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Tourism sector wants an end to politics

Posted by hasekamp on 31 March 2010 at 15:09 PM
Representatives of the tourism sector plan to converge at the King Rama VI Monument about 4pm on Friday to demand the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) ends its long-running anti-government rally. "More than 1,000 tourism operators will gather at the monument at the entry to Lumpini park and call on the government and the UDD to settle their political differences," Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (FETTA) spokesman Charoen Wangananon said on Wednesday. The red-shirts must stop protesting soon as the tourism industry has already lost more than 10 billion baht in revenue." The industry wanted the government to seriously enforce the security laws and restore the situation to normal. "Bookings are down as tourists are watching the political situation. Thailand International Conference Association (TICA) president Sumate Sudasna Na Ayutthaya said businesses involved in organising meetings, conventions and exhibitions had the suffered most. Meetings and events had to be postponed, cancelled or moved to neighbouring countries. Thailand had lost many opportunities. Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association (TCTA) president Vichit Prakobgosol said the UDD rally had deterred Chinese tourists from visiting the country. "Charter flights from China for Songkran have plunged from an expected 100 to about 50 flights," Mr Vichit said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No more talks. Government still hopes

Posted by hasekamp on 31 March 2010 at 14:57 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he still hopes core leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) will change their minds and agree to a third round of talks with the government. Mr Abhisit said in an interview on Wednesday during his visit to Bahrain that the majority of people were now beginning to hope that talks would bring back peace and justice for all. "The government has kept in contact with red-shirt leaders and has softened its stance. "Its offer to cut down its time in office is a clear signal. "It now depends on whether the red-shirts will accept it. If the red-shirts also soften their standpoint the situation would return to normal," the prime minister said. Asked whether there would be talks ahead of the UDD's rally on Saturday, Mr Abhisit said this would be possible only if the red-shirts were interested in taking part. Asked if the government would soften its conditions to bring the red-shirts back to the negotiating table, Mr Abhisit said he was wide open to suggestions provided the UDD agree to talk. But if the UDD remains unyielding in its position - that the House be dissolved in 15 days - the government would not be able to do anything. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Protest against prawn farms

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2010 at 15:58 PM
Villagers are complaining that shrimp farms in Ban Tha Rua in Phuket are poisoning the canal their livelihoods depend on. Ten residents of Bang La village said last week that shrimp farm operators were letting chemical wastewater flood into Klong Pak Ka, killing marine life. Surasak Wahlum, a 55-year-old fisherman, said, “The wastewater kills shellfish and other marine life in the canal, so we cannot do our jobs.” President of Pa Khlok Tambon Administration Organization (TAO) Athipong Kongnam said the TAO had warned the shrimp farmers about the practice before. “They promised to clean the water before they released it into the canal, but they still do it secretly,” he said. “We’ll just have to report it to the police,” he added. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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PM: Dissolution does not solve it

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2010 at 15:51 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said at the second round of talks between the government and the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) that he will not accept the anti-government group's call for him to dissolve the House of Representatives within 15 days, reasoning that it would not benefit the country. The negotiation started around 6.30pm on Monday at King Prachadipok's Institute. Participants at the negotiation were the same as the first round of talks. on the government's side, Mr Abhisit was accompanied by his secretary-general, Korbsak Sabhavasu, and Democrat Party deputy secretary-general Chami Sakdiset. On the red-shirts' corner were UDD chairman Veera Musikhapong, opposition Puea Thai Party MP Jatuporn Prompan and political activist Weng Tojirakarn. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Earth Hour in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 28 March 2010 at 15:06 PM
Hundreds of millions of people in 125 countries and territories yesterday switched off electrical items during the fourth holding of Earth Hour. Diesel generators supplying electricity to the Chatham Islands, 800 kilometres off the coast of New Zealand, were switched off at 8.30pm (local time), as the first countries and territories set in motion a 24-hour relay of hope and positive action on climate change that is circumnavigating the world, said www.earthhour.org. With all but the 12 street lights switched off, for safety reasons, the Chatham Islands were plunged almost entirely into darkness in a compelling start to what was set to be the world's largest-ever action on global warming, said the website.
In Thailand, with the aim of encouraging awareness of energy conservation and saving up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity, locals in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Phuket and Nonthaburi joined the campaign at 8.30pm to cool down the Earth. This was despite the cancellation of the Earth Hour 2010 event at CentralWorld shopping complex due to safety concerns, after red-shirt demonstrators had threatened to rally yesterday at the Ratchaprasong intersection. (Source: The Nation)


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PM talks with red-shirts

Posted by hasekamp on 28 March 2010 at 14:53 PM
Talks between Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the red-shirt leaders came to a break at 6.55pm, following three hours of televised debate. No agreement has been reached so far. In brief, Veera Musikhapong of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship urged the prime minister to dissolve the House. He vowed that the red-shirts will accept the result of a new election, regardless of the outcome. He also called on Mr Abhisit to stand up against dictatorship. Mr Abhisit said he never supports change that goes against the constitution. However, he pointed out that the current political conflicts do not stem from the 1997 or 2007 charters. The prime minister then said dissolving the House may not be a solution to the current political deadlock, adding that the general public are also opposed to the idea. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red-shirts still very determined

Posted by hasekamp on 27 March 2010 at 10:14 AM
Red-shirts will rally at eight locations in Bangkok where soldiers are deployed on standby, and pressure them to return to their barracks, Veera Musikhapong announced on Saturday morning at the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship's main rally point at Phan Fa Bridge. "We will meet with the military and police in a spirit of friendship, talk with them and try to convince them to return to their barracks, and invite them to join us in calling for democracy," Mr Veera told the large crowd at the main rally point. These locations are Wat Bowon Niwet, Wat Tri Thotsathep, Wat Makut Kasat, Wat Kae Nang Loeng, Wat Sommanat, Nang Loeng race course, Dusit zoo and Pranakon Commercial College. "All these locations are not far from here, so you can march there. You must be disciplined and listen to leaders. We will not carry any weapons except our foot clappers," he said. Another UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan told the crowd that temples, schools and the race course are not appropriate places for soldiers to stay. "They must return [to barracks] and must not come back," he said. If soldiers refuse to leave, then the red-shirts would use their bare hands to remove the barbed wire and concrete barricades around the venues, go inside and walk them out, he added. Police estimated the crowd at 80,000 - larger than the street parade a week ago that drew an estimated 65,000 people in a noisy but peaceful procession through Bangkok. After learning the red-shirt plan, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban left Hua Hin ahead of schedule and returned to Bangkok to monitor the movements of the protesters in the capital. The prime minister and his deputy travelled to Prachuap Khiri Khan's Hua Hin district this morning to inspect the venue for the first Mekong River Commission (MRC) summit from April 2 to 6. Peacekeeping operations centre spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said soldiers camped at standby locations in Bangkok cannot comply with the anti-government demonstrators' demand to return to their barracks. "It's not possible for the troops to leave their stations, because their job is to prevent violence. So I ask the protesters not to see the soldiers as their enemies. "The protesters may enter the camps, but they must not try to rummage through the areas or hurt the soldiers," Col Sansern said. There would be a continuing assessment of the situation. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders may have the good intention to maintain peace by searching for weapons, he said. "But we have told them repeatedly that the soldiers are not armed. "It is also possible that the red-shirt leaders may try to incite confrontation," he added. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Economy in danger. Negative travel advises

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2010 at 9:09 AM
Tourism already hit very hard; retail, export and investment sectors at risk, TCC says. The Thai Chamber of Commerce yesterday urged the government to end the political deadlock as soon as possible, as the prolonged street demonstrations have already hit tourism and their effect will soon spread to the retail, export and investment sectors. "So far, the governments of more than 30 countries have warned their travellers to avoid visiting Thailand. Exports could be hit in the third quarter, as traders might lose confidence about doing business with Thailand," said Dusit Nontanakorn, chairman of the TCC. Unemployment would then increase significantly, due to a slowdown in tourism, retailing and exports. Dusit said the political conflict, which has been going on for the past four years, had damaged Thai competitiveness. Despite a global economic recovery, the Thai economy is beset by problems, particularly the political deadlock. All parties must seek a solution to end the conflict as soon as possible. The private sector is the big loser in the political conflict. The turmoil has not created any benefits for the economy. Tourism is now suffering the most, and soon the political conflict will damage the trading and export sectors, said Dusit. The TCC is formulating a proposal to the government for a way out of the political crisis, and this will be considered alongside proposals by the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Bankers' Association. The final outcome of these deliberations will be released in a statement by the Joint Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking early next month. According to the chamber's report, 70 per cent of tourists have cancelled trips to Bangkok due to the political disorder, 20 charter flights have been cancelled, and the majority of the 6,000-plus hotel rooms around Rattanakosin Island - the focal point of the anti-government red-shirt protesters - are empty.
Chookiat Ophaswongse, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said both the protesters and the government should take a step back and start negotiations to find a way out of the impasse. "With or without violence, Thailand will be affected. The private sector is now losing confidence and any hope that the situation can be resolved," said Phongsak, adding that businessmen were finding it hard to draw up business plans in the current political climate. National Institute of Development Administration financial expert Montree Socatiyanurak urged the government to end the political conflict through democratic means, which would restore the confidence of the foreign community. He said the government should make the economic impact its top priority, given that Thailand still relied heavily on foreign income. A prolonged conflict would hurt tourism and investment even more, which would be very bad for the economy. He suggested parliamentary solutions should be considered, such as dissolution of the House, a shift in political power or the establishment of a national government. Change through democratic means would not affect investor confidence, Montree said, adding that he believed a national government was the best choice. (Source: The Nation)


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Opposition closed out of House

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2010 at 8:59 AM
The House on Wednesday saw a swift passage of three key legislations in the face of the opposition's boycott for tight security. One of the three approved drafts is the legislation for the formation of a regulatory body for telecommunications and radio and television broadcast. The new law is designed to combine the National Telecom Commission and the National Broadcasting Commission into one super agency. The other two drafts are for a land appropriation for an expressway construction linking Ram Inthra Road and the Outer Ring Road, and a formation of the National Farmers' Council. The debate on the three laws lasted less than two hours. (Source: The Nation)


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Tourists cancel 1000 rooms per day

Posted by hasekamp on 21 March 2010 at 14:06 PM
We are not surprised. Here is the official announcement. The Thai Hotels Association said Thursday that room cancellations in Bangkok have been made at about 1,000 rooms per day, although the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has assessed Red Shirt demonstration in the capital has not had a great impact on tourism so far. Thai Hotels Association director Sakrin Chorsawai said the demonstration has affected tourism operators, particularly in hotel businesses in Bangkok. A significant drop in the number of foreign tourists was seen and room reservations fell some 10-20 per cent. About 1,000 rooms were canceled daily on average as tourists feared possible violence during the mass demonstrations, in particular from March 12-23, Mr Sakrin said. However, tourism operators in other regions have not been affected, and are enjoying a normal rate of hotel bookings, he said. Local tourists, who are worried about the political situation, do not travel. If the demonstration is prolonged, its negative effects on tourism will be clearly seen, said Mr Sakrin. Meanwhile, TAT director Surapol Svetasreni said the tourism in January and February had recovered but since the Red Shirt protest began in Bangkok last week, the national agency is vigilant on the current situation to alleviate and to minimise possible effects on tourism. TAT’s promotional campaign this year still focuses on overseas roadshows and targets the number of foreign tourists at 15 million people in 2010. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Grenades after rally

Posted by hasekamp on 21 March 2010 at 13:51 PM
The government is likely to extend the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Bangkok after two grenades exploded on Saturday night near state agencies. Explosions took place at the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and close to the Interior Ministry late Saturday night. The first bomb went off at the new offices of the NACC on Sanambin Nam Road in Nonthaburi about 9.50pm, leaving a 30cm-deep crater and damaging the wall of the building. There were no report of injuries. About 11 pm, another bomb exploded at Soi Phang Phuthorn, close to the Interior Ministry. At least two injuries were reported. Police believe grenades were used in both cases. Attacks with M79 grenade launchers have become increasingly common. Earlier in the day, the red shirt caravan rally through Bangkok drew 65,000, according to police. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the ISA could be extended, though not for long. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Governor avises to stay at home

Posted by hasekamp on 19 March 2010 at 17:33 PM
Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra has advised city residents to stay at home Saturday as red-shirt demonstrators are to march through the capital. The red shirts plan to go along various roads including Silom, Ratchadaphisek and Rama IV roads marking a distance of over 80 kilometres. "If you don't have to run any errand outside, please stay home," Sukhumbhand said Friday. He said more than 200 city policemen would be mobilised today to help facilitate traffic in the capital. Metropolitan Police Bureau spokesman Maj General Piya Uthayo said security would be beefed up to boost the safety of demonstrators and general people. "Checkpoints will be strictly manned and more patrols will be conducted on foot," he said. Piya was speaking after senior police officers yesterday met to discuss on how to ensure public order during the red-shirt rally. (Source: The Nation)


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Rally route made public

Posted by hasekamp on 19 March 2010 at 17:28 PM
The red-shirts of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship will start moving out from Phan Fa bridge about 10am on Saturday in a convoy through the capital, a leader of the red-shirted guards said on Friday. Aree Krainara said UDD leaders would be at both the head and the tail of the convoy of vehicles. The campaign to encourage city people to join the rally would end at 6pm, he said. The convoy would move along Yommarat and Phetchaburi roads to the Asoke intersection and turn right to Ratchapisek road, he said. From the Fortune Town department store, the red-shirts would turn to the right and march along Lat Phrao road to Bang Kapi, Lam Sali intersection, Ramkhamhaeng road, Rama 9 road, Khlong Tan, Phra Khanong, Silom, Rama IV, Klongtoey, Odeon circle, Yommarat and back to Phan Fa bridge. Pol Lt Gen Santan Chayanont, chief of Metropolitan Police Bureau, said police will try to ensure the general public is not inconvenienced. Pol Maj Gen Piya Utayo, spokesman of Metropolitan Police Bureau, said the government's peacekeeping operation command had ordered police to step up security around the rally sites as it is concerned that a third party might try to instigate unrest. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Abhisit wants to talk, if ..

Posted by hasekamp on 19 March 2010 at 17:25 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said again on Friday that he is ready for direct talks with leaders of the red-shirts without a mediator, on the condition that the rally remains peaceful and no threats are issued. “I am ready to the House of Representatives if the demands of the red-shirts are in the best interests of the general public,” Mr Abhisit affirmed in an interview on army-run TV Channel 5. "I am willing to talk but it should not be under this climate of intimidation." The prime minister said the government had assessed the red-shirts rally over the past week and found that the rally was peaceful. He thanked all parties for helping maintain peace and order. He said he had not been able to return home to see his family since the rally began. He and other cabinet members have been staying at the 11th Infantry Regiment over security concerns. Jatuporn Prompan, a core leader of the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), said on Thursday that the red-shirts were ready for peace talks with Mr Abhisit. "The red-shirts are not refusing to negotiate but the prime minister has to dissolve the House first and all parties have to sign a pact saying they will respect the result of elections so the country can move ahead. “And there must be no conditions for holding talks, as we are not subordinates of the prime minister and we have the same status as him,” Mr Jatuporn said, adding that the UDD wanted to talk directly to Mr Abhisit, not through a mediator. The UDD set out its own conditions after National Human Rights Commission chairwoman Amara Pongsapich had met Mr Abhisit at the 11th Infantry Regiment and offered to mediate between the government and the red-shirts. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Protesters go on

Posted by hasekamp on 17 March 2010 at 15:01 PM
Key leaders of Thailand's anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on Wednesday vowed to prolong their protest with a convoy of its red-clad supporters fanning out across Bangkok streets on Saturday in an attempt to bring down the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration. UDD key leader Nattawut Saikua announced Thursday evening that a meeting of Red Shirt leaders agreed to prolong their rally until their demand is responded to by the government. Mr Nattawut added that on Saturday the group will mobilise its red-clad convoy across Bangkok to launch the 'first anti-class war' aimed at creating better understanding and inviting Bangkokians to join the UDD mass protest to oust the Abhisit government. The UDD key leader countered the government's claim that the number of protesters will dwindle due to exhaustion from prolonged protest. He said the government's evaluation was wrong as the prolonged rally will cause trouble to the government as the premier will not be able to enter Government House and his residence. Mr Nattawut said on Friday UDD regional leaders will meet in their hometowns to evaluate the situation and determine their strategies. The anti-government protesters earlier spattered their blood at the prime minister's home on Sukhumvit Road, the affluent area home to the rich and expatriates, as part of their intensified campaign after the prime minister rejected their demand on the House dissolution and a call for a general election. The shock tactic came a day after they poured blood which had been collected from Red Shirt volunteers at the gates of Government House and at the Democrat Party headquarters. The Red Shirts also marched to the US embassy, submitting a letter asking for the embassy to clarify Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban's remark about foreign intelligence networks' warning of possible sabotage plotted by fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Meanwhile, Metropolitan police on Wednesday confirmed intelligence reports on an assassination attempt on the prime minister's life, while 400 added patrol police will be deployed to ensure safety across the capital. Gen Piya added that police will ask for footage from the media on the bloodthrowers at the premier's home to seek the court approval for an arrest warrant. The culprits will be charged for defacing property and causing embarrassment to others, the same charges as those who earlier dumped human waste and animal dung to the premier's home. In another related development, a group of sixty senators on Wednesday proposed a general debate in the Senate as soon as possible to find solution to the country's ongoing political crisis. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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All well in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 16 March 2010 at 11:04 AM
The tourism industry in Phuket has not been affected by the red shirt protests in Bangkok, according to the vice president of the Phuket Tourist Association. Mr Krisada Tansakul said the island-wide hotel occupancy rate is at about 65%. “That’s good compared to the March rate last year,” he said. (But last year was one of the worst years for tourism in Thailand in recent years; HN). “Patong is faring especially well with a rate of 70%.” Mr Krisada said tourists still feel safe traveling to Phuket as it is far from the demonstrations and can be reached directly by international flights. Reservation rates for April and the upcoming Songkran holidays are at an acceptable 30%, he said. “However, if the political situation escalates, it is likely to have a negative effect on Phuket's tourism industry,” he added. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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UDD wants to put blood on the street

Posted by hasekamp on 15 March 2010 at 11:35 AM
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship has contacted five hospitals for medical staff and equipment to help take blood donations from the red-shirt protesters, UDD core member Arisman Pongruangrong said on Monday. The UDD has announced it will draw one million cubic centimetres (cc) of blood from red-shirt volunters and pour it on the ground around Government House. Ministers would then have to walk on the people's blood to get to work. The announcement followed Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's rejection this morning of their demand for an immediate House dissolution and a general election. Mr Arisman said the UDD had asked for 20-30 medical staff from each hospital. The protesters would be first asked to donate 10cc of blood, starting on Monday night. UDD leaders would donate their blood on morning, said Mr Arisman, who said would give 50cc. "Donating of 10cc of blood would not be harmful to health," he said. A source said the Thai Red Cross Society, if asked, would not be able to help take blood from the protesters for a protest. It would assist only when blood is donated for other people, or taken for a health examination. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Government rejects ultimatum

Posted by hasekamp on 15 March 2010 at 11:31 AM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Monday morning he could not accept the red-shirts' demand that he agree to dissolve the House of Representatives by noon today, but he left the door open to consider their opinions. In a nationwide broadcast following a special meeting of the leaders of the coalition parties, Mr Abhisit said that he was not able to give an answer to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship's (UDD) demand within the noon deadline. "Our objective is not to cling on to our positions. Our objective is to see the country move forward within the principle of righteousness, not just for the short term but for the longer term," said the prime minister. He admitted a House dissolution is just one of the political solutions to avoid a serious political crisis or resolve a serious conflict in the parliament. But he noted that the current political conflict had gone far beyond himself and his government. His government is receptive to the views of the red-shirt protesters, he added, although he was not able to respond to their ultimatum for a House dissolution by noon today. He maintained that his government has no intention whatsoever to be the first to resort to the use of force. Nor does his government intend to provoke further conflict with the protesters, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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The government view on the rally

Posted by hasekamp on 14 March 2010 at 17:50 PM
The government's crisis centre (peacekeeping operation) opened a bilingual website on Sunday (http://www.capothai.org/) to help to inform the public about the ongoing rally by the red-shirts. Announcements, mainly relating to security issues, are being posted in both Thai and English. Meanwhile, the scene outside the 11th Infantry Regiment compound on Phahon Yothin road, where the government's peace-keeping centre is based, was reported to be normal despite the United Front for Democracy against Democracy's ultimatum that the government to dissolve the House of Representatives within 24 hours. The peace-keeping operation command held two meetings, at 10am and 3pm, to assess the situation, a government source said. The daily press briefing would be given at 8pm. Large loudspeakers have been installed at the gates of the 11th Infantry Regiment. Announcements are being made from time to time telling the public not to panic on seeing a large number of troops and not to leave their homes unless necessary. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red-shirts in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 14 March 2010 at 17:40 PM
Red-shirt protesters will gather outside a military barracks on Monday to demand the government's answer on their ultimatum that the government dissolve the House by noon or face mass demonstrations in the capital. United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) co-leader Natthawut Saikua said on Sunday evening that the protesters will go to the 11th Infantry Regiment, where the government's peacekeeping operation command is situated, at 9am. They will stay there until midday. Mr Natthawut said the UDD would increase its activities if the government fails to meet the demand. He claimed that as many as 300,000 protesters have joined the protest at the main rally site around Phan Fa bridge on Sunday. The Interior Ministry estimated the number of protesters at 46,377 at the Sunday rally. The ministry said the the figure was compiled from the protest venues in Sanam Luang, Phan Fa bridge and King Rama V Equestrian Monument at 1pm. Out of the total, 23,569 red-shirts were from the Northeast, 11,127 from the North, 4,190 from the central region, 3,667 from the East, 2,990 from the West and 834 from the South. The demonstrators entered the capital via 13,385 pick-ups, 3,385 cars, 36 trucks, 60 buses, 17 e-tan farm trucks, 137 motorcycles, 115 vans and three train journeys. The turnout was far lower than the "million man march" predicted by the UDD leaders. At noon on Sunday, UDD leader Veera Musikhapong issued a 24 hour ultimatum to the government from the main stage at Phan Fa bridge. The statement, read by Mr Veera, said that since the Sept 19, 2006 coup that toppled the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, the country had been under a dictatorship. "We're asking the government to relinquish power and return it to the people," he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Abhisit: Ready to resign

Posted by hasekamp on 11 March 2010 at 17:40 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva pledged Thursday that he is ready to resign or dissolve the parliament if this can solve the country's political conflict, but the anti-government Red Shirt movement vowed to mobilise its supporters to the capital insisting that they will penetrate what they describe as a government blockade and the government's enforcement of security law. The premier's remarks came as he replied to a motion in the House session over the government's readiness and capacity in responding to the 'Red Shirt' activists from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) who are flowing from provinces nationwide Friday to join the group's mass rally in Bangkok Sunday. Mr Abhisit reassured Parliament and the public that his government respects the fundamental rights of demonstrators, but said they must respect the law by rallying peacefully and without arms. The premier ensured the public that his government will by all means do nothing to intensify the situation, saying he never rules out his resignation or the House dissolution, but the decision will be made upon national interest. "I will not hold on to power. If the House dissolution or my departure will make things better, I have no problem at all," Mr Abhisit stated. "But a coup is totally unacceptable to me." (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Government will take tough action

Posted by hasekamp on 11 March 2010 at 17:37 PM
Tough action will be taken against law breakers during the red-shirt protests, particularly people who intrude into private premises and important government installations, now that the International Security Act is in effect, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Thursday. Mr Suthep gave the warning after attending a meeting of members of the peace-keeping centre for implementation of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which is effective in Bangkok and its vicinity from today until March 23. He said the demonstrators have the right to peaceful assembly under Section 63 of the constitution. "But if they intrude into private establishments or government installations they will face a crackdown. "They will first receive a warning that they have violated the law. If they ignore the order, they will face tough action, which could be water canons and tear gas," Mr Suthep said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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UDD opens news center

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2010 at 12:16 PM
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) has opened a centre to monitor news released by both the government and the red-shirts, and will watch for fabrications, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine, said on Wednesday. It is also offering large cash rewards for people who submit incriminating photographs or videos of violent government suppression during the protests. Mr Somyos said the Democracy News Network (DNN) centre is located at the People Channel Radio station on the fifth floor of the Imperial department store on Lat Phrao road. It began operating today, he said. The DNN, of which he is chairman, would monitor news releases from both the government and those attributed to the red- shirts. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red-shirts say they are ready

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2010 at 12:12 PM
The red shirts from across the country will not be deterred by security checkpoints and plan to kick off their mass rally in Bangkok on Sunday as planned, organiser Jatuporn Promphan said on Wednesday. Jatuporn said the government's efforts to derail the rally would fail. He also reminded Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban to "find a new place to live" if he abused his power in enforcing the security measures against the red shirts. (Source: The Nation)


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Government prepares for red-shirt rally

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2010 at 12:09 PM
Secretary general to the prime minister Korbsak Sabhavasu has been named the chief negotiator in charge of troubleshooting any problems that may arise with the red shirts, PM Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday. Abhisit was speaking after chairing the meeting of the Internal Security Operations Command. The Isoc approved security measures related to the enforcement of the internal security law. Among key measures is the instruction for Korbsak to reason with rally organisers in order to ensure a peaceful and orderly assembly of protesters. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban is entrusted to supervise the anti-riot operation. The crowd control plans have been based on the October 9, 2008 verdict of the Supreme Administrative Court. Under the high court's ruling, the right to a peaceful assembly does not apply to activities deemed as intimidation, instigation of violence and violations of other legally-sanctioned rights. The high court said protesters were obligated to heed the authorities in order to ensure peace and public order. Protesting activities such as the blockade of government installations were deemed beyond the rights sanctioned by the Constitution. (Source: The Nation)


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Water shortage expected

Posted by hasekamp on 7 March 2010 at 15:06 PM
This year's dry season is expected to be more severe and last longer than usual,the chairman of the Foundation for National Disaster Warning System of Thailand (NDWST) Smith Dharmasaroja said on Friday. Mr Smith said the effects would be felt nationwide. He attributed the water crisis to the significant drop in the water level of Mekong river, the return of the El Nino weather phenomenon and climate change. "All provinces should allocate resources for storing more water during the dry season and seek ways to solve this problem in the long run, because the crisis will be more severe every year," the former National Disaster Warning Centre director said. Farmers in the drought-hit northeastern provinces such as Nong Khai were experiencing additional problems as paddy rats, rice lice and caterpillars were eating their crops. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Monks in UDD rally

Posted by hasekamp on 7 March 2010 at 15:03 PM
At least 20,000 Buddhist monks nationwide will take part in the planned anti-government rally in Bangkok next Friday, red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) prominent member Arisman Pongruangrong said on Saturday. "The monks from different temples such as Dhammakaya and Kaew Fah will join this mass rally to give moral support to the red shirts while reminding the government, police and army officials who serve the elite bureaucrats not to harm the protesters," Mr Arisman said. Before March 12, groups of red-shirt protesters from different parts of the country will begin gathering in the capital, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin wants to explain ...

Posted by hasekamp on 4 March 2010 at 19:07 PM
Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra plans to send letters to leaders of countries worldwide to clarify the Supreme Court's seizure of his assets, Manit Chitchanklab, a former lawyer for the dissolved Thai Rak Thai Party, said. The Supreme Court on Feb 26 ruled to seize 46 billion baht of ill-gotten assets from Thaksin and his family after finding him guilty of abuse of power. Mr Manit has just returned from visiting the convicted politician in Dubai, where he is based in self-exile. He said Thaksin will tell the international community that his wealth was derived from hard work and that the verdict was unjust. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Trying to get more tourists

Posted by hasekamp on 2 March 2010 at 16:20 PM
The cabinet has agreed to continue measures to stimulate the tourism sector for another year, as proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, deputy government spokesman Watchara Kannika said on Tuesday afternoon. The assistance was due to terminate at the end of next month. The measures are:
1) Visa fee exemption for foreign tourists
2) Helping state agencies hold seminars and field trips in the country to boost domestic spending
3) Cutting the electricity consumption guarantee fund for hotel operators
4) Reduced aircraft landing and parking fees
5) Providing free-of-charge riot protection insurance worth US$10,000 for each foreign tourist, and
6) Allowing business operators who organise domestic seminars, training courses and tourist destination trips for employees to deduct the cost for tax purposes. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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It never ends for Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 2 March 2010 at 16:17 PM
The National Anti-Corruption Commission on Tuesday held a full meeting of all nine members to consider further legal action against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in connection with the verdict of the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Friday. The court found Thaksin to have caused damage to the state by favouring his own company Shin Corp before it was sold to Temasek Holdings of Singapore through five measures introduced while he was prime minister. The court also ordered that 46 billion baht of the 76-billion-baht in frozen assets of Thaksin and his family be confiscated. The ruling opened the way for government agencies to take further legal action againt Thaksin. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday he had ordered further studies of the court's verdict to protect national interests. While the court seized some of Thaksin's frozen fortune, the confiscation verdict did not mention the damage caused to the state. "The ruling for the partial seizure of the frozen assets is a different matter from damage already done to the state," Mr Abhisit said. The prime minister's instructions prompted the anti-graft agency to hold a meeting today to consider what other legal action could taken against Thaksin. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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