Rubber growers in the South are threatening to lay siege to important places like airports and provincial halls if the government fails to answer their demand for a higher price for their produce.Meanwhile, authorities have vowed strict law enforcement against protesters who cross the line.
"We will take legal action against protest leaders who are behind road and railway blockades," police spokesman Maj-General Piya Uthayo said yesterday.He added that authorities would most certainly not allow anybody to block the entrance of airports.
"If the protest spirals into airport seizures, we will invoke Article 135/1 of the Criminal Code. The maximum punishment under this clause is death," he warned.
Piya said that in the face of threats from rubber farmers, police were now keeping a close eye on Surat Thani, Krabi and Trang airports.
"We are working with the Royal Thai Air Force in protecting these facilities," he said.
As of press time, about 2,000 farmers had gathered and were blocking a road about 500 metres from Surat Thani Airport. However, passengers were still able to get to the airport using another road.
Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog, meanwhile, has called on the protesters to talk to the government, adding that even though the authorities could not increase the rubber price significantly, it would help by reducing their costs.
"The Cabinet approved cost-lowering measures on Tuesday," he said.
He also warned the protesters against seizing the airports, saying that relevant authorities might need to use force if the demonstrators go too far.
"We can't allow any airport seizures," he said.