High tension in Thailand – July, 2006

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Three EC commissioners thrown behind bars, losing status - The Nation, July 25, 2006
Vasana infuriated by opponents' boo  - The Nation, July 25, 2006

We should not confuse ill-gotten wealth with success: Gen. Prem - The Nation, July 29, 2006
[It's not over yet! After the 1-2-3 punch of the Class 10 reshuffle, the return of the election decree, and the verdict on EC, more not-so-subtle criticism from Prem. The traditionalists are pressing home the point--not any more interested in democracy than Thaksin is, but instead seeking to restore the status quo upset by the TRT juggernaut.]

Election commissioners denied bail, go to prison - TNA, July 25, 2006

Thai premier plans to stay in politics - TNA, July 25, 2006
Premier cornered again as court hands down verdict - The Nation, July 26, 2006
...Thaksin has lost his allies at the EC. His key fortress has been destroyed. Going into the October 15 poll, the Thai Rak Thai Party will not have "home-field advantage" as in previous elections. The new Election Commission could make trouble for Thai Rak Thai by giving some of its candidates red cards - something that would never happen if the Vasana-led EC were still allowed to function.
There was no time, nor was there any contingency plan on the part of the Thai Rak Thai camp to disrupt the scene following the court's landmark ruling. Disturbances would definitely have broken out, which would have put off the election indefinitely, had the royal decree not come down last Friday.
The royal decree was issued with perfect timing...

What swayed the judges - The Nation, July 26, 2006
...The three commissioners then decided to organise the repeat vote in 38 constituencies, mostly located in the South, Phetchaburi and Nonthaburi.
They authorised local electoral offices to register additional candidates. Under their instruction, candidates from the first round of voting were allowed to switch constituencies and run in the repeat vote even though the EC had not endorsed balloting results.
They went ahead with the plan for additional candidates even though the Supreme Court had ruled on April 9 that it was illegal for candidates to switch constituencies before the endorsement of votes in the first round.
...The three commissioners also allowed repeated registrations for candidates in Songkhla after no qualified individuals stepped forward, it said.
"The candidacy registration debacle happened even though the EC had issued a ban on accepting additional candidates for repeat voting," it said. The ban was published in the Royal Gazette on December 26, 2000.
"The consequence of the three commissioners' action was to help the Thai Rak Thai Party overcome the 20 per cent rule, which, in turn, meant the balloting outcome was not a true reflection of the people's will," the court said...

Poll hinges on the PM bowing out - The Nation, July 29, 2006
...Key players in the party, known as the 'Paesano Six', are trying to put pressure on Thaksin to make him announce his political future before election day.
They have reportedly won over Thaksin in their desire to move from a one-man-show leadership to a collective decision-making process.
Even if he wins the next election, Thaksin won't be able to rule the country. That's because the anti-Thaksin group will never let him survive. Other countries will have little confidence in Thai politics and economics...

Guard democracy beyond EC ruling - The Nation, July 29, 2006
...It needs to be determined whether the commissioners' blatant bias in favour of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai was motivated by self-interest in the form of bribes or other financial incentives.
The guilty verdict against the three commissioners provides some clue as to how the Thaksin government was able to manipulate and then corrupt a major democratic institution like the EC for political gain. Thai society already has an inkling of how the nomination process in the Senate was rigged to favour the appointment of people friendly to the Thaksin regime to sit on key "independent" agencies like the EC...

PM no longer has the connections to bestow 'immunity' - The Nation, July 29, 2006
...Outgoing Senator Chirmsak Pinthong also questioned Thaksin's remark along these lines. He said: "Throughout his life, Thaksin has lived by connections. When this kind of incident happens, Thaksin only thinks about connections. If there are no connections, he thinks about how to get one with the judiciary." The collapse of the EC will create a further domino effect. Those who have been serving the Thaksin regime in any dubious way and hoping that they would be able to get away with everything they have done, will regret that choice like the EC trio. Thaksin's immunity no longer works...

Suriya storms out of meeting - The Nation, July 26, 2006
...There have been rumours that Suriya, also the industry minister, was planning to resign from the ruling party even before yesterday's walkout.

Thaksin: Stay or go?
Thaksin could go: Sudarat discloses reconciliation options - The Nation, July 24, 2006
Surapong insists Thaksin to contest Oct 15 election - The Nation, July 24, 2006
...He said Thaksin would become the next prime minister if the people still trust and vote for the Thai Rak Thai.
Thaksin declines to commit himself whether to take political break - The Nation, July 23, 2006

TRT focus on policy, not Thaksin - Bangkok Post, July 25, 2006
Political sentiment turns toward the Democrats - The Nation, July 25, 2006
...The Democrat Party, meanwhile, should have realised that national political sentiment turned in its favour on Sunday because Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin alone could not have led the party to such an impressive performance.
After all, Apirak has yet to achieve anything major in his past two years as the city governor.
His much-touted smart traffic signs and bus stops have flopped and his Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project has yet to come into service.
And although Apirak received plaudits when he went ahead with the plan to extend the Skytrain route, the extension is still not in operation.
While Thaksin is expected to do something for his party, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva should be aware of his crucial role too.
Instead of waiting to reap benefits from Thai Rak Thai's declining popularity, Abhisit should prove he is a worthy choice for the premier's post.

Chang Noi: Two stories on the origins of Thai democracy - The Nation, July 24, 2006
July 22, 2006

Left: Khao Sod front page, July 22, 2006 - The King enters the hospital for surgery

So how does the King exert influence when he is recovering from major surgery during a critical political juncture?

King endorses election decree - The Nation, July 21, 2006
...His Majesty the King wants to see the next election to be clean and fair and want the country to live at peace as soon as possible, Government Spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee said Friday.
Surapong said His Majesty states the wish by writing down a note on the royal decree to set the election day, which His Majesty signed on Thursday.
It was the first time that His Majesty wrote down a note on such a royal decree...

Talk of TRT defections has conspiracy theorists salivating - The Nation, July 19, 2006
Key ministers have exit plan - The Nation, July 19, 2006
Samak fires broadside at Gen Prem - The Nation, July 19, 2006
More on Samak

PM turns temple talk to politics - The Nation, July 19, 2006
Sonthi out to block Thaksin's man - Wants former Prem aide as his new deputy - Bangkok Post, July 18, 2006
...Gen Sonthi, who is preparing the annual reshuffle list, is reported to be blocking the path of assistant army chief Gen Pornchai Kranlert, a former classmate of Mr Thaksin, by proposing that Gen Pairote Panichsamai, the army's chief adviser, be appointed deputy army chief...

Banharn's behaviour 'suspicious' - The Nation, July 18, 2006
People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) coordinator and spokesman Suriyasai Katasila said yesterday the behaviour of Chat Thai leader Banharn Silapa-archa and his party was suspicious and could be viewed as a possible conspiracy with the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party...

Minister surprised at new assistant - Bangkok Post, July 18, 2006
Unprecedented challenge to Prem - The Nation, July 18, 2006
...The wearing of the combat uniform and a speech in which Prem urged the country's soldiers to show loyalty to the monarchy seems to have signalled that a line has been drawn in the sand between the country's elite and the Thaksin regime.
...Never before have the Thai elite faced this kind of outright challenge from an elected politician. It is totally unprecedented and has shaken the foundations of the elite. Responses from members of the elite have been muted, while most members of the general public don't really know what is going on in this political drama.

A 'Dear Thaksin' letter the govt doesn't want you to see - The Nation, July 18, 2006
...By the way, even though my hotline is open 24 hours, please don't call unless it's a real emergency - like needing an airlift in the middle of the night. You can be sure that we never abandon friends in time of troubles. Field Marshal Thanom and family members of late President Marcos can testify to that.

Letter 'portent' of govt crackdown - Bangkok Post, July 17, 2006
... The caretaker prime minister could have conceived a plan to suppress political dissent. The letter may have impressed upon the recipients a grave picture of the political situation, providing the government with grounds for suppressing its opponents should it become necessary.
Historically, Mr Surachai said, it was common for national leaders to write to their counterparts, as though to give them advance warning, before proceeding with drastic action.
''The letter may be implicitly telling other countries not to be disturbed if violence erupts here,'' he said...

Military 'must back King' - The Nation, July 15, 2005
Prem reminds soldiers of their duty to His Majesty and their country as leaks point to a purge of disloyal officers...
His remarks come during a time of national political turmoil triggered by an annulled general election and uncertain preparations for a new vote scheduled for October.
This electoral indecisiveness happened amid a power play in the armed forces as the government and its opponents tried to outwit one another.
Leaks from the government camp indicated an imminent purge of officers seen as having questionable loyalty...

Today at Lumpini - July 14, 2006
After PAD marchers delivered letters to various embassies around town, a rally was held at Lumpini Park. The tenor of the proceedings were the same as previous rallies. For instance Professor Tortakoon Yomanat, speaking to the crowd, claimed that the food in Government House is being tested before Thaksin eats it. He claimed that the Public Health Department sent three officers to test food before cabinet members were to eat it. He noted that famous leaders often died by being poisoned like Napoleon.

PM mum on plans for military promotion - The Nation, July 15, 2005
...Even though Sonthi secured his present position with Thaksin's blessing last year, he reportedly fell out of favour in March after refusing to rally behind the government over the possibility of declaring a state of emergency against street protests.
If and when Thaksin decides to pick a new Army commander, Sonthi is likely to assume the ceremonial position of supreme commander, replacing General Ruengroj Masaranond, who is scheduled for mandatory retirement.
Outgoing Senator Seree Suwanpanont said Thaksin would be guilty of politicising the military reshuffle if he showed favouritism to promote Pornchai and other allies from Pre-Cadet Class 10...

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)
Conspiracy from the Northeast - July 14, 2006
On Monday, on July 10, a Nation publication, the Thai-language Kom Chek Luek, screamed: Esarn to restore the nation - Revealed is a plan that has no shadow - Incite Thai people to kill each other - Create a civil war - To change politics (above)

Imagine that headline in The Nation or Bangkok Post. Kom Chek Luek was created to compete with sensational dailies like Thai Rath.

The Nation
, operating more along Western journalistic lines and always careful not to inflame the Thai situation with English-speakers, only mentioned the "conspiracy from the northeast" in a highly refined way on Monday - Premier 'wants to incite civil war' - The Nation, July 10, 2006 and later Yongyuth denies calling up local units - The Nation, July 13, 2006

The "civil war" reference refers to the widespread rumors in the Thai-language world about the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry training legions of fanatical Northeasterners to descend on Bangkok to violently confront antigovernment protesters. Thai Post and the Manager (and here) have also promoted these stores as well.

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister has often been the subject of such accusations. One of Sondhi's antigovernment protests in January was disrupted by hundreds of young men believed to be ministry employees. They were thwarted when the National Anthem was played over loudspeakers causing all parties to stop fighting (Thais are expected to stand at attention during the National Anthem) and police moved in and separated the participants. During the height of the protests in February and March, protest leaders told the crowd that thugs were gathering at the ministry to be ready to confront marchers with violence.

Message in a Bottle - The Irrawaddy, July 14, 2006
Dhammakaya denies helping TRT friends - Bangkok Post, July 14, 2006
Wat Dhammakaya yesterday denied that a gathering of local administration bodies from across the country at its temple was intended to muster support for embattled caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra...
Close relations between government leaders and the temple played no part in the decision to hold the event, he said.
A former member of the House committee on religious affairs said Wat Dhammakaya has close ties with leading Thai Rak Thai party figures such as party secretary-general and caretaker Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit and caretaker Labour Minister Somsak Thepsuthin. Mr Suriya's wife, Surisa, once donated 40 million baht to the temple.
The temple has been criticised for its fund-raising and teaching methods. Its former abbot, Phra Dhammachayo is being investigated over land embezzlement...

Communist party may be reborn soon - Bangkok Post, July 14, 2006
Former communist insurgent Surachai Danwattananusorn, better known as Surachai sae Dan, yesterday announced his decision to form the New Thai Communist party in his southern home province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Mr Surachai said the party would represent low- and middle-class people and fight against capitalism. He believed that the time was right for a communist party to play a part in politics as the capitalist system was deteriorating...

Armed forces warned to prepare for a crisis - Bangkok Post, July 14, 2006

Thaksin's letter to Bush - July 12, 2006

Manager broke this story in Thai at 10:14am.

Letters between Thai prime minister and US president - The Nation, July 12, 2006

Govt confirms authenticity of letters - The Nation, July 12, 2006

Former FM criticises Thaksin's letter to Bush - The Nation, July 12, 2006

Notes to leaders seen as embarrassing, self-serving - The Nation, July 13, 2006

'Dear George' letters shameful - The Nation, July 13, 2006

Why I think the 'Thaksin-Bush' letters were forged - The Nation, July 13, 2006

A thread on the letters is here.

Interior Minister downplays rumoured plot to assassinate Prime Minister - TNA, July 12, 2006
Interior Minister Kongsak Wanthana dismissed rumours of a plot to involving foreign assassins alleged to have been hired to kill Thailand's caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, saying such hearsay only serves to sow fear and confusion among the public...
Meanwhile, Marshal Kongsak played down concerns that a gathering of members of the Dharma Gaya religious sect, scheduled early next week at its temple in Pathum Thani province, had been designed to thwart a massive gathering of the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy set for Friday in the capital.
Neither had the Dharma Gaya gathering been designed to show massive support for the embattled prime minister as alleged, Marshal Kongsak said.
Nonetheless, a hundred thousand people are expected to show up at the temple next Monday...

PM's Office Minister Suranand 'set to quit' - The Nation, July 13, 2006
More on High tension in Thailand
Friday's anti-Thaksin coalition rally moves from Sanam Luang to world stage - TNA, July 12, 2006
...The demonstrators will march to four foreign embassies--those of France, China, Russia and Japan--during the morning, to publicly read an open letter regarding the democracy alliance stance towards the content of the letter which the premier earlier sent to the US leader, Mr. Suriyasai said...
On the forum: Extreme anti-government news
Thaksin denies three ministers to resign - The Nation, July 13, 2006
Thaksin will go to Brunei this weekend - The Nation, July 13, 2006
...The caretaker premier will leave Bangkok on Saturday and return on Sunday...

On top of Democracy Monument - The Nation, July 10, 2006
In case you missed it: Three men climb up Democracy Monument on Rajadamnoen Road on Sunday night, criticising Thaksin Government and refused to come down. They agreed to end their strike and climb down from the monument on Monday afternoon...
A police office held on to Boonsin Yokthip, one of the three protestors who climbed on top of the Democracy Monument on Sunday, as they drop on to an air mattress. The first two protestors had agreed to come down but Boonsin refused, thus, the use of force.

In deference to HM the King's health, anti-Thaksin rally may be postponed - TNA, July 11, 2006

The "charismatic individual" - July 1, 2006

The press is now openly reporting that Thaksin's comments concerning a "charismatic individual'' are thought to be in reference to head of the Privy Council, Prem Tinsulanonda. 2Bangkok forumers were discussing this a week ago.

The word Thaksin is saying in Thai is .
This is someone with moral authority, grandeur, influence, but colloquially and in the media this word is often used with added negative connotations.

Mentioning a "charismatic individual'' has turned into a trap for Thaksin. The last time the Prem was criticized, Samak's TV and radio programs were canceled under pressure from the military. Thaksin must proceed carefully now to diffuse perceptions that he is implicating Prem.

Thaksin urged to name foe - 'Charismatic' enemy claim draws flak - Bangkok Post, July 1, 2006
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's remarks about a mysterious ''charismatic individual'' have landed him in trouble, amid increasing demands that he identify who he means.The remarks set off speculation that he was referring to Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, chief of the Privy Council, who is well regarded by the public. Mr Thaksin, who has made similar allegations twice in less than a week, dodged questions about the individual. On Thursday he said the unnamed person was at work to oust him from office...

(Source: Bangkok Post front page, July 1, 2006)
PM told to reveal name of plotter - Prem not target of charge, say Sudarat, Chavalit - The Nation, July 1, 2006
...Thai Rak Thai Party deputy leader Sudarat Keyuraphan and former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh dismissed widespread speculation that Thaksin was referring to Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda.
Sudarat said she believed the speculation was aimed at tarnishing the ruling party.
Meanwhile, security has been stepped up for the premier because of fears that certain elements angry with him might resort to violence, a security source said yesterday.
Thaksin has drawn flak rather than sympathy after revealing the alleged plot to overthrow him unconstitutionally. He made the remarks while addressing a gathering of top bureaucrats at Government House on Thursday.
He spent yesterday keeping tight-lipped on a burning question - who is the charismatic individual who wants to replace him by pushing for a royal intervention under Article 7 of the Constitution?...

Prem's aide urges Thaksin not to make more enemies - The Nation, July 1, 2006

Earlier: On the forum: Who is the "highly charismatic individual" behind Visanu's resignation?
...Cabinet members close to Mr Thaksin said he was becoming tired of fighting a proxy war. He believed he was pitted against a highly charismatic individual who was behind campaigns to oust him from office.
The individual in question was believed to be behind the resignation of his top legal experts, Borwornsak Uwanno and Visanu Krue-ngarm...
The source said Mr Thaksin was putting on an act when he stepped onto a stage and sold populist policies. Instead he was ready to step aside as prime minister and take advice from "non-partisan" individuals who would mediate to resolve the political crisis, said the source...

Premier 'wants to incite civil war' - The Nation, July 10, 2006
Kingdom 'is on the verge of bloodshed' - The Nation, July 10, 2006
'Bid to oust Thaksin not democratic' - The Nation, July 10, 2006
OAG proposes dissolution of Democrat, Thai Rak Thai, 3 other parties  - The Nation, June 27, 2006
LEGAL WARNING - Thaksin 'is violating the Constitution' - The Nation, July 5, 2006
Legal expert Meechai Ruchuphan has warned that Thaksin Shinawatra, the caretaker prime minister, could be seen as violating Article 8 of the Constitution with his June 29 remark that somebody who has reserved power beyond the Constitution is undermining the democratic system.
In the article "The Responsibility of the Prime Minister" on his website (www.meechaithailand.com), Meechai said the media and most people believe the person who has reserved power and is most beloved by Thais is His Majesty the King...

Chuan says Democrat has no contingency plan - The Nation, July 6, 2006
Democrat Party chief advisor Chuan Leekpai said the Democrat had not planned to set up a new party to prepare for a scenario in which the party might be dissolved.
Chuan said the Democrat had been under threat of party dissolution by the Election Commission from the beginning but it did not fear because it had done nothing wrong.
"I affirm that we have never thought about setting a new party as contingency plan," Chuan said.
"It's understandable if our party is dissolved under the Thaksin regime. But what makes us proud that we have been fighting against the regime for five years now."

Complaint filed against Chat Thai, Mahachon - The Nation, July 6, 2006
...He said the grounds he used to accuse Chat Thai and Mahachon Party is the same as the one the EC pressed against the Democrat Party. He asked the Election Commission to use evidence that Thai Rak Thai Party filed a complaint against the Democrat Party on the same charges to incriminate Chat Thai and Mahachon Party.

Thailand's new political party set up - TNA, June 30, 2006
..."The party is not a nominee of the TRT Party, nor is it funded by any Muslim group overseas," Mr. Pichet affirmed.
"The Thai Peace Party is a home built by Thai Muslims themselves to represent their own voices and to be the place where they can think and work out their own policies independently to resolve problems," he said....
"If the next general election is set on October 15, we'll run in some constituencies, but if the poll is further adjourned, we'll run in all the 400 constituencies across the country," Mr. Sombat said.

Will it come to 'that'? - The Nation, July 7, 2006
The eventual survival or demise of Thaksin Shinawatra, the landslide product of Thailand's "democracy", might - just might - be decided by anything but.
Although no one wants to see it happen, the possibility of a military showdown to settle one of the biggest political conflicts in modern Thai history has risen above the "taboo" line. For one thing, Thai politics and the role of the military have been interwoven ever since the 1932 bloodless coup to move from absolute monarchy to democratic rule...

GWR noted the following: Note that Samak (not exactly an army favorite right now) has taken off for New Zealand. - NZ govt concerned about political crisis in Thailand - The Nation, July 7, 2006

Also: Seminar back on, with Prem invite - The Nation, July 7, 2006

Six new parties endorsed - The Nation, July 7, 2006
...The six include the Palang Phaendin Thai Party of former Thai Rak Thai member Likhit Dhiravegin, and the Thai Women party co-founded by caretaker Senator Khom Kaen Rabiebrat Pongpanit...

Fifteen new parties formed in a month - Bangkok Post, July 7, 2006
...Thanit Sriprathet, director of the EC's political party affairs, explained that the names and logos of dissolved parties could be reused for party registration.
... Mr Thanit said assets of the dissolved parties would be donated to the charities or foundations of their choice. In the case of the Democrat party, if it is dissolved, its assets would go to the Kuang Abhaiwong Foundation.
Thai Rak Thai's assets would go to the Sai Jai Thai Foundation which is under royal patronage...

Tribulations of two emerging democracies - Forbes, June 19, 2006
This is the controversial article by Lee Kuan Yew that supposedly compares Iraq and Thailand. Frankly, it does not make much sense. It is almost as if two separate articles on Iraq and Thailand were accidentally merged.

Abhisit demands Thaksin to name names - The Nation, July 1, 2006
Chirmsak says Thaksin's Thursday is his swan song - The Nation, July 1, 2006
Thaksin files libel suit against Democrats, seeking Bt1 billion - The Nation, July 1, 2006
Thaksin confirms plan to attend World Cup final - The Nation, July 2, 2006
LEGAL WARNING - Thaksin 'is violating the Constitution' - The Nation, July 5, 2006
Legal expert Meechai Ruchuphan has warned that Thaksin Shinawatra, the caretaker prime minister, could be seen as violating Article 8 of the Constitution with his June 29 remark that somebody who has reserved power beyond the Constitution is undermining the democratic system.
In the article "The Responsibility of the Prime Minister" on his website (www.meechaithailand.com), Meechai said the media and most people believe the person who has reserved power and is most beloved by Thais is His Majesty the King...
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