When student activists set out on their “Run Against Dictatorship” on Sunday at Suan Rod Fai, a group of very differently minded citizens will stroll around Lumphini Park to show their support for the government.
The pro-establishment event was announced as the anti-government run was denied a series of venues and forced to hold it at the park, also called Vachirabenjatas Park, north of downtown near BTS Mo Chit.
“Walk and Cheer for Prayuth,” will take place Sunday morning at Lumphini Park. The event is organized by a Facebook page called Cheer Lung. Both events have more colorful names in Thai that refer to junta leader turned Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha as uncle, as he is commonly called: “Walk for Uncle” and “Chase the Uncle Out.”
“Wear white T-shirts, sneakers and brave hearts,” the Facebook page announced alongside a picture referring to government critics with an inflammatory epithet that’s come into vogue with the hard right:
“If you’re against those nation-haters, we’re friends.”
The event is an obvious attempt to counter the “Run Against Dictatorship,” hosted by a group of student activists including Chulalongkorn University student Tanawat Wongchai. Even before their run could take place, the group had to leap several hurdles, including being blocked from announcing it by venues canceling their booking under pressure, being refused use of public streets for the run and then being denied use of the campus by Thammasat University without explanation.
Asked by a reporter how he felt about the two competing events on the same day, Prayuth said he was indifferent.
“I see no point in these people seeking to oust a person, either the group that supports me or is against me. What use is it anyway?” he said yesterday at the Government House.