High tension in Thailand – January 2006

Above: January 15 editions of Kom Chad Luek (left) and Thai Rath (right) with front page stories on the brief seizing of Government House

Thai Rak Thai warns Sondhi of counter rally - The Nation, January 30, 2006
...Suthin said Thai Rak Thai MPs had learnt from community leaders, village heads and kamnan that rural people had become fed up with Sondhi for trying to topple the government.
"They want to show their force to oppose Sondhi but we tried to ask them to be patient as we don't want a confrontation between two sides," Suthin said...

COMMENTARY: The activist who switched sides - IHT, January 29, 2006
The government's recent attempts to shut down ASTV and the Manager website reflects the undemocratic leadership style of Thaksin Shinawatra. Before its latest moves, the Thaksin administration had directly and indirectly used state power to stop ASTV from broadcasting Thailand This Week, hosted by Sondhi Limthongkul, a political firebrand and founder of Manager Media Group.
Some community radio stations have received threatening phone calls warning them not to air the talk show, and governors, provincial police commanders, and even the Provincial Electricity Authority were ordered to pressure other community radio stations around the country.
Given that all the measures used to end the 'Sondhi phenomenon' are of a dictatorial nature, it is unbelievable that key government figures from the generation involved in the October 14, 1973 democracy uprising, such as Chaturon Chaisang, Sutham Saengpratum, Phinij Jarusombat and Phumtham Wechayachai, would agree with the government's abuse of power...

REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE: 'Thaksinisation' strains Thai-US relations - The Nation, January 23, 2006

Looking beyond Thaksin era - The Nation, January 23, 2006

Army may step in if police fail to control rally - Bangkok Post, January 23, 2006
...Meanwhile, Gen Surayud Chulanond, privy councillor and a former army chief and supreme commander, denied a rumour that he was one choice to replace Mr Thaksin as prime minister. He has insisted that he is satisfied with being a privy councillor.
Social critic Theerayuth Boonmi said he disagreed with Mr Sondhi's demands as they were undemocratic. He said he did not believe Mr Sondhi could mobilise more support on Feb 4 than attended previous gatherings in Lumpini park...

EDITORIAL: Not quite a revolt -- yet - The Nation, January 15, 2006

Enough is enough: Thaksin - The Nation, January 14, 2006

PM's secretary-general orders police to take action against protesters - The Nation, January 14, 2006

Police round up protesters outside Government House - The Nation, January 14, 2006
About 1,000 policemen were led by Police Commissioner-General Kowit Wattana round up some 40 protesters outside Government House at about 7:50 am Saturday.
Kowit arrived at the protesting scene at about 7:40 when less then 100 protesters remained there.
Police then broke at the rally at about 7:50 am by selectively arresting whom they believed to be leading members.
Some 40 of them were arrested and several suffered head injuries when police tossed them inside mobile bars. Their head hit the bars when being pushed inside.
Kowit declined to answer reporters' questions as to what charges were used to justify the arrest.
They were transported to be detained at the Bang Khen Police Academy, usually used to detain political crime suspects.
The protesters continued rallying outside Government House after over 10,000 gathered there late Friday night to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thousands of protesters lay siege to Government House - The Nation, January 14, 2006
...The most serious incident in the political standoff between Thaksin and the antigovernment movement was virtually ignored by all free TV stations and all but a couple of radio stations. Some government TV stations reported the incident briefly in their breaking news but did not elaborate on the magnitude of the situation...

Brief scuffle occurs between anti-Sondhi and anti-Thaksin groups - The Nation, January 13 , 2006
...Fearing the situation would escalate, the staff of Thailand Weekly played a royal anthem, prompting both sides to stand still...

Sondhi plays video clips showing how pro-government people are organised - The Nation, January 13 , 2006

Pro-government demonstrators reach Lumpini Park - The Nation, January 13 , 2006

Sondhi's anti-Thaksin crusade running out of steam - The Nation, January 13, 2006
Media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul is clearly struggling to capitalise on the eroding public support for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to generate momentum for his drive to replace the current Constitution and topple the government.
Not all of those who showed up for Sondhi's weekly talk show at Lumpini Park last Friday agreed to sign his petition calling for a return of "royal power" to the monarchy, thereby delaying his plan to submit his motion to the Privy Council...

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