THAILAND: Non-South rubber farmers opt out of rally plans

The decision follows the government's offer to give rubber farmers a fertiliser subsidy for seven months.

"With the subsidy, rubber farmers will earn around Bt89 per kilo of rubber," Rubber Farmers Network of Thailand chairman Terdsak Sermsri said yesterday (29 Aug. 2013). The amount came very close to satisfying the rubber farmers' demand that the rubber price be pegged at Bt92, he said.

Nine of the network's 15 regional heads had already agreed to the government offer, Terdsak said.

"Only the six regional heads from the South plan to hold further discussions among themselves before deciding their next move," he said.

The negotiations between the network and Agriculture Minister Yukol Limlamthong took place at Government House on Wednesday.

Yukol agreed to participate in those negotiations only after rubber farmers vowed to stage massive rallies across the country next Tuesday. In Nakhon Si Thammarat, rubber farmers have already blocked roads and railways for days.

An informed source quoted Yukol as saying that even if rubber farmers in the South went ahead with their plans to stage rallies, the threat should ease to an extent in the absence of similar rallies in other parts of the country.

At press time, rubber farmers in Satun, Ranong and Phatthalung were still preparing to stage big protests on Tuesday.

PM's deputy secretary-general Suporn Atthawong, who has been assigned to monitor the protest in Nakhon Si Thammarat, said he was considering a plan to upgrade measures to deal with the protest there. He raised the possibility of invoking the Internal Security Act.

Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog said separately that the government was planning measures to deal with the protest in the South. He refused to elaborate, however.

Source: Daily "The Nation", Bangkok; 30 Aug 2013
(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)