Thai Opposition Digs In for a Long Protest

Sporadic violence overnight as Bangkok shutdown enters third day, with some protesters threatening to disrupt flights

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Chaiwat Subprasom / Reuters

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban speaks to his supporters during a rally in central Bangkok on Jan. 15, 2014

Trouble flared in the Thai capital overnight as efforts by antigovernment protesters to shut down the city entered their third day. An explosion rocked former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s house — although there were no injuries — while in central Bangkok three were wounded during a shooting near a stage set up by demonstrators and a bus was reportedly torched.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban headed a march down the busy Sukhumvit thoroughfare at 10 a.m. on Wednesday as the opposition stepped up its plan to disrupt government institutions. Protesters offered wads of 1,000-baht ($33) bills to Suthep as he passed by, an indication of the sort of support the former opposition Democrat Party lawmaker has among the royalists and middle classes of Bangkok.

The demonstrators’ goal is to force embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign and hand over power to an unelected “people’s council.” According to the Bangkok Post, Yingluck has offered to meet Suthep and postpone elections originally called for Feb. 2 until May 4, if the shutdown is called off. However, Suthep has rejected any compromise and threatened to have Yingluck arrested if she does not quit immediately. He has also told government ministers inconvenienced by opposition attempts to cut off water and power to their homes to “send their children and spouses elsewhere,” the Post reports.

(MORE: Mood Growing Tense as Bangkok Shutdown Enters Second Day)

On Tuesday, Yingluck vowed to stay in office. “I will continue to carry out my duty as Prime Minister,” she told reporters. “It is my duty to protect democracy, and democracy belongs to the people.”

Thousands of tents have meanwhile been erected outside various government ministries, effectively blockading them and forcing civil servants to work from home. Live music from rock bands is being interspersed with vitriolic speeches calling for Yingluck’s ouster. Mobile toilets and shower cubicles have been set up, indicating that protest leaders anticipate a long stay.

Meanwhile, according to media reports a renegade group loosely aligned with the protesters, the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand, is threatening to storm the national air-traffic-control service, Aerothai. This would cause huge disruption to flights over Thailand — one of the world’s most popular tourists destinations. Suthep has not backed the plan but neither has he called it off.

Yingluck, 46, is accused of being a stooge of her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who now lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai and faces two years in prison for corruption if he returns. The current tumult started with a now shelved amnesty bill that would have quashed his conviction.

“Yingluck must go, Thaksin steals money from Thailand, and all Thai people hate him,” says one protester dancing by a stage near the Tourism Ministry.

However, many Thais, especially those in the country’s agricultural northeast, continue to revere the billionaire telecom mogul for populist policies that included universal health care, microfinancing and fuel subsidies. Outside Bangkok, tens of thousands of progovernment supporters have been rallying in support of Yingluck.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand on Wednesday announced that it has temporarily moved its investor service center to temporary premises because of security threats. Several other key multinationals have closed their offices.

MORE: How Thailand’s Meddlesome Military Got Tired of Meddling

21 comments
small_axe
small_axe

You yellow shirts or whatever the F you want to call yourselves make me sick. All the corruption in the world is fine with you until the day that the "just as corrupt as all who came before" leader starts investing in the poorer areas of the country -- NOW all of a sudden you are on a mission to end all corruption. BS. You are full of it.


This is as clear a case of pure class hatred by the elites and their sycophant wannabe followers against the common people as I have ever seen. Shame on you. And doubly shame on you for trying to pretend that you are doing this for the good of the country. You are not. You are doing it for your OWN good and nothing more.


Do you really think that because you are wearing an overpriced polo shirt that your life is worth more than a poor person? Do you really think that your kid's future has more value than a poor person's kid? Are you really that sick and twisted and poisoned in your heart?



musashi
musashi

@azuraite  

Lek (aka Bhumibol) is the richest king in the world, and the richest man in Thailand. He officially has US$ 30 billion (and more than double that unofficially). He has more money than what 32 million Thai people can earn in a year!!!

How did Lek become so rich? Read here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmontlake/2012/01/20/in-thailand-a-rare-peek-at-his-majestys-balance-sheet/  

How does Lek play politics with the army and judiciary to retain power and keep people poor?  Read here: http://wikileaks.org/Thailand-s-Moment-of-Truth-Part.html and search for "Political Stability in Thailand" by Tamada, Yoshifumi (Kyoto University, Asafas)



musashi
musashi

@azuraite  

Tell that to the family of Ah Kong. He received a sentence longer than murderers. He had to serve jail even when he was older than many prisoners who were pardoned for old age. He was jailed even when he had cancer... all because "his" SMS went to Abhisit's phone (technically unproven, and Ah Kong never received the justice of a competent technical investigation).

What is also puzzling is that no one actually questioned the probability of someone like Ah Kong (old, uneducated, and poor) having direct access to Abhisit's or his secretary's personal mobile number.

And what was Abhisit trying to achieve by hitting an old man with a charge that he cannot defend against?

Was Ah Kong a powerless pawn sacrificed so certain people win favors by being perceived as active defenders of the filthy rich monarchy

Do you know Lek (Bhumpiphol) is the wealthiest king in the world? Do you know that you put money in his pocket when you eat, drink, and buy things in Thailand? He is the most corrupted king in the world. His Sufficiency Theory encourages the poor to remain poor, while he continues to get richer. Open your eyes!


musashi
musashi

@azuraite  

A terrible monster has besieged Thailand for almost 70 years.

This monster’s name is called Corruption (aka Monarchy).

And this hideous creature has 3 legs, each with a name: 1. Army 2. Judiciary 3. Democrat Party (useless middle leg)

These legs have kicked out democratically elected governments over 20+ coups. These legs trampled on people’s rights with 18 charters/constitutions, making the country hard to govern, equality non-existent and justice hard to enforce.

This monster’s offspring can be seen everywhere – from corrupted judges, to corrupted police, corrupted politicians, to corruption in every aspect of society. 

The only way to remove corruption is to have laws that apply to each and every human being who are citizens of Thailand (whether he is a king, or a beggar). No king or privy councilor should be exempted from laws, or should be allowed to manipulate laws through coups. When we have a good constitution that applies to all, we can then have those laws enforced for the good of the nation.



Teddy525
Teddy525

What a hypocrite. What does Yingluck even know about democracy? For the past several years, her actions have clearly contradicted her quotes, and she definitely has not been protecting democracy as she has said. She was obviously elected by corruption and the buying of votes. Since when has an unfair election been considered "democracy"? Sounds more like a dictatorial regime to me. 


And to believe that someone would be wiling to bring so much harm to their own country in the ways that Yingluck has is simply preposterous. Shame on her. 

ThaksinRakThaksin
ThaksinRakThaksin

Yingluck is so chilly. It not mean that if somebody is voted to power. So she can do what ever she want to do. PM is for all nation, not only for voters. If make mistakes like abuse of power( what thaksin made), or have been puppet for person who have been outsourced policy,


azuraite
azuraite

Reporter, your comment is unacceptable. I accept that the king have a lot of influence over Thai people but beacase he did many good deed to the country so Thais people love him. Who want to see the death of Tangnoppakul especially the king who have moral in his heart. Please dont't cause any misunderstanding about the king to other people who read your comment.

reporter
reporter

In Japan, anyone can legally criticize -- and even condemn to hell -- the emperor.

In Thailand, criticizing the monarchy is illegal.  The courts -- the same courts that are trying to destroy the Pheu Thai Party -- help the monarchy to send critics to prison.  The royal family enjoys using the power of the state to shut up the critics of the royal family.

"Amphon Tangnoppakul, a 62-year-old grandfather, was catapulted onto the national stage in November when he was handed one of the longest prison sentences for insulting Thailand's royal family, drawing international attention to Thailand's severe lèse-majesté laws, which criminalize criticism of the monarchy."  ("Thai Man Convicted for Insulting Nation's Royal Family Dies in Prison" by "Wall Street Journal", 2012 May 8) Tangnoppakul died on 2012 May -- in prison.

Both the king and Suthep Thaugsuban enthusiastically supported imprisoning Tangnoppakul.  Both the king and Thaugsuban enjoyed the death of Tangnoppakul.

If you are a student at a Thai university, then you know how wealthy Western democracies like Japan and Canada operate.  You surely feel immense shame at the way by which the monarchy -- in alliance with politicians like Suthep Thaugsuban -- brutalizes ordinary Thai citizens.  You must act to save the nation.  You must kill the entire royal family and politicians like Suthep Thaugsuban.


reporter, USA, http://theclearsky.blogspot.com/

musashi
musashi

@Teddy525 

A person like you who support anarchy and insurgency is not qualified to make comments about democracy, much less someone who wins elections. Just because your pathetic PADocrat party loses all the time, is not a reason why democracy cannot work. Wake up!

timesux
timesux

@reporterIn Japan, you can go to jail for speaking or writing the truth under the state secrets act, which has put a chill on investigative journalism and all types of truth-telling.

Teddy525
Teddy525

@musashi 

So you're telling me that you honestly believe that people who bribe and pay their way into winning elections are democratic leaders? Do you think that if this were Obama who were paying off all these votes the Americans would actually allow it? You need to open your eyes and look at the countless crimes the Shinawatra family has committed and ultimately hurt our country. In other words, look beyond your typical government propaganda facts. The sole reason that democracy cannot work is because of this corrupt dictatorial regime. 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQVjUsKSKUE&feature=youtu.be 


Please watch this video and realize the truths of the Shinawatra regime and the years of suffering it has brought to Thailand. 

musashi
musashi

@Teddy525 

And why didn't the Democrats use those videos as evidence? They are a useless party, but clearly not morons like you.

Teddy525
Teddy525

@musashi @Teddy525 Says the one who copies and pastes useless tax information from who knows where. I hope you realize that any website that usually ends in ".com" is not always that reliable. (That and wikipedia, which I have noticed has also been one of your commonly used websites)


There are countless of other sources besides just Youtube videos, but I figured that you'd be unwilling to look through them anyways. This is why I concluded that for someone like you who is naive enough to believe government propaganda and false figures, I'd be better off presenting information in a much more palpable and comprehendible way. 


And besides, unless you can prove any of those facts on the Youtube video wrong, I would say that it consists of pretty solid evidence.

musashi
musashi

@Teddy525@musashi 

Your comments make a mockery of your education. If you seriously think any reasonable courts would use doctored Youtube video clips as evidence, you went to the wrong school or you have a serious thinking defect.

Based on your insistence that Youtube videos are solid evidence, then we can presume you are of the strong belief that ghosts, aliens and UFOs exist since there are plenty of such clips on Youtube too.


Teddy525
Teddy525

@musashi @Teddy525 Clearly you haven't watched that video which I politely asked you to watch in my previous comments. The whole 10 + min consists of solid evidence and facts which prove that Thaksin is guilty. And the reason (which I have been repeating over and over again, which you clearly have not understood) as to why Thaksin has not been prosecuted is because he used corruption to dodge prosecution.. Why else do you think he's in Dubai right now? On vacation? You think he's  there because he's completely innocent? Yeah right. And why would they be making laws at 4 a.m. to try to bring him back into the country.. Sound suspicious to you? 


Although you may not receive direct payments from Thaksin, you are clearly still under his influence. It's a shame that people like you cannot see past Yingluck's government propaganda time and time again. 


And clearly to need to rethink your ideas of democracy. 

musashi
musashi

@Teddy525 

You are accusing the Thai judiciary and the Democrat Party of incompetence and malfeasance since as you said there is plenty of evidence, but Thaksin has not been prosecuted for them. Or clearly, you are a big liar with an oversized ego with your own delusional hatred for Thaksin.


And if you think that the whole world is paid by Thaksin for pro-democracy comments, then you really need to see a shrink to fix your damaged brain.



Teddy525
Teddy525

@musashi

Well clearly you'd also get more evidence if you'd start looking beyond the government propaganda. 


And there is clear evidence of Thaksin's corruption. The list goes on and on. But who is there to tell when Thaksin's already bought off the whole country? 


And because of Thaksin's whole rice scheme, the country lost nearly 13 billion dollars in only 2 years. 


Sounds like you're pretty much his fan to me. How much do you get paid per comment? 

musashi
musashi

@Teddy525@musashi  

Stop bitching, and get yourself off your own self elevated moral high ground. You are trying to sound as if you have more evidence and information than the incompetent Democrats?

If you have any evidence of Thaksin's corruption, report them to the police or the Democrats for them to take action. As everyone knows, after years of investigation, the junta and their puppets can only find Thaksin "guilty" of a conflict of interest in a public auction. And that had to come from a kangaroo court supervised by the junta.

Compare that to Abhisit and Suthep ordering the massacre of 92 civilians and maiming 2,000 others with war weapons, they make Thaksin look like an angel. Not that I am his fan.

Oh.. You can thank the fascist Democrats for the anarchy that resulted in the farmers not being paid.

Teddy525
Teddy525

@musashi

Where are your morals? Haven't you ever been asked "If all your friends jumped off a cliff then would you too?" Just because "Bribery and extortion during elections is nothing new" doesn't give Thaksin any rights to corrupt and basically sell off the entire country (and while on that note, he shouldn't have the rights to escape criminal charges either).  


And by the way, you can go ahead and add all spectrums of the social classes to your death list (including the poor). With the recent rice incident (which involved more corruption from Yingluck) that left countless farmers to suffer with none of their promised pay from the government, I don't think that they'll be siding with Yingluck much longer. 

musashi
musashi

@Teddy525  

Bribery and extortion during elections is nothing new. They exist even before Thaksin became a politician.

The most corrupted political party that has been bribing its way since its founding decades ago is the hilariously misnamed Democrat Party. "An 11-member fact-finding panel headed by Deputy Attorney-General Chaikasem Nitisiri voted unanimously in June 2006 to recommend dissolving  the Democrat Party based on evidence that the Democrats bribed other opposition parties into boycotting the elections."(27 Jun 2006 The Nation). "Ultimately, the Constitutional Court acquitted Abhisit  and the Democrats of bribery, and instead banned Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party for the same charges." (23 Aug 2007 Time Magazine)

Corruption is inevitable as long as humans are the ones doing deals. But the temptation to give or receive bribes can be curtailed if the necessary laws are enacted and enforced – similar to the UK Bribery Act 2010.

Unfortunately for us here, such laws are hard to implement in a country where the feudal/patronage system is heavily enforced by the royal family, the privy councilors, the army and the appointed judiciary.

Hopefully, in the very near future, when the filthy rich and corrupted king dies, the patronage system will die with him, and Thailand has an easier task of cleaning up after corruption with enforceable laws.