PM promises money next week, farmers going home: Thai rice farmers who were en route to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to protest agreed to return home after caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised long overdue rice payments will be made next week, say reports.
The farmers were travelling to Bangkok from Thailand’s Central provinces in a caravan of 700 farm trucks with 5,000 rice growers, and were expected to reach the airport Friday afternoon, causing airport security jitters.
But Chada Thaiset, one of the rally leaders and a former Chartthaipattana Party MP, told the farmers on a protest stage at a roadside resting point in Ayutthaya that he had met and held talks with Ms Yingluck, according to a Bangkok Post report.
“Ms Yingluck promised that the rice payments will be made next week,” he informed the farmers.
The farmers reportedly discussed their next move after receiving the payment promise. Many thought they should continue to Suvarnabhumi airport as planned because they did not think the government would be able to make the payments as promised.
However, they finally agreed to cancel the airport rally and were heading home on their farm vehicles.
But they promised to return to rally at the airport if they do not receive their payments as promised.
The government owes 130 billion baht (US$4 billion) in overdue payments to over one million farmers under the controversial rice-pledging programme, which is under investigation for alleged corruption and irregularities.
The National Anti Corruption Commission is proceeding with formal charges against Ms Yingluck for dereliction of duty. She is scheduled to answer the charge next Thursday.
The prospect of a large group of protesters heading to Suvarnabhumi conjured up memories of the 2008 takeover of the airport by yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy protesters, which shut down flights and lasted nine days.