A group of citizens including students, red shirt activists and other groups from districts across Chiang Mai came together to organise the ‘2nd Lanna against sakdina’ activity yesterday evening.
The group of over 1,000 people gathered in front of the Chiang Mai police station and saw over 500 vehicles join a parade, tooting horns to symbolise shooing away the prime minister, as they head towards the provincial hall. The sakdina system was a system of social hierarchy which was first used in the Ayutthaya and lasted well into the Rattanakosin period of Thai history. According to Wikipedia, “It assigned a numerical rank to each person depending on their status, and served to determine their precedence in society, and especially among the nobility.”
A letter for Governor Charoenrit Sanguansat, asking him to side with the people as well as one to the prime minister asking for his resignation was handed over.
On arrival, the group were told that they could not enter the grounds of the provincial hall which caused a very tense standoff between the protesters and the 400 policemen, 20 fire engines and dozens of medical staff who were on standby. The group, throwing balloons filled with colour water, pushed through the barricades after half an hour’s standoff and eventually entered the grounds of the provincial hall.
At this point to avoid any potential violence, as members of the group were becoming agitated, representatives from both sides negotiated and agreed to allow the protesters to gather at the large roundabout in front of the provincial hall and not enter the halls themselves.
CityNews’s reporter said that this has been the most tense political protest in many years. However, the group dispersed peacefully after singing the national anthem.