Veteran democracy fighters strongly deny backing Thaksin

Veteran democracy fighters strongly deny backing Thaksin - Bangkok Post, June 12, 2007
Veteran democracy fighters joining anti-coup rallies are trying to distance themselves from misconceptions that they are supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They are pressing People's Television (PTV) executives and members of Mr Thaksin's now-defunct Thai Rak Thai party to make a major ''facelift'' to the demonstration, which many observers say now looks more like a pro-Thaksin rally than a protest for democracy...


[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Veteran democracy fighters strongly deny backing Thaksin

Anti-coup rally needs facelift, say activists

KULTIDA SAMABUDDHI

Veteran democracy fighters joining anti-coup rallies are trying to distance themselves from misconceptions that they are supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They are pressing People's Television (PTV) executives and members of Mr Thaksin's now-defunct Thai Rak Thai party to make a major ''facelift'' to the demonstration, which many observers say now looks more like a pro-Thaksin rally than a protest for democracy.

''I will tell [PTV president] Veera [Musikapong] today that we need to make it clear to the public that our goal is not to reinstate the deposed prime minister,'' Weng Tojirakarn of the Confederation for Democracy told the Bangkok Post yesterday.

However, he said, it was difficult to stop himself and his organisation from being seen as pro-Thaksin because ''this rally originated with and is engineered by PTV''.

But ''time will prove that democracy is what we are fighting for'', he added.

Dr Weng is one of the seven leaders of the newly-formed Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD). The seven-member panel oversees and directs the demonstration, which could reach its climax this Saturday, when the group plans to rally in front of the army headquarters for the second time in a week to demand the ouster of the Council for National Security (CNS).

The other six panel members are Mr Veera, former supreme court judge Manit Jitjanklab, Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship spokesman Viputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai, ex-senator Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, Taxi Drivers Protection Association president Shinawat Habunphad and 87.75 community radio host Chupong Teetuan.

Sant Hatirat, adviser to the confederation, was appointed as the alliance's chief advisor.

Dr Weng, one of the leading democracy advocates who fought against the Suchinda Kraprayoon military government during the May 1992 uprising, said he was ready to leave the alliance immediately if it turns out that the group's ultimate goal is to pave the way for Mr Thaksin to return.

''I will leave the alliance like I did the People's Alliance for Democracy [PAD] last year,'' Dr Weng said.

He was referring to the confederation's boycott of the anti-Thaksin network after the PAD called for a royally-appointed prime minister, because it felt the petition was against the principle of democracy.

Ms Prateep, who also is secretary-general of the Duang Pratheep Foundation, a non-governmental organisation helping slum people, said she decided to join the DAAD-led rally because it was a good channel for people to ''express their discontent and upset over the CNS and the military rules''.

Without such channels, people would be overwhelmed with suppressed feelings, which could lead to more violent confrontations, she said.

''I am still on the opposite side to Mr Thaksin, but I can work with the pro-Thaksin group because we have the same goal _ to oust the CNS and protest against dictatorship,'' said Mrs Prateep.

DAAD chairman Manit Jitjanklab also denied being a member of the pro-Thaksin camp. The former supreme court judge said he disagreed with the military coup d'etat and demanded the CNS and the coup-installed government return power to the people. He said he agreed to become chairman of the panel because he wanted to use his legal knowledge and expertise to help the group win the fight against dictatorship.
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