High tension in Thailand – April-May 2006

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Thai Rak Thai claims 20 million supporters - Warns the country will be set on fire if court approves dissolving the party - translated and summarized from Phujatkan online, May 25, 2006

The Thai Rak Thai party is annoyed by the rumor that the party may be dissolved. On May 25, Suthin Klangsaeng, deputy spokesman for the Thai Rak Thai party, responded to the words of Chaianan Samutvanich, former judge of the Constitutional Court and an academic in political science, who said that the Court may dissolve the party in July. He also referred to the same words from Pramote Nakorntap, also an academic in political science. Suthin said that the party is confident that it did nothing wrong. The dissolving of the Thai Rak Thai party, which is supported by almost twenty million people, is not an easy matter. If the reasons to dissolve the party are not justifiable, then the country will be set on fire as Thai Rak Thai is the supporter of the population. No matter what happens, the party will not be dissolved. Suthin also added that Chaianan and Pramote are not acting like academics any more as no academic would be so biased.
Closed-circuit video footage from Defense Ministry: Candidates for sale? - The Nation, May 30, 2006

Battle lines are drawn - May 30, 2006

Court set trial date against EC commissioners - The Nation, May 30, 2006

The Criminal Court Tuesday set the trial date against four members of the Election Commission on June 19 charging them for the dereliction of duty relating to a decision to allow additional candidates to contest the repeat vote on April 23...

He also said he would oppose bail applications from the four defendants on grounds that they should be locked up to speed up the trial proceedings. The detention of the four defendants might prevent them for causing damage to the new election, he added...

October 15 will be new election day - The Nation, May 30, 2006

The Cabinet on Tuesday endorsed Election Commission's proposal for October 15 to be the date for a new general election...

(Photo: Manager)
On the forum: Removing the garuda seal from the national ID card?

Latest rabble rousing allegations from the anti-government Manager...

Also: What were they doing at the Defence Ministry? - Suthep's court shocker allegedly shows small party being bought - The Nation, May 30, 2006

Closed-circuit video footage from Defense Ministry: Candidates for sale? - The Nation, May 30, 2006

Finland plot: TRT and PM file libel suit against Manager Group - The Nation, May 30, 2006

Thailand at the brink of 'great loss' - The Nation, May 29, 2006

...The PAD campaigner said the first sign of doom was the alleged collaboration among the Thai Rak Thai Party, the Election Commission and caretaker Senate Speaker Suchon Chaleekrua to challenge the power of the three highest courts.

He said the Supreme, Administrative and Constitution courts wanted the EC to be replaced before another election, but Thai Rak Thai, the EC itself and Suchon were using any means to help the commissioners cling to their jobs...

Beware of assassination, academic warns Thaksin - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, May 22, 2006

Pairoj Vongvipanond, an economics lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, recently gave his opinion that Thailand's political system is getting similar to that of some Latin American countries. Pairoj commented that although Thailand's current interim Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is an elected premier, he is an amoral person who does not keep his promises. He also commented that the Premier used democracy as a tool to create dissension in Thai society.

Pairoj noted that the Premier was always saying he would solve the problems of Thailand's poor, but thought that the Premier's policies would not lead to the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor in the long run. Paroj then stated that the Thai Rak Thai party leader had concentrated on trying to make suburban people feel self-important, while exploiting the government's power for his own ends.

Pairoj gave his opinion that Thailand needed a leader who would really strengthen the institution of government as the Thaksin administration had all but destroyed its credibility. Pairoj also noted that Thai people had divided themselves into two factions--one which supported the Premier and the other which was repelled by his power. Pairoj's final comment was that the Premier should be careful not to become the target of assassination attempts as he had made many enemies during his two terms in office.

EU investors confident in Thailand despite political woes: diplomats - AFP, May 28, 2006

European investors have confidence in the Thai economy, but have warned that the country could lose out to regional rivals if its political turmoil continues much longer, officials said...

Open and shut media policy - Chang Noi, The Nation, May 29, 2006

...Since this government came to power in 2001, radio stations have been closed down, specific radio programmes taken off the air, television presenters and editors sacked, community radio stations harassed and outlawed, cable television channels disrupted and websites blocked with a relentless regularity. As in this case, there is often an intermediary to act as the hatchet man and a rationale which has nothing to do with politics, but the pattern tells us we should have no doubt who is behind all of this and what it represents.

This closure also signals a dismal return to business as usual. Open Radio flourished in the little extra space which was created by the surge of political sentiment after the attempted Matichon buy-out, Sondhi's crusade, the Temasek deal and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrations. Even mainstream television participated a bit in this miniature Bangkok spring. In March viewers were shocked at the sight of intelligent people discussing the issues of the day on their television screens No such sight had been seen for five years. Even critical views were aired. Opposition figures were allowed to talk at some length. Some programmes even allowed debate. Newscasters began self-consciously allowing the opposition a balanced share of air time, and some of them even restrained their instinct to portray every action critical of government as something close to high treason...

Chang Noi's website

Prime Minister's critics called for police questioning - TNA, May 29, 2006

...Summoned to the police division on June 7 and 8 under the libel lawsuit are Manager newspaper founder Sondhi Limthongkul, a leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, a coalition of anti-Thaksin groups, former Senate speaker Major General Manoonkrit Roopkhachorn, outgoing deputy Senate speaker Pichet Pattanachote, outgoing Senator Jermsak Pinthong and the editors of Manager, Post Today, Thai Post and Krungthep Thurakit newspapers.

All of the defendants are accused of making defamatory public statements against the caretaker prime minister at the height of the mass rallies in Bangkok between February and April of this year.

A LIBRARY - Only pro-Thaksin material is what you can get to read - Bangkok Post, May 28, 2006

[It appears it is not possible to search Bangkok Post articles anymore. The search feature is now just a Google search, but even after one day articles seem not be accessible online anymore.]

...Mr Pongnarin said the Thai Rak Thai library was endorsed by the Election Commission's party budget, a yearly fund given to every political party. He added that there were more than 2,000 Thai language books and 800 foreign language copies with some very rare publications obtained from Singapore.

...''We intend to have newspapers. It's just that we are having trouble with the supplier of the newsstands. We also are thinking of getting the whole series of Roo Than Thaksin (Seeing Through Thaksin) soon. It's just that we prefer books that are accepted by all parts of society,'' says Ms Yawin.

Roo Than Thaksin is a series of books written by outgoing Bangkok senator Chirmsak Pinthong together with a group of people including academics and former diplomats.

The books contain criticisms of Mr Thaksin's policies and practices and sold tens of thousands of copies.

A library user, the only one found there, said she found out about the library through the newspaper but was very disappointed about the fact that the library itself had no newspapers.

''A library is not a library if it doesn't have newspapers,'' she said.

Defectors from TRT form party - The Nation, May 20, 2006

..."The new party will soon be registered with the Election Commission and is expected to become the banner for more than 40 defectors from the ruling party," Sarit said. He said he was certain that the Thai Rak Thai Party was about to be dissolved for paying small parties to contest the April 2 election...

Misleading Information - Surin slams government website praising Thaksin's overseas tour - The Nation, May 18, 2006

Article from the government site:

Why did Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra travel abroad?

...In such circumstances, will there be anyone that can understand the feelings of a national leader, even one who has suspended his role, who realizes that regardless of political developments the confidence of international community must remain? It was with this in mind that the idea arose of visiting the leaders of six countries with whom he was personally familiar with, although many posed the question - why?

The reason was that the Prime Minister wanted to explain to the foreign leaders the facts of what happened in Thai politics, as he did not want them to misunderstand that Thailand was turning away from the path of democratic government.

Therefore, building “confidence” is most important factor...

Who pays for politics? - The Nation, May 15, 2006

..."For this 10 per cent policy, the minister would have to pad the budget proposed for approval to include the 10 per cent that would go to the party. Then once it was agreed with 'his person' via Khunying, the matter could be sent to his trusted 'permanent political representative', who used to be his company employee. To date nobody knows how much this 10 per cent amounts to. Probably need to ask Khunying."

Snoh claims to have asked Pojaman what she needed so many billions for, and got this answer: "In politics you have to hand out money. It has to be considered a business." Snoh asked her what would happen if things blew up, and she replied, "If Thaksin falls, the Thai Rak Thai Party will have to stay in power for at least two more terms for safety..."

Thaksin returns from palace but refuses to speak - The Nation, May 19, 2006

Military concerned about political uncertainty - TNA, May 18, 2006

..."We (the armed forces) have long been concerned about the country's political state because we feel it doesn't appear to end soon." he said...

Army chief insists no coup - The Nation, May 18, 2006

Military top brasses to discuss political situation this evening - The Nation, May 18, 2006

Thai king upset about political logjam - army chief - Reuters, May 18, 2006

EC chief: Nothing amiss with trip - Bangkok Post, May 19, 2006

Election Commission chairman Wasana Permlarp denies there was anything irregular about his trip to Australia last week, during which a person with links to Thai Rak Thai sat next to him on both the outbound and return flights On May 11 the EC chairman took the TG 995 flight of Thai Airways International from Bangkok to Sydney. He was seated in first class beside Sawang Mankong- charoen, a real estate developer who is close to the Thai Rak Thai party.

Sitting behind him were Paithoon Pongkaysorn, a deputy director-general of the Revenue Department, and Jintana Kruapim, whose public relations firm clinched a 77-million-baht election campaign contract with the EC...

Nam panel defies Wasana's order - Bangkok Post, May 19, 2006

The chief of an Election Commission subcommittee has refused to pursue further investigations after finding that Thai Rak Thai (TRT) hired smaller parties to run in the April 2 general election...

Navy chief: Heed court decisions - Bangkok Post, May 19, 2006

Mobsters have a free hand as police look on - Bangkok Post, May 19, 2006

... This was the second time in less than two weeks that rowdy mobsters carried out a violent attack on PAD protesters, who have occupied the area in front of the EC office in a peaceful rally against the election panel under Pol Gen Wasana Permlarp...

Who pays for politics? - The Nation, May 15, 2006

..."For this 10 per cent policy, the minister would have to pad the budget proposed for approval to include the 10 per cent that would go to the party. Then once it was agreed with 'his person' via Khunying, the matter could be sent to his trusted 'permanent political representative', who used to be his company employee. To date nobody knows how much this 10 per cent amounts to. Probably need to ask Khunying."

Snoh claims to have asked Pojaman what she needed so many billions for, and got this answer: "In politics you have to hand out money. It has to be considered a business." Snoh asked her what would happen if things blew up, and she replied, "If Thaksin falls, the Thai Rak Thai Party will have to stay in power for at least two more terms for safety..."

Thai courts reject proposed election date - AFP, May 16, 2006

Earlier: EC sets new election on Oct 22 - The Nation, May 15, 2006

Constitutional Court invalidates the April election and orders new election - The Nation, May 8, 2006

EC panel recommends charges against Thaksin - The Nation, May 11, 2006

"For the prestige of Songkhla people" - May 8, 2006

A leaflet from the Alliance to Restore the Nation and Restore Democracy of Songkhla to persuade people to wear black and boycott the "strange" election and persuade people to join the PAD gathering via the ASTV channel. This leaflet was planned to be distributed on April 29, but the administrative court canceled the election.

Thaksin will top TRT list - Won't be PM, unless popularity demands it - Bangkok Post, May 9, 2006

Thaksin 'has not resigned' - The Nation, May 5, 2006

[Thaksin never resigned. 2Bangkok.com has tried to make this point clear since the first announcement were made one month ago. However, nearly every press outlet outside of Thailand proclaimed that "Thaksin Resigns".]

Acting Prime Minister Chidchai Wannasathit said that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is on leave to rest, and that he has not resigned.

Mr Thaksin's leave was authorised in writing by the cabinet, according to Pol Gen Chidchai, who was left in charge by Mr Thaksin. He is also Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister.

"Taking a leave to rest is different from resigning," said Pol Gen Chidchai. His comments followed recent claims by some that Mr Thaksin's departure was really a resignation...

Thaksin faces lese majeste inquiry - Bangkok Post, May 3, 2006

[Does anyone know who "Karoon Chaikaeo, a citizen" is? Without exception these people are usually eccentric mid-level police or military men who crave being thrust into the public eye and are used by political parties to file motions like this. For instance, an earlier lese majeste charge was filed by Kittisak Ratprasert who 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.]

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) has set up a committee to investigate lese majeste complaints brought against caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Karoon Chaikaeo, a citizen, filed the complaints with national police chief Pol Gen Kowit Wattana alleging Mr Thaksin on several occasions had acted in a way that imitated His Majesty the King...

[Apparently this was the alleged offense...] Yellow flags bearing the Thai message meaning ''Long Live the King'' were distributed to thousands of taxi drivers who waved them at Mr Thaksin...

(Photo: Asiper for 2Bangkok.com)

The election that never was - May 6, 2006

Asiper sends in a few posters for the April 23 election that never was. These are posters for TRT candidates in zone 1 Yala and zone 1 Songkhla.

Left: Pls. vote for me - Professor Niyapar Raden-armad, former Professor of Rajabhat Yala - No. 2 Yala Zone 1 - 23 April 2006 - Please go to vote for the MP.

Right: No. 2 - TRT - Please vote for Wanchai Parinyasiri to be Songkhla MP in zone 1 - Put faith in democracy - Ready to serve people.

(Photo: Asiper for 2Bangkok.com)
Media intimidation: a view from the front - The Nation, May 3, 2006

...Claiming they received an anonymous letter, anti-money-laundering authorities launched a probe into the bank accounts of senior journalists critical of the government. About two dozen reporters were laid off by iTV after Shin Corp acquired it. The TJA and the Thai Broadcasters Association have documented more than 20 cases in which news editors and print and broadcast journalists were dismissed or transferred or have had their work tampered with to appease the government. The Bangkok Post was threatened with a Bt1-billion lawsuit for reporting, in the wake of the CTX corruption scandal, that there was a crack on a runway at Suvarnabhumi Airport...

(Photo: Asiper for 2Bangkok.com)
Praising Prem - April 30, 2006

The banner reads: Songkhla residents love and are proud of Pa (Pa Prem).
Same editorial in all major newspapers - April 12, 2006

[On April 11, all the major Thai newspapers ran the same editorial on media freedom. It was written by The Nation.]

Free media must become a reality - The Nation, April 11, 2005

...The concept of a free press in this country dates back to 1835, when American missionary and medical doctor Dan Beach Bradley published Thailand's first newspaper, The Bangkok Recorder, which was later sued into bankruptcy after having exposed tax evasion by the French consul-general in Bangkok. But the legacy of this pioneering journalist/publisher has lived on to this day...
HM the King's April 26 speeches (unofficial translation) - The Nation, April 26, 2006

Mass gatherings are a right of free speech: Interior Minister - TNA, April 24, 2006

Caretaker Interior Minister Kongsak Wanthana said that Sunday's gathering of pro-Thaksin crowd at Rajabhat Udon Thani University--allegedly to heckle or harrass speakers at a 'pro-democracy' seminar--was simply an expression of different opinion in accordance with the path of democracy, and not anything more...

Only non-TRT MP - The Nation, April 5, 2006

Sondhi postpones police meeting

Thai protest leader misses police subpoena - Channel NewsAsia, April 17, 2006

One of the key leaders of the protests that forced prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to step down has defied a subpoena over an alleged insult to Thailand's revered king, police said Monday...

Sondhi delays his surrender - The Nation, April 17, 2006

Sondhi Limthongkul, a leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, Monday sent his lawyer to postpone his surrender to meet charges of insulting His Majesty the King...

(Source: Asia Times Online)
More Thaksin analysis

In Thailand, Thaksin falls from grace - Asia Times Online, April 6, 2006

...According to PAD leader Sondhi, certain elements in the army had also encouraged him to raise the tempo of his peaceful protests, a move that would open the way for a military intervention that could have been manipulated to knock Thaksin from power. Sondhi, however, said he refused to put his followers at risk...

ANALYSIS - Has absent Thai PM turned the tables on his foes? - Reuters, April 11, 2006

Be careful what you wish for -- you might just get it. The old adage is looking ominously prescient for the enemies of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who got much of what they wished for when he stepped aside a week ago after an embarrassing and...

Where Brashness Doesn't Play - NYT, April 11, 2006

...Mr. Thaksin's headstrong policies have often courted controversy, even ridicule. He once raced by helicopter to a small town in a vain effort to locate a mythical hoard of wartime Japanese gold, saying it could be used to pay off the nation's foreign debts. He suggested helping the country's financial markets by advancing Thailand's clocks past those of its eastern neighbors, to the same time zone as the financial centers of Hong Kong and Singapore. And he fired his first central banker because the banker refused to raise interest rates, a move intended to stimulate spending by making Thai depositors feel wealthier...

...Nevertheless, after five years, Mr. Thaksin has left the country in better economic shape.

One of the important elements of the success of the Thaksin administration "was restoring confidence among the business community as well as consumer confidence," said Vincent Milton, the Bangkok-based managing director of Fitch Ratings...

Mob rule usurps democracy in Thailand - Ohmynews, April 9 2006

[There is certainly no reason to follow the media for insightful info on Thai politics--even that which is written locally is obscured by prejudice, wishful thinking, or ignorance. So following what is written about Thailand is often just an occasion for amusement. However, just when you thought you had read the most uninformed drivel there is to read, along comes this ridiculous article...]
...King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand proposed a parliamentary election. He wanted the voters to decide if Thaksin Shinawatra should keep his job. The prime minister's enemies opposed the election. The three main opposition parties staged a boycott. A majority of Thai voters supported Thaksin Shinawatra so their demands for resignation would go unheeded. They repudiated the will of the majority and believed their voices deserved greater priority than the voters...

COMMENTARY: What the US could learn from Thailand - Asia Times, April 7, 2006

...Ralph "Skip" Boyce, the garrulous US ambassador to Thailand, has maintained that Washington has in no way assisted Thaksin's controversial counter-insurgency efforts, which, similar to US military operations in Iraq, have been attended by allegations of torture and abuse of Muslim detainees.

Bangkok-based European and Asian diplomats, however, beg to differ, claiming that the United States' behind-the-scenes role in the conflict is an open secret in diplomatic circles.

...Thaksin's Thailand plays host to a joint top-secret US Central Intelligence Agency-run counter-terrorism center, charged with managing covert operations throughout Southeast Asia, according to a senior Thai intelligence official attached to the National Intelligence Agency. Those ties appear to have paved the way for the CIA to establish a secret prison in Thailand, where abducted terror suspects were allegedly held and interrogated. Ambassador Boyce has repeatedly declined to comment on the specifics of the secret detention center. (The facility was closed down in 2003, according to the Washington Post.)...

English lyrics to the Square-face Song - April 10, 2006

Rural Thais await return of "Thaksin the hero" - Reuters, April 8, 2006

..."I don't like the Democrats. They said terrible things about the prime minister and ruined all his projects," said watermelon hawker Hakiew Sae-gno, 61, about the biggest opposition party.

"He (Thaksin) is a big, important person who helps our king and takes care of us. If he doesn't pay tax that's his right." ...

A tale of two newspapers: Thaksin steps down

A step forward...

Events signify a giant step forward for Thai democracy - Thai Day, April 6, 2006

...For most analysts, however, who are aware that, not so long ago, political change usually came with military intervention and tanks rolling through the streets of Bangkok, the peaceful demonstrations that culminated with Thaksin going on national television this week to announce his resignation signals a maturing of Thai democracy...

In Thailand, a silk revolution - IHT, April 6, 2006

What has just happened in Thailand will doubtless puzzle the pundits for some time to come. The concerted effort by a wealthy minority to overthrow a popularly elected leader who enjoyed the undying support of the poor rural majority was regarded by much of the world as a perversion of democracy. The corporate world was surprised to see the man who had helped put Thailand back on the growth track after the 1997 financial crisis vilified by those who had benefited most from economic recovery.

or a step back?

Have protesters destroyed democracy in Thailand? - AFP, April 7, 2006

... Some analysts wonder if democracy has been subverted, and if the Bangkok elite effectively disenfranchised rural voters.

"Thaksin was hugely popular and was by far the biggest vote winner," said Robert Broadfoot, head of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy. "It's disastrous for democracy in Thailand..."

Backsliding in Bangkok - Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 6, 2006

...But it's hard to see this as a step forward for Thailand. By boycotting the election, the opposition parties succeeded in changing leaders, but not much else. If they want to influence the country's future, they'll have to do it the hard way. That means coming up with candidates who will run the government the way they think it should be run - instead of simply throwing out the ones who won't.

Thailand's top opposition party fails to win hearts despite Thaksin ouster - Channel NewsAsia, April 8, 2006

Thailand's top opposition party scored a win by helping to oust Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, but this has done little for the fortunes of a party that lacks a vision for the kingdom's future, analysts say...

Minister: Arroyo 'is no Thaksin' - Bangkok Post, April 8, 2006

..."President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has balls," said the secretary, Raul Gonzalez, to stress that the president would not resign her post - unlike Mr Thaksin, who did. He said Mrs Arroyo will hang tough.

"Maybe Thaksin Shinawatra is not made of a sterner stuff," he said during an interview on a Manila radio station. He added that Mr Thaksin "gets scared easily".

"President Arroyo was elected by the people. She won, as far as we are concerned, in an election that was fair and square," he said...

Comparing Philippines with Thailand a show of ignorance: Bunye - Asia Pulse, April 6, 2006

...Claudio said that prior to Thaksin's announcement, there was an environment of gloom and pessimism and a lot of outrage and anger.

"Such is not the situation here in the Philippines. There are lots of positive development in the economic and the political front that should make the Filipinos feel optimistic and hopeful," he said...

Target widens to 'Thaksin regime' - The Nation, April 7, 2006

...The alliance's rally planned for today at Sanam Luang must raise three important points, he said.

First, a probe must be launched into the alleged corruption of the Thaksin government and the assets of the prime minister and his family. Attempts should also be made to void the April 2 election.

Second, the media must be allowed to operate freely. People working on the government's behalf must stop intervening in the media by resigning from all positions at media organisations. Jon said he has learned that a confidant of the prime minister was stationed at MCOT for two days in order to check on its Modernine TV.

Third, Thai Rak Thai proxies are running in the Senate election on April 19 and all provinces must announce the names of the candidates running under the influence of that party so people will not vote for them, he said...

Hero of the poor became a corrupter of democracy - The Age, April 6, 2006

Thanks to Terry for pointing out this Australian perspective on Taksin.

Two years ago, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra noted, "A company is a country. A country is a company, the management is the same." The Opposition's boycott of last Sunday's snap election has delivered what may be Thaksin's last political lesson: a company and a country are different, and chief executives don't always get what they want...

Thaksin's exit good for Thailand. Asia, Too - Bloomberg, April 5, 2006

... His fans failed to see Thaksinomics for what it really was: Old-fashioned, debt-financed pump priming, dressed up as something new and revolutionary. Thaksin's strategy to raise Thai incomes and make the economy less reliant on exports is belied by how quickly millions of his people became heavily indebted -- average household debt rose 53 percent between 2004 and 2001 -- and often seem vulnerable to hard times...

Thaksin ork pai laew - April 5, 2006

Above left: Khao Sod - (Thaksin) Gets out [literally ork pai laew - the chant protesters used against Thaksin was Thaksin ork pai] - Maew concedes to take a break - Bhokin is widely expected to be P.M. - Stop the nation's conflict

Above right: Daily News - Thaksin moves back to take a break - Not quit - Apologizes to 16 million who voted for TRT -On 7 April the mob will protest again - Appeals to cancel those elected (in the April 2 elections)

Below: Bangkok Post - Thaksin Bowing Out and The Nation - Thaksin Quits

I will not accept post of premier in the next government : Thaksin - The Nation, April 4, 2006

Thai premier to take "political break" - Reuters, April 4, 2006

*****PM announces suspending political role****** - TNA, April 4, 2006

Thaksin sues 'The Nation' for misleading report - TNA, April 4, 2006

* As many readers have noted, Thaksin has not resigned, but has pledged not to be PM in the next government.

* From the Bangkok Post website, April 4, 2006: The headline is "Thaksin: Why should I resign?" and directly to the right is a breaking news article entitled "THAKSIN RESIGNS."

(Photo: Don)

Police waiting - April 4, 2006

Above and below: Police waiting for "Caravan of the Poor" protesters to arrive at the the Nation Group building. For some reason, the protesters never arrived at the building. Note the riot shields in the pickup truck above.

(Photo: Don)

Thaksin's party gets all 36 seats of Bangkok constituencies - Xinhua, April 3, 2006

[Xinhua had an odd take on the Bangkok voting results.]

According to the latest results of ballots issued on Monday, the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party led by caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has got all the 36 seats in Bangkok constituencies. But doubt follows as TRT received fewer votes than abstentions in 28 out of 36 constituencies.

The latest figure released by the Election Committee showed that TRT candidates in Bangkok's 36 constituencies has got 1,234,522 votes, or a 46.9 percent of all the 2,631,200 voters, while the votes of "No vote" raise to 1,319,206, or a proportion of 50.1 percent.

The vote counts showed that the TRT received fewer votes than abstentions in 28 out of 36 constituencies in Bangkok.

Therefore, some analysts doubted that if the higher figure of abstentions means TRT's nonsupporters are more than supporters. But in term of election law of Thailand, TRT has win all the 36 seats in Bangkok legally.

Thaksin: We have 50% - AP, April 3, 2006

Thailand's prime minister says his party has received more than 50 percent of the votes in the national election.

Thai PM claims election victory - Reuters, April 3, 2006

Thai Leader's Party Sweeps Elections - AP, April 3, 2006

PM stunned or confident?

At about the same time last night it was amusing to read these two stories online with different takes on the PM's demeanor.

'No vote' stuns pm - The Nation, April 3, 2006

Early results show Thaksin losing huge support in the capital

- Rattled leader avoids press, plans emergency meeting with senior Thai Rak Thai members this afternoon

- Ruling party insiders fear result could give new momentum to PAD

Thaksin confident of post-election calm - TNA, April 2, 2006

...Speaking to reporters at the headquarters of his TRT Party, Mr Thaksin said he would like to congratulate the Thais for coming out to exercise their right in a show of endorsement for democracy.

...Mr Thaksin declined comment on move to form the next administration, saying that one only has to wait for the outcome of the election which will represent the people's will that all sides must respect.
Election results are a rude wake-up call for Thaksin - The Nation, April 4, 2006

[The reality is that Thaksin does not seem surprised by the election results--he is in the driver's seat as we have mentioned before. Articles like this indicate that anti-Thaksin factions like the Nation Group feel like they have to come on strong against intimidation--now likely to increase based on Thaksin's election "win."

The "certain political figure" in the article is alleged government hatchet man Newin Chidchob. Rumors allege that Newin accompanied protesters to the Nation Group building during their first trip there, but stayed out of view inside a van. ]

...The incident, however, backfired. Instead of silencing the media or cowing critics of the government, it galvanised them. The fact that a certain political figure closely associated with the government was behind the potentially violent protest didn’t escape the public attention...

Protest photos from SomethingChanged.com - April 2, 2006

Ben writes: ...Just for your interest, I've put up a couple of photo galleries of last weekend's demonstrations (here and here). There's also an album taken a couple of weeks ago at Sanam Luang (just the photos in the middle of the album).

Thaksin has won? Sondhi in exile? - Sunday, April 2, 2006

A day after other media outlets reported that Sondhi has not fled to China, TNA is still trumpeting the strange holiday Sondhi is taking in China. Depending on their political slant, the media are either reporting the trip breathlessly and implying Sondhi has fled or stressing the trip was a quick vacation and Sondhi will return on Saturday.

Why might Sondhi be weighing future moves from overseas? Because contrary to media opinions that Thaksin will be facing a crisis after the election, the reality is that Thaksin's ability to get to the election without having to step down means he has, in effect, defeated the opposition. The confident predictions that that the "loss of legitimacy" would require Thaksin to step down will have been discredited.

Thaksin has already been setting his own terms in suggesting a national reconciliation government. The election gives Thaksin international credibility, restricts the actions of those who might be able to replace him, and gives TRT factions unprecedented influence over whatever actions will need to be taken to restore a constitutional government if the requirements for electing a suitable number of MPs are not attained. After Sunday pro-government mob action will increase and the mechanisms of government will begin to turn again against Thaksin foes and the media.

For two days before the election, the press have been predefining the result as "chaos," but on the ground Thaksin will be in the driver's seat.

Also: Sondhi delays return from China - The Nation, April 1, 2006

BTW: Note that the Thaksin reference to "sacrifice" (implying he would step aside) on the eve of the election is just part of the rounds of conciliatory talk Thaksin uses when the situation is at its hottest. More on this tact is here.

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