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Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’s’

Thailand’s ‘Red Shirt’ lawmakers in court

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

BANGKOK, Aug 19, 2010 (AFP) – Two Thai opposition lawmakers appeared in court Thursday on terrorism charges in connection with deadly “Red Shirt” street protests earlier this year.

But the court allowed Jatuporn Prompan and Karun Hosakul — both members of the Puea Thai Party who are free on bail — to delay their plea submission until after the current term of parliament finishes.

Opposition lawmaker Jatuporn Prompan (2L) arrives at the Criminal Court in Bangkok on August 19, 2010. AFP

“The court has allowed me to give my testimony after the parliamentary session,” Jatuporn told reporters. The current legislative term began in early August and will last for about four months.

Seventeen other anti-government protest leaders who do not enjoy parliamentary immunity on Monday pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges and will stand trial.

Two months of protests by the Red Shirts, aimed at forcing immediate elections, triggered a series of clashes between demonstrators and troops that left 91 people dead — mostly civilians — and nearly 1,900 injured.

Most top Red Shirts surrendered to police after the army launched a deadly assault on the movement’s fortified encampment in the heart of Bangkok in May.

After the crackdown, protest leaders asked their thousands of supporters to disperse, but hardcore demonstrators set fire to dozens of buildings, including a shopping mall and the stock exchange.

Source: SGGP

Thailand’s ageing king silent despite Reds’ pleas

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2010 at 9:04 am

BANGKOK, May 18, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand’s revered king is facing calls from anti-government protesters to intervene to end the nation’s crisis, but the 82-year-old monarch has remained largely silent since the unrest began.

“His Majesty is our only hope,” a senior leader of the “Red Shirts” movement, Jatuporn Prompan, said at the weekend in pleas that were repeated as troops battled protesters in five days of clashes that have left 38 dead.

Thai soldiers stand guard in front of a portrait of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej around near the Red Shirt anti-government protest site in downtown Bangkok on May 17, 2010. AFP photo

It was the second time that the Reds have publicly appealed for King Bhumibol Adulyadej to step in to solve the two-month standoff, as he has done in the past during six turbulent decades on the throne.

During a 1992 uprising the king summoned military and protest leaders who, according to protocol, crawled towards him on their knees in dramatic televised scenes which effectively brought the violence to an end.

The king, seen by some Thais as a demigod, continues to command immense affection and respect among his subjects.

But during this bout of unrest, which has its origins in the 2006 coup that ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the monarch has been confined to a hospital where he was admitted last September for treatment of a respiratory condition.

The palace makes no statement on his health, and the sensitivity of the issue means it is not discussed in the Thai media. But in his few public appearances, it is clear the king is physically very weak.

He appeared on television in February next to Bangkok’s Chao Praya river — sitting in a wheelchair and holding his dog on a leash, and left hospital briefly on May 5 for the 60th anniversary of his coronation.

The only monarch that the vast majority of Thais have ever known delivered a brief speech in late April. In a quiet voice, he urged newly appointed judges to fulfil their duty. But the deaths and the fighting were not mentioned.

“The king says nothing about the realities of Thailand today,” says Arnaud Leveau from the Institute of Research on Contemporary Southeast Asia.

“These last comments did not refer to the situation and gave no indication of what he knows, or what he thinks about it,” he said.

The Red Shirts, mostly urban and rural poor who were won over by Thaksin’s populist policies, condemn the current administration which came to power with the army’s backing in 2008.

They say the government is the puppet of the nation’s elites in the palace, bureaucracy and military circles, and are clamouring for their share of Thailand’s economic and political pie.

Many Thais, including the Reds, are now hoping for the type of decisive royal intervention of two decades ago which is still well remembered in the kingdom.

“I want the king to stop this now,” said a 53-year-old woman, cooking food for demonstrators in the Red Shirts’ camp, who gave her name as Sumboun.

“I want to stop and go back home. But why won’t the army stop?”

The crisis, which flared in mid-March and has left 67 people dead and about 1,700 wounded including 25 slain in a failed army crackdown on April 10, is the country’s worst civil unrest since 1992.

The Reds’ calls for the king to intervene seem to be aimed at reaching a compromise solution, said Paul Chambers, a Thailand expert at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

“As it stands now, if the government and the military are able to continue their crackdown on the Red Shirts, then they would have organised all this for nothing.”

“If they find somebody higher, more powerful than the government to compel the government to stop what they’re doing now, it would be a sort of victory,” he said, adding that it could also hand them a sought-after amnesty.

But observers are doubtful that wish will be fulfilled.

During major royal ceremonies, the king has mostly been represented by his wife, Queen Sirikit, his heir Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, or his admired daughter, Princess Sirindhorn.

“In April, I thought there might be a message, a speech to the people. But what we see in the pictures is the Queen, Prince or Princess. The King is above all, far from everything,” said Chambers.

Source: SGGP

Cambodia refuses to extradite Thailand’s Thaksin

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2009 at 11:04 am

PHNOM PENH, Nov 11, 2009 (AFP) – Cambodia on Wednesday rejected Thailand’s request to extradite Thaksin Shinawatra, inflaming tensions over Phnom Penh’s appointment of the fugitive former Thai premier as an economic adviser.

Billionaire Thaksin, who was toppled in a bloodless coup in 2006 and lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday and received a warm welcome from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In this handout photo provided by the Prime Minister office, former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (R) sits with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) at a house that Hun Sen prepared for Thaksin in Phnom Penh on November 10, 2009 (AFP)

Thai diplomats gave extradition papers to officials at Cambodia’s foreign affairs ministry early Wednesday but were then handed back a note from Phnom Penh denying their request, an AFP reporter saw.

“Our diplomatic note answering them is nothing beyond rejecting the extradition request,” Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told AFP shortly before the exchange of letters.

Cambodia had repeatedly vowed to refuse any request from its larger neighbour for the extradition of Thaksin, saying that the charges levelled against him in Thailand were politically motivated.

“Thaksin’s conviction is caused by the coup in September 2006, when he was the prime minister of Thailand whom Thai people voted in with an overwhelming majority in accordance with democracy,” Hor Namhong said.

Tensions are already running high between the two countries following a series of clashes over a temple on their border and the row threatens to mar a weekend summit of Southeast Asian leaders with US President Barack Obama.

In Bangkok, Thailand’s foreign ministry said it was waiting for official confirmation from the embassy in Phnom Penh that Cambodia had denied its request and “will consider the next measures to take”.

Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each other’s countries last week after Thaksin’s appointment, and this week the Thai cabinet agreed to cancel an oil and gas exploration deal with Cambodia signed under Thaksin.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has threatened to tear up the extradition treaty with Cambodia if it refuses to send Thaksin home to face justice.

Thaksin is due to give a speech to 300 Cambodian economics experts on Thursday. Cambodian officials have said he will stay in the country for two or three days but is not intending to live there.

In a posting on micro-messaging website Twitter, Thaksin said that on Wednesday he would “discuss with Hun Sen about Cambodia’s problems and its relations with Thailand, to improve understanding and find mutual ways to benefit our two countries.”

Twice-elected Thaksin fled Thailand in August 2008, a month before a court sentenced him to two years in jail in a conflict of interest case. He had returned to Thailand just months earlier for the first time since the coup.

But he has retained huge influence in Thai politics by stirring up protests against the current Thai government, and analysts say that in his close friend Hun Sen he had found a new way of pushing his campaign for a return to power.

Thailand’s government upped the pressure on Thaksin this week by accusing him of offending the revered monarchy after he was quoted by the website of British newspaper The Times as calling for reform of royal institutions.

Defaming the monarchy, led by 81-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail in Thailand. The king has been in hospital since September with a lung and chest infection.

Cambodian state television late Tuesday showed Thaksin and Hun Sen embracing, reporting that the Cambodian leader pronounced him an “eternal friend.”

Thaksin also planned to visit Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple during his trip, television said.

Cambodia and Thailand have fought several deadly skirmishes over another ancient monument, the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple, since it was granted UNESCO World Heritage Status in July 2008.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Thailand’s Thaksin arrives in Cambodia for tense visit

In World on November 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra landed in Cambodia Tuesday to start a job as government economic adviser, escalating an already huge diplomatic row between the two countries.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (C) walks to a car at the Phnom Penh military air base on November 10, 2009. (AFP Photo)

Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006, exited a small private airplane at Phnom Penh International Airport and was then escorted into the capital by a convoy of cars under tight security, said an AFP photographer.

Cambodia announced Thaksin’s appointment last week, sparking a dispute that has led Thailand and Cambodia to recall their respective ambassadors and has deepened tensions after a series of deadly border clashes in the past year.

Thailand has also said it could seal the frontier if Thaksin is not extradited, but Cambodian ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Kuoy Kong said his country was “not concerned about these issues”.

“We will not extradite him (Thaksin). We already clarified this case because he is a political victim,” Kuoy Kong told AFP Tuesday.

Billionaire telecoms mogul Thaksin is living in foreign locations including Dubai to avoid a two-year jail term for abuse of power handed down by a Thai court in absentia in September 2008.

He justified his trip to Cambodia — whose prime minister Hun Sen is a close friend and political ally — in an open letter published on his website late Monday.

“As I travel to Cambodia to discuss poverty and the world economic situation, I will try to preserve Thai interests with our friends in Phnom Penh, despite the Thai government still hounding me wherever I go,” he wrote.

“I will not go to Cambodia to help Cambodia fight with Thailand but to exchange views and experiences on poverty-solving as well as new regional economics.”

Thaksin, the former owner of Manchester City football club, is due to give a a speech to hundreds of Cambodian economics experts in the capital on Thursday. He has not said how long he will be in Phnom Penh.

The Thai government said it had not been officially informed of Thaksin’s arrival in Cambodia. “We want to verify the report first,” Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to Thailand’s foreign affairs minister, told AFP.

Thaksin won two elections and remains a massively influential figure in Thai politics, stirring up mass protests by so-called “Red Shirt” supporters against the current government.

His presence on Thailand’s doorstep is the closest he has come since he last fled the country in August 2008, a move that is likely to alarm the shaky 11-month-old coalition government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Thaksin’s visit also threatens to take the shine off a summit of Southeast Asian leaders with US President Barack Obama that Abhisit is due to chair on Sunday in Singapore.

Thailand remains bitterly divided between Thaksin’s main support base among the poor, especially in rural areas, and his foes in the Bangkok-based elite power circles of the palace, military and bureaucracy.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Thailand’s government opens talk with protesters

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2008 at 4:29 pm

– Thailand’s new Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said on September 19 that the government has initiated talks with the protest group occupying the Government House.

PM Somchai declined to give details of his dialogue initiative but said his administration was “in the process of negotiating” with the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders, adding that he expects a positive results.

PM Somchai, brother-in-law of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, was elected in a parliamentary vote on September 17 to replace Samak Sundaravej, who was removed from the post last week when the Constitutional Court found he was illegally paid for hosting TV cooking shows.

The PAD has accused the People Power Party (PPP)-led government of being a proxy for former PM Thaksin, who is now living in Britain.

It quickly vowed to press ahead with their campaign to force PM Somchai and his entire People Power Party out of government. After being endorsed by the king, PM Somchai has appealed for unity and reconciliation to mend Thailand’s deep political divide, according to news agencies. –