High tension in Thailand – March 21-31, 2006

High tension in Thailand: March 21-31, 2006 news
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Narongsak Manee and Surat Chaiyaphan - Have you heard of these people?
Some 400 motorcyclists protest at Manager head office - The Nation, March 31, 2006
Some 400 pro-government taxi motorcyclists rallied briefly outside the head office of Manager Group of Sondhi Limthongkul Friday afternoon but were quickly driven back by anti-Thaksin protesters...
Manager Online reported that the group of motorcyclists were led by Narongsak Manee and Surat Chaiyaphan...

Luxurious shopping complex to close due to planned anti-Thaksin rally - TNA, March 28, 2006
...Siampiwat Co.Ltd and Siam Paragon Development Co. Ltd, which run the luxurious shopping complex, said they would close three shopping centers, including Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery Center and Siam Center on March 29 and 30 following news reports that Rama I Road in front of the three high-end department stores is likely to close due to traffic congestion....

Police stand ready to disperse anti-government protesters - TNA, March 28, 2006
Police have accused the antigovernment People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) of planning a deliberately provocative demonstration in the heart of the capital on Wednesday, warning that the protest may be broken up...
Does Thailand have a "Presidential Crisis?" - March 27, 2006
Interesting to note CNN's on-screen title for its report on the political crisis that reads "Thailand's Presidential Crisis." It is likely CNN is confusing Thailand with the Philippines.
Numbers - March 27, 2006
Police - 300? 5000?
Protesters - 4000? 10,000? 300,000?
Saturday's rally - lower numbers? no sign of losing momentum?

AFP - ...The protesters, whom police numbered at 4,000, also took aim at Singapore's state-linked investment firm Temasak, which recently acquired Shin Corp, the telecoms giant Thaksin founded before entering public office...

Reuters - ...Some 300 police kept watch as 10,000 protesters left the National Stadium early on Sunday with thousands more expected to join the march as it moved down Sukhumvit Road.
The lower numbers at Saturday night's rally compared to previous one attended by 100,000, appeared to back up a poll this week showing that people in Bangkok, the centre of the anti-Thaksin campaign, were getting fed up after weeks of protests.

TNA - A large number of demonstrators led by a coalition of anti-prime minister groups on Sunday began marching to Bangkok's key business district to rally support among the silent majority of Bangkokians...
Security has been increased along the route with nearly 5,000 police manning key areas to prevent any untoward incidents...
The anti-Thaksin campaign shows no sign of losing momentum as more than 100,000 demonstrators turned up at late Saturday rally, the biggest crowd ever since major street rallies began in February...

ASTV via The Nation - 10:52 am: ASTV reports that the front of the procession is still at Siam Paragon while the tail is still in front of the National Stadium. It says the number of protesters is expected at about 100,000 as the line is longer than one kilometre.

The Nation - Chamlong Srimuang, a decision maker of the People's Alliance for Democracy, told the protesters that their number could be around 300,000 at 11:25 pm.

Bangkok Post - ...Attempts to stage the largest peaceful protest in Thai history fell flat this morning after leaders of the movement to force the resignation of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called for half a million people to march on Sukhumvit Road.
News agencies estimated that between 10,000 and 30,000 turned out for the Sunday march. Police estimated the peaceful, occasionally noisy crowd at 4,000. And while many considered it the anti-climax of the attempt to get Mr Thaksin out, organisers said it was not the last...

Thailand's tarnished tycoon - Financial Express, March 25, 2006
In 2001, Thai voters, still reeling from the 1997 economic crisis, handed power to Thaksin Shinawatra, a successful and self-confident telecommunications tycoon, who pledged to use his business savvy to restore Thailand's wounded pride and get the sputtering economy back into high-gear...
TV news editor axed after report- Bangkok Post, March 24, 2006
... Over the past few months, Channel 9 has won praise from media scholars for being fair and balanced in its coverage of the political crisis. Recently, it broadcast interviews with government critics including former prime minister Chuan Leekpai, who said the station had not approached him for an interview for the past five years...
Protesting Thaksin in Thailand - radioopensource.org, March 18, 2006
TRT sues papers, Democrats, PAD - Bangkok Post, March 24, 2006
The Thai Rak Thai party is pressing multiple charges against government opponents and newspapers on grounds ranging from defamation to obstruction of democracy. Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday filed a complaint against four core leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy and four newspapers for defaming him over his family's sale of Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek Holdings...
Army swings in behind poll- Bangkok Post, March 24, 2006
The army has shown its support for the April 2 poll, saying candidates can campaign for votes over its airwaves. Until March 31, the army will provide free airtime on its 126 radio stations nationwide for party leaders to deliver campaign speeches...
PM close to quitting? - March 25, 2006
[There is not the least bit of evidence that the PM is close to quitting, but that does not stop many hopeful statements in the press...]
One Last Push - March 25, 2006
With pressure on Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra reaching fever pitch, the People's Alliance for Democracy expect tomorrow's anti-government rally to be the most significant yet, and one that could drive the final nail into his coffin...
The end may be near... (Day 2) - March 16, 2006
The end may be near... - March 15, 2006
Government House besieging Day 2 - March 15, 2006
10:35 am: Announcer Samran Yodphet tells the crowd that Thaksin appears to soften his stand. He quotes Thaksin as saying that the call for him to make a political break is "an interesting proposal" but he would have to consider it thoroughly. "We may have good news tomorrow or day after tomorrow," Samran tells the protesters.
Government House besieging - March 14, 2006
9:32 pm: People roar with cheer when Manoonkrit says the military no longer support Thaksin.
9:13 pm: Chirmsak asks Pichet Pattanachote which one of two rumours were true between Thaksin was preparing to announce the state of emergency and he was asking the Air Force to fly him out of the country.
Pichet replies that Thaksin would like to announce the state of emergency but the military did not support him.
5:50 pm: Somboon Suphannafai, a teacher, tells the crowd to be patient as he believes Thaksin will definitely leave office.
3:01 pm: Announcer Samran Yodphet says there seems to be good sign for the protesters but he would withhold the details waiting for the PAD leaders to announce in the night.
1:13 pm: Sondhi says live broadcast on TVs alert people of the national problem. He says Thaksin's wife, Pochamarn, and children became "resigned to the fate" after seeing so many people joining the protest. He tells the crowd that Thaksin is planning to take a leave and make a foreign trip and appoint Chidchai as caretaker prime minister.
8:23 am: PM's Office Minister Newin Chidchob denied speculation that Thaksin had offered to take a sick leave instead of resigning in exchange for protesters to stop besieging Government House.

REAL-TIME COVERAGE: From Sanam Luang Day 1 - February 26, 2006
REAL-TIME COVERAGE: From Sanam Luang Day 2 - February 27, 2006
REAL-TIME COVERAGE: From Sanam Luang Day 3 - February 28, 2006
Embattled Thai PM regains ground in Bangkok - poll - Reuters, March 23, 2006
Bangkok residents are increasingly fed up with a lengthy street campaign to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and more now support for the beleaguered Thai leader, a poll showed on Thursday...
Don't listen to his words, just read his trembling lips- The Nation, March 23, 2006
[At this point it seems the The Nation is beginning to sound rather desperate. What has really happened is that thus far is that Thaksin has parried every move to unseat him.]
...Lies, half-truths and prevarications are the order of the day. The more he isolates himself by relying on the misguided advice of only a few underlings with their own self-seeking agenda, the more Thaksin detaches himself from reality.
The real guide to understanding his actions these days is to read his lips and stare into his eyes, and not listen to the words that constantly shift between extreme anger and mysterious calm, and jerk from wrath to serenity and vice versa in a matter of hours, if not minutes.
That's why when he keeps saying he won't quit no matter what, he is really saying that he is close to calling it a day. If he says he has done nothing wrong, what he means is that he wants a guarantee that his family's assets won't be frozen when he has no choice but to step down.
And when he says he is ready to "die on duty, here in Thailand," he simply means he is scared to death.

Things to improve from now: Chidchai - The Nation, March 23, 2006
...The turmoil in Thailand will subside because the Brahma statue at the Erawan Shrine has made a self-sacrifice and borne the bad luck troubling the country, said Pol General Chidchai Wannasathid, acting deputy prime minister.
"I have talked to an astrologer who told me that the incident could be seen as a self-sacrifice of Phra Phrom. The situation should now start to improve," he said...
There is a rumour that a high-ranking politician has linked his own luck with Phra Phrom at both Government House and Erawan Shrine, so that when people worship the Brahma statues, they also pray for his long life and power.

Panthongtae Shinawatra in Wikipedia- March 22, 2006
The entry has been updated to remove the personal attacks... And see the Talk Page for the article. As someone notes on the page, I'm no fan of the subject either, but an article like this is a slap in the face of everything that wikipedia stands for.
POSTBAG - No similarity between Hitler & Thaksinomics - Bangkok Post, March 23, 2006
In the Bangkok Post of March 20, a news report compares Mr Thaksin with Adolf Hitler, quoting Prof Banjerd Sinthudecha of Thammasat University's faculty of law: "Hitler killed Jews but he did several things for his country. He was more useful for the country than Mr Thaksin was."
You may like or dislike Mr Thaksin's performance and policies, but comparing him to Hitler shows ignorance or lack of knowledge of history. After World War Two, it took years for many countries to recover from the devastation caused by the Nazis. Several others have not yet recovered. It is also to ignore the actual fact that millions of people were murdered and suffered under the hands of the Nazi regime. There is no similarity between Hitler's dictatorship leading his country to World War Two, and Thaksinomics.

Thailand: Number of anti-Thaksin demonstrators 'exaggerated' - AKI, March 21, 2006
..."One wonders whether such disagreements over policies can justify the attempt of pushing him out of office," said Nelson. "Aren't those things classic factors to be decided in elections?" he asked...
Thaksin era beset by evil omens- The Nation, March 22, 2006
...Samrit Klomkliang, who claims he has been a long-time personal astrologer for Thaksin's family, said the destruction of the statue was a sign that there would be bloodshed in Thailand if the prime minister doesn't quit before March 29.
But blood has already been shed. A protester from Nakhon Si Thammarat, Rerng Ketkaew, slashed his finger to draw blood in front of Government House and call for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation.

Thanakorn Pakdeepol, the 27-year-old man who destroyed the Phra Phrom statue, was killed near the Erawan Shrine after committing this most unnatural act. His blood spread on the pavement.
Thailand More Democratic Than Philippines, Says Filipino Senator - The Irrawaddy, March 20, 2006
60,000 Chinese and Singaporean tourists cancel Thailand visits due to political crisis - TNA, 20 March 20, 2006
Thailand's tourism has begun to feel the pinch of ongoing political crisis as more than 60,000 Chinese and Singaporean tourists have cancelled trips to the kingdom during the past three weeks, Thailand's tourism agency said Monday...
Caretaker PM slams The Nation for making up story - TNA, March 21, 2006
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Monday took an English-language newspaper to task for its report on a change in the chairman of the organizing committee responsible for holding the country's grand event to commemorate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King to the throne, saying it is very unethical for the press to do that...

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