6 June 2024

Many Thai netizens have criticised yesterday’s (Monday) raid of and noisy protest at Pheu Thai headquarters by a group of activists, saying they should have respected others’ rights and chosen other means to express their opinions.

The protesters should not have done anything that violated the law, a netizen wrote, while another wrote “what a shame that they ask others to respect people’s rights of expression, but they did the opposite.”

The incident that was broadcast live as it happened at Pheu Thai headquarters, after Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai leaders ended a joint press conference, during which they declared that they would be together in forming the government.

The group, called “Taluwang”, led by a young woman named Netiporn Sanesangkhom, initially gathered outside the headquarters and then entered the compound, while security officials followed them.

Netiporn was heard demanding to know the whereabouts of Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul, who is also public health minister. Somebody told her that Anutin had already left.

Then a confrontation occurred, when a minivan carrying Bhumjaithai deputy leader Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn was blocked by the group as it attempted to leave.

Using a loud speaker, Netiporn said “Lower the window, I want to know whether there is a murderer inside.” Phiphat then got out of the vehicle and told her to stop obstructing his vehicle.

Netiporn then asked whether he is member of Bhumjaithai. When he said he was, she yelled to others, “Bhumjaithai is here.”

Netiporn claimed that there was a problem, as Nu (Anutin’s nickname) is “a killer who is joining hands with Pheu Thai to form the government.”

Anutin is outgoing public health minister and his handling of the outbreak of COVID-19 virus was heavily criticised. Calling Anutin “a killer” again, Netiporn asked how many people died during that time.  Phiphat told her to not to use that kind of language. Then an exchange of words began.

A protester lit a flare and threw it under Phiphat’s van. Phiphat then returned to his vehicle and left.

Yesterday’s protest was the second by the Taluwang group at the Pheu Thai headquarters. The first protest saw protesters raid the compound and spray people with flour and coloured aerosols.

Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew warned the media leaving the press conference on Monday to take care of themselves and be safe, apparently referring to the first protest.

The Taluwang group supports the Move Forward party, which won the most House seats and initially joined hands with Pheu Thai to form the government. Move Forward’s prime ministerial candidate could not, however, win enough parliamentary votes for the position and the baton to form the government was passed to Pheu Thai.

It also seems likely that a Pheu Thai-led government will not include Move Forward. The group’s raid was seen as airing their outrage at the exclusion of Move Forward from the government.

Video clips of the confrontation between Phiphat and Netiporn went viral and many netizens praised the deputy Bhumjaithai leader for keeping his calm while criticising Netiporn for being rude.

The netizens questioned her real intention in raiding Pheu Thai headquarters, judging from her argument with Phiphat, which they said contained no substance, just rude words.

Meanwhile netizens who support Move Forward voiced agreement with Taluwang’s actions, saying the cooperation between Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai is a betrayal of the people’s trust in Pheu Thai.

“We voted for Pheu Thai so that it could form the government with democratic parties, not with Bhumjaithai, which is aligned with a party of coup leaders. So, we understand what Taluwang did,” a netizen wrote. This view were widely shared.