Not to be outdone by yesterday’s Run Against Dictatorship, the organizers of a rival event held downtown claimed nearly double the turnout today.
Pro-government Facebook page Cheer Lung said more than 24,000 people — a suspiciously precise 24,585, to be exact — showed up to “Walk and Cheer for Prayuth” on Sunday at Lumphini Park. Photos showed a much older crowd than that several kilometers north at another park wearing T-shirts that read “Our PM is good,” and “Our nation is good.” So that’s good.
The police, perhaps diplomatically, estimated that 13,000 people showed up for both events.
Celebrities in attendance included ’90s singer-actress Haruthai “Au” Muangboonsri and Capt. Songklod Chuenchupol, an activist and former army officer who goes by “Capt. Pookem.”
“Today we come here to show the country that there are a lot of people who support Prayuth [Chan-ocha],” Songklod said of the prime minister, who seized power five years ago and retained it after a flawed election last year. “Prayuth is honest and devoted. I like him having a heart that loves this country, and he is capable of moving it forward. Those nation-haters should open their eyes, ears and minds already.”
Meanwhile, over at Suan Rotfai, the “Run Against Dictatorship” saw runners and joggers shouting “Prayuth, get out!” along the route. Many were supporters of the popular progressive political party which has vowed to reform the military and is now threatened with being disbanded by the courts of specious grounds.
Among the participants there were Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, activist Nattaa “Bow” Mahattana and Winyu “John” Wongsurawat of the satirical news show Jor Kao Tuen, or Shallow News in Depth.
“These are the voices of people saying that we’re not satisfied with the National Council for Peace and Order’s power prolongment,” Thanathorn said, referring to the government by the name of Prayuth’s junta that ruled Thailand five years. “We want to see changes, and we want our democracy back. These are the souls of people who are not willing to surrender to dictators.”
Parallel events with the same name were held in more than a dozen provinces including Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani, Kalasin and Chonburi. There were even events held abroad: Helsinki, Finland; Berlin; London and Auckland, New Zealand.