about Thai political issues on 2Bangkok
Events from July 2005 to April 2006
Media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul was once a supporter of Thaksin, but, like several of Thaksin's early supporters, he eventually became a critic. Eventually Sondhi's political commentary TV show "Thailand Weekly" was removed from state-TV because of its antigovernment rhetoric.
Meanwhile, Sondhi's newspaper, the highly influential Thai-language Phujadkarn (Manager), became fiercely anti-Thaksin and included several satirical columns such as Poojakuan.
While Thaksin's tough policies toward drug dealers (which resulted in the deaths of thousands) and personal profiteering merely received muted displeasure from the public, the real traction came with the Manager's promotion of a merit-making ceremony at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in April, 2005.
By October 2005, several websites, including the Manager site, started to run web-based articles on the April Emerald Buddha ceremony (along with a photo of Thaksin with his shoes on in the temple). The allegation was that Thaksin had somehow usurped traditional Royal prerogative by presiding over a ceremony instead of The King.
Email forwards brought this story to Thais around the world. This allegation did resonate with Thais and the Thai Rak Thai party faithful began to become uncomfortable with the unrelenting public criticism (Thai Rak Thai is the party Thaksin founded).
Meanwhile, Sondhi was continuing to perform his "Thailand Weekly" show live for audiences in several venues around Bangkok and started featuring the 'Thaksin at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha' incident as a major component.
This provocation was too much for the litigious Thaksin and a lawsuit was brought against Sondhi in court. A gag order on November 17 seems to indicate that the Manager newspaper and website can no longer criticize Thaksin until the case is resolved, but just how the order will be carried out in practical terms is unknown.
This is ultimately a high-stakes 'battle of the titans' between Thaksin and some of his powerful enemies. For instance the lese majeste charge against Thaksin on Thursday was backed by Ekkayuth Anchanbutr, one of Thaksin's enemies who also runs a website that has been promoting the 'Emerald Buddha' incident. (Interesting to note that the general who filed the charges, Kittisak Ratprasert, has often been involved in odd political events. He was one of the officers who tried to bring former PM Chuan money that was offered to the Forestry Ministry as a bribe. Chuan refused the money.)
February 24, 2006 - Thaksin dissolves the house and calls for new elections
April 4, 2006 - Thaksin steps down
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