 100,000 people, or twice as many participants as a demonstration last month, according to organisers.

The gathering scheduled for Oct 14 will call on the government to resign and the monarchy to be reformed, said Arnon Nampa, a lawyer and leading figure in the campaign.

“People who want any or all of these changes should join the movement,” Arnon said at a briefing in Bangkok yesterday. “We’re looking to increase pressure on the government.”

Thailand’s political risk is back in focus following a series of protests that started mid-July, adding to challenges faced by Prime Minister (PM) Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s government. The economy is headed for its worst-ever full-year contraction and year-to-date foreign fund withdrawals from the equity market now exceed a record annual exodus set in 2018.

The PM has said protesters are allowed to gather as long as they follow the law, and that he doesn’t want the movement to escalate because it’s “not good” for the country, according to government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.

The protest organisers, representing several youth-led groups, plan to hold their gathering at the Democracy Monument, a symbol of Thailand’s transition to constitutional monarchy following a 1932’s coup. Thailand has since had about 20 successful putsches, the most recent led by former army chief Prayuth who now heads an elected government. — Bloomberg