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February 11, 2006 protest news

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Almost like being there: Royal Plaza Anti-Thaksin rally - February 11, 2006

A tale of two newspapers: Gaining strength or losing steam? 5,000 or 100,000? - February 13, 2006

Who to believe? AFP reports the latest rally turnout was low and the movement to oust Thaksin is losing steam. Reuters reports the turnout at 10,000-20,000. VOA implies the crowd was in the thousands, rather than tens of thousands like the week before. BBC ventures "about 5000 people."

Meanwhile The Nation's banner headline screams the movement is gaining momentum and the number of protests was "about 50,000." Komchadluek reports 30,000-50,000 and both Komchadluek and Matichon say the police estimated the crowd at 30,000.

The Bangkok Post also reported the number of demonstrators at 50,000 and said the movement was a "steadily expanding alliance of senators and pressure groups". Unlike the rest of the foreign press, Bloomberg cites The Nation figure of 50,000.

Not surprisingly, Manager (Sondhi's newspaper), repeated Sondhi's claim during the rally that 100,000 people were in attendance.

Our police sources say that if the area of the Royal Plaza is completely filled with seated people, the count is at least 30,000.

Gauging crowd size is always a politically sensitive matter with all sides over or underestimating numbers to serve their needs. It may also be that some foreign sources were reporting crowd sizes during the day or while the crowd was walking to the Royal Plaza in the afternoon. Many more people joined the rally in the evening.

Protesters call for Thai PM to quit, but rally turnout low - AFP, February 12, 2006
...Sondhi claimed a turnout of 100,000 but police said that partly because of confusion over the venue there were only about 15,000 demonstrators at the rally -- well down from the 50,000 who massed in the royal square a week ago.
...But the low turnout is likely to be seen as indication that the anti-government movement is losing steam...

Thai leader considers referendum - BBC, February 11, 2006
By late afternoon about 5,000 people had gathered at Bangkok's Royal Plaza, chanting anti-Thaksin slogans...
A protest last Saturday drew at least 50,000 people - the largest since Mr Thaksin came to power in 2001...

Thousands urge Thai PM to quit as he vows referendum - Reuters, February 11, 2006
At least 10,000 Thai protesters rallied in central Bangkok on Saturday demanding Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra resign...

Five years on, Thai PM faces calls to go - Reuters, February 11, 2006
...20,000 protesters chanted "Thaksin, get out!" in central Bangkok...

Thailand Announces Referendum on Amending Constitution Amid Anti-Government Demonstrations - VOA, February 11, 2006
...There were fewer people than last Saturday, when tens of thousands held an all-night vigil in the same place. Organizers said the crowd was smaller because police, up until the last minute, said they would not allow the rally...

ANTI-THAKSIN RALLY - Coalition gains momentum - The Nation, February 13, 2006
The new Royal Plaza alliance of senators and civic groups has boosted the credibility of the movement to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and produced an array of new issues from free trade to human rights violations and the plight of the rural poor
Yesterday's rally drew about 50,000 people, who listened to a diverse range of speakers criticising the PM. Media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul vowed to stick with the new alliance until Thaksin was ousted...

Almost 100,000 people gather to light candles to restore the nation and will gather again on February 26 - Manager, February 12, 2006

Also: 'A tale of two newspapers' archives

SAMAK-PREM UPROAR - Samak calls it a day - The Nation, February 13, 2006
TV commentator Samak Sundaravej and co-host Dusit Siriwan announced Monday that they would stop hosting all radio and TV programs following uproar over their criticism against the privy council chairman...
Earlier: What is being said on the Samak-Dusit Show?

Protest timeline

Royal Plaza, 23:53 - February 11, 2006
* One of the leaders speaks on the stage and asks people to thank to police who take care and the Bangkok city office that provides mobile toilets. Now all the leaders are coming to stand on the stage including the independent senators. They will light candles. Sonthi will be the first person to light the candle. He is speaking now. At the end they will listen to the national anthem.

Royal Plaza, 23:34 - February 11, 2006
* Nation TV reports: People will begin leaving the Royal Plaza soon the leaders of the rally say.
* One of the leaders, Suriyasai Katasila, said he expects next time there will be 100,000 people to join.
* On February 14, the anti-Thaksin forces will meet to plan the February 26 rally.

Royal Plaza, 23:29 - February 11, 2006
* Nation TV reports: Protest leaders plan the next anti-Thaksin rally at Sanam Luang on February 26, 2006. They hope to attract 100,000 people under the slogan "Give Thailand Back."

Royal Plaza, 23:01 - February 11, 2006
* Nation TV reports: The police say they will not disperse the crowd at 24:00.

Royal Plaza, 22:53 - February 11, 2006
* Nation TV reports: The army said if by 24:00 people the people do not move out, they may disperse them.

Royal Plaza, 22:42 - February 11, 2006
* Nation TV reports: Augkana Nilapaijit, wife of Muslim lawyer Somchai, who vanished and was killed, allegedly by government agents, speaks to reporters. This is the first time for her to speak up for people who do not get justice. She believes that people who join the protest today are not doing it for their own benefit.
* Nation TV reports: Now the leaders are discussing seriously the next step for the protest. The mainstream media have been banned from reporting on the protest.

Royal Plaza, 21:05 - February 11, 2006
* Manager reports people are still coming to join the rally and now estimate there are 50,000 people.
* Manager reports that at 18:30 a man distributed leaflets supporting Thaksin to create turmoil in the protest, but he was arrested and finally he confesses that he was hired for 2000 baht.
Photos from today's rally

Royal Plaza, 20:33 - February 11, 2006
* Kraisak Choonhawan talked about FTA to the crowd. Kraisak is former PM Chatchai's son. After Kraisak, the secretary of the Student Federation spoke.
* Sonthi is back on stage with quite strong words against Thaksin.
* TRT Bangkok MP Apichart Halumchiek and deputy secretary PM Preecha Suwanarat are observing the proceedings.
* The Nation Channel says 30,000-40,000 people are at the plaza.

Royal Plaza, 19:40 - February 11, 2006
* The Nation Channel reports that when Thaksin has arrived back to Bangkok from his trip to the deep south, he stopped by to see the situation near the Royal Plaza and see how many people came.
* Now the representative from the Railway workers talks on the stage. Sonthi will speak again at 20:00.
* Polices distribute 50,000 leaflet to tell people to protest by peace like last Saturday.
* Police also provide who vehicles with drinking water for the crowd.

Royal Plaza, 18:30 - February 11, 2006
* Sondhi has just finished speaking to the crowd.
* The Nation Channel reports the crowd this week is much larger that last week's rally.
* ITV is presenting blanket coverage of Thaksin's visit to the deep south including long interviews with the PM with an emphasis on how hard he is working and how tired he is.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Royal Plaza, 11:20 - February 11, 2006
Schedule for the rally - The Nation, February 11, 2006
Above: Bomb-sniffing dogs are used to check the base of the Rama V equestrian statue.
Below: Media trucks lined up right outside the plaza.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

(Source: Undated postcard, circa 1917)

Another protest - February 11, 2006

Barricades thrown up against PM's opponents - The Nation, February 11, 2006

Cash is king in the upper chamber, senators say - The Nation, February 11, 2006
Several senators have alleged that many of their colleagues receive cash from the Thai Rak Thai Party every month while others receive funds occasionally...
Chirmsak Pinthong, a member of Senate committee on corruption, said he had heard that some senators receive up to Bt100,000 a month...

Prem 'hurt' by Samak gibes, army brass want show axed - Bangkok Post, February 11, 2006
[The "third party" mentioned is the King.]
... Radio and television channels were told by the Public Relations Department to ensure Mr Samak did not overstep the mark when referring to a third party in his talk show. If not, the show risked being taken off the airwaves.
... Former supreme commander Gen Ood Buangbon warned that Mr Samak had clearly overstepped the mark and Gen Prem's proteges have prepared a ''counter action''. He did not elaborate.
An association of former military officers released an open statement yesterday demanding that Mr Samak apologise to Gen Prem for his ''senseless'' remarks without delay.
Channel 5 must also cancel the ''This Morning in Thailand'' programme or the association would take appropriate action against Mr Samak and the channel...

Earlier: What is being said on the Samak-Dusit Show?

Alliance to go ahead with Royal Plaza rally despite ban by metropolitan police - The Nation, February 10, 2006

PM Thaksin flies south on eve of mass protest - TNA, February 10, 2006

Email forwards: Anti-Thaksin cartoons - February 11, 2006
Another caution from the U.S. Embassy - February 10, 2006
Thailand has recently experienced a number of large, unrelated public demonstrations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. These protests have been mainly peaceful in nature, and have targeted, among other issues, the Thai-US Free Trade Agreement, the listing on the stock exchange of a large brewery, and opposition to Thai Prime Minister Thaksin. The crowds often include several diverse groups of demonstrators which assemble with no set starting or ending times...
Should you find yourself among or near the demonstrators, move indoors for shelter until the demonstration has passed, or ask for police assistance to leave the area...

Same story, different emphasis - February 10, 2006
Poll finds majority want PM, main critic to reach compromise - TNA, February 9, 2006
Next anti-Thaksin rally to be bigger: survey - The Nation, February 9, 2006
A thread about this story is here.

Prem's speech
Prem cites King's advice on leadership - The Nation, February 9, 2006
Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda yesterday cited royal advice on public administration, saying a good leader should aim to serve the public interest rather than those of families and cronies.
"His Majesty the King's coronation speech, 'We will rule the land with justice for the happiness of Siamese people', should serve as a lesson for everyone in the state sector," he said...
Samak lambastes Prem, Palakorn - The Nation, February 9, 2006
...Speaking in his talk show aired by Channel 5, Samak said Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda and Privy Councillor Palakorn Suwannarat had acted inappropriately...

Opposition banking on TRT rift to mount censure debate - IHT, February 7, 2006
Anti-Thaksin rally at Royal Plaza allowed - TNA, February 8, 2006
The government has softened its stance, announced on Wednesday that it would allow the next-round of anti-Thaksin demonstration to be organized at the Royal Plaza if the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Metropolitan Police Division give the green light...

Is Temasek complicit in scandal? - Bangkok Post, February 6, 2006
Singaporean government firm may not have received what it thought it was paying for when it acquired what many in Thailand consider tainted assets...
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