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Grenade attacks ‘not meant to kill’

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Most people believe that the grenade explosions near protest sites are used to intimidate and threaten protesters but not kill, according to Dusit Poll.

That was the view of about 95 per cent of the 1,246 people surveyed countrywide from Tuesday to Saturday.

About 5 per cent believed that the throwing of grenades was not related to politics but may be a personal disagreement.

When the respondents were asked what they thought about daily grenade explosions, 37.5 per cent said they were scared, 21 per cent said it destroyed the country’s image and had an affect on business, 20 per cent said they wanted to see police catch offenders and wanted to know the powerbrokers behind the attacks.

When asked what they fear most from the attacks, 42 per cent said family being hit, while 21 per cent said innocent people being hit.

On how to solve the political conflict, 32 per cent said it was difficult to solve, 22 per cent said every side should suggest solutions, 19 per cent said the leaders of the government and People’s Democratic Reform Committee should think of what would help the country.

PDRC’s mass rally as it unfolds

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 29 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The People’s Democratic Reform committee led by Suthep Thaugsuban stages a march from Lumpini Park to the Royal Plaza and Parliament Saturday to affirm its stand that reform must be done before the next election.

Here how the event unfolds:

8:30 am: Leaders on the rally stage of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee inside the Lumpini Park start organising protesters in to groups for the march.

9:40 am: Suthep Thaugsuban and his wife, Srisakul Promphan, arrive at the King Rama VI statue in front of the Lumpini Park.

9:47 am: Suthep and his wife pay respect to King Rama VI statue. Leaders urge protesters in front of the park start marching.

10:00 am: Suthep starts leading the main procession of protesters. The procession is divided into six groups.

10:23 am: Suthep’s procession reaches the Rajprasong Intersection. Scenes from the Blue Sky channel show people crowd the intersection and the pedestrian flyovers around the area.

10:30 am: Suthep expresses his belief more than one million people have come out or will later join the mass rally.

10:37 am: Suthep’s procession passes the front of Siam Paragon Shopping Mall. Scenes from Blue Sky Channel show all areas in front of the mall and all pedestrian flyovers occupied with people waiting to cheer Suthep.

10:42 am: Suthep’s procession reaches Siam Square.

10:52am: The procession led by Suthep converges a procession of the Chulalongkorn University’s community in front of the Mah Boon Krong shopping centre.

11:00 am: Seree Wongmontha, leader of the fifth part of the procession, asks why the procession has not moved. Seree’s part is still struck outside Lumpini Park. He fears the protesters would leave the procession if it stops for too long.

11:40 am: Satit Wongnongtaey announces on the sound truck leading the procession that the last part of the procession has not yet left the Lumpini Park. He urges the protesters at the front to walk faster.

11:15am: Blue Sky reports that the last part of the procession has just reached the Chulalongkorn Hospital.

11:16 am: Suthep walks past BTS’s Rajthevi station.

11:23am: The sound truck of Satit reaches the BTS Phayathai station. People along the sidewalks hand out refrigerated drinking water to marchers.

11:29 am: Suthep is reaching the BTS Phayathai station. The spokeswoman says the procession is moving slow because a lot demonstrators walk in front of the sound truck.

Bid to meet Suthep to find way out

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 26 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Coalition to invite Democrats, other parties to talks; warn of Asean suspension

Political parties plan to hold talks and send representatives to People’s Democratic Reform Committee chief Suthep Thaugsuban for discussions to resolve the political deadlock, as they fear internal conflict could even lead to the country’s suspension from Asean.

The coalition parties will call a meeting of 53 political parties to find out what each party thinks about the Constitutional Court ruling that nullified the February 2 election.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said yesterday that the meeting would be held at the Royal Police Cadet Academy in Nakhon Pathom’s Sam Pran district on Friday.

Prompong said the Democrat Party would be invited to join the meeting. If the party rejects the invitation, the Democrats would be criticised as not being sincere with the public on the issue of democracy, the spokesman said.

Chart Thai Pattana Party’s key member Somsak Prissanananthakul said politicians known to be close to Suthep would try and convince him to enter into negotiations.

“In this political crisis, no one wins 100 per cent or loses 100 per cent. The Asean integration will begin in about 100 days. If we are still struggling with internal conflicts, we may lose the chance to become an Asean economic hub as we have aspired. In a worst-case scenario, we may be suspended from Asean,” he said.

Suthep said yesterday that he has at no time approached anyone for the position of interim premiership, saying the time is not ripe for such a move.

He added that the PDRC would not join talks with the Election Commission in order to find a political solution to the ongoing problems.

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Nuttawut Saikuar recently disclosed a list of people who he claimed were candidates for interim premier to replace Yingluck Shinawatra in case she were to be indicted by the national anti-graft agency over the rice-pledging scheme.

Suthep said the PDRC has never approached anyone to become an interim prime minister and the red shirts’ list of names comes from their own imagination.

“We haven’t moved to that process, as we have yet to remove the Thaksin regime. The prime minister must resign first and only after that will the search for a neutral premier start,” he said.

The former deputy prime minister said the PDRC will definitely not attend any negotiations except face-to-face talks with the prime minister broadcast live on television.

The PDRC has stressed its stand on national reforms before an election, he said, adding that a new general election will be useless given voters’ poor response to the Senate’s advance election on Sunday.

The Constitutional Court annulled the February 2 election, compelling the EC to organise a new round of balloting nationwide.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday called on Yingluck and Suthep to hold talks on national reform live on TV.

The live broadcast would create confidence among the people and prevent the spread of rumours that cause both sides to attack each other.

Abhisit was speaking to the Senate committee on political development and public participation in politics. The committee had invited Abhisit to express his opinion on political reform.

Abhisit admitted that certain reforms could not be completed before an election because they would require charter amendments to implement them.

As a result, he said a public referendum should be held on whether the people wanted reforms so that politicians would have to commit themselves to carrying out reforms after the election.

“The most difficult thing about reforms is to find the starting point, as both sides are squabbling over whether the reforms should be introduced before or after the next election,” Abhisit said.

“Each side refuses to accept the other’s reasons. So, I think we must follow a middle path. We must carry out urgent things first because it is impossible to complete all reform issues fast. For example, decentralisation cannot be done in one or two years. And if an election is held now, no one will believe that it will lead to reform.”

Nuttawut said he would reveal a list of PDRC supporters today to prove that they would benefit if the current government was removed. The list would include names of potential ministers or members of the PDRC who would form the appointed government as suggested by Suthep.

“Our standpoint is clear. We will not accept coups of any form and an unlawful PM. If the situation reaches that point, we will come out to fight but in a democratic way,” Nuttawut said.

(Reuters) – Thailand is lifting a state of emergency in Bangkok, taking a step to restore some confidence as anti-government protests subside, though the crisis has entered a new phase with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra besieged by legal challenges.

The protesters, mainly from Bangkok and the south, have been trying since November to oust Yingluck and rid the country of the influence of her brother, self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra who was toppled by the army in 2006.

The government imposed a state of emergency two months ago, but largely resisted taking heavy-handed action, though 23 people have been killed during the unrest, most in shootings and grenade blasts.

The protests have waned in recent weeks and are now mostly confined to Lumpini Park in Bangkok’s central business district and a few other sites.

But the threat of further violence remains real, especially after changes at the top of the pro-Thaksin “red shirt” movement at the weekend, with a new, more militant leader promising “to fight tooth and nail” to defend Yingluck.

The emergency will be lifted from Wednesday after a decision taken at a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday in Nakhon Pathom province, about 80 km (50 miles) from Bangkok.

Yingluck arrived for the meeting in a wheelchair after slipping as she stepped out of a car on Saturday in the northern city of Chiang Mai, her stronghold.

“The cabinet lifted the state of emergency to instil more confidence in the private sector and tourist industry,” she told reporters.

In its place, the government will use the Internal Security Act, a less harsh law that still allows the authorities to impose curfews, operate security checkpoints and restrict the movement of protesters as needed.

“Lifting the emergency law should have a positive impact on businesses. Many really felt the pinch and lost customers because the state of emergency was in place, including tour operators who saw huge cancellations,” said political analyst Kan Yuenyong at Siam Intelligence Unit.

“It should also improve the state’s image because rights groups tend to view the emergency law as draconian. But, ultimately, no law can help the government contain the protests if they flare up again.”

The stock market and baht currency rose slightly on the government’s move, which had been expected, although that was enough to take the baht to a three-month high.

LEGAL CHALLENGES

The government set the 60-day emergency from January 22 to help contain protests in the run-up to a general election on February 2, but most of its measures were barely used, especially after a court ruled on February 19 that some had been imposed illegally.

The election in February was disrupted by protesters in almost 70 of the 375 constituencies, leaving the House of Representatives without a quorum to elect a new prime minister.

The Constitutional Court has accepted a petition to consider annulling the election, which could further delay the formation of a government.

Yingluck, whose Puea Thai Party had been expected to win the vote, heads a caretaker administration with limited powers. She faces a slew of court cases that could bring her down, including a charge of dereliction of duty over a rice subsidy scheme that owes money to hundreds of thousands of farmers.

Tourism has suffered during the unrest. Arrivals were down 4.1 percent in January and February compared to the same high-season period last year, according to the tourism ministry.

Pitaya Tanadamrongsak, managing director of Dongfeng Motors (Thailand), a unit of China’s Dongfeng Motor Corp that announced an expansion in Thai vehicle production on Tuesday, told Reuters the business community needed more than the lifting of an emergency decree.

“In order for the country to be fundamentally strong, I think the conflict has to stop … I do hope the government and opposition will find a conclusion and look forward,” he said.

“Only by having a stable government can we really take advantage of the AEC,” he added, referring to a Southeast Asian economic community set to start in late 2015 that Thailand ought to be well placed to benefit from, given its export prowess.

(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Pairat Temphairojana; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Alan Raybould and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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