Commerce staff wear black in protest

Many Commerce Ministry staff wore black to work on Thursday in a symbolic opposition to a disciplinary investigation launched against four ministry officials who appeared on the anti-government protest stage alongside retired senior officials on Jan 25.

The four targetted officials joined the "Love the Commerce Ministry" group led by former deputy commerce minister Oranuj Osatanonda, former permanent secretaries Charae Jutharattanakul, Krirk-krai Jirapaet and Karun Kittistaporn, and the former directors-general of several departments.

The group, linked together with a total of 18 retired officials, donated about 500,000 baht in total on two occasions to the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) 

Ministry officials said they intended to dress in black until Feb 21 as they felt that the ministry’s executives overstepped in bringing disciplinary charges against those four serving officials.

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach, a former permanent secretary of commerce, admitted he ordered permanent secretary Srirat Rastapana to consider punishing them.

Mr Yanyong said it was inappropriate for civil servants to take sides and they also acted in violation of the emergency decree.

A banner with the wording “E Poo and Niwatthamrong are stupid…fooled by Yanyong” appeared on a pedestrian bridge in front of the ministry on Thursday.

Poo (crab) is the nickname of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and "E" is impolite. Niwatthamrong refers to caretaker Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan.

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