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Yingluck using state funds to woo voters: Dems

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 20 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Opposition gives her till Sunday to step down, warns of civil unrest otherwise

The Democrat Party yesterday demanded that caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra step down by Sunday, as it accused her of using state funds to boost her popularity in the North and Northeast and campaign for votes for the February 2 election.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said she was putting other political parties at a disadvantage by using the state funds and resources at her disposal to visit provinces and campaign for votes.

“By doing that, she can win the hearts of people in the North and Northeast, but people in the South cannot accept her behaviour and see her running away from problems,” he said, adding that the People’s Democratic Reform Committee would stage a mass rally on Sunday.

“We don’t want to see civil unrest, so she has 48 hours to contribute to the country by stepping down,” he said.

The Democrat Party has asked its 180 provincial branches to seek their constituents’ opinions about whether the party should boycott the February 2 election. Chavanond said the party would call a meeting tomorrow to make a final decision on the matter.

Meanwhile, former Democrat deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot (@alongkornpb) tweeted that he was sticking with the Democrat Party after rumours were heard that he was planning to defect to Chart Thai Pattana for not being elected as a party executive.

Former Democrat party-list MP Boonyod Suktinthai, meanwhile, said he would gather evidence of wrongdoings by permanent officials who may abuse their power by serving politicians in the government camp during the election campaign. He also warned the TV Pool of Thailand against using media coverage for political interests.

He said he would file formal complaints with the Election Commission if any wrongdoing were committed during the election campaign. Boonyod also called on Yingluck not to gain the upper hand by using state funds to campaign for votes.

Meanwhile, Sunisa Lertpakawat, deputy spokeswoman for the caretaker government, said Yingluck’s position as caretaker prime minister would not necessarily help her win the election, as it did not help Abhisit Vejjajiva win while he was caretaker PM in 2011.

Pheu Thai spokesman Promphong Nopparit said the party was ready to take up the challenge of the February 2 election and next Monday, party leader Churupong Ruangsuwan would lead members to register as party-list MPs.

He added that the party’s policies were resolving people’s problems, especially in terms of business and political reform. He also warned that if the Democrat Party did not participate in the poll, he would call on the EC to dissolve the party and recall the subsidies granted to political parties.

Democrats to vote on party reform

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Proponents say opposition party won’t regain power unless it embraces restructure; members to vote on changes tomorrow

As long as the Opposition Democrats are divided on party reform, moves to return them to strength through restructuring seem doomed to fail. The Democrat Party will be branded as set for defeat and forever under the shadow of its arch-rival Pheu Thai.

The Democrat Party, which is pushing for national reforms, faces its own internal struggle to reform after repeated defeats in general elections for more than a decade.

Although the Democrats managed to seize an opportunity to form a government in 2008, they were heavily criticised as it was formed with the military pulling the strings to make it happen. Even though the party is credited as being the oldest political entity with established rules and structure, some key men such as deputy leader Alongkorn Polabutr believe the party has lost touch with fast-changing society and that this is the major reason it has never been able to beat its rivals, led by Thaksin.

Alongkorn has been pushing for reforms but has met with opposition from some Democrat heavyweights. The party, however, cannot withstand pressure to change and a plan to restructure it has been mapped out.

Tomorrow, the party will hold a party caucus to call a vote on whether the new party structure is approved.

The move to reform the party has come hot on the heels of calls for national reform, after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the House and called a general election for February 2.

For the Democrats, the ultimate aim of a new party structure is election victory and winning the people’s hearts.

Ongart Klampaiboon, Bangkok MP chairman, said the Democrats will elect a new party leader, five new deputy leaders, a secretary-general, and an executive board.

“The new board will decide whether the party will run in the general election,” he said.

Selection of the new party executives will undoubtedly meet with opposition from some groups that feel they stand to lose power in the process of change. Opponents say the party should not change executive boards now as it has little time to prepare for the general election.

But those who support change said the party should turn crisis into opportunity by bringing about major change, as well as inviting high-calibre outsiders to join to boost the party’s image and public support in order to beat Pheu Thai.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has been heavily criticised for being unable to achieve an election victory.

With the wind of change blowing at the top, the name of Surin Pitsuwan, former Asean secretary-general, has emerged as a leading candidate with his international standing, clean image and lack of political foes, although he has yet to accept an invitation to accept the post.

But party sources said bringing outsiders in to lead the party was not the Democrat way and that the party needs a person with strong clout and prestige who can control all undercurrents within the team.

Meanwhile, party secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on has been criticised for not playing a leading role as efficiently as his predecessor, Suthep Thaugsuban.

Suthep cannot be overlooked as one of major forces for imminent change in the Democrats because even though he quit the party, he still has influence over some members. It can’t be denied that Suthep can dictate the direction of the party at certain levels.

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) — Thailand’s main opposition party said Sunday that its members will resign en masse from parliament because they can no longer work with the government.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakom said the party has about 150 lawmakers in parliament.

The Thai capital has seen massive protests in recent days as anti-government demonstrators call for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.

“This government is no longer justified to run the country, as this house is no longer justified. Today we resign to express that stance,” opposition party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said.

The rallies have gone without incident for the most part. However, a November 30 protest left five dead when the protesters clashed with Shinawatra supporters.

Protesters and security forces agreed Tuesday to bring an end to the violence as a show of respect for Thailand’s revered king, who celebrated his 86th birthday Thursday.

Huge marches in city today

Posted by Nuttapon_S On November - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

BANGKOK faces paralysis today as huge crowds of anti-government protesters set out on symbolic marches across the capital in a move that protest leaders are calling an attempt to overthrow the so-called “Thaksin Shinawatra regime”.

The enormous crowd that packed Democracy Monument and nearby areas yesterday looks set to enable theDemocrat Party and its allies, which are leading the joint protests, to come up with various measures today – starting at 8.30am – to put pressure on the Pheu Thai-led coalition government. Their aim is initially to shut down, and eventually end, the so-called Thaksin regime.

The protesters yesterday crowded on to inner Rajdamnoen Avenue, spilling over into adjacent areas and blocking major roads, including Lan Luang Road, the Nang Lerng area and Khok Wua Intersection. Even Sanam Luang and nearby Pin Klao Bridge saw large numbers of protesters.

Two key groups of anti-government protesters are expected to move across the capital today. One group will march to block access to Government House and Parliament, while the other will pressure government agencies, a high-ranking protest source said yesterday.

The Students and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR) and the People’s Army to Overthrow the ThaksinRegime – known for their hardline stances – will lead protesters to converge at eight key locations in central areas. At the same time, former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban will lead a second group of marchers to 12 other locations – including the government civil-service complex on Chaeng Watthana Road – to call on officials to engage in acts of civil disobedience.

The Suthep-led march will no doubt cause temporary traffic congestion today. However, the blockade of Government House and Parliament are likely to have longer-lasting effects, as the Democrat-led protesters will attempt to prevent the no-confidence debate, which begins tomorrow, the source said.

Political deadlock is expected to hit the Yingluck government if the Parliament is blockaded; such an action would render the announcement of a last-resort House dissolution impossible. The Constitution bars a government from dissolving the House once a no-confidence motion has been accepted, pending a debate.

This possibility yesterday prompted a government operations centre, headed by Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, to urgently seek an alternative venue for tomorrow’s censure debate.

The centre has recommended protection of strategic locations, at the highest level, to deter any attempts to blockade them, but it is doubtful whether police would be able to stop crowds, which outnumber them, from doing so. The strategic sites include Government House and both airports. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reportedly told police that she wanted to hold the Cabinet meeting at Government House, as no alternative locations had been found.

Estimates of the number of protesters yesterday varied, with security sources citing a figure of around 100,000 and a spokesman for the Democracy Monument rally putting the number at 440,000 in the late afternoon with more expected in the evening.

Protesters who travelled to Bangkok from the provinces yesterday were camped out last night along Rajdamnoen Avenue under large tents. The crowds, which have also spilled over onto Pin Klao Bridge, are also blocking many connecting roads on both the Bangkok and Thon Buri sides of the river, causing severe gridlock.

The pro-Thaksin red-shirts gathered yesterday at Rajamangala Stadium in the Hua Mak area – a considerable distance from the anti-government protests – with the rally scheduled to start at 6pm. As of 8.30pm, red-shirt leaders claimed 60,000 people had converged there.

Red-shirt leader Yoswarit Chooklom, aka Jeng Dokjik, said protesters were prepared to stay for at least five days.

However, they said the situation would be evaluated on a daily basis – citing concerns about government stability as the reason.

In addition to Bangkok residents, the red-shirt movement is made up of a number of factions from the provinces, including Nong Khai, Udon Thani, Chon Buri, Rayong and Nakhon Ratchasima.

War rooms set up at the Supreme Command are monitoring the protests on Rajdamnoen Avenue around the clock, a military source said.

The source said military leaders feared that the protests would escalate out of control because the number of people gathered was so large. Suthep might be unable to control the situation, the source, said, citing a concern reportedly expressed by Yingluck.