Police chief defends subordinates over chaos outside Pheu Thai HQ
National police chief General Damrongsak Kittiprapas on Thursday defended his subordinates against criticism that police took no action when young protesters staged violent demonstrations at the Pheu Thai Party headquarters earlier this week.
One such criticism came from Anutin Charnvirakul, the caretaker public health minister and Bhumjaithai Party leader, who complained that police officers “stood idly by” as young activists from the anti-monarchy Thalu Wang group created chaos on Monday when Bhumjaithai leaders and their counterparts from the Pheu Thai Party held a press conference on the formation of a new coalition.
The protest came after Pheu Thai’s political divorce from the Move Forward Party to form a new alliance with the Bhumjaithai Party, which is part of the outgoing coalition government.
Damrongsak, the commander of the Royal Thai Police, said on Thursday that according to the report he obtained: “The police officers on duty did not stand still.”
He explained that police first allowed security guards at the premises to take action as the Pheu Thai headquarters is located on private property.
“They didn’t expect a violent incident or a blockage of the motorcade,” the police chief said.
He blamed a lack of cooperation between police officers and the security guards involved.
Damrongsak said that after the incident on Monday, he instructed local police to take immediate action on similar incidents.
He also said that the incident in question involved certain “delicate” factors that made it difficult for police to work. He pointed to the fact that the protesters involved were young or women and that any swift police action could attract criticism.
But the police chief promised police would do a better job in the future, saying: “We will improve from the lessons learned to take better actions in the future.”
On Monday, young activists from the Thalu Wang group blocked the Bhumjaithai convoy from leaving the Pheu Thai headquarters. Bhumjaithai deputy leader Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, who is also the caretaker tourism minister, left his vehicle to face a young female protester and they were involved in a brief argument. The woman used expletives in her argument with the minister, who appeared to be controlling his anger.
There was also chaos outside the Pheu Thai headquarters as protesters attempted to breach the barriers and enter the premises. Security personnel formed lines to prevent the protesters from advancing further.
Some protesters started throwing objects and a reporter was accidentally hit by a bottle of water during the chaos.
The acts of violence or aggression drew much criticism and prompted certain Move Forward politicians to deny any link between the party and the Thalu Wang protesters. Observers of Thai politics noted recently that young people have been used as a political tool.