Thailand Protests 2013 – Latest updates
Monitoring the latest Thailand protests developments.
For previous updates, please see: http://new.bahtsold.com/updates/?p=2741
For LATEST updates, please scroll to the bottom of this page. Thank you
First, a re-cap: Video of a recent anti-Govt rally passing along Sukhumvit Rd:
So, what provoked the current anti-Govt protests?
Amnesty Bill: -The current Thai Govt led by ousted former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra, passed an amnesty bill last week which was altered at the last minute to include exonerating Mr Thaksin of past charges of corruption which resulted in the confiscation of 46 Billion baht of Mr Thaksin’s assets (also ‘allowing’ just 1 hour of debate before ‘quietly’ ramming the bill through at 4:30 am…)
-Only AFTER seeing the vast public backlash against ANY amnesty bill, the Govt hastily withdrew 6 other amnesty bills but also AFTER the main bill had gone to the Senate (which thankfully rejected the bill but it may yet be re-introduced within 180 days)
Senate changes: -Changing the Senate is also on the Govt’s agenda, by proposing that relatives/spouses etc of current members of Parliament be permitted to run in a fully elected Senate. Since Thailand’s electoral boundaries are de-facto controlled by various ‘connected’ families, the resulting scenario may (will) likely erode already sorely weakened checks-balances even further….
Whilst this Ed is NOT a fan of partially ‘appointed’ senators (nor coups/ or ‘re-coups’ to recoup one’s ‘investment‘) the present situation illustrates the repeatedly unfortunate needed caution given Thailand’s once again vastly compromised checks-balances….
Article 190 bill: -The Thai govt also amended article 190 last week. Article 190 of the Constitution require(d) that permission be sought from Parliament before signing any treaty with a foreign country that makes changes to Thai territory (but not now…)
Rice ‘scheme’: -The Govt’s rice scheme program (‘allegedly’ enriching many cronies, millers, landlords & insiders/proxies) has cost Thailand 500+ BILLION baht and the Agriculture bank is presently needing multi-millions MORE just to keep afloat… Meanwhile, mega amounts of Thai rice is said to be degrading in storage, whilst other countries forge ahead of formerly world-leading Thailand, at ‘realistic’ market prices. Also, the IMF has warned Thailand on the ‘scheme’ -which was summarily ignored by the Govt.
Flood relief: -The Govt’s ‘flood relief’ measures require another 350 BILLION baht (despite many critics stating much of repeated flood damage was intialised by said Govt incompetence) and concerns are present contracts may be siphoned via insiders/proxies.
Infrastructure plan: – Again, the 2.2 TRILLION baht infrastructure borrowing plan for fast rail and other works is ‘allegedly’ rife for equally fast derailment via siphoning off by insiders/proxies.
Telecommunications: – Erm, best to not even go there, as that’s where it all started…
Thailand’s still nascent ‘democracy’ faces many challenges, from ‘alleged’ vote-buying in exchange for grossly magnified personal ‘returns on investment’ to a potential dynasty of ‘same-same’ greased along by ongoing neutered or ‘controlled’ checks & balances…
Meanwhile, Mr Thaksin has reportedly already prepared 2 more back-up parties: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/377911/thaksin-prepared-to-call-poll
-Mr Thaksin is yet again already prepared should the current mothership encounter troubles via the National Anti Corruption Commission or mounting court cases, also if the need to call snap elections should arise if future polling #s appear dwindling.
The plan which entails fielding candidates from the ‘parachute’ parties in areas where current one’s might not win and then folding all parties back into the mothership is quite blatant and would only exacerbate tensions further.
Will be monitoring and updating all developments here.
Updates Sat Nov 16 2013
Deputy PM warns of third party involvement in protest
Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok today warned of stern action against protesters at the Democracy Monument if they go overboard in their anti-government demonstration.
He admitted concern about possible infiltration by a third party to instigate violence in light of the demonstrators’ announcement to strengthen and spread out their movement in the capital later today.
They have the right to rally as long as they do not infringe on other people’s right including road blocking which is strongly inappropriate, he said.
Pol Gen Pracha quoted an intelligence report as saying that other people, especially drug addicts and the unemployed, will enter Bangkok to create unrest.
“The security authorities will stop them. Demonstrators should be on the lookout for these people,” said the deputy premier.
Threat to seize assets of sponsors of anti-govt rallies
The Nation November 16, 2013
Laws against ‘money laundering’ may be brought to bear against business people backing protests
THE GOVERNMENT will enforce anti-money-laundering laws and seize the assets of capitalists who sponsor anti-government rallies, the prime minister’s deputy secretary-general, Suporn Atthawong, warned yesterday.
Suporn said he would call on the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) to check and stop the routing of protest funds.
Once the payment of protest sponsorship was checked, he would ask the AMLO to enforce the law on money “laundering” and seize people’s assets, as he said moves to topple an elected government were illegal. Some groups of “capitalists” were giving support to the protest, he said.
Suporn said that although the Department of Special Investigation had talked to certain suspected rally financiers, they had denied giving financial backing to the protests.
He said the DSI told him the money routes would be exposed by the end of this month. The business people involved would be summoned for interrogation.
Suporn also said military weapons had been smuggled from the Thai-Malaysian border while vans with “Thanapat” stickers were used for transport. He claimed a certain protest leader would incite violence.
Call to evict ‘corrupt regime’
Suthep launches campaign for boycott and social sanction of “cronies and govt lackeys”
PROTEST LEADER Suthep Thaugsuban last night called for social sanction and public boycott as part of a campaign to “get rid of the Thaksin regime from Thailand”.
Speaking before thousands of protesters at Democracy Monument, Suthep said that products and services relating to businesses run by the Shinawatra family and their cronies should be boycotted. These include mobile service, real estate and satellite TV.
Suthep said that in order to ensure a full democracy under constitutional monarchy for Thailand, the regime that he described as corrupt and authoritarian needed to be eradicated.
“Within this month, the Thaksin regime must be removed from Thailand. The victory will belong to the people,” said Suthep, a senior politician in the opposition Democrat Party. He also blew his whistle to signal “the start of the fight”.
As part of the stepped-up measures to achieve the goal, Suthep said there would be a campaign to collect signatures for impeachment of the 310 coalition MPs who had voted in support of the bill for blanket amnesty.
The campaign would start today for impeachment of the “slave MPs”, in the hope of “paralysing the Thaksin regime”, Suthep said.
Another measure would be to use means of social sanctions against senior public officials described by Suthep as “lackeys” of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He urged the public not to talk to those people and to blow whistles in their presence.
Suthep also called for a boycott of products and services relating to the Shinawatra family, in order to “cut off the funding for the regime”.
He asked more people to join the protest on Rajdamnoen Avenue so that a million people would gather from the Royal Plaza to Prachan Pier.
All eyes on court verdict on Wednesday
Next Wednesday, the court is scheduled to deliver its verdict in a case filed against parliamentarians who voted for a constitutional amendment to change the Senate election system and the four coalition parties that backed that amendment. They are accused of violating the existing charter.
A guilty verdict by the court could lead to impeachment of the MPs and senators who backed the amendment, and parties in the ruling coalition could face dissolution. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is likely to be face pressure to take responsibility.
The court’s judges also face pressure from supporters of the government. A red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kachatham yesterday said that if the ruling was “unjust”, and led to dissolution of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, thousands of red shirts would protest against the Court.
The red shirts plan to gather at some locations not far from the court from Monday to Wednesday.
Reds issue warning to court
Various splinter groups of the red- shirt movement have announced they will descend on and protest against the Constitution Court if it rules to dissolve the Pheu Thai Party.
The charter court will rule on the constitutionality of the draft charter amendment which would change the composition of the Senate on Wednesday – a ruling many believe could make or break the ruling party and the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.
Villagers clash with police at forum
The Nation November 16, 2013
Flood scheme meeting marred by row over registration of people keen to attend
A scuffle between police and villagers broke out in Kamphaeng Phet province yesterday, with two people held briefly for trying to attend a public forum on the government’s Bt350-billion water-management scheme.
Local villagers were also barred from entering the hall by police, because they allegedly did not register with local authorities to participate in the forum.
Integrated Water Management Foundation’s chairperson Hannarong Yaowalers, who attended the Khamphaeng Phet forum, said local people directly affected by the projects were not told they needed to register to attend the forum. And they had not been informed about the impact the projects would have on the area.
(SGWA) president Srisuwan Janya filed a lawsuit requesting that the Central Administrative Court suspend the mega scheme, because it violated principles of public participation under the Constitution.
The court later ordered the government to carry out public forums to enable local villagers directly affected by projects under the Bt350-billion water and flood management scheme to voice their concerns. Once the forums are completed, the government can then move to sign contracts with contractors overseeing projects.
Thaksin daughters fly out, slam leak of details
November 16, 2013
Thaksin pictured with his two daughters in 2007. A photo of the girls’ flight details from yesterday’s trip to England went viral online, fueling rumors they had fled Thailand (Getty Images)
BANGKOK: The daughters of Thailand’s self-exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra have criticised an online leak of flight details showing they flew first-class to London with eight suitcases. But they denied they were following their father’s footsteps and fleeing the country.
A photograph posted online of a computer check-in terminal shows the names, seats and ample baggage allowance of Thaksin’s two daughters, Pintongta, 31, and Paetongtarn, 27. It was posted late Thursday, shortly after their flight left Bangkok.
By Friday, the photo was the buzz of Thai-language web forums, with some commentators criticising the ethics of posting private flight details and others questioning if the Shinawatra sisters were fleeing the political heat at home.
Both sisters posted messages on Friday saying they were in London and would return soon. “(I’m) not seeking asylum,” Paetongtarn said on Instagram. “(I’m) here for six days to work.”
She added, “Haters will always make up stories to accuse us.”
A Thai Airways official said the pair had checked more than 150 kilogrammes of baggage and were seated in first class. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the airline’s policy of not disclosing passenger information. Older sister Pintongta posted a picture of herself strolling along a sidewalk in a Chanel scarf and carrying a Hermes’ Birkin bag.
“I’m here with my sister to work and will be back within a week,” Pintongta said.
“I guess there will be no more stories for the protesters to talk about? Give yourselves a break.”
Meanwhile, Thailand’s ruling party on Friday warned that anti-government protests in the capital could descend into violence, accusing a key opposition leader of stashing “weapons” at the rally site.
“There are war weapons being kept in the middle of the protest. I want to tell people who might want to go to the rally today to stay home,” Suporn Atthawong, deputy secretary to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, told reporters.
Suporn, a key member of the pro-Thaksin “Red Shirts,” did not elaborate on what type of arms he believed were at the rally site in the historical centre of the capital.
Ed daily summary:
Deputy PM warns of third party involvement in protest- Police General and Deputy PM Pracha has revealed so-called ‘intelligence‘ reports suggesting ‘drug addicts and the unemployed’ are coming to Bkk to create unrest (??) Meanwhile, the avg Bangkokian is shaking their head (yet again) reading such ridiculous statements.
Threat to seize assets of sponsors of anti-govt rallies - Whilst the Govt is seeking to have “the business people involved summoned for interrogation“, perhaps they might also look into who is funding the red-shirts… (?)
Call to evict ‘corrupt regime’- Mr Suthep is coming perilously close to ‘inciting’ unrest himself (at the very least, squarely inciting the wrath of a certain chap in ‘Do-Buy‘….) Also, calls for ‘a million people’ to gather is best left to the usual red-shirt rhetoric.
All eyes on court verdict on Wednesday- If the Constitution Court does indeed find Puea Thai guilty and dissolves it, all ‘heck’ will truly break out. The red-shirts (several who are Govt MP’s) would apparently lash out and with the police ‘allegedly’ on side, it would be left to the military to step in again to restore order (and again likely find themselves defending against armed paramilitary ’3rd hands’ within red extreme ranks…)
Reds issue warning to court- Again, issuing an ‘early warning’ to the court, should the ruling not fall in the Govt’s favour (aka the boss) and we all have seen what can happen:
(spoken by red-shirt leader and now Govt MP Nattawut…)
Villagers clash with police at forum- This repeated sad incident illustrates what Thailand’s ‘democracy’ has in store under the current regime. The forum was to discuss infrastructure projects but the villagers (many who do not agree with the plan) were NOT permitted to attend (by force, not for the 1st time) and some were detained by the Police.
There might NOT even be public hearings if a court challenge wasn’t brought which now FORCES the govt to hold public hearings FIRST. This is rather telling of the way this Govt appears to operate: The MAIN goal seems to be ‘get these ‘pesky’ public hearings rammed through quickly, so we can start siphoning 350 billion baht worth of contracts already’ (and blatantly/dismissively in the FACE of their OWN support base=Best use-by date??)
Thaksin daughters fly out, slam leak of details- Not going to comment on the daughters directly (except, 150 kg of luggage, really??) as it’s unfair to involve them in politics and of course they want to protect their Dad and vice-versa, as it should be.
However, the usual sign that REAL trouble (and ‘third hands‘) are about to break out, usually surface after the sudden departure of immediate family members as in the past (particularly memorable when in 2010 Mr Thaksin implored red-shirts to bring ‘YOUR CHILDREN’ to rally, as his were flown overseas in 1st class) Then, all hell broke loose…
-As for red-shirt leader/deputy secretary to the PM apparent, Suporn’s repeated warnings of ‘war weapons’ present (which he apparently tracked in vans replete with *stickers* on them all the way from Malaysia – yet still did nothing) one observation is obvious to most: The ‘3rd hand’ appears to consistently support the ‘Do-Buy’ side…
Will be updating developments here
Updates: Sun Nov 17 2013
Pheu Thai deputy spokesman rules out House dissolution
Pheu Thai deputy spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ad Saturday ruled out the possibility of House dissolution or Cabinet reshuffle, saying the Pheu Thai-led government will continue to administrate the country.
“Both solutions are not our options now. And it has nothing to do with the ongoing anti-government rally at Rajdamnoen,” he said.
Anusorn said the government would dissolve the House only when there is a serious conflict between the executive and legislative branch but so far such problem has not happened. He added that although all Democrat MPs resign, the House of Representatives can go on performing its duty.
Constitutional Court may be next flashpoint
The Pheu Thai Party is now focusing on trying to survive as long as possible. If it is unable to hang on, it can dissolve the House because it is confident that it would win the election again.
Although protests and possible clashes are not worrisome, several analysts see the ruling on November 20 as a possible cause of political violence.
The court has been asked whether it was a conflict of interest for MPs and senators to amend the charter to allow themselves and MPs’ close relatives to contest senatorial elections. The court was also asked to rule whether it was illegal for some MPs to ask peers to vote on their behalf during the deliberation of the amendment bill.
There are three scenarios for the ruling.
First, the court may rule that it is not unconstitutional.
Second, the court may rule that the passage of the amendment was unconstitutional – but the court would hold the 312 MPs and senators responsible individually, without punishing the political parties.
In the third scenario, the court may rule that the amendment bill violated Article 68 and would dissolve Pheu Thai and all coalition partners.
It would be fine if the ruling comes out in the first and second scenarios. But if the court rules to dissolve Pheu Thai, the red shirts would definitely not stand by and watch their favoured party dissolved again.
Will go out on a limb here and state it’s more likely the Court may rule either the first or second scenario, which would leave a bruised (but unrepentant) Puea Thai Party in power. However, the PM and Govt have done themselves no favours by thus far ignoring calls for at least an apology regarding their earlier amnesty ‘ill-bill’. Don’t want to even ponder ‘the troubles’ (red style) which would ensue if the Court chooses the 3rd option…. (dissolution).
This Ed would prefer the process continues not in the streets but at the ballot boxes (no matter how tainted or pre-ordained). The adage is basically true that ‘YOU get the govt YOU deserve’. However, that works for the roughly 53% of voters for the Govt but not for the 47% of others in the past election. Thus, nearly half are technically left out of the adage (but left living under and paying the consequences from the same tarred brush).
Of course, if Puea Thai does call snap elections to renew their eroded mandate, despite mismanaged floods, murky rice schemes, self-serving bills, weakening of checks-balances and on and on, their ‘rice-basket’ voter base would still likely return them to power…
The concern then becomes for an unstoppable family dynasty with few checks-balances.
If ALL else fails, the only other ‘hypothetical’ option would be to create TWO Thailand’s, North/NE and Central/South. The N/NE could be called “Shinland” or Republic of… (just sad musing here, looking at hypothetical options after sheer exasperation of all others;)
Thus, as both camps prepare for the Court’s verdict on Weds, here’s hoping for calm (still, should the Govt prevail, there’s yet more cases to come due to corruption allegations…) And so on and on and on it goes…. Meanwhile, thoughts go to the most revered and beloved Father in the land, likely watching all this unfold through very sad eyes…
Last, a welcome break. Today marks the annual beautiful, peaceful and hopeful Loy Krathong festival. Here’s hoping at least some of that sentiment carries into next week…
Updates to follow
Updates Mon Nov 18 2013
Suthep sets November 24 as day to declare victory against Thaksin Regime
He called on all the people in Bangkok to gather at the Democracy Monument on Sunday (November 24) and those in the provinces to gather at the City Halls and listen to the center in Bangkok for what he called the day to announce victory over the regime.
He said that it would be the day when a million signatures is expected to be collected to push for the change of the regime.
His announcement was made at the Democracy Monument where tens of thousands of supporters gather to mount pressure on the Yingluck government to show her responsibility over the passage of the amnesty bill which drew protests from all classes of the people.
Suthep said that today (November 18) would be another day when the Yingluck government would enjoy the 2 trillion baht loan bill when it was tabled before the Senate for final approval.
The bill will allow the Finance Ministry to seek loans for mega project investments without having to seek prior approval from Parliament.
He said he fed up with past calls for parliamentary movement to stop corruptions and therefore November 24 would be the day for the people to act.
No comment on product boycott
Executives of companies owned by the Shinawatra family have refrained from commenting on the anti-government protesters’ call to boycott their products and services, according to Thai PBS.
The TV station reported that executives of SC Park Hotel and SC Asset said this is a sensitive issue.
Boonchai Chokwatana was quoted as saying that some consumers may follow the call, but pressure on the government would not be as much as expected.
Pheu Thai braces for the worst
Last week, key members of both Pheu Thai and the Democrats analysed possible scenarios for the court’s judgement. Both agreed the chances that the court would hand down a verdict that is in favour of the government were very slim.
Pheu Thai chief Jaruphong Ruangsuwan said yesterday that he was worried about the court judgement, as it might pose a risk to the party and eventually seal the fate of the government under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Under the proposed amendment, all 200 senators would be elected, rather than having 76 elected and 74 appointed as currently. Also, the amendment would allow the relatives and spouses of sitting parliamentarians to run. The opposition is worried that the amendment would allow the government to bring its associates into the Senate easily.
Analysts see three likely choices for the court.
One is for the court to declare the charter amendment unconstitutional and order the process stopped, even though Yingluck has already submitted the amendment to the Palace for royal endorsement.
The second would extend the first option by requiring the 312 MPs and senators who sponsored the charter-amendment bill to take responsibility.
The third would be for the court to rule the amendment unconstitutional on grounds that it attempts to change the country’s system of government. The court could then dissolve the ruling parties that supported the amendment, including Pheu Thai, and ban their executives from politics.
That means four political parties would be disbanded and 55 politicians banned for five years, including 19 executives of Pheu Thai, 11 of Chart Thai Pattana, 17 of Chart Pattana and eight of Phalang Chon. Among them, four are ministers – Pheu Thai leader Jaruphong, his deputies Kittiratt Na-Ranong and Plodprasop Suraswadi, plus Phalang Chon leader Sontaya Kunplome.
Yingluck could survive the ruling, but the Democrats would pressure her to take responsibility, said a senior Democrat member, who has joined in the rally at Democracy Monument.
“Democrat MPs have warned her to delay the submission [of the charter-change legislation] for royal endorsement, but she decided to rush the process. She cannot deny responsibility,” he said.
Legal experts at Pheu Thai hope that the court would simply rule the amendment unconstitutional and order it stopped, but there is also a high possibility that the court would go so far as to outlaw parties involved.
The key concern is that four or five top Pheu Thai Party executives are among the 312 lawmakers who sponsored the charter change.
Three of the nine justices are likely to have dismissed the petition citing a lack of authority to rule on the constitutional amendment, Pheu Thai experts said. They are Chut Chonlavorn, Boonsong Kulbupar and Udomsak Nitimontree.
The new member, Twekiat Menakanist, might also excuse himself or abstain from voting, as he has not worked on the case from the beginning. The ruling could then come down to the opinions of five justices, they said.
If the court ruling favours the opposition, it could calm protesters led by senior Democrat Suthep Thaugsuban. But red-shirts would probably take to the streets instead.
30,000 red-shirts coming to town
November 18, 2013 11:28 am
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship eyes to bring 30,000 red-shirt supporters to Bangkok this week.
Anuwat Thinnarat, chairman of the group, said he has told leaders in 20 Northeastern provinces to prepare buses for the supporters.
The red shirts plan gathering at the Rajamangala stadium during November 19-20.
Ed: Summary and updates to follow shortly…. (suffice to say, was premature to earlier state the Court likely votes NOT to recommend dissolving PT – all bets now off)
Suthep sets November 24 as day to declare victory against Thaksin Regime – Mr Suthep’s rhetoric is sounding more like the opposing red-shirt leaders daily. This is not helpful or necessary and hopefully he dials it down a bit… (but unlikely).
However, a very valid point raised by Mr Suthep is raising the alarm on the 2 trillion baht loan bill, which will “allow the Finance Ministry to seek loans for mega project investments without having to seek prior approval from Parliament”.…
This is worrisome (a blank cheque for 2 trillion + no need for Parliamentary approvals) and just adds on to the Govt’s rush towards reducing checks/balances/transparency…
Pheu Thai braces for the worst – Perhaps the headline should read: “THAILAND braces for fallout if Puea Thai is dissolved”… Even the Chief of Puea Thai is now quote: “worried about the court judgement” and both Dems & Puea Thai agree “the chances that the court would hand down a verdict that is in favour of the government were very slim“
The Bangkok Post raises yet another ‘wrinkle’ which the court will address:
“The court will also consider if the amendment to allow the House Speaker to propose the amendment draft to His Majesty The King through the Prime Minister, BYPASSING the Senate, violates the present constitution”…
Related, from the above Nation article:
“Democrat MPs have warned her to delay the submission (of the charter-change legislation) for royal endorsement, but she decided to rush the process. She cannot deny responsibility”
Thus, as details emerge, the Govt’s position via the court is looking more and more fragile.
30,000 red-shirts coming to town – Red Chairman has ordered leaders in 20 Northeastern provinces to prepare buses for the supporters – getting ‘prepared’…
more updates to follow
Updates Tues Nov 19 2013
Stressful week ahead for government, opposition
THAI POLITICS has entered a dangerous phase again, with both the Pheu Thai-led government and the opposition Democrat Party walking on a tightrope.
Whether the government will survive the first “time-bomb”, when the Constitutional Court rules on a bill to amend the election of members of the Senate, will be known tomorrow (Wed).
However, political observers, plus the government and the opposition seem to believe the court’s ruling may not have much impact on the political landscape. Most ruled out the worst-case scenario, in which the ruling party and its three coalition allies would be penalised with dissolution and their executives banned from politics for five years.
Political scientist Assadang Panikabutra said he was not worried about the court ruling because he thought it was a normal process for charter amendments. He thought this case may only affect individual MPs – those alleged to have used colleagues’ ID cards to vote.
The government is also due to be grilled in a censure debate by next week. The Democrats submitted a no-confidence motion last Friday against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan for alleged mismanagement and abuse of power.
However, the motion was not put on the agenda for the House of Representatives as Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont asked for more documents related to an impeachment move and allegations related to graft. The parliamentary session will end on November 28.
But few people believe the government will be brought down by the debate, as the opposition does not have enough votes – this would require more than half of House MPs to say they have lost confidence in the Yingluck government. Plus the opposition has failed to find solid evidence to warrant such an outcome.
So, it is unclear how or when the Democrats rally will conclude. They may find an answer, or excuse, on their “battle day” as rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who resigned as an MP along with eight other MPs, called on Sunday night for a million people to join their protest next Sunday (Nov 24).
Chalerm does not believe Constitutional Court will rule against Pheu Thai government
Pol. Cap. Charlerm, accompanied by his team of lawyers, spokespersons, and political analysts, expressed his confidence that the Constitutional Court would not find the Pheu Thai government guilty of overthrowing the Kingdom’s regime.
Moreover, should mob leader Suthep Thaugsuban and Democrat Party leader Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva continue to protest and close off roads on November 24 as promised, he would seek an arrest warrant for the two for treason and attempting to topple the current government, added Chalerm.
Reject populism and credit growth, promote competitiveness
The chairman of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) wants the country to adopt a new economic development model, rejecting “populism and credit” stimulus because of its short-term impacts and long-term growth obstacles, while supporting development of education and technology.
The World Economic Forum recently ranked Thailand 37th out of 148 countries for competitiveness. The country’s readiness for infrastructure was positioned at 47th, but its education and training efficiency at 66th. Technology was graded 78th.
“Such information shows that infrastructure is not the main point for Thailand in terms of its future competitiveness. However, Thailand’s major problem remains that it is a laggard on the world stage in education and technology,” Kosit said.
Foreign Banks Brand Rice Program As ‘Risky’
Many foreign banks and other financial institutions have expressed their concern over the possible collapse of Thailand′s rice-pledging scheme, according to a senior economist at the Knowledge Institute of Thailand (KNIT).
Mr. Somphon Iswilanont said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also warned the Thai government last week that the rice mortgage program initiated under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is a “major risk” for the nation′s economy.
The IMF added that should the program end in failure, its economic fallout will affect other countries in the region as well, Mr. Somphon said.
Moreover, according to Mr. Somphon, the failure to release the commodity of the Ministry of Commerce had additionally caused the lack of revenue for the rice-pledging scheme within the last two years. So far, the government had spent ฿680 billion in paying the farmers for their rice, and had run nearly ฿ 500 billion over budget.
In 2013, the scheme started on 1 October had so far received 14 million tonnes of rice, 11 million tonnes overstock, to top the 18 million tonnes that is already in store.
Meanwhile, many farmers have not yet been paid by the scheme, said Mr. Somphon.
However, Mr. Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister, insisted that the government would carry on with the scheme.
Mr. Niwatthamrong claimed he had assured the farmers they will get paid by the end of this week, following the Commerce Minister’s discussion with Finance Minister, Mr. Kittirat Na Ranong.
Senate backs govt version of borrowing bill
The Senate on Monday night voted to maintain the government’s version of Section 3 of the two-trillion-baht borrowing bill.
The section states the government is not required to specify the projects that will be funded by the loan.
312 MPs, senators to reject court ruling
November 19, 2013 12:44 pm
The 312 Parliamentarians, led by Government chief whip Amnuay Klangpha and Senator Krich Attikaew announced on Wednesday that they would not accept the judicial decision on the charter amendment bill related to election of the Senate on Wednesday.
Amnuay said MPs and Senators have the right to amend the Constitutional by article 291. The Constitutional Court has no authority to consider its case.
“We would not obey or comply with the court’s ruling. Should the ‘worstcase’ scenario occur, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra would not take responsibility for royal endorsement,” Amnuy said.
Ed: Goal posts move again regarding sentiment on tomorrow’s court ruling (not that it would be recognised by the Govt apparently). Summary and updates to follow shortly.
Stressful week ahead for government, opposition- Again, the headline should perhaps more appropriately read: “Stressful week ahead for the long suffering people of Thailand” (all courtesy of one man in ‘Do-Buy’…;)
Today’s reports regarding tomorrow’s court decision again appear to swing back in the Govt’s favour. Even IF the court recommends dissolving Puea Thai, Mr Thaksin has reportedly already prepared 2 MORE parties as ‘back-up’, thus, game on (ad infinitum).
Also, the opposition’s proposed censure debate has little chance of succeeding as the Govt holds an ‘unconquerable’ majority of seats in the house.
Chalerm does not believe Constitutional Court will rule against government -Well, there’s the ‘definitive’ last word apparently. Mr Chalerm has recently ‘threatened’ to be-head himself should the govt fall (which may explain the increase in anti-govt rallies;) Chalerm has also threatened to charge the opposition leaders with ‘treason’ if they don’t stop the rallies (again, Chalerm self beheading or stop rallying….which will they choose?;)
Reject populism and credit growth, promote competitiveness – A sound and very wise proposal from the chairman of the Thailand Development Research Institute. Unfortunately, this is the precise reason it will go unheeded (plus, this Govt has ‘taught’ their supporters to EXPECT handouts and instant gratification – no matter how fast dissolving and corrosive). Thus, the well intended proposal will be summarily ignored…
Foreign Banks Brand Rice Program As ‘Risky’- Despite Thai economists and foreign banks (IMF) stating the rice ‘scheme’ is a “major risk” for the nation′s economy, the Govt summarily ignored all previous warnings, thus not expecting any sudden ‘about face’…
Senate backs govt version of borrowing bill- The Senate has voted that the government is not required to specify the projects that will be funded by the loan. Thus, the govt can spend 2 trillion baht at will and without parliamentary or public approval...
312 MPs, senators to reject court ruling- Should the court rule against them, the Govt side has declared: “We would not obey or comply with the court’s ruling“… Thus, it’s evident the ‘law’ is meaningless to the Govt (unless it suits their position…)
So, the court ruling and others to come may as well simply cease (and also the roughly 50% of Thai’s who care) and simply let the Govt go on its merry way, changing the Senate to a rubber-stamp, eroding checks-balances, spending 2 trillion any way they wish and if challenged at any point along the way, send their red legion to show a bit of strong arm…
Welcome to ‘democracy’ folks, Shinland style….
(sigh…) updates to follow
Updates 4:30 pm:
The defenders/fodder for ‘Do Buy’ (erm, ‘democracy’;) are arriving, led by a shiny Merc. The throng will then proceed to ‘Mordor’/Rajamangala Stadium on Ramkhamhaeng Rd and await further instructions from ‘Sauron’ (er, ‘someone’ in charge, perhaps via Skype from Do-Buy;) Please pardon the Tolkien references but they just seem appropriate…
Also, Mr Bombastic has been put on the case, preparing to ‘surround the treason suspect’:
“ @veen_NT: Meanwhile, Chalerm says PM has assigned him (verbally) to “handle” Suthep-led protest. He has set up a checkpoints near Suthep’s house.”
Red Shirt lawyer charges Suthep with spearheading unrest
Karom Polpornklang, a lawyer of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), submitted a letter to DSI Director General Tarit Pengdit accusing anti-government protest leader Suthep with threatening to abolish the Constitution, and overthrowing the powers of the legislative, administrative and judicial branches – an offence liable to death or life imprisonment.
He said Mr Suthep’s behaviour has severely impacted public order in the country, adding that he supported Mr Tarit’s move to take legal action against those blowing whistles at senior government officials.
The DSI chief expressed appreciation to Mr Karom for the “anti-whistle” support and said Mr Karom’s petition would strengthen legal action against the former Democrat MP to life sentence or capital punishment.
He said he is instructing investigators to speed up the case to be submitted to a DSI committee for special consideration November 27.
It’s ironic to see a Red rep concerned that ‘another’ group is allegedly trying to overthrow the powers of the legislative, administrative and judicial branches (=pot kettle black - or in this case, RED). Thank goodness the present anti-Govt group aren’t also embedded with armed arsonists (like within the reds before)… Also, amazing to see the breathtaking speed in which the DSI reacts to assist…. (for the red side at least;)
more to follow
Updates: Weds Nov 20 2013
CONSTITUTION COURT’S RULING
Security in Bangkok tightened
Police put in place crowd-control measures as protesters await constitutional court verdict
Citing an approval by the prime minister, Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday that he was now in charge of running the police crowd-control measures.
He said he would work with Deputy PM Pracha Promnog, who is already in charge of national security. “I am sure my job and his would not be in conflict because we would coordinate,” he added.
Chalerm added that a coordination centre has already been set up at the Labour Ministry, where a daily meeting with the police will be held. National Security Council Secretary-General Paradorn Pattanathabutr and Government Spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi also serve at this centre.
The red-shirt rally at the Rajamangala Stadium kicked off yesterday with protesters coming from all over the country, including Chiang Mai, Buri Ram, Udon Thani and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Red-shirt leader Thida Thavorn-seth said the protesters will disperse today if the court ruling is positive, otherwise the leaders will meet and decide on future moves.
Somphote Prasartthai, a red-shirt leader from Nakhon Ratchasima, said some 100 former paramilitary rangers hailing from the province were coming to Bangkok to serve as guards for the protest.
1 significant tweet this morning (thus far):
“Senate passed 2-trillion-baht bill at 3am while we were sleeping again“
“The bill is the largest single amount ever borrowed by a Thai government”
“Several senators requested the government to write in clearly which projects will be included in the borrowing, and that the loans should be raised as part of the normal budgeting system, but these requests were turned down by the “majority vote“.
Awaiting the court decision, judges scheduled to start the reading at 11 am.
will update here asap.
Update 11:20 am: Court still assembling.
Whilst we wait, here’s a Reuters article of interest which just came across the wires:
Thailand issues bond as it struggles to pay rice farmers
“Some farmers said they would block traffic in their areas to press for payment, an echo of action by rubber farmers in September. Others said they would march to Bangkok.”
Tweets & snippets coming through:
11.07am : Red-shirt leader Weng Tojirakarn tells red crowd at Rajamangala stadium.
’We won’t go home till we wipe out reactionaries from Thai soil’
11.20am: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her legal advisers will monitor and wait for the court’s verdict reading at Thai Khu Fah building at the Government House.
11.25am : Natthawut Saikua says at Rajamangala where hundreds of red shirts are gathering, ’Reds throughout the country ready to fight peacefully.’
11.27am: Red-shirt leader Nisit Sinthiprai tells red shirts at Rajamangala that power outside the system cannot defeat the power of the people.
11.29am : Jatuporn Promphan no verdict will be worse than what happened on April 10 and May 19, 2010.
Ed 12:30 pm update: Judges yet to begin speaking. As in the past, these are usually lengthy affairs and could take all afternoon.
-Court process today: Each judge lays down “personal” verdict so the “central” verdict can be written and issued.
-The process is meant to keep the final verdict a secret till the last minute.
1.25pm: Judges are reading the ruling: judges Suphot Kaimuk and Charoon Intacharn will be the readers.
-Court is explaining whether it has the power to rule on this charter amendment.
-Current Constitution aims not to allow abuse of power or conflict of interest: court.
-Dictatorship by the majority is against the principle of the administration: court.
-The soveriegnty powers are for checks and balance, not for separate use and abuse of power: court.
-2007 Constitution uses the นิติธรรม principle to regulate the use of power, not just the free use of the majority: court.
-The use of power must be honest, without conflict of interest: court
-Court: Democracy is not about winning or losing election.
-The complainants used the right to protect the Constitution citing Article 68…The court has jurisdiction to consider the case: court
-The draft of charter amendment bill submitted to the House was marked with written page number until page 33. After that there was no page number marked
-According to the fact, the charter change bill approved in the first reading and the issue distributed to parliamentarians were not same.
-The content was changed including crucial part: court citing Article 116 of the charter
-The draft submitted to the Parliamentary meeting was not the same as submitted by Udomdej Ratanasatien: court. The process was illegal.
-Abrupt closure of the meeting was depriving the parliamentarians’ right to debate. That was against the administrative principle: court.
-Recap: Court says charter amendment bill was significantly altered before it went to the parliamentary floor.
-The period for parliamentarians was also cut short and counted retroactively…bias and against the regulation… : Court
-This is against Article 125 of the Constitution.: court.
-Court has not touched upon “content” yet but has all but torn amendment bill to pieces.
-The complainants came with 3 clear clips of the when lawmakers were using many of colleagues’ id cards to register at the chamber: court.
-Each of parliamentarians can only use the ID card to register once for a meeting. The clips and witnesses showed some used many ID cards.
-The law says a lawmaker must vote freely without others’ influence. The conduct was also against the principle of honesty: court.
-The Constitution’s will is to separate the House and Senate to keep the checks-and-balance system: court slamming ‘Spouse’ Parliament.
-Changing it so that the sources of senators and MPs are the same would destroy the checks and balance system: court.
-the charter amendment violated (many) Articles of the 2007 Constitution including Article 68: court.
-But the court dropped the party dissolution request.
Ed: Basically, the court vetoes the bill on changing the Senate (therefore both houses to a cosy ‘husband/wife/relatives’ type makeup), but drops party dissolution request.
2.12pm: Red shirt leaders will declare its stance on verdict at 8pm tonight, said Weng Tohjirakarn.
2.15pm : Weng (red shirt leader) accused Charter Court of being ’dishonest’.
2.25pm : ’The bell of a new round of fight between democratic force & extra-constitutional force have begun!’ said Nattawut. “Basically [the court] said were all wrong,” he said. He calls for red-shirts to join the rally against the Constitutional Court.
Ok, so that’s amnesty bill dropped, plus senate bill dropped, plus govt dissolution dropped but the 2 trillion baht loan bill (with no strings attached) ‘sneaked’ through at 3 am (cha-ching;). That makes ‘Mordor’ 2 wins & 2 losses thus far (Thailand’s losses still mounting…)
As it stands, Reds will blame the court (but not the govt for their many breaches as pointed out by the court). However, this is just theatre/crocodile tears, knowing the ‘primary’ goal was the Govt surviving + with 2.2 trillion to ‘spend at will’ = a win for the ‘boss’…
Meanwhile, the anti-Govt groups and Dems will likely push for impeachment of 312 MP’s & Senators who were involved in passing the bills. Also, already lodged a complaint with the same court regarding legality of the unprecedented 2.2 trillion baht ‘no strings’ loan.
-A final note on the 2.2 trillion baht loan bill (for now) – The Senate speaker reportedly called a break at 12 am instructing others they could come back and vote at 9am today. Then, the remaining 79 out of 150 senators voted at 2:50 am in a resounding “majority” and the bill was ‘legally’ passed… Democracy Shinland style, once again…
Senate passes loan bill in hush-hush manner
One thing is certain, the Constitution Court Judges language and tone was quite terse and reprimanding of the Govt’s blatant, egregious and “illegal” manner in forcing the bill(s). From ‘bait and switch’ to using missing members cards to proxy-vote and on and on. The upshot may be the NEXT time a challenge is issued (upcoming on the 2.2 trillion baht bill) the judges may just say “Ok you lot, that’s ENOUGH” and red-card the entire Govt…
Last word for now goes to Puea Thai Party chief Charupong:
“A small bunch of judges can’t tell the country what is right or wrong”
dejavu/updates to follow….
Updates Thurs Nov 21 2013
Pheu Thai to go ahead with charter amendment
The ruling Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan today insisted on the amendment of the Constitution to achieve what he called to bring back the country “democracy” which the people could fix their own directions.
The pro-Govt side is using the following talking point which is being picked up by some intnl ‘simple sound-bite’ press as well: “Thai court disallows elected Senate”
HOWEVER, that’s the ‘simple’ version. The correct version is the Thai Court did not approve of the ‘illegal’ manner in which the Govt proceeded, nor the intent of changing the Senate to one that also allows house MP’s & family members to run, thereby making BOTH the House & the Senate a potential ‘family affair’ with no checks-balances….
It’s important to note the current constitution states:
“The qualifications of Senators are set out to be independent of political parties, such as preventing parents, spouse, or children of MPs or political office holders from becoming Senators. At the same time, they should not have been connected with a political party for a period of 5 years”
-The Senate is currently composed of 150 members. 76 Senators are directly elected from the 75 Provinces of Thailand and Bangkok, while the other 74 are appointed from various sectors by the Senate Selection Committee, based on the above criteria.
The minority appointed Senators must come from a ‘balance’ of the following sectors: Academic Sector, Public Sector, Private Sector, Professional Sector and Other sectors.
The Selection Committee is composed of:
-President of the Constitutional Court
-Chairman of the Election Commission
-Chairman of the State Audit Commission
-A Judge in the Supreme Court of Justice holding office not lower in rank than Judge of the Supreme Court of Justice as entrusted by the general assembly of the Supreme Court.
-A Judge of the Supreme Administrative Court as entrusted by the general assembly of judges of the Supreme Administrative Court.
ALL the above was brought in as a direct result of the ‘gerrymandering’ by former Thaksin-backed govts and to prevent what the current Govt is trying to do (again, reduce or eliminate checks-balances to gain complete ‘unfettered’ control)
This Ed would also prefer no minority ‘appointed’ Senate’ however, given the ongoing attempts by the Govt to subvert or control checks-balances, it’s unfortunately needed.
-The Puea Thai/Govt/Red version would have allowed MP’s family members to run, increased seats to 200 and done away with appointments/criteria, checks/balances.
The following sums up the petulant backlash from the Govt side:
“Ubon Ratchathani MP Somkid Chuakhong said he could not accept the charter court’s ruling which bans spouses, parents or children of incumbent MPs to become senators so that the Senate can function as a check-and-balance against the House”
“The Pheu Thai Party has scheduled a meeting for today to devise tactics to fight the charter court ruling. The tactics include calling for a joint parliamentary session to discuss the ruling, with coalition MPs and Pheu Thai-friendly senators voting to reject the ruling: the joint session would then pass Article 291, which would activate in future the entire charter amendment, in the third reading”
By hook or by crook… and so on it goes. Upcoming, the 2.2 trillion baht loan bill is on due crash-course to appear in front of the Constitution Court soon. Dejavu….
“National Counter Corruption Commission to issue statement this afternoon, another big suspense in Thai political crisis.”
“NCCC’s expected to react to Constitution Court verdict on charter amendment or Dems’ impeachment move against MPs who passed amnesty bill’
“National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to probe packed rice project”
“Pheu Thai party will resurrect another draft constitutional amendment still pending in the parliament to pave the way for the writing of a whole new Constitution“
Ed: Will leave today’s updates on a VERY welcome note for a change:
King’s health excellent, Her Majesty improving: doctor
His Majesty the King is in excellent health and enjoying his stay at Klai Kangwon Palace in Prachuap Khiri Khan, while Her Majesty the Queen’s condition is improving, a senior royal physician said Thursday.
His Majesty’s general condition is excellent and he enjoys the palace’s ocean view and other activities, including feeding the fish and – on the recent Loy Krathong Day – floating a krathong, said Clinical Professor Udom Kachintorn of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital.
Updates: Fri Nov 22 2013
First, an absolute MUST READ article which exemplifies much that is amiss:
Yingluck government must end public hearings farce:
Pheu Thai party rejects charter court’s judgement
A confrontation is looming between the Pheu Thai party and anti-government protesters after the party officially announced Thursday afternoon that it would not accept the Constitution Court’s judgement against the draft constitutional amendment seeking to change the composition of the Senate.
The rebellion against the charter court was announced by party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan at a press conference which was attended by several party members, including the secretary-general Bhumtham Vecchayachai who was known to be the right-hand man of exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
There is also a now guaranteed confrontation ahead at the Constitution Court regarding the ‘hush-hush’ and sneaky manner in which the 2.2 trillion baht loan bill was also passed (not to mention the legality of such an unprecedented loan -plus the clause included in the bill which forgoes the need for parliamentary or public approval on how it is spent…)
Also, a petulant Puea Thai party is now on VERY thin ice by publicly rejecting the court’s judgement… of course Mr Thaksin has reportedly prepared 2 back-up parties just in case (and the way this is going, he may need them…)
However, the timing could provide an opportunity to swap in some ‘fresh’ faces:
“Early next month, 109 politicians of the now-defunct People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties will end their five-year bans and return to politics”
And this just in:
“Armed Forces now calls for national unity before it is too late”
A ‘caution’ has been issued and if the Govt continues to act ‘above’ the law with impunity, the courts (or the military at last recourse) may be forced to intervene again (regretfully)
Although the current Thaksin-backed Govt would mostly have themselves to blame, expect some in the intnl press to once again trot out mostly slanted ‘talking points’ (as in 2008) judging by the following BBC reporters current account for just one example: https://twitter.com/pakhead
Meanwhile, a like-minded, also otherwise very fine journalist has since returned to Blighty: “ITV News has announced that CNN’s International Correspondent Dan Rivers has been appointed as Correspondent, primarily focusing on Wales and the West of England….”
Damage done but here we are, again reliving the after & ongoing ’maths’ courtesy of never-ending ‘Do Buy’ (aided by some intnl journalists painting-a-perspective reporting;)
This not about ‘rich/poor’ or ‘palace/democracy’ or ‘elites/military’ etc, etc, ad nauseum, it IS about right/wrong and one elite sino Thai’s quest to subvert any/all for personal gains.
For both ‘Do Buy’ & Thailand, dejavu likely ahead (unfortunately)
Updates: Sat Nov 23 2013
Pheu Thai threatens ‘eye for an eye’ as Democrats head to court
After being on the defensive for the past week, the Pheu Thai Party is countering Democrat Party moves with legal action on an “eye for an eye” basis, a high-ranking Pheu Thai source said.
Democrat MPs will also seek the impeachment of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, along with Somsak, Nikom, Suwichag and the 308 lawmakers who voted the blanket-amnesty through on its third reading.
Abhisit said his party condemned Pheu Thai’s defiance of the court’s authority, as it undermined the rule of law. He called for Yingluck and her party to rethink their attack on the Constitutional Court and take responsibility for their actions.
“Prime Minister Yingluck, who has submitted the proposed amendment to His Majesty for endorsement, should report the court’s ruling to the King,” Abhisit said.
-The prime minister yesterday responded to the court’s rejection of the Senate-change bill, saying she needed time to study the verdict before charting her next move.
Commenting on litigation looming over the Bt2-trillion mega-project loan bill, she said she had yet to receive the relevant legislation from Parliament.
Prominent red-shirt political appointee Sangiam Samranrat yesterday filed a police complaint that Constitutional Court judges had offended the monarchy.
Sangiam claimed the judges had violated Article 112 of the Criminal Code in conducting their judicial review of the Senate-change bill during the process to seek royal approval.
Red-shirt lawyer Nuengdin Wimuttinant petitioned the Department of Special Investigation to probe the Constitutional Court judges who ruled against the bill. Nuengdin cited Articles 113 and 112 related to insurrection and lese majeste as the basis for the probe.
Protesters issue blackouts threat
3 anti-Thaksin groups link up for ‘major battle
Anti-government protest groups on Friday threatened to cut off electricity and water at state offices in the capital and at Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s residence on Monday.
The move is aimed at escalating the push to oust the Yingluck government following tomorrow’s “major battle day” called by ex-Democrat MP and protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who hopes to attract up to 1 million demonstrators.
Mr Suthep on Friday said the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation has agreed to join the protest and that staff at the agencies “might cut off electricity and water at all state offices and the house of the Prime Minister.
Tensions boil over at flood scheme hearing
A melee occurred at a public hearing yesterday in Samut Songkhram on the effects of the government’s Bt350-billion flood-prevention and water-management programme, after a large number of protesting residents angrily pressured government officials in charge of the scheme.
This prompted a premature end to the event, before local vocational students attempted to prevent the officials from leaving the venue.
More than 10,000 residents in the province’s Mae Klong area, where floodway structures under the programme would replace their homes and vast areas of farmland, attended the session to oppose the project.
Officials from the Water and Flood Management Commission had, however, expected only 800 to attend, with most of them allegedly having been prepared, for Bt800, to show their approval for the construction of the floodway structures.
The opposing residents began attacking the floodway projects during a question-and-answer session, saying they would not tolerate the “neck-deep inundation” a so-called new river would bring, after already regularly suffering knee-deep flooding annually.
The residents, speaking long after the Q&A session, also accused the commission of bringing in 800 people to the hearing venue – Samut Songkhram Technical College in Muang district - to answer a questionnaire approving the project, in return for Bt800 allegedly promised to each of them.
They said the questionnaire illegally failed to give details on the effects and negative aspects of the floodway structures.
Locals opposed to the structures began making a noise when Apichart and other commission members were unable to answer several questions posed to them.
A group of residents attempted to give the list of opponents’ signatures to Apichart, but was stopped by the police from doing so. The confrontation ended when police negotiated with lecturers from the college, who convinced the students to cease their efforts. The motorcade then left the area.
Pheu Thai threatens ‘eye for an eye’ as Democrats head to court – Actually BOTH Puea Thai and Dems are in effect threatening ‘eye for an eye’ and this is not helpful. Yes, take it through the courts but leave the ‘street’ rhetoric (and the Monarchy) out of it.
Besides both sides distastefully invoking the Monarchy in their ways, the other glaring bit in the article is the fact that apparently the Prime Minister cannot comment on the 2.2 trillion baht bill as “she had yet to receive the relevant legislation from Parliament”… One hopes she has actually read it beforehand… (??)
Protesters issue blackouts threat – One comment: Asinine (ie; extremely stupid or foolish). Just because the red-shirts previously poured blood on then Dem PM’s house in 2010 (etc, etc) this does NOT ‘validate’ blacking out the current PM’s residence, nor any Govt institutions. Also, if Mr Suthep continues to call for one MILLION demonstrators etc, he risks becoming similar in tactics and rhetoric as the red side… Take the higher road
Tensions boil over at flood scheme hearing – Yet again, right in the midst of the Govt’s own voter-base, 10′s of thousands are protesting against the Govt’s extremely murky and rushed flood infrastructure ‘plan’. And there would NOT even be public hearings if a court had not ORDERED the Govt to carry them out….
Now there are allegations that the Govt’s committee only ‘planned’ on 800 pre-approving locals to attend (allegedly for 800 baht per approving head;). And once again, the police are there to ‘serve and protect’ the Govt’s side…
The Govt seems determined to ram-rod through the unwanted but forced on them public hearings by hook or by crook ASAP in order to start issuing 350 billion baht in contracts…
Whether it be rushing through ill-bills by nefarious means, ongoing attempts to subvert checks-balances, the murky rice ‘scheme’, or flood ‘scheme’ or 2.2 trillion baht ‘no strings’ loan ‘scheme’, it’s all very indicative of the brand of ‘democracy’ which lies ahead under this regime (and from the likely ‘substitute’ parties to come under the same regime…)
Crisis-hit Thai politics in new cycle of tumult: experts
By Kelly Macnamara (AFP) – 4 hours ago
-”(The court decision) represents the royalist establishment’s overarching strategy to push the Yingluck government from power through the use of legal attrition — wearing away the Puea Thai government bit by bit”
-The telecoms tycoon-turned-politician has ardent support from many of the country’s rural and working class and Red Shirts demonstrators.
-But he is loathed among the elite and middle classes, who accuse him of corruption. He is seen as pitted against the military-backed establishment behind the coup and the royalist and nationalist “Yellow Shirt” protest group, whose street protests helped unseat him.
Ed: The above AFP excerpt is emblematic of the typical dated tripe which the intnl press still continually ‘trots’ out. On an expat forum, the first comment under this article is:
“Who is this guy? Jonathan Head under a pseudonym? I do wish these foreign journalists would spend more time inside the country of which they are writing bollocks about”
Would like to thank Jonathan Head for taking time to respond via twitter earlier but for many in the Intnl press, spewing what appears to be mostly Thaksin’s publicity machine’s approved ‘talking points’ will not win over any with an iota of knowledge on the ground.
However, it appears these types of press articles are aimed at a less-informed audience overseas and at worst are designed to tacitly assist the main PR machine, or at ‘best’, simply repeating distributed talking points…. Any way you slice it = dated tripe.
3 simple non-packaged tweets from a Thammasat rector fully explain what the AFP did not, despite their usual 90% superfluous and dated ‘painting-a-perspective’ reporting:
1) Constitution Court is not about 9 judges flexing muscles. It’s about making Parliament accountable.
2) Court didn’t do anything wrong. It just told public what Parliament has done wrong.
3) If court can’t stop Parliament from doing wrong, who can?
Updates Sun Nov 24 2013
Police fear violence today
clashes expected as thousands of reds, anti-govt protesters set to join rallies
-Clashes are expected today as thousands of government supporters and protesters convene in Bangkok for rival gatherings, as former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban announced yesterday that different groups were getting together to “root out the Thaksin regime”.
-The move came on the eve of a so-called “million-man march” planned today by Suthep and other protest leaders. However, police said they only expected about 70,000 people to show up.
-Red-shirt co-leader Jatuporn Promphan told the press yesterday that this decision was made in order to bring red-shirt supporters to the capital from upcountry so as to protected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government. He acknowledged that the anti-government protesters will increase in numbers today and hence, red shirts should be ready to descend on Bangkok today for a prolonged fight as the other group was already closing in on Government House. “We’re not going to let Suthep take over Thailand,” he said.
Ignore ‘unconstitutional’ ruling, Nitirat lawyers say
The Nitirat Group yesterday warned against anarchy, if some politicians choose to ratify the Constitutional Court’s “unconstitutional” ruling on changing the charter.
At the press conference yesterday, law lecturer Worachet Pakeerat urged members of parliament to vote to ignore the ruling on an amendment on the election of senators. Accepting the ruling meant the legislative branch agreed to submit its power to the court and that could lead to the world’s first “constitutional state”, he alleged.
The law lecturers claim the ruling was unconstitutional because the court had no authority to rule on the case, as charter amendments are not tantamount to efforts to change the democratic regime.
Moreover, the court also committed an unconstitutional process in reviewing the case, by taking into consideration politicians’ petitions. Under the Constitution’s Article 68, the Attorney General’s Office must act as the complainant. The court also failed to find legal reasons to support its ruling that the charter amendment was unconstitutional. This explained why it failed to announce penalties attached with the ruling.
“The court’s authority is to ensure that the minority has a stage to equally express its voice. However, this ruling is to suppress the majority voice, which is against the democratic regime. This ruling has no legal bearing. But some politicians seek to use it for their own clauses,” Worachet said.
He added that the court has the authority to scrutinise if the legislature correctly uses its power to endorse the Bt2 trillion borrowing bill. However, the charter amendments are the power of the legislature which cannot be breached.
The Nitirat group of lawyers claimed yesterday that if the Constitutional Court’s ruling on a charter amendment about the election of senators is upheld, it could pave way for the world’s first constitutional state.
Worachet told a press conference that the ruling was “unconstitutional” and set a precedent that lawmakers could no longer amend the Constitution without the court’s approval.
Police fear violence today- The police usually issue statements such as this in advance of large gatherings of anti-Govt protesters (perhaps to dissuade many from attending?;) Prophetically, a ‘third hand’ has many times made these warnings come true in the past… Regardless, at least the ‘boss’ is safely overseas, no matter the casualty count back home.
Ignore ‘unconstitutional’ ruling, Nitirat lawyers say- Whilst these lawyers are providing an important and needed closer look at the controversial Constitution Court ruling on the Senate bill, their argument and conclusions are fraught with many holes.
The Constitution Court has suggested in the past that amendments should be made via a public referendum, not via the illegal and shady manner in which this was attempted.
Also, note the lawyers are on the same page as the Govt stating ONLY the Govt appointed Attorney General should have the authority to decide if a complaint should then be forwarded to the Constitution Court. This in itself raises same checks-balances concerns.
Lastly, to suggest the Govt should ‘ignore’ the Court’s ruling, IS to suggest anarchy…
2:40 pm video overview of anti-Govt demonstration at Democracy Monument:
Kasetsart University anti-Govt protesters:
Red shirt pro-Govt rally at same time:
On a ‘field trip’ this afternoon. Will update here later.
Ed: ‘field trip’ completed, videos follow. First, having seen yellow/red/multi coloured rallies firsthand from 2006 to now, tonight’s rally was by far the largest of any group before.
This was the scene on just ONE side-street blocks away from the main stage and EVERY side street was the same throughout the entire area and well beyond:
Finally managed to get ‘near’ the main area, again, this is just ONE of several streets surrounding Democracy Monument which were all the same:
Unfortunately wasn’t “permitted” to post this earlier as all phone signals/internet access around the area were blocked by the authorities…
After, took a motorcycle taxi to Hualamphong train station -no other choice of transport as the roads were absolutely packed with smiling flag waving people, many entire families with kids, packed even 2 kms out. Even once cleared of the throngs in the middle of the streets, the sidewalks remained packed with flag wavers all the way to Hualamphong.
Once at Hualamphong, the line-ups at the ticket machines stretched 6 wide and much further back than any Skytrain or Subway even at their biggest rush hour.
Atmosphere throughout was ‘festival’ like, all smiles, Mom/Pop/kids waving Thai flags.
What next for Thailand?
Have some (dejavu) thoughts on this but as it’s late will update tomorrow.
Updates Mon Nov 25 2013
First up – several groups of anti-Govt protesters are marching to 13 different sites today.
The main Govt controlled TV stations are also targeted for largely non-reporting on the anti-Govt protests
These and several more ‘separate’ groups are due to join together and proceed ‘perhaps’ to Govt House next (?) Would prefer they instead call the day a ‘success’ and return to base.
“Yingluck: I’m not quitting or dissolving the House.”
“Protesters to Bkk police chief:
Take back your statement that you’ve come this far thanks to the Dubai man”
“Marchers are demanding DSI chief Tarit’s resignation.” //One thing I agree with. Tarit is a shameless lapdog for any govt.
Pheu Thai party to file rebellion charge against constitution court judges
A group of Pheu Thai party MPs led by Sunai Chulapongsatorn will today ask the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to file rebellion charge against Constitutional Court judges over its ruling of the amendment to the Constitution regarding the composition of the Senate.
PM calls for peace, unity and respecting rules of law
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today called for unity, peace, and respecting rules of law as anti-government protests intensifying, saying her government did not want to see escalating conflict turning into bloodshed in the country.
Ironic the PM is calling for ‘respecting the rule of law’ while at the same time her party is filing ‘rebellion’ charges against Constitution Court judges… As for ‘peace’, fortunately this group of protesters don’t come with matches and embedded armed militia so all ‘should’ remain calm. Meanwhile, rally leader Suthep has said the protests will wrap within 3 days (coinciding with the end of the upcoming censure debate in Parliament).
1: 50 pm: “Cabinet meeting planned for Friday and Saturday in Songkhla postponed to avoid forecast heavy rain”… (MCOT Govt news)
2:30 PM: Protesters now ‘inside’ Ministry Of Finance (Ed: poor move Mr Suthep, should have returned to base, point made earlier… this is no longer a ‘peaceful’ protest…)
Also, video/Police protecting photo-journ Nick Nostitz after altercation with demonstrators (completely and totally unacceptable & his red leanings are no excuse for this reaction)
From Twitter: “Today’s march has taken away the beauty of yesterday’s peaceful rally“
Ed: Agreed FULLY and if not very careful this could devolve very quickly.
3:15 pm “Anti-govt protesters’ occupation of the Budget Bureau symbolised opposition to Bt2 trillion plan & raised political temperature”
“We will stay here”: Suthep at Finance Ministry
3:45 pm: “The crowd at police HQ is reportedly heading back to Rajdamnoen.”
(Ed: sensible, more to follow? )
“Jatuporn: 20,000 of Southerners will leave Rajdamnoen rally tonight. It’s time for red shirts from provinces to come.”
(Ed: Just when you think things can’t get worse….)
4:45 pm: “Protesters are set to leave Ch3 on Rama IV after meeting Sorrayuth”
5:00 pm: ”Eyewitnesses say 1000+ anti gov’t demonstrators have occupied Thailand finance ministry.”
5:45 pm: “Suthep announces 2nd protest stage to be set up at “Thaksin’s tool”, the Finance Ministry”
6.35 pm: “Students’ group, anti-govt protesters, has occupied compound of M. of Foreign Affairs, preparing to stay overnight”
Already received a couple ‘disappointed’ messages for denouncing Suthep regarding occupying Govt buildings. YES the red-shirts did much worse, bursting into a hospital, burning buildings and on and on.
However, the present group of protesters are rallying for ‘higher’ standards thus should not ‘lower’ their tactics to do so. They also have the responsibility of carrying the goodwill bestowed on them by the huge groundswell of support they’ve received since rightfully calling the alarm on amnesty bill, Senate bill, 2 trillion ‘no strings’ bill and on and on.
Thus, this Ed cannot condone occupying Govt buildings even in a ‘peaceful’ manner.
Meanwhile, BBC’s Jonathan Head & pals are having an absolute field day with this now:
And former Finance Minister Korn is in fine form:
9:30 pm: PM Yingluck set to speak (following cliff-hanger soap on Thai TV apparently;)
-Rain suddenly bucketing down in Bkk at the moment… stopped after 10 mins.
10:00 pm: “Yingluck: Security law (ISA) will be firmly enforced in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and some suburban areas.”
Updates Tues Nov 26 2013
Suthep ignores ISA and calls people to defy govt
Rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Monday night refused to back down after the PM invokes special internal security laws in Bangkok and other neighbouring provinces.
He said he would not disperse the rally and instead he called on more people to join the anti-government rally. The Internal Security Act prohibits people from gathering.
Suthep said the government had rejected the power of Constitutional Court which meant rejecting the charter itself, making the government illegitimate.
Mr Suthep has a very valid point in that the Govt has indeed ‘rejected’ the Constitution Court (thus/defacto, the Govt has rejected the LAW itself). However, this shouldn’t be used as a license to break the law wherever one sees fit (or is that the point?) in this case occupying Govt buildings. Meanwhile, the Dems begin the censure debate in Parliament with heavy emphasis likely on the bleeding rice scheme and alleged corruption.
10 am: “The no-confidence debate has started, 25 hours of deliberation targeting @PouYingluck & Int. Min, voting will take place on November 28th.”
“Censure debate in parliament bogged down in dispute over procedure – can’t get going yet. Dem. MPs will focus on rice subsidy scheme”
“If censure debate can’t take place in next 3 days, motion will stay in the House, meaning no House dissolution for a long time”
(*Ed: By ‘law’ the Govt cannot call for new elections while a censure motion is active)
“Opposition crowd gathering near Ministries of Agriculture, Transport in Bangkok old city. Talk of occupying them and Interior Ministry”
11 am: “Protesters agree to leave Foreign Ministry Tuesday” – The Nation
protesters were seen packing their belongings but their next destination is unknown
“@KornDemocrat says he disagrees with protesters’ move to occupy Finance Ministry.”
“Abhisit: This censure debate is taking place amid public’s shaken faith in Parliament. And one big reason is abuse of democracy.”
“Abhisit: I don’t deny corruption has been around. But corruption in this govt is becoming uncontrollable.”
“Abhisit: Mass rallies that we’ve seen were not show of support for any party, but public rejection of this govt.”
“Abhisit: Corruption has been both direct, indirect and in the making. Laws are being made to facilitate more corruption.”
“Abhisit: Govt’s water management ideas were meant to avoid parliamentary scrutiny of budget spending.”
Abhisit: When Constitution Court backed govt up on water management policy, nobody in govt rejected court’s role.
Abhisit: Govt’s rice policy caused full-scale graft. It’s brainless policy based on false belief govt can control market mechanism.
Abhisit: Rice policy has caused Bt400 billion loss. Govt denies “loss” as “premature”, saying rice hasn’t been sold yet.
Abhisit (to smiling Yingluck): You can go on smiling because those benefiting from rice policy are only your own people.
*YL only needs simple majority support to survive. Govt is guaranteed victory. No Thai govt ever lost censure.
Mysterious men trying to cover CCTV cameras near Wat Benchamabophit/Marble Temple
(Ed: Marble Temple is in Dusit near main Democracy Monument protest camp. Also, the above tweet came from Bangkok Dem Governor Sukhumbhand)
11:45am Riot police with gas masks on near The Marble Temple in Bangkok
1:53am at Marble Temple/Rama V intersection – http://twitpic.com/dmmgw2 water canon/tear gas truck
12pm Protesters have surrounded Ministry of Interior. Ordering civil servants to leave by 12:40pm pic.twitter.com/NGTMb1kWUO
William Davies AFP @WilwithoneL: Am outside the ministry of interior, around 5000 people here but protesters have not broken through the gates yet
1 pm: Crowd is getting more excited now outside ministry of interior.
1:40 pm: Protesters planning to stay the night around Interior Ministry
1:50 pm: Protest at ministry of interior have calmed down as people eat lunch.
3 pm: Criminal court has approved warrant for Suthep arrest
3:25 pm: Rain falling on protest site at Democracy Monument in Bangkok
3:30 pm: Protesters take over Agriculture, Tourism and Transport ministries, surround Interior
4 pm: spokesperson states that tomorrow there will be nationwide movement; wait for Suthep presser at 6pm
-Unexploded grenade found at Democrat party office as protesters await ‘big move’
@ohohcita says: I’m so sick of foreigners thinking this is a class war. It’s NOT! It’s Thais vs the Shinawatra. Sorry if this doesn’t agree w/ your ideology
-Jonathan Head (BBC) @pakhead : https://twitter.com/pakhead
“Protesters plead with total conviction about evil I Thaksin. Nothing can shake that Manichean belief. There are no shades of grey here.”
5 pm: Pheu Thai to seek Constitutional Court’s ruling to dissolve Democrat Party, for arousing masses to seize govt offices
Ed: Ironic – the Govt is seeking assistance from the same court after the Govt publicly rejected their previous decision… but at least the court didn’t dissolve them (yet)
Now we await Suthep’s next ‘bold’ move which is supposed to be a ‘big’ one (?) He’s not a young man and appeared sitting most times today, plus is said to have lost his voice earlier (weeks of shouting can do that;). Hope he’s getting proper rest as this is a time for rational thought, not for sleep-deprived rash actions (unfortunate he can’t pop into the comfort of a Thaksin family hotel each night after protests like the red shirt leaders before him;)
-Thammasat rector urges PM to dissolve House
-Private sector: ‘Dissolve parliament’
-Yingluck rebuts saying Thaksin not the ‘mastermind’
-Dems: Govt ‘favours family over country’
-Protesters led by the ‘People’s Army against Thasksin’s Regime’ stopped besieging the Interior Ministry at 6:10 pm.
8 pm: Suthep currently speaking (and it’s quite a speech) to follow see: https://twitter.com/Aim_NT
Suthep calls for protesters and people to seize all ministries on Wednesday
November 26, 2013 9:06 pm
Rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban announced Tuesday night that protesters would seize all ministries tomorrow so that they could not function and overthrow Thaksin’s regime.
Suthep said the government’s authority became invalid after the government refused to accept ruling and power of the Constitutional Court.
Suthep proposed all provincial governors to be elected like Bangkok’s instead of being appointed by Interior Minister.
“I don’t want to be a prime minister. I fight for the country not for myself and I did not fight so that Khun Abhisit became a premier.
Suthep said the protesters could seize government offices like Finance Ministry and Budget Bureau without violence.
He added the protesters and Bangkokians should siege all ministries and those in other provinces should seize the City Hall.
Besieged but running: Thailand’s Finance Ministry
-A large number of Finance Ministry bureaucrats sympathise with the protesters, who are aligned with the elite-backed opposition Democrat Party.
“Some people were very happy to let the protesters in,” said an official in the Public Debt Management Office who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media. “Thailand is decidedly split right now and most people at the Finance Ministry side with the protesters.”
Suthep did raise a few very good suggestions, such as electing provincial Governors rather than the Govt of the day appointing them, plus eliminate vote buying (not sure how or IF this could ever be achieved) also eliminating expiry dates on corruption cases, no more police promotions via the ‘brother’ system, no wasteful costly high-speed trains ‘to transport produce’ and importantly “cultivate in the brain of our children that they must not cheat or the country will be doomed”. The bits after this point were lost on this Ed….
Meanwhile, over at Govt House, the censure debate continues with another point raised which ‘tries’ to implicate the Govt’s recent altering of article 190 of the constitution which removed the need for Parliament (therefore the public) to scrutinize Intnl deals:
-Democrat Sansern Samalabha’s slamming charter changes that would bar Parliament from scrutinizing most foreign trade deals.
-Sansern showed Parliament a video clip of Thaksin saying he was interested in getting oil and gas concessions from Cambodia.
-Sansern showed House a Thai-Cambodian maritime map that suggests a Thaksin-related company is having big piece of concession cake.
-Sansern: Pearl Oil has HQ at the Shinawatra 3 building.
-Sansern: Thaksin’s oil connection is undeniable, and YL govt doesn’t want Parliament to scrutinize future oil deals.
-Govt Surapong: No politicians anywhere else will drag other countries into local politics. It’s damaging.
-Democrat Alongkorn: Govt’s rice pledging policy spawned massive corruption every step of the way.
-Alongkorn: Has rice policy made life of Thai farmers better? (He quoted a farmer association head as saying “No”)
-Alongkorn (wrapping up his speech): “Thaksin thinks, Yingluck acts” is very bad for Thai rice.
-Red shirt leader Thida Thavornseth this evening called on police to file charge against Suthep for terrorism.-NNA
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