Media urged not to be used by unscrupulous protesters seeking state handouts

Finance permanent secretary Prasong Poonthanate has criticized those engaging in sporadic and highly visible protests in an attempt to attract media attention to their efforts to get the 5,000 baht state subsidy.

He also said he is of the opinion that some media outlets are unwittingly being used by these protesters, claiming that some have already received the subsidy cash, but are demanding more. He cited the recent case of a taxi driver, who had attempted to scale the perimeter fence of the Finance Ministry as members of the media filmed the incident.

The cabbie, identified as Pongpicharn Thanathirapong, was at the Ministry on Thursday to demand that the handout be wired to his account that day, claiming that he had received a text message instructing him to show up at the Ministry file his claim.

Prasong told the media yesterday that the Ministry is ready to help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that his officials have been working non-stop to speed up disbursement of the money those in urgent need.

The permanent secretary also mentioned a protester who, he alleged, had brought with him a small amount of the poison arsenic, which he had intended to swallow in front of the media at the Finance Ministry.

He cited another incident in which a woman collapsed in front of the Finance Ministry, and falsely accused a guard, who had rushed to help her, of trying to assault her.

“What can we do? We are civil servants who must be patient and try to explain the situation to them. We asked them to return home, after completing complaint forms, to avoid the risk of spreading the virus, but some refused,” said Mr. Prasong.

He urged the media not to accord the protesters an undue level of coverage.


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