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Here We Go ... The Shutdown Thread


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Just watching Jeorman evening news on TV these ignorant bastards showed the enlightened democrat Suthep presenting himself on stage as the psychopath he probably is and later a wise and thoughtful Thai woman leading a peaceful Redshirt demonstrtion through Ayutthaya . Could the resident experts give some advice on what is now the truth ?



Not an expert (since I've been here too long), but a resident so I'll give it a go ...


That "thoughtful woman" was Thida Thavornseth, wife of Weng Tojirakan (whose verbosity during the 2010 protests created the expression "Don't Weng me!). Ironically, she is from the same province as Suthep, but was a student activist in 1973 and fled to the jungle with her husband after the 1976 Thammasat Massacre and the arrests of leftist students. There they both joined the Communist Party of Thailand and spent 6 years with them before returning home under the government's amnesty programme.


Thida was once a staunch critic of Thaksin's "style" of governing (e.g. the non-judicial killings during his "war on drugs"), but was enraged by the military coup that ousted him in 2006. She and her husband then joined the UDD (red shirts). Weng was arrested after the crackdown on the red shirt protesters in 2010. Thida was then named to head the red shirts. She is respected as a person who mainly rejects violence, something unusual among red shirt leaders. She is a retired university lecturer, which explains why her speaking style is different from the rough and tumble politician Suthep. Nevertheless, she can rant as well as Suthep when she has a mind to.



p.s. Fascinating how the former student rebels who had joined the commies in 1976 have now split down the middle. They are about evenly divided among the reds and anti-reds.

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Still the Big Boss!



Thaksin 'urges Yingluck to stay' as Prayuth demurs



Caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra almost gave in to resignation demands by the anti-government protesters on Sunday - but changed her mind at the last minute as her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, called to ask her to stay on and push for the February 2 election, sources said.


In a phone conversation with Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha a day before the protesters' Bangkok shutdown began, Yingluck told the commander she was tired of the political tension and asked for his recommendation.


Prayuth declined to offer suggestions and said it was her call to make any decision. If anything untoward happened, it would be the prime minister's responsibility, he said.


Yingluck told Prayuth she would give an answer by 4pm Sunday. Many expected she would announce her resignation, the source said.


Yingluck later called a meeting with Pheu Thai Party executives and talked via Skype with Thaksin, who said the Constitution did not allow her to resign, according to the sources.


If she did resign, the protesters would ask the court to rule that she had violated the Penal Code's Article 157, which punishes officials who abandon their duty. She would face a jail term, he warned.


Separately, Army chief Prayuth told his subordinates to prevent violence during the anti-government protest.


To protect themselves from being attacked by unknown parties, soldiers should dress in plain clothes while guarding the many buildings of government agencies and their command posts, according to a source.


The military has deployed troops to act as security guards to many government agency buildings such as the Prime Minister's Office and the Government Complex, as well as protest sites.




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Pathum Wan rally stage picked for its good 'feng shui'



Pathum Wan intersection was chosen as the new main rally site for the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) because of its good "feng shui", Dangkamon Na-Pombejra*, head of Chulalongkorn University's Department of Dramatic Arts, said yesterday.


The co-organiser of the Pathum Wan stage said the intersection was an area that was safe and a good location for shooting pictures. Yet it was also easy for anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to move if he wanted to march to other rally sites.


"The PDRC leaders once thought of having the main stage at Ratchaprasong intersection. But someone said it was the same spot that the pro-government red-shirt protesters had gathered - so we should let them have their great memories," he said with a laugh.


Dangkamon revealed that his set-up at the site was for three days only, but said he did not know how long the battle will last.


He said several well-known people would take part as speakers, such as energy expert ML Kornkasiwat Kasemsri, former Engineering Institute of Thailand president Tortrakul Yomnak, and radio anchor Fongsanan Chamornchan. But he has also invited musical bands to join, such as the Blue Sapphires and the CU Band.


Dangkamon, who directed the acclaimed "Spring Awakening" and "Siam Niramit", became the co-organising chief after the PDRC closed the capital for half a day on December 22, and held rallies at five stage sites. He said stage programmes were managed by three parties - academics from Chulalongkorn University (CU), Thammasat Alumni for Thailand's Evolution (TTE), and PDRC core leader Satit Wongnongtoey. CU will run morning events and co-organise with TTE for afternoon events, before the PDRC takes over control in "prime time", in the evenings.


The stage, LCD projectors, and audio equipment were brought from the Rajdamnoen rally site.


Meanwhile, Wasan Paileeklee, a key member of TTE, said his group decided to join the Pathum Wan rally as strong supporters of the protest, by inviting guest speakers and setting up an exhibit on political knowledge at the site. He said his group would today officially hand the rally stage over to the PDRC, given that Suthep was marching to visit many sites yesterday.


He said CU and TU had a long-term relationship. That was why TTE came to this rally stage.






*Fascinating family name, that of Pridi Bhanomyong's wife and also Thaksin's ex-wife's mother.

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Suthep turns down PM's call for talks on poll delay



The caretaker government, having repeatedly ignored calls for postponement of the February 2 election, yesterday softened its stance as pressure for a delay in holding the poll increased.


Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has assigned caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana to hold meetings with all sides regarding the Election Commission's proposal for the election to be postponed, PM’s secretary general Suranand Vejjajiva said yesterday.


He said Yingluck had consulted Phongthep, a legal expert, and some other Cabinet members on the EC's proposal, which she felt was still unclear. She has assigned Phongthep to hold discussions with all the sides concerned.


Phongthep will invite representatives of five groups - the EC, political parties, people who want the election to go ahead, people who are against the February 2 election, and the Cabinet, according to Suranand. The discussion would be held tomorrow morning at a place to be confirmed later, he added.


Suranand said the government hoped the five EC commissioners, political party representatives - including Democrat leaders - as well as representatives of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), would also attend the meeting.


However, PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban yesterday ruled out his attendance at any talks on a possible postponement of the election. He insisted his group would not engage in any such talks with the government until the protesters had "won the fight". He repeatedly said earlier that his group wanted nothing less than the mass resignation of the caretaker Cabinet, including Yingluck.


Protest leader Suriyasai Katasila said yesterday in a Twitter message that the PDRC was still firm in its demand that Yingluck step down to pave the way for national reform. "Election postponement is not our main goal," he tweeted.


Pichit Chuenban, a legal expert for the ruling Pheu Thai Party, said yesterday that legally speaking the election could not be postponed. However, the party wanted to hear views from those who were pushing for election postponement.


EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn expressed dissatisfaction yesterday at the government move to hold a multiparty meeting without first responding to the EC's written call for postponement. "This is not the right thing for the government to do," he said, adding that the prime minister should have a meeting urgently with the EC chairman to discuss any election postponement proposal.


He said if there was no such discussion between the PM and the EC chairman, it was likely the EC would not join the multiparty meeting to be held by the government.


Meanwhile, caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who is also in charge of the government's Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order, yesterday suggested the government bring the case to the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the February 2 election could be delayed. He said he believed the Constitution does not empower the government to postpone an election.


In a related development, the EC is setting up a temporary office in Chon Buri in preparation for the next election, according to a source in the agency.


The move came after protesters gathered outside the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, which houses the EC head office.


Twenty-two Thai embassies and consulate offices in 21 countries around the world yesterday held advance voting for Thai expatriates, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said.


The Election Commission designated 92 Thai missions in 67 countries to hold the election outside the Kingdom as 143,800 eligible voters registered to cast their ballot, he said. More than one million Thai citizens live abroad, according to Sek.




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Car use down; fewer Skytrain, subway riders





Traffic was light in Bangkok yesterday, as residents avoided travelling or stayed home following the kick-off of the anti-government Bangkok Shutdown campaign, while most commuters turned to rail and other public transport.


Half the normal number of sedan car trips, normally totalling around 1.2 million runs a day, were made on city streets yesterday, said deputy National Police chief Pol Lt-General Ruengsak Jarit-ek.


A large number of commuters turned to marine transport in canals and on the Chao Phraya River.


Twenty conventional and air-conditioned city bus routes have been altered to avoid seven rally stages set up by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).


More than 4,000 non-traffic and military policemen have been assigned to traffic-direction duty in addition to those on regular duties at Bangkok police stations. Police said contingency traffic plans could be adapted on an hourly basis depending on the situations, adding that the busiest of all seven protest stages was the one at the five-way Lat Phrao Intersection.


Police also advised motorists to avoid Rama VIII Bridge, which had been blocked by protesters, by using elevated roads and heading to the Pin Klao or Krung Thon bridges.


Caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt, writing on his Facebook page, denied allegations that he halted Bangkok-bound trains transporting anti-government supporters from the South. He said there were other means of transport for them and many trains needed to travel at slower speed over newly repaired tracks. :shakehead


BTS Group Holdings, the operator of the BTS Skytrain network, said the number of passengers on Monday was lower than expected.


Anat Arbhabhirama, adviser to the board of directors, said traffic at morning rush hour was lighter, but rose at 10am-11am. Still, it was lighter than the BTS has experienced during previous mass rallies.


Ronachit Yaemsaard, deputy governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority, which owns the MRT network, said the number of commuters was lower than usual for a Monday morning. He said some avoided travelling into the inner city area where protesters had laid siege to several intersections.


Bangkok Metro, the MRT operator, has increased the number of security guards at stations connected to the BTS and near protest sites.




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Medical workers threaten speed-up of anti-govt protest



THOUSANDS OF medical workers joined the anti-government demonstration to shut down Bangkok and block one of the capital's main areas, the Lat Phrao five-way intersection. :surprised:


They demanded political reform before the election and the establishment of a neutral and acceptable mechanism to reform politics and prevent the corruption of democracy.


The medical workers said the election on February 2 should be postponed and the caretaker government led by Yingluck Shinawatra should stand aside and pave the way for political reform. If the government did not respond to their demands, they would escalate their demonstration to topple the government, the workers said.


The group is led by former senior health officials and health experts. They include former public health minister Dr Mongkol na Songkla, who was appointed during the military government in 2006; former Food and Drug Administration secretary general Dr Siriwat Thiptharadol; former Medical Emergency Institute of Thailand director Dr Chatree Chareonchiwakul; Thailand Health Promotion Institute director Dr Hatai Chitanont; National Health Commission secretary general Dr Amphon Jindawattana; former Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Phaijit Warachit; and Dr Banlu Siripanich, former chairman of the fact-finding committee to investigate irregularities in the Thai Khem Khaeng project run by former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.


Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahamethapat said the ministry had kept a close eye out for any violence at political demonstrations in three provinces - Buri Ram, Phitsanulok and Ayutthaya.


Since the political turmoil started in Bangkok two months ago, 286 people have been injured and three killed. About 15 have been admitted to hospitals in Bangkok.


The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Erawan Medical Emergency Services Centre reported yesterday that a 30-year-old man had been shot in the neck near Chaeng Wattana Road. He was undergoing treatment at Mongkut Watthana Hospital after losing a lot of blood.


The Public Health Ministry reported the man was shot near the anti-government demonstration barricade at Soi 14 on Chaeng Wattana Road.


Meanwhile, despite the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) threat to shut down Bangkok and block several main areas in the capital, officials at the Public Health Ministry were working as usual.


Yesterday a temporary employee at the ministry used a loudspeaker to criticise PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban and ask health officials not to join the demonstration.


"I want to ask you who pays your wages? We work for our country, not Suthep," he shouted.


Some health officials eventually blew whistles at him.


Protesters also shouted and blew whistles at the ministry's deputy permanent secretary Dr Chanwit Tarathep for backing the government.




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PDRC-led demonstrations in South, Mae Sot



The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) in Surat Thani yesterday brought demonstrators to seal off state offices at the City Hall, as part of a symbolic gesture to run alongside the Bangkok Shutdown.

The demonstrators invited people to join their movement instead of working. They also later sent people to try to shut down other state offices, while schools also temporarily closed to ensure that students were safe.


In Songkhla, the government complex and City Hall, Nakhon Songkhla Municipality, Muang district office and some 10 schools were closed yesterday. Thousands of anti-government protesters rallied outside the Songkhla City Hall, locking the entrances and setting up a stage outside. They also marched down roads in the municipal area to invite people to stop work and join the rally.


In Satun, 100 anti-government protesters marched in the morning to various state offices to invite officials to join a protest near the Satun City Hall later yesterday. Meanwhile, teenagers rode around the city area waving Thai flags and giving colour to the movement in the distant south.


In Trang, about 1,000 anti-government protesters set up a stage in front of the City Hall to call for the caretaker government led by Yingluck Shinawatra to go, before marching to invite others to join the protests.


They also went to gather outside Trang Governor Somsak Parisuttho Hemthanon's residence on Phatthalung Road, which state officials are reportedly using as a temporary office, despite a call for all officials not to work, except for those in medicine, national security and disaster prevention and mitigation.


The rally went on without violence and the protesters later returned to Trang City Hall to wait for instructions from the central PDRC in Bangkok.


In Phattalung, entrances to the City Hall were blocked by anti-government protesters, while 12 schools in Muang district were closed, reportedly to express their civil disobedience, protest leader Charoon Pannarai said.


He said protesters also blocked an intersection on Asia Highway for one hour to express objection to the "Thaksin regime" and call for reforms before a national election. They were set to proceed to try to close all state offices later until the government is ousted.


In related news, doctors and nurses in Mae Sot in Tak province on the northwest border gathered early yesterday within the local hospital compound to express support for the call for reform before a national election, before returning to work as usual.




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Gun attack outside Democrats' HQ



Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that a late-night gun attack on a coffee shop in front of the party's headquarters was politically motivated.


After inspecting the A Big Sest coffee shop, which was strafed by gunfire at 2am Monday, Abhisit said that in light of continual attempts to intimidate Democrat Party leaders, he could only conclude that the motive was political.


Deputy National Police chief Pol General Aek Angsananont, who led investigators in inspecting the scene, agreed that the attack was an act of political intimidation. However, he said it was apparently not intended to cause harm to life because the attack took place at night and the bullets were aimed at a high angle.


He said footage from security cameras installed in front of the party headquarters showed the assailants approaching the site from Sam Sen Road in a sedan without licence plates.


Police suspected at least two men were involved - a driver and a shooter. They escaped towards Rama VI Road.




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