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July 8, 2009

Thaksin still pervades Thai political landscape

Thaksin still pervades Thai political landscape

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

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Thailand’s fugitive ex-premier, Thaksin Shinawatra is in the news again today, phoning supporters in the country and appealing for no celebration of his sixtieth birthday at Sanam Luang outside the royal palace in Bangkok. This follows some red-shirted United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) supporters vowing to go ahead with the party despite Bangkok’s Governor, Sukhumband Paribatra, saying he will deny any request.

File photo of Thaksin Shinawatra from 2005
Image: Helene C. Stikkel (US DoD).

According to Thailand’s English-language Bangkok Post, UDD leader Shinawat Haboonpad expressed determination to see the July 26 celebration go ahead, “… we will show our civil disobedience and ignore his order”.

The divisive impact of the populist Thaksin stretches back prior to him being ousted by a bloodless military coup in September 2006. As far back as 2005 figures within the Thai establishment were speaking against him; Thaksin used the courts to try and prevent dissemination of negative material, including the publication of a sermon by a respected Buddhist monk who compared him to Phra Devadhat, the Thai Buddhist equivalent of the devil. Bangkokians formed into the yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) accusing the Prime Minister of corruption. Following the military intervention in 2006, and a groundswell of support among rural poor voters, the opposing pro-Thaksin groups formed into the UDD. Despite conviction in-absentia, Thaksin colours Thai politics, and has derailed efforts to stabilise the country’s political institutions.

This past week it has been the lead-up to the December 2008 dissolution of the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party (PPP) government that has resurfaced. The then-Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat was barred from politics and his PPP dissolved by the country’s Constitutional Court following anti-Thaksin yellow shirts occupying Bangkok’s international airport and stranding as many as 300,000 tourists in the country. Now the country’s Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya, a PAD leader, is facing pressure to step down for his part in the airport siege and blockade.

A report in Monday’s Bangkok Post indicates that Thai authorities continue to pursue Thaksin. The Interior Minister said that an attempt had been made to arrest Thaksin in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, but he had evaded capture and managed to return to Fiji where he remains in exile and a fugitive.



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December 16, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: December 16, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: December 16, 2008 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: December 16, 2008

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A compilation of brief news reports for Tuesday, December 16, 2008.

Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes Thai prime minister

Location of Thailand

The former Democrat Party’s opposition leader of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva, was elected as the prime minister in a special vote in the parliament.

He had won over former police chief Pracha Promnok by 235 votes to 198, according to Chai Chidchob, the lower house’s speaker.

Vejjajiva became the prime minister after the previous PM, Somchai Wongsawat, was obliged to step down after a court hearing in early December this year.

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Time Warner buys 10 million shares of Eidos Interactive

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Eidos Interactive announced that Time Warner Entertainment, a division of Time Warner, has bought an additional 10 million shares, thereby increasing its stake to 19.92%.

Eidos stated that Time Warner Entertainment purchased the shares on December 11, 2008. Time Warner now owns a total of 52.5 million shares of Eidos.

Eidos is a popular video game developer that developed games such as the Tomb Raider and Hitman series.

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December 15, 2008

Thai opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva elected as New Thai Prime Minister

Monday, December 15, 2008

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Thai opposition (Democrat Party) leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (Thai: อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ) won a majority of votes in the House of Representatives of Thailand on Monday and will be named the 27th Prime Minister of Thailand. He got 233 votes against 197 by former national police chief Pracha Promnok, a loyalist of exiled Prime Mininster Thaksin Shinawatra.

When prime minister Samak Sundaravej in 2008, Abhisit lost the National Assembly vote for Prime Minister by 163 votes to 298 for Somchai Wongsawat. Later, however, the 2 December 2008 the Constitutional Court of Thailand decided to banned the three parties including the PPP, which dissolved the governing coalition. The Court also banned Somchai and removed him from office, he was succeeded by a deputy. When it became clear that another government under the For Thais Party or Puea Thai (the successor of the PPP) was not a viable option the remainder of the Chart Thai Party under Sanan Krachonprasat the Thais United National Development Party and Neutral Democratic Party, almost all except for the Royal People Party decided to back a Democrat led coalition thereby endorsing Abhisit as the next Prime Minister.

Abhisit’s election differs however from its confirmation by the Parliament. In this regard, Yahoo reported that “the count in the House of Representatives was unofficial and the chamber needed to official endorse the results before Abhisit could be declared prime minister. The chamber normally has 480 members, but because of vacancies currently numbers 437. One MP died on the eve of the voting.”


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Learn more about Politics of Thailand and Somchai Wongsawat on Wikipedia.
  • Ambika Ahuja “Thai opposition leader nets votes to become PM”. Yahoo, December 15, 2008
  • “New Thai prime minister elected”. BBC, December 15, 2008
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Thai opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva elected as new Prime Minister

Thai opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva elected as new Prime Minister

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Monday, December 15, 2008

File:Abhisit Vejjajiva Korat Post 2007.gif
Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Thai opposition (Democrat Party) leader Abhisit Vejjajiva won a majority of votes in the House of Representatives of Thailand on Monday and will be named the 27th Prime Minister of Thailand. Abhisit, an economist, got 235 votes against 198 by former national police chief and Pheu Pandin leader Pracha Promnok, a loyalist of fugitive Prime Mininster Thaksin Shinawatra.

The nation’s third prime minister in four months, Abhisit, at 44, is set to become the youngest prime minister Thailand has had, and its fifth leader in a little over two years. He will lead a weak coalition government. When prime minister Samak Sundaravej was removed in 2008, Abhisit lost the National Assembly vote for Prime Minister by 163 votes to 298 for Somchai Wongsawat. Later, however, the 2 December 2008 Constitutional Court of Thailand judgment banned the three parties including the PPP, which dissolved the governing coalition. The Court also banned Somchai from politics for five years, and removed him from office. He was succeeded by a deputy.

When it became clear that another government under the For Thais Party or Puea Thai (the successor of the PPP) was not a viable option, the remainder of the Chart Thai Party under Sanan Krachonprasat, the Thais United National Development Party and Neutral Democratic Party, almost all, except for the Royal People Party decided to back a Democrat led coalition thereby endorsing Abhisit as the next Prime Minister.

“Abhisit gained more than half of the vote, therefore I declare that Abhisit has been voted as the new prime minister,” House Speaker Chai Chidchob declared. Abhisit’s election, however, differs however from its confirmation by the Parliament. In this regared. Yahoo reported that “the count in the House of Representatives was unofficial and the chamber needed to official endorse the results before Abhisit could be declared prime minister. The chamber normally has 480 members, but because of vacancies currently numbers 437. One MP died on the eve of the voting.”

Thaksin, who is living in an undisclosed foreign country to evade corruption charges, delivered a pre-recorded video message to about 50,000 supporters at a Bangkok stadium late Saturday. “At the moment the army is interfering… Those people who interfere in forming the government must stop and withdraw,” he said. Army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, however, dismissed his accusations.

Meanwhile, Thaksin’s supporters, from the now-defunct People Power Party and Pheu Thai party, consisting of at least 200 demonstrators blocked access to Thailand’s parliament building. The Nation reported that red shirt protesters “barricaded all gates out of the compound, checked cars trying to leave, while some cars had windows broken with clubs or bricks, and cars carrying MPs who had voted for Mr. Abhisit were not allowed through.” The turmoil results in forcing officials and reporters to cover themselves. A reporter was “injured after a stone hit stone hit his nose, while an anti-riot police suffered head wound after an object hit his head,” it said. “Police failed to calm them down, and they further organised protests in many provinces of Thailand, mostly in the northeastern region,” The Thai newspaper further reported.



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December 2, 2008

Thai PM barred from politics, three parties dissolved

Thai PM barred from politics, three parties dissolved

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thailand
Other stories from Thailand
  • 21 May 2015: Yingluck Shinawatra, former Thai prime minster, begins her trial in Bangkok over corruption allegations
  • 18 May 2015: Over 900 asylum seekers rescued off Indonesian coast
  • 5 June 2014: ‘Hunger Games’ salute used to protest coup d’état in Thailand
  • 3 March 2014: Thai school bus crash kills fifteen
  • 9 December 2013: Thai Prime Minister dissolves parliament and calls elections
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Today’s ruling from Thailand’s Constitutional Court sees the Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, removed from office, barred from politics, and the People’s Power Party (PPP) dissolved. The allegations leading to this were of vote buying in the last election.

The decision has already eased tension in the country, with the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) announcing they will end their siege of Bangkok’s two main international airports. Red-shirted pro-government protesters were dismayed at the court’s decision. Initially they blockaded the Constitutional Court buildings to try and prevent the case being heard; following its relocation they moved on to the Administrative Court to protest a decision they claim is anti-democratic.

In addition to the PPP being disbanded and outlawed, two other parties in the ruling coalition were found guilty. The Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya parties were also outlawed and, between the three parties, 109 members barred from all involvement in the electoral process – including the right to vote. Among those disenfranchised were three ex-Prime Ministers. Those remaining from the executive of the outlawed parties have stated their intention to reform under a new name and attempt to continue in government.

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Prior to the PAD announcing that their airport blockades would end, another grenade attack at one of the airports killed one and injured around 20 other protesters. Yesterday saw the PAD announce plans to abandon the Government House compound they have occupied since August. Following numerous grenade attacks on their encampment there, they elected to move to the airport protest sites and leave what has become a regular target; it is expected to take until Thursday to remove all belongings accumulated at the key site since the August invasion.

Somchai, brother-in-law to the fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, has been a target of the PAD since he assumed the office following his predecessor being ousted over a conflict of interest issue. The PPP and Somchai are seen as a proxy for Thaksin and his banned Thai Rak Thai party, which the military overthrew in a bloodless coup in 2006.

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November 30, 2008

Tourists struggle to escape as airport blockage enters sixth day

Sunday, November 30, 2008

With dire warnings that the number of stranded tourists in Thailand could rise as high as 300,000, thousands are attempting to leave the country via U-tapao airport in Rayong, around 150km south-east of the capital Bangkok. The blockade of the two main international airports by People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters is now in its sixth day. Tensions continue to rise with a pro-government rally planned for today and police surrounding the main international airport, Suvarnabhumi.

With the old international airport, Don Mueang, still in PAD hands, the red-shirted pro-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has supporters massing at the offices of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. A “Truth Today” talk show is planned for later on although, unlike previous events, the fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra is not expected to feature. Organisers have indicated there are no plans to confront the PAD, but non-specific threats to act where the government has not done so have been made in the past.

Thailand’s Prime Minister remains in Chiang Mai in the north of the country having declared a state of emergency around the two sieged airports on Friday. The move prompted the PAD to move protesters inside terminal buildings and post volunteer guards. Yesterday moves by police to evict the protesters failed, and their vehicles were seized as they retreated.

Adding to calls from the army for the beleaguered People’s Power Party (PPP) government to stand down, the Thai Chamber of Commerce labelled the administration as incompetent; some Chamber of Commerce members made the suggestion that businesses should cease paying taxes if the request is ignored.


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Sources

  • Phusadee Arunmas, Manop Thip-osod and Sirikul Bunnag “PAD force police retreat”. The Bangkok Post, November 30, 2008
  • “Red-shirted people rally at Bangkok city hall”. The Nation (Thailand), November 30, 2008
  • “Rush to get out”. The Bangkok Post, November 30, 2008
  • Chatrudee Theparat and Chadamas Chinmaneevong “No way out”. The Bangkok Post, November 29, 2008

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Tourists struggle to escape as Bangkok airport blockades enter sixth day

Tourists struggle to escape as Bangkok airport blockades enter sixth day

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

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Suvarnabhummi Airport (also referred to as Bangkok International Airport)
Image: Heinz Albers.

With dire warnings that the number of stranded tourists in Thailand could rise as high as 300,000, thousands are attempting to leave the country via U-tapao airport in Rayong, around 150 km southeast of the capital Bangkok. The blockade of the two main international airports by People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters is now in its sixth day. Tensions continue to rise with a pro-government rally planned for today and police surrounding the main international airport, Suvarnabhumi.

With the old international airport, Don Mueang, still in PAD hands, the red-shirted pro-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has supporters massing at the Bangkok city hall. A “Truth Today” talk show is planned for later on, although it is unclear if the fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra will feature. Organisers have indicated there are no plans to confront the PAD, but non-specific threats to act where the government has not done so have been made in the past.

Thailand’s Prime Minister remains in Chiang Mai in the north of the country, having declared a state of emergency around the two besieged airports on Friday. The announcement prompted the PAD to move protesters inside terminal buildings and post volunteer guards. Moves by police yesterday to evict the protesters failed, and their vehicles were seized as they retreated. The police presence around the airport has been stepped up as today has gone on and Navy and Air Force personnel may be made available to assist in clearing the protesters.

Adding to calls from the army for the beleaguered People’s Power Party (PPP) government to resign, the Thai Chamber of Commerce labelled the administration as incompetent and called for them to step down; some Chamber of Commerce members made the suggestion that businesses should cease paying taxes if the request is ignored.

The deepening three-month old political crisis continues to have significant economic impact on Thailand. Agriculture is hard hit because the export of fresh produce via air is usually routed through the Suvarnabhumi airport. No new tourists are entering the country; many nations have advised their citizens not to travel to Bangkok, and the repercussions in the tourist industry are expected to last well into 2009. A report in The Bangkok Post suggests that as many as one million in the industry could lose their jobs. In a press conference at the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat highlighted the plight of the hotel, tour, and restaurant trades – expected to be hardest hit in the wake of the crisis.

Police appear reluctant to make forceful moves to remove the protesters from the two airports, likely a consequence of their last clash with the anti-government PAD in October that saw two protesters killed and around 500 injured. Suggestions have been made that action is being deferred pending a decision by the country’s constitutional court on the future of Prime Minister Somchai’s PPP. The party may be outlawed this coming week in light of allegations of vote buying in the last general election. The court may face pressure from the pro-government UDD, their city hall rally is only minutes away from the court buildings. This means that they could surround the premises to protest the court moving to closing statements and a verdict on the fate of the parties in the ruling coalition.

The PAD demonstrators encamped at Government House saw another grenade attack on Saturday night. Fifty are reported injured in the attack, and separate explosions are reported at Sondhi Limthongkul’s ASTV satellite TV station and the occupied Don Mueang airport.



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November 28, 2008

Thai PM declares state of emergency over airport blockades

Thai PM declares state of emergency over airport blockades

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Friday, November 28, 2008

File photo of People’s Alliance for Democracy protesters.
Image: Mark Micallef.

With Thailand’s People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) still blockading Bangkok’s two international airports, the People’s Power Party (PPP) Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, has declared a state of emergency around Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi international airports. Police have been ordered to end the blockade and demonstrations, prompting the PAD to move demonstrators inside terminal buildings and post volunteer guards to fend off any action by authorities.

Thailand
Other stories from Thailand
  • 21 May 2015: Yingluck Shinawatra, former Thai prime minster, begins her trial in Bangkok over corruption allegations
  • 18 May 2015: Over 900 asylum seekers rescued off Indonesian coast
  • 5 June 2014: ‘Hunger Games’ salute used to protest coup d’état in Thailand
  • 3 March 2014: Thai school bus crash kills fifteen
  • 9 December 2013: Thai Prime Minister dissolves parliament and calls elections
…More articles here
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The staunchly royalist and anti-government protesters began upping the stakes in their campaign to bring down the populist PPP government last Sunday. A rallying call for protesters to mass at the occupied Government House compound on Sunday saw thousands ready for their Monday morning march on parliament. Since forcing the cancellation of sessions of both houses of parliament, the protesters have expanded their targets to include temporary government offices at Don Mueang, and then to close both of Bangkok’s international airports.

Disruption by the PAD has now been in progress for over three months. The group which initially demonstrated in 2006 leading to a bloodless military coup to overthrow the now-fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra claims the current government is corrupt and merely a proxy for Thaksin, who remains in self-imposed exile. The current escalation of action has been dubbed their ‘final battle’ and although army commanders have dismissed reports that a second coup may be imminent, rumours that such may happen abound.

The PAD action is now starting to have a notable impact on Thailand’s economy. Most apparent is the impact on the tourism industry with several countries advising their nationals not to fly into the country; Tuesday’s invasion and closure of the new international airport saw 3,000 – 4,000 travelers stranded in terminal buildings. Normally handling around 75 flights an hour, Suvarnabhumi airport’s closure is estimated to be costing the agriculture sector of the country’s economy 3 billion baht (US$85 million) per day. As a major segment of the economy, the export by air of fresh fruit and vegetables is among Thailand’s better known products.

Among the would-be travelers, the nearly 5,000 Thai Muslims who planned to make the annual Hajj pilgrimage are most distressed. Pridi Chueaphudee, an advisor to the leader of the country’s Islamic community, has appealed for the PAD to permit pilgrims to fly out of the new international airport. According to the Bangkok Post there is concern that the blockade may send a message of religious intolerance to Saudi Arabia. Thai Airways have managed to arrange one chartered flight from Hat Yai International Airport to Jeddah, although this will only accommodate 250 of those seeking to attend the Hajj.

Meanwhile, the beleaguered Prime Minister Somchai remains in his home town of Chiang Mai in the north of the country. He was forced to divert there when returning from an APEC summit in Peru, and has set no date for his return to the capital. With concern that a coup may be in the offing, cabinet business is being conducted via video conferences with other senior government officials who are in Bangkok. He has dismissed calls from the military for the current government to be dissolved and fresh elections held.

With police apparently determined to avoid a repeat of the October 7 clashes that left two dead and around 500 injured, it may be the involvement of government supporters that tips the current crisis into violent confrontation. The pro-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has called for their supporters to disperse PAD occupation of the airports should the government fail to act.



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Second Bangkok airport closed, protests continue

Second Bangkok airport closed, protests continue

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Thailand
Other stories from Thailand
  • 21 May 2015: Yingluck Shinawatra, former Thai prime minster, begins her trial in Bangkok over corruption allegations
  • 18 May 2015: Over 900 asylum seekers rescued off Indonesian coast
  • 5 June 2014: ‘Hunger Games’ salute used to protest coup d’état in Thailand
  • 3 March 2014: Thai school bus crash kills fifteen
  • 9 December 2013: Thai Prime Minister dissolves parliament and calls elections
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Following on from Tuesday night’s invasion of Bangkok’s new international airport, Suvarnabhumi, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has now taken over the Thai capital’s old Don Mueang International Airport, forcing the Thai authorities to shut it down. The expansion of the protest at Don Mueang is reported to be a move to prevent cabinet ministers flying to Chiang Mai for a meeting with the Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat.

The closure of the Don Mueang airport saw 3,000 PAD supporters gathered outside Don Mueang airport, although there were no passengers inside the terminal, as the last flight had arrived a few hours earlier. The airport operates a few domestic flights, and was the only airport left serving Bangkok after protesters swarmed the main airport earlier this week, forcing flights from there to be suspended.

“I authorised Don Mueang’s director-general to close the airport from midnight. It is closed indefinitely until normalcy is restored,” said the president of operator Airports of Thailand, Saererat Prasutanond, speaking in a televised address. “The two airports that serve Bangkok are completely closed.”

A Thai court has ordered the demonstrators occupying the Suvarnabhumi airport to leave, but the protesters say that they will stay until the government resigns. The closures of the airports come at the height of the tourist season, and threatens the tourist industry, which is one of Thailand’s largest earners.



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November 27, 2008

Second Bangkok airport closed, protests continued

Filed under: Politics and conflicts,Somchai Wongsawat,Thailand — admin @ 5:00 am

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Following on from Tuesday night’s invasion of Bangkok’s new international airport, Suvarnabhumi, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have now taken over the Thai capital’s old Don Mueang international airport, forcing the Thai authorities to shut it down. The expansion of the protest at Don Mueang is reported to be a move to prevent cabinet ministers flying to Chiang Mai for a meeting with the Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat.

Yesterday’s closure of Don Mueang airport saw at least 3,000 passengers were reported to have been stranded for 16 hours in terminal buildings until they were evacuated.


Related news

Sources

  • “Thai protests shut second airport”. BBC News Online, November 27, 2008
  • “Second airport closed”. The Bangkok Post, November 27, 2008
  • “Protest continues in Thai capital, 2nd airport closed”. CTV.ca News, November 26, 2008
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