BMTA labour union opposes police use of buses to block protesters
The labour union of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), the city bus operator, has objected to the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s request for 55 buses to be used tomorrow during the planned mass protest.
BMTA Director Surachai Iamwachirasakul has approved the police request, reportedly to facilitate traffic management by the police.
BMTA labour union leader, Boonma Pungma, said he is afraid that, if the buses are used by the police to block the path of marching protesters, as has been done before, the BMTA would be mistakenly regarded by the protesters as supporting the police, and there is also a risk that some of the buses could be damaged by angry protesters.
He went on to say that the union has already sent letters of objection to the decision to the director and Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.
The protesters have been warned not to venture within a 150-metre radius of the palace, after there were reports that they may march to the Royal Plaza, where the statue of King Chulalongkorn is located.
Pro-monarchists are also scheduled to gather at the Democracy Monument tomorrow, but on the opposite side to the anti-establishment protesters.
Sources say that police will try to persuade the royalists to move further away from the monument, to avoid a confrontation. They added that Army Commander-in-Chief General Narongphan Chitkaewtae and the Commander of the First Army Region, Lt-Gen Charoenchai Hinthao will be monitoring the protest tomorrow from the Army’s operations centre.
Motorists have been advised to avoid Phya Thai Road, from Samyan intersection to Soi Chula 42, Rama IV Road from Samyan intersection to Sala Daeng intersection and Silom Road from Sala Daeng intersection to Nararom intersection, due to another planned protest this afternoon (Saturday).
Protesters plan to converge at Samyan at 4pm and then march to Silom Road, but traffic police have advised motorists to avoid these areas from as early as 3pm.
Today’s protest is a prelude to the event tomorrow, which the protest organizers have promised will be another mass protest at the Democracy Monument.
They did not disclose to where the protesters will head from the Democracy Monument.