Thailand: Minister drawn into 'cockroaches' row

Thai Interior Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan holds up a protest sign

Thailand's interior minister has been criticised for brandishing an abusive sign comparing anti-government protesters to cockroaches, it's reported.

Jarupong Ruangsuwan was photographed with the Thai language placard which read "Don't be a retard and follow the cockroaches" in response to an opposition-led civil disobedience campaign where protesters blow whistles to drown out government supporters. The image has been spread widely on Facebook and Thai internet message boards, with many expressing shock at the choice of language.

A student claiming to be a member of the Farmers for Democracy group gave him the placard, the Bangkok Post newspaper says. The controversy comes as a result of protests led by a former Democrat MP, whose party is known as the "cockroach party" by its critics. Suthep Thaugsuban has called on his supporters to blow whistles at government ministers and so-called servants of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, as he seeks to impeach more than 300 current MPs, the Nation newspaper says. Current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is Thaksin's younger sister, and says she is "not afraid" of protesters possibly disrupting a cabinet meeting in a Democrat Party stronghold next week. Whistle-blowing protesters have been warned they face fines of up to 100 baht (£1.96) for creating a public nuisance.

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