Monday, May 31, 2010

It's 'War over Clips' in the House

It's going to be a "War of Clips" between the governmet and the opposition in the House today and tomorrow. Both sides are using video clips against the other side.

The debate won't be much about the gist of the real issues. Rather, most of the House time will be waste over which clip is to be allowed to be presented during the debate. House Speaker Chai Chidchob has appointed a three-party committee to check whether all the clips would be "appropriate" or not. Two opposition MPs named to the committee have quit, saying the government MPs were dominating the deliberations. The House speaker insists that he won't allow any clip that's not approved first to be presented.

The opposition has been alloted 18 hours, the govt 13 hours for the debate. Most interesting of all: 7 hours have been set aside for the distracting tactics employed by both sides to raise protest against speakers from the other side.

In other words, they all know what game they play and they even decided to allocate a huge amount of time for such wasteful practice!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thaksin, Abhisit spar over citizenship: Are you Thai enough?

Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva posed an interesting question to Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday:

"Do you want to give up Thai citizenship now that you have got a Montenegran passport?"

If you want to take that as a sarcastic comment, you certainly aren't too much off the mark.

But even if Thaksin should take that up in a serious way, Abhisit was quick to point out that adopting Montenegran citizenship won't absolve him from the "terrorism" charge.

Thaksin, you guessed it, wouldn't take that sitting down. He shot back in a volley of tweets, one of which said it's Abhisit who should surrender his Thai citizenship since he had ordered the murder of so many protestors.

So, now you have a new war of words before the real one starts in the House Monday when Thaksin's opposition Pheau Thai Party launches the long-awaited no-confidence motion againsts Abhisit government.

What a pity. Thaksin isn't here to lead the assault. That would be a real, fair war!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thaksin tells ABC: Red shirts not sophisticated enough to burn down buildings

Thaksin Shinawatra talked to ABC's Lateline programme in which he was asked about the Thai government's terrorism charge against him.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The world's first interview with former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, since the violent protests in Bangkok.

Mr Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006 and is currently living in exile and in hiding from Thai authorities who have issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of terrorism in connection with the anti-government protests by his Red Shirt supporters over the last two months.

The Thai foreign ministry has reportedly asked Interpol to arrest him and deport him back to Bangkok.

Well tonight Mr Thaksin agreed to speak to Lateline and joined us, just a short time ago, by phone.

Thaksin Shinawatra thanks for joining us.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA, FORMER THAI PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, thank you for inviting me.

TONY JONES: Are you prepared to go back to Thailand and face up to the terrorism charges that have been levelled against you?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: Well, first of all let me express my sympathy of the arrests of the Australian that went on the stage after the Red Shirts and been arrested.

Through the loyalty, our un-loyal, emergency decree, which is, I very sympathise him. But anyway, the, whether going back or no is not the matter of an urgency.

The urgency is that how can we see Thailand having a reconciliation, real reconciliation. If I, if anything, if the confrontation still going on, is not good for the country. We want to see reconciliation because the Government always said about reconciliation but the way they use the iron fist approach, they are not using velvet glove approach that is mean that they are more confrontation than reconciliation.

TONY JONES: But Mr Thaksin these are very serious charges, terrorism charges, they carry the death penalty. Are you worried that Interpol


TONY JONES: will track you down and arrest you...


TONY JONES: and deport you to back to Bangkok to face a court?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: I can assure this is very, purely politically motivated case, allegation. It is not really a, it has no grounds. In my mind I always advocate to the peaceful protest and I always supporting my people that we, Thailand, needs reconciliation. I always saying that and I always be, have been passion on reconciliation.

I never, never supporting any violence and everybody that know me, and all the countries here they know well that is no one, nowhere that the former prime minister will become terrorist to hurt their own country. No way.

TONY JONES: The allegations against you are, very specifically, that you orchestrated the recent unrest, that you secretly funded and possibly, directed, the operations or that subordinates acting on your behalf did all of those things.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: Well if the process is gone to rule of law this allegation cannot be found because of the, there is no evidence at all, it's just the allegations, well from one sided and now, today, the court accept my lawyers petition to cancel the arrest for review.

TONY JONES: Are you concerned that Interpol, having being asked by the Thai Foreign Ministry to arrest you, will really do that.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: Definitely they will do. But Interpol have their own criteria to judge, that is, is to not be politically motivated. This is clearly politically motivated and there is no ground. You know some of the time that Thai Government has asked Interpol to issue the Interpol arrest warrant to me and Interpol always found out that the information that the Thai Government give is unreliable and is politically motivated.

TONY JONES: At least one army general who supported you among the Red Shirts was shot dead during the unrest. Do you still have close supporters and followers in the military?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: You know because the military are very disciplined, you know, they, what they are, they just follow what the boss says but, anyway, many are not agree with the way the army has been used to kill their own people.

What you have to concern is the life of the innocent people 88 of people dying and 108, 1,080, 1,800 of injured so that is, you have to have investigation on that. And the investigation must be fair, fair. And now 300 innocent protestor has been detained under the emergency decree. So, so..

TONY JONES: Do you reject, do you reject the violence that was done in your name, as well...

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: No way, we are...

TONY JONES: the violence done by the military

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: We never, we never, engage in violence. If you look at the way, if you look at the way the military suppression, they use tanks, they use snipers, they hit the general by snipers, they hit the many people by snipers. Even at the temples on the last day before they go back home, there be massacre in the temple. That is what the international should concern.

TONY JONES: Amongst the peaceful Red Shirt demonstrators there was a hard-core of armed militants. The same men who evidently set fire to dozens of buildings in Bangkok...


TONY JONES: and the other places after the army moved in to break up the demonstration. Who were these men? Who do you say they were?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: If you look at it, you know, why, the Red Shirts burn the central, why not other sites, the central, if you look at many analysis in Thailand you will understand better that the Red Shirts, they are not sophisticated enough to burn the whole building down.

They may angry to create fires, here and there a small fires, but not the big fires. The big fire is, must be the work of professional. Is not be a Red Shirt definitely and it must be well planned ahead. I can assure you, as an ex-priest I can assure you that this is a well planned and professionally done is not really, I can say is that it's a set up, it's a set up.

Even the weapons that they come on display, brand new weapons they not allow anyone to touch it. Actually the weapons never been used. How can the Red Shirts having that weapons and no one hurt on the military side {laughs}.

TONY JONES: Well, so you understand that the allegation will be that they were able to buy weapons because you supplied them with large sums of money in order to fund this Red Shirt rebellion. That will be the allegation against you.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: No way, how, how can, where can you buy the weapons? They are not military. How can you buy? And then, ah, if they have weapons why they have surrendered so easy? Why they don't, they don't shoot with the military? Why there is not military casualty on the military side? So I think you have to be very reasonable to understand the situation.

TONY JONES: Is the red shirt rebellion over now, is it finished, or do you believe it will flare up again?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: I don't know, I don't know. You, they, they, they'd been buried now, they been hunting everywhere in Thailand. So they are in difficulty, they have been hunting. This is the way the Government call reconciliation. OK. Thank you very much, thank you.

TONY JONES: Thaksin Shinawatra we will have to leave you there we, it sounds like you've gone anyway.

Thank you very much for joining us.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Most wanted man in Thailand

The "terrorism" charge against Thaksin Shinawatr carries the death sentence for anyone found guilty -- under Article 135 of Thailand's Criminal Code.

Thaksin promptly reacted with a firm denial. He said back in 1976, authorities charged anyone against the government as a "communist." Now, it's "terrorist" instead.

Of course, upon closer scrutiny, it's not that simple. The parallel the former premier tries to draw between the "victims" of past political upheavals and those involved in the "Burn Down Bangkok" turmoil isn't all that convincing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thaksin spotted at Cannes Film Festival...

While his red-shirt leaders are being detained for questioning, Thaksin Shinawatr was spotted in Cannes, France, where he was seen to be mingling with people attending the annual film festival.

He was last seen with one of his daughters in a luxury shop in Paris. There were reports that he was trying to talk to a group of French reporters but the French foreign ministry was said to have tried to persuade him not to do that to keep the Thai-French official relations intact.

Thaksin has made no statement over the May 19-20 burning down of buildings and looting in Bangkok after the May 19 suspension of the red protest. He has said only that he was not behind anything that was bad.

Now that some of the red remnants say they may be "going underground," what is he going to say? Or perhaps, he IS already underground, and abroad, at the same time?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Detained red leaders on vacation?

These pictures have been posted on various social media sites with captions asking: "Are they supposed to be in jail or on vacation?"

The top picture shows Nattawut Saikuea, one of the red shirts, who have been detained together with other protest leaders since yesterday on various charges, including terrorism. Officially, they were supposed to have taken to Naraesuan Camp in Hua Hin for interrogation, not to enjoy a seaside holiday.

The other picture is supposed to be a "detention room." It looks more like a resort villa to many though.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two pictures, two different stories

Bangkok's Central World's arson looks frighteningly similar to New York's World Trade Center's 9/11 incident to me. In fact, Central World was previously known as World Trade Center (Thailand) too.

The big, highly depressing difference, of course, is: The WTC's fiery destruction was brought about by foreign terrorists. Bangkok's Central World was torched by Thais against Thais.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

As Bangkok burns, Thaksin goes shopping in Paris

Someone saw Thaksin Shinawatra and one of his daughters shopping in Paris on Saturday just as Bangkok was burning -- and he was one of the key players in that turmoil, at that.

The picture was said to have been taken by a Malaysian who happened to be in the brand-name shop just as Thaksin was seen enjoying a buying spree.

Post Today published two pictures on Page One this morning to show the stark contradiction: As Thaksin's daughter Praetongthan is enjoying the luxury goods at a shop in Paris, Seh Daeng's daughter, Khattiya, is crying over her father's dead body that was being carried out of the hospital.

Seh Daeng, or Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdiphol, died yesterday after having been shot a few days earlier by an obvious assassin. He was one of Thaksin's close aides and was instrumental in organizing the confrontation between some of the red shirts and the government's soldiers.

Whoever said life is fair, in love and war?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This is "Live Firing Zone"...Get out!

For the first time, we see this sign posted by the military around Rajprarob area, north of the main protest site at Rajprasong Intersection. It's supposed to send a clear message: Soldiers will shoot with live bullets, for self-defence. Reporters and others have been told to leave the area or else their personal safety cannot be guaranteed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Watch Seh Daeng interview seconds before he was shot

Seh Deng -- Maj Gen Kattiya Swasdiphol -- was interviewed by a small group of foreign reporters when a bullet struck his head. This video was shot by @pattmessenger

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sukhumbhand's definition of a 'failed state' and 'failed govt'

M.R. Sukhumbhand Baripatra, governor of Bangkok and a senior member of the ruling Democrat Party, has challenged anyone who says Thailand is now a "failed state."

He told Matichon in an interview: "There is apparently a misunderstanding when you say Thailand is a failed state. All the mechanisms of a normal state are still with us. If anything, we may have a failed government which hasn't been able to manage things the way it should have...."

The Bangkok governor was acting as the government's enjoy in holding a few sessions of talks with Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikeau. But after a few rounds of unannounced negotiations, the premier instructed him to call a halt to the talks with the protest leaders.

"Why did the PM ask me to be the emissary in this case? Don't forget I was a diplomat before," M.R. Sukhumbhand said.

His personal ties with the premier have had their ups and downs. But don't ask him what were the ups and which were the downs. Don't forget he was once a diplomat.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Have you seen Abhisit doing this before?

Very few people have seen PM Abhisit Vejjajiva in this playful pose. Perhaps, under the current political stressful mood, that's exactly what the prime minister needs to do: forget the red leaders' ambivalence and get the other groups behind him.

But that's easier said than done. By proposing his 5-point "national reconciliation" plan leading to a Nov 14 election, Abhisit has effectively alienated ths yellows and the pinks and the "multi-colours." And he knows it. "The more they loved me, the more upset they were when they thought I was betraying them," he told an interviewer in a televised interview yesterday.

Now that the red shirts have refused to respond with a definite timeline for ending the protest at Rajpraong Intersection, the PM has set May 15 as the deadline to "take it or leave it."

But then Abhisit knows that he can't just rely on the yellow and the multi-colours. Now, he needs to earn the trust of "the rest of the country" so that he doesn't fall victim to any new pressure.

He will have to go back to his playful gesture to overcome the prevailing stalling game.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Red shirts, Yellow shirts at least agree on one point

Believe it or not, the red shirts and yellow shirts have somehow agreed on at least one thing now: PM Abhisit Vejjajiva must go!

But Time magazine, in its latest Asian edition, takes a different position: Abhisit, who only three weeks ago, was weak and fumbling, now appears "a statesman in this conflict."

And they are all talking about the same thing: Abhisit's "road map" that will lead to a Nov 14 general election if his five-point "national reconciliation" proposals are accepted by all concerned.

The red shirts have conditionally accepted the proposed new election date, seeking a confirmation from the premier as to the exact date of the House dissolution.

The yellow shirts came out with a strongly-worded statement condemning Abhisit for "colluding with the traitors" and perhaps even working behind-the-scenes with former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was supposed to be his arch-enemy.

But Time magazine's analysis had a different take: Abhisit, with this new move, has demonstrated his restrait and leadership. The article urges the red shirts to accept the road map.

But then, that was before the yellow shirts came up with its highly controversial position paper asking the PM to quit!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Are these faces of compromise?

Don't you think they look a bit too serious for a group of people announcing their readiness to accept a compromise with PM Abhisit Vejjajiva?

Well, this was exactly how they look when the red shirt leaders declared on stage just now that they would accept Abhisit's five-point "national reconciliation" proposal including the plan to call a new election on Nov 14. But they quickly added that they wouldn't call off the protest at Rajprasong Intersection just yet -- not until the premier specifies when the House would be dissolved.

That, to say the least, is somewhat strange. All they need to do is to do a bit of counting back to find out when the PM plans to dissolve the House. Under the constitution, an election could be held within 45 days after the House is dissolved -- but no later than 60 days.

Some sympathisers say they simply want some face-saving measure. Others say the red-shirt leaders have to convince the extremists (both right and left) to agree to take a common stand: Declare victory (now that the PM has conceded to their demand for a new election) and call off the protest.

But the premier also warned that if the reds refuse to join his proposed reconciliation "road map," he will continue with the tough plan to disperse the protest and that he won't soften his position.

No doubt, several groups of people who have opposed House dissolution have criticized the PM for "handing the country to the Reds" by agreeing to the new election.

Abhisit said on Monday night when he delivered his televised "road map" that he realized that some groups of people would disagree with his proposal.

"But in any political settlement, no single party could expect to win all its demands. All parties would have to sacrifice something to get the nation back on its feet again," he said.

The next few days will be crucial to see whether the reds will disperse to allow the PM to justify his reconciliation with the protesters.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thaksin tells Nation reporter: You are not talking to a ghost

Thaksin Shinawatra says he is alive and well. "And you are not talking to a ghost," the former premier told a Nation reporter who finally got him on the telephone line last night.

Rumours about his "death" have spread far and wide in the local press for a few weeks. Now, Thaksin insists he isn't only breathing, he expects to be back in Thailand towards the end of the year.

Read the full story here: