PM bans Friday rubber farmer rally
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed growing frustration at southern rubber planters who plan a protest over falling prices on Jan 30, urging them to be patient while efforts are made to solve problems throughout the sector.
Speaking to reporters outside Government House, Gen Prayut said the planned rally in Trang’s Sikao district by a network of rubber farmers from 16 southern provinces could not go ahead.
He said he had ordered the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to negotiate with the network as well as check on people involved with Friday's gathering to see if they are real farmers or are backed by influential figures.
There were many groups of rubber growers in the South, Gen Prayut said, and a body to represent all of them should be formed in order to hold talks with authorities and ensure that any decisions made are accepted by every farmer.
“When rubber sheet is sold for less than 80 baht [per kilogramme], they demand 80 baht. Now while we can only increase the price to 60 baht, they again ask for rubber latex prices to be 80 baht. They cannot keep asking like this,” the prime minister said.
He said the government was trying to solve problems in the entire rubber system and the process would take time. It recently approved plans to use natural rubber to build roads and sports stadium floors as part of the efforts to shore up local rubber prices.
“They should think hard about whether people in other occupations such as motorcycle taxi drivers and vendors are suffering hardship like them and why don’t they demand the same from government,” he noted.
The network led by Saksarit Sriprasart announced on Tuesday it would stage a mass protest rally this Friday after postponing the plan from December to avoid the auspicious month and His Majesty the King's birthday on Dec 5.
Mr Saksit said farmers had tried to be patient but had suffered from tumbling rubber prices for a long time. He claimed the Prayut government did not care about the farmers.