Thai farmers storm out of govt talks, 3rd commits suicide: Angry farmers’ representatives stormed out of talks with the Thai government after officials were unable to give them an answer on when they can expect payment for money owed them for crops sold under the state rice-pledging programme.
Western province farming representative and negotiation leader Rawee Rungruang walked out of the talks at the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence in Bangkok after meeting with caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn, caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Nathawut Saikuar, and caretaker PM’s Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn, according to reports.
After an hour of talks, Mr Rawee realized that officials could not give him an answer on when the farmers could expect to receive the money owed them, and decided to abandon the talks.
He insisted the farmers he represents have no political agenda, but are suffering because of the caretaker government’s inability to pay them under the rice scheme, and would return home immediately when they received their cash.
During the meeting, Mr Rawee told officials he wanted them to sell off the rice it is holding in stockpiles at any cost, in order to pay the farmers.
He also said that since the caretaker government has no way of getting the money it needs to pay the farmers, the country needs a new administration with the authority to solve the problem.
Farmers reportedly announced through loudspeakers that they would mobilise farmers from across the nation to seize rice warehouses, arguing that the government no longer has the legitimacy to handle the rice in stock.
The protesting farmers then returned to their main rally site in front of the Commerce Ministry.
Meanwhile, a farmer in Sukhothai committed suicide by hanging herself on Monday morning. She was identified as 38-year-old Pensinee Thongchoi, and had been waiting for the government to pay her for rice sold into the scheme.
Her death follows two other farmers who committed suicide over stress caused by financial problems from the payment delays under the programme.
“Farmers are experiencing extreme distress with no money to pay debts, eat on a daily basis or grow new crops. They resort to loan sharks but are still not making ends meet. They can’t even afford to send their children to school,” said Pichai Aunnartsak, kamnan of tambon Ban Mai Sook Kasem.
“Some cannot cope with the stress and hang themselves. We are very saddened by this.”