High tension in Thailand – October-December, 2006

B100bn in 'vested interest' projects axed - Bangkok Post, December 14, 2006
...They were planned separately over the past two years in each province instead of being integrated for effectiveness, he said. It was found that 20% of the budget for each project had already been spent although many projects had not undergone any feasibility studies.
Among the projects to be scrapped is a 1.9-billion-baht conference-cum-exhibition centre in Chiang Mai, the home province of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
...Another project facing the axe is the 4.1-billion-baht water diversion plan from Lam Takhong reservoir to feed Nakhon Ratchasima municipality.
Mr Praphan said the project's costs were larger than the whole budget of the Provincial Waterworks Authority and questioned whether it could have been designed to benefit a particular contractor in Nakhon Ratchasima province.
There was no acute shortage of water in the municipality to justify the project, he said...

Thai cabinet scraps Thaksin's chickens-for-jets barter plan - Bloomberg, December 12, 2006

Spurned Thailand shows brave face to rest of world - Business Day, December 13, 2006
Thailand has been stunned by the worldwide condemnation of the September 19 coup d’etat and the small kingdom’s new junta remains unapologetic and determined to continue to punch above its weight.
SA’s decision to cut all official visits with Thailand and the US decision to halt military co-operation with the kingdom were regarded by the new government—which took over after the military seized control from former prime minister Thakshin Shinawatra—as the most severe diplomatic sanctions to date...

Three months after coup, Thailand's future uncertain - World Politics Watch, December 12, 2006
It was Constitution Day in Thailand on Dec.... There's just one problem: Thailand hasn't got a constitution any more...

Chang Noi: A coup against the 1997 constitution - The Nation, December 11, 2006
...Their ideal would be a return to something like the "semi-democracy" of the Prem era in the 1980s. Power restored to the senior ranks of the bureaucracy. A discreet oversight role for the military. Politicians allowed to go through all the democratic motions without much real power. Popular participation through representational bodies under strict bureaucratic management. And a massive propaganda campaign to persuade everyone that this is "democracy".
But this ideal form is almost certainly unattainable. The massive 1986-96 economic boom has changed Thai society in extraordinary ways. There are many more interests to protect and promote. There are much sharper conflicts raging. The country needs a more complex political system to balance competing interests and resolve cross-cutting conflicts. In recent weeks, the Surayud government has been pole-axed by its growing realisation that this society is no longer manageable through bureaucratic paternalism alone...

Gleam is off Thailand's quiet coup - Chicago Tribune, December 10, 2006
The women reassure each other that they are not fat, the men talk loudly on cell phones and the caterers dole out caviar with cucumbers. At the launch of a new credit card in a fancy downtown mall, the loudest noise is a speaker blown out by smooth jazz.
More than two months into martial law after a military coup in this Southeast Asian tourist mecca, the worries about Thailand's uncertain future are barely noticeable.
...Sawong Jitto, 48, a street-sweeper who lives in one of the larger slums in Bangkok, says she misses Thaksin. She credited his no-tolerance drug policies with getting her son off methamphetamine, which he started using when he was 12. He is now 21 and in the army.
"I'm very angry, very unhappy with the coup," Sawong said. "Now I don't know what will happen. I'm afraid methamphetamines will spread again. Because of Thaksin, I got my son back. I really don't care about the other things he did."

Sunday rally notes
North-eastern protesters opt out of Bangkok rally - The Nation, December 7, 2006
Anti-coup activists argue over who loves democracy the most - The Nation, December 7, 2006
Thai Rak Thai linked to most key anti-coup groups - The Nation, December 7, 2006

Deep South Diary for November - December 9, 2006
Usually our info on incidents in the deep south is compiled for research purposes, but last month the pace of incidents was unusually brisk and we thought 2B readers might be interested to see the report (pdf, 58kb) from the 2braa.com site. The report is edited, just for a part of the month, and mainly from Yala, but is gives an idea of the pace and nature of the events of November. Many of these incidents never show up in the press.

Giving up on democracy for Thailand - The Nation, November 27, 2006
The latest from Chang Noi: ...Over the past few days, Sondhi Limthongkul has made a mini-tour of the US, talking to audiences of Thais and interested observers.
His message was stark. The experience of Thaksin has shown that electoral democracy cannot work in Thailand. The mass of rural people who constitute the largest element in the electorate do not have the knowledge to participate properly. They sell their votes, either retail to the local canvasser, or wholesale to the populist who promises them goodies. This commercialism breeds a style of politician who is greedy and corrupt. The last few years have shown that a constitution, however well crafted, cannot impose any semblance of good governance.
What Sondhi says is important because he served as the lightning rod for the Bangkok middle class's emotional rejection of Thaksin. In many ways, he was a surprising candidate for this role. He had been one of Thaksin's most fervent supporters for five years. The two men are so similar that if you set out to clone Thaksin and made a tiny mistake you might finish up creating Sondhi. He became a key leader of the anti-Thaksin movement for two reasons: he had rare access to media outlets, and he changed his own tune to brilliantly articulate Bangkok middle-class opinion. We have to pay attention to him because he is undoubtedly still trying to channel this middle-class voice.
What he is saying is not new, but as old as Thailand's first fragile experiments with democracy. Underlying his views is the city's fear of the countryside, the middle class's fear of the peasant...

Ousted Thai leader just won't go away - International Herald Tribune, November 21, 2006
Thailand's deposed prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, seems to be having a much better time than the generals who ousted him...

Massive loss from Thaksin projects - Rice pledging and populist policies cost Bt200 billion - The Nation, November 15, 2006

Chang Noi: Bringing the Thaksin regime to account - The Nation, November 13, 2006
...The mechanics of the government campaign were lethally simple. Provincial governors and police chiefs were told to eliminate drug trading. Blacklists of names were compiled and success was measured against numerical targets. Thaksin's speech launching the campaign on January 14, 2003 gave strong hints of what was expected:
...Wan Muhammed Nor Matha, who was directly responsible for implementation as Interior minister, made sure the instructions were clear: "Tell them to stop selling drugs and leave the communities for good or they will be put behind bars or even 'vanish without a trace' ... Who cares?" He added: "I think human rights activists should not worry too much about these traffickers' lives..."

Pro-Thaksin/anti-coup websites - November 13, 2006
Thailand Loves Thais - 19 September.org - Prachatai (and here) - AntiCoup

Saluting Thailand's military-run economy - Asia Times, November 10, 2006
For those looking for chinks in Thailand's new government's armor, they'll be hard-pressed to find any vulnerability in the military-appointed interim administration's economic stewardship...

Rich kids hit for millions in Thai tax scandal - The Age, November 9, 2006

Thai Rak Thai asks supporters to criticise Govt on website - The Nation, November 7, 2006
...Party leader Chaturon Chaisang told caretaker executive member Ekaporn Rakkwamsuk and the Thai Rak Thai publicity team to create a blog on www.thairakthai.or.th.
The team will ask questions to entice a response on current government policies.
"This is a way for the public to release their frustration over government action such as its move to scrap the Bt30 medical scheme,'' Ekaporn said.

Squabbling erupts among Thailand's coup plotters - The Scoop, November 2, 2006
[They don't really say that anyone is squabbling--it is more about criticism of Prem. Maybe the case of an editor titling a piece without reading it.]

New Thai rulers still on guard, one month after coup - ZeeNews, October 19, 2006

"Chaba in LA" is mad, launching leaflets against CNS and its supporters - translated and summarized from Phujatkan, October 17, 2006

The Thai Love Thailand in USA movement, which gives continuous support for ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has launched its eighth leaflet to attack the Council for National Security (CNS) and its supporters. The seventh leaflet directly attacks Chairman of the Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda. Rumor has it that the movement, led by Chaba Tangtamnu, receives financial support from the Thai Rak Thai party.

Pamphlet 1
It is doubted whether the Council for Democratic Reform really fights for democracy. The movement wants the CDR out of power.

Pamphlet 2
According to the pamphlet, it is obvious that the coup d’etat is destroying democracy. The coup bans people from expressing their attitudes and calls democracy-minded people who have different attitudes from it people with bad intentions. Now, the Council for National Security is in power. The current Prime Minister has close connection to the coup, so he got the post. The coup once said it would step down within two weeks, but it did not. The movement, highlighting the fact that they are Thai, cannot stand the coup as it violates people’s basic rights.

Pamphlet 3
Candles glow and will keep glowing. The Thai Love Thailand in USA movement reported. October 14 – To mark the thirty-third anniversary of the October 14, 1973 event, a group of more than five people (who care) gathered at Thammasat University. They criticized the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM). (His Majesty the King disagreed with the coup d’etat. So, the name was cut to the Council for Democratic Reform.)

At 7:00 pm, more than two hundred gathered and marched to Democracy Monument. They lighted candles to mourn for democracy destroyed on September 19 by the coup d’etat. Back in 1973, people also gathered to fight against the junta government.

People participating the demonstration gathered in front of Thammasat University’s Dome Building. Walking past the Phramen Ground, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the City Shrine, and on Ratchadamneon Road to Democracy Monument, the coup opposers, dressing in black, showed signs criticizing the coup and the junta government. They were chanting, “CDR, get out!”

The rally arrived Democracy Monument at 8:10 pm. They encircled the monument and delivered speeches to fight for democracy. The rally was in order. No police or military authorities (in uniform) were around.

Pamphlet 4
The media reported that all cabinet members have total age of more than 1,600 years. The cabinet consists of:
1. MR Pridiyathorn Devakul – Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister
2. Kosit Panpiemras – Deputy Prime Minister and Industry Minister
3. Dhipawadee Meksawan – Prime Minister’s Office Minister
4. Thiraphat Serirangsan – Prime Minister’s Office Minister
5. Aree Wongarya – Interior Minister
6. Banyat Chansena – Deputy Interior Minister
7. Boonrod Somtat – Defense Minister
8. Adm. Thira Haocharoen – Transport Minister
9. Sansern Wongcha-um – Deputy Transport Minister
10. Suwit Yodmanee – Tourism and Sports Minister
11. Khaisri Sri-aroon – Culture Minister
12. Paibun Watthanasiritham – Social Development and Human Security Minister
13. Nitaya Pibulsonggram – Foreign Minister
14. Saowanit Kongsiri – Deputy Foreign Minister
15. Charnchai Likhitjittha – Justice Minister
16. Thira Sutabut – Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister
17. Rungrueng Issarangura Na Ayutthaya – Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister

18. Mongkol Na Songkhla – Public Health Minister
19. Sitthichai Phokai-udom – Information and Communications Technology Minister
20. Yongyuth Yuthawong – Science and Technology Minister
21. Krirkkrai Jirapaet – Commerce Minister
22. Kasem Sanitwong Na Ayutthaya – Natural Resources and Environment Minister
23. Wichit Srisa-arn – Education Minister
24. Piyasawat Amaranand – Energy Minister
25. Apai Chanthanachunlaka – Labor Minister
26. Piyabut Chonwichan – Deputy Industry Minister
Pamphlet 5
The Thai population is nearing seventy million. So why we can’t find younger cabinet members? This is a simple question. It is because the new generation does not like dictatorship.

Pamphlet 6
On the night of September 19, 2006, a group of people staged a coup d’etat and used the constitutional monarchy as its name without royal permission. His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen were not happy with this.
Pamphlet 7
Acting Justice Permanent Secretary Charan Pakdeetanakul proposed the cancellation of government’s two- and three-digit lottery. The Thai Love Thailand in USA movement criticized that Charan did things that were not his responsibilities.

Pamphlet 8
On October 2, the anti-coup movement gathered on Ratchadamneon Nok Road and burned the interim constitution.

Pamphlet 9
The Thai Love Thailand movement tried to convince people that the interim government will not step down and that the premier cannot be trusted.
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