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Once Again Thai Farmers Suffer from Political Divide in Bangkok



Angry farmers rallied in Bangkok city and held up traffic
BANGKOK –  Thai rice farmers mounted a protest in Bangkok on Thursday in the latest show of public anger against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s embattled government.A controversial scheme to guarantee farmers above-market rates for rice has become a lightning rod for anger among Yingluck’s critics, who say it has encouraged corruption, drained the public coffers and left the country with a mountain of unsold stock.About 200 rice farmers, accompanied by trucks and combine harvesters, massed outside the commerce ministry in protest at the lack of payment under the scheme, which knocked the kingdom from its position as the world’s top rice exporter in 2012.

“I want the government to help because I have no money to use now. We have suffered a lot, otherwise we would not come,” said farmer Sunan Poompuang.

Writing in her Facebook page, she defended the rice pledging scheme

“If they cannot solve the problem, then let other people do the job.”

Farmers also blocked two highways leading into Bangkok, according to police.

The government blames three months of demonstrations on Bangkok’s streets for derailing the scheme, with Yingluck saying her administration’s powers have been limited after the dissolution of parliament in December.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has blamed anti-government protests for blocking the government’s efforts to address to the livelihood of the people, including the rice pledging scheme “which is favoured by farmers across the country.”

Writing in her Facebook page, she defended the rice pledging scheme as similar to policies aimed to support agricultural prices which were implemented in other countries and adapted in correspondence with the environments of each country.

Farmers take part in a rally demanding the Yingluck administration resolve delays in payment from the rice pledging scheme, outside the Commerce Ministry

“Each country has to take care of its farmers so they will have better income and be happy. The government’s policies derive from this philosophy are acceptable to the farmers and have been successful in upgrading the earnings and expand the opportunities of the farmers in the past two years. I myself and the cabinet have exerted our efforts to make this scheme a success,” Ms Yingluck wrote in her Facebook page in defence of the rice pledging scheme.

She accused the “undemocratic force” of attempting to overthrow her government and to block the government’s efforts to try to improve the livelihood of the people, citing the rice pledging scheme.

As for the delayed rice payments demanded by protesting farmers, the prime minister said she did not sit idly by and was fully aware of the farmers’ plight and urged authorities concerned to help the farmers.

The Finance Ministry, she said, is try to secure loan under legal limitations whereas the Commerce Ministry is trying to sell more rice through auctions so that there will be money to pay the farmers.

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