press their demands
The Nation, May 31st, 2000
APART from protests outside Government House yesterday, interest groups rallied to make their demands heard in several provinces across the country.
At Rasi Salai Dam in Si Sa Ket province, about 500 protesters led by Paijit Silalak and Paithoon Thothong, continued removing rocks from the southern part of the dam.
Paijit Silalak said they were trying to make a hole on the dam so that water in the Mool River would flow back into its original waterway.
The protesters started removing the rocks on Monday.
Approximately 800 protestors took over the dam on May 18 and 19 and set up camp.
Some of the protesters yesterday chained themselves to the dam gate following rumours that the authorities might try to disperse them by force.
Police guarding the area tried unsuccessfully to convince them to stop removing rocks from the dam.
At Pak Mool Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, protesters who have occupied the dam's power plant for the past 16 days yesterday refused to allow Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand (Egat) officials to inspect the electric generators in the plant.
So far, only two of the plant's four generators are operating. The generators have reportedly overheated and could break down in two days.
Supin Panyamak, assistant Egat governor, said that if Egat's technicians could not access and repair the two generators within the next two days, the power plant's electricity generation and all the dam's facilities would halt, causing a blackout and possibly floods in the dam's neighbourhood.
In Prachuap Khiri Khan, a 72yearold coconut farmer sustained serious burn injuries on the left side of his body after setting himself on fire during a protest.
Thongloh Sangkham, a leader of the protesters, set himself on fire upon being told by provincial officials and a local MP that demands for the government to subsidise the price of raw and dried coconut could not be met. He was later rushed to the nearest district hospital.
The coconut farmers staged a rally on Phetchakasem interprovincial road in front of the Tap Sakae district stadium and poured heaps of coconuts on to both the outbound and inbound lanes.
Meanwhile, about 1,000 longan farmers from Lamphoon and Chiang Mai provinces gathered in front of Lamphoon city hall to demand that the government solve the problem of falling longan prices.
In Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Songkhla and Phuket provinces, provincial officials of the Airports Authority of Thailand staged rallies to protest against the authority's plan to privatise the four provincial airports.