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Police storm red-shirt centres, foil openings

Posted by pakin On June - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

RED-SHIRT leader Jatuporn Prompan vowed yesterday to keep the group’s anti-fraud centres active by using social media, despite them being banned by the junta. The junta, in turn, warned him further activities could break the law.

A plan by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to broadcast the kick-off of its referendum fraud-monitoring centres nationwide live via its “Peace TV” channel yesterday was foiled. Police stormed into the station’s studio at Imperial World shopping centre in Lat Phrao in Bangkok, to stop its activities.

The police, led by Chokchai Station chief Pol Col Supol Kamchu, told the station to stop all its activities as they would breach the National Council for Peace and Order’s ban on political gatherings of five people and more. The red-shirt activists were ordered to leave the studio before the police occupied the venue.

Jatuporn said: “Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is unreliable because the PM earlier allowed the anti-fraud centres to be set up. But eventually the junta made a U-turn and barred the red-shirt operation.”

He said although officers had occupied anti-fraud centres in Bangkok and provinces – where supporters who ran the fraud centres were arrested – the red shirts would not back down from their plan.

“The centres have been open since June 5 and will continue to gather referendum fraud complaints from the people through online channels.”

EC to monitor Facebook for ‘offences’

The Technology Crime Suppression Division, Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and the Election Committee (EC) resolved last week to set up a committee to monitor the use of online media to disseminate messages regarding the referendum. The committee also aims to suppress online offences.

National Council for Peace and Order spokesman Col Piyapong Klinpan said the NCPO and the EC were closely monitoring the UDD’s anti-fraud centre Facebook page on whether it breaks the law by inciting moves to involve the public. Piyapong said the UDD’s stepping up of its activities on social media after its centre had been shut down was not beyond what the NCPO had expected. He said the council would tread carefully taking action against the UDD’s FB page because it did not want to stir public sympathy as that is what the UDD wanted.

The UDD’s anti-fraud FB page now has 1522 ‘likes’ since it started on June 5, the same day when the centre was established at its headquarters in Lat Phrao.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai executive Chaturon Chaisang said the forced closure of the anti-fraud centres was illegitimate, as their operations were not violating any law, including the referendum bill. The UDD merely wanted to gather information on possible fraud and was not assembling for any political reason, he said, referring to the NCPO order prohibiting gatherings of five or more people.

“It signifies that people cannot engage with the plebiscite process at all. They can’t even exchange information,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jatuporn will meet with the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights today to discuss rights issues as the country heads to the August referendum on a charter draft.

Jatuporn warned that if the junta did not allow people to take part in the referendum, Prayut would end up like General Suchinda Kraprayoon, the former prime minister who took office during the ‘Black May’ uprising in 1992 and was ousted by protesters following major bloodshed.

Police and military officers yesterday shut down UDD’s fraud watch centres across the country.

National Security Council secretary-general Thawip Netniyom also said yesterday that the UDD plan to open referendum anti-fraud centres has hidden motives. “They are trying to get publicity, which is not right. If they want to ensure fairness and transparency, they can just ring the officials to tip them off about any irregularities,” he said.

Pheu Thai denies talk of cremation plot

Posted by pakin On October - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The Pheu Thai Party and its red-shirt allies have affirmed they will not proceed with provocative action against the government.

Party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said Pheu Thai will adopt a “wait and see” approach and give the government the opportunity to carry out reform.

“Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra wants to see reconciliation and the country moving forward,” Mr Phumtham said.

Speaking while attending the cremation of former deputy House speaker and ex-party-list Pheu Thai MP Apiwan Wiriyachai at Wat Bang Phai in Nonthaburi’s Bang Bua Thong district Sunday, Mr Phumtham said the party will monitor reforms pushed by the government.

“We will make a decision on what to do after we see how the reforms go,” Mr Phumtham said.

He said the appropriate way is to create unity and reconciliation in the country.

Mr Phumtham said he does not believe the changes will be designed to force Pheu Thai and Thaksin out of politics.

Pheu Thai executives and red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders joined hundreds of supporters, particularly from the North and Northeast, for the cremation for Col Apiwan, also a former red-shirt core member.

Among them were former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who presided over the ceremony, and key Pheu Thai politicians Chusak Sirinil, Yongyuth Tiya-pairat, Gen Pallop Pinmanee and Suchart Thada-Thamrongvech.

UDD representatives include red-shirt chairman Jatuporn Prompan, Tida Tawornseth, Weng Tojirakarn, Wiphuthalaeng Phatthanaphumthai, Kokaew Pikulthong, Worachai Hema and Veerakan Musikapong.

Ex-prime minister Chaovalit Yongchaiyudh also attended the ceremony.

Nonthaburi police provided security and oversaw traffic, as long lines of vehicles snaked along the routes leading to the temple.

Intelligence officers were reported to have mingled among the crowd to keep an eye on the ceremony.

As Ms Yingluck was on her way back, the crowds applauded the former premier to show their support.

This was despite the master of the ceremony pleading to guests to keep calm, in honour of the deceased.

Siriwat Jupamattha, a UDD coordinator in the northern province, said red-shirt networks nationwide sent representatives to join the cremation ceremony.

“We are not planning movements against the government to the extent that Col Apiwan’s cremation serves as a venue to hatch plots, as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) might think,” Mr Siriwat said.

“The red shirts understand the time is not right to stage a move.”

The NCPO and the government have set early 2016 for the next election.

The red shirts have agreed to let them work and will keep an eye on them, he said.

Where are the different colours now?

Posted by pakin On July - 2 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A month after the military intervened amid a deepening political divide and intensifying “colour-coded” politics, The Nation investigates what has become of the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and the anti-Thaksin People’s Democratic Reform Committee.

One month after the coup, the fifth floor of the Imperial World Lat Phrao department store is eerily quiet. It used to be the de facto headquarters of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) up until May 22 – the day the military took over.

The office now is dark and locked up. However, as soon as I began peering into the darkness, I was approached by a security guard questioning my intentions.

After handing him my business card, I asked what he thought of the junta’s plan to end coloured-shirt politics and if he thinks the red shirts still exist.

His response was rather conclusive.

“They are no more,” he said looking at me suspiciously.

Soon enough, four military officers in fatigues showed up and began taking photographs. A master sergeant then told me, in a not so pleasant way, that he believed colour-coded politics had gone for good.

“Everything is in order now,” insisted the sergeant, who has been guarding the area since the power seizure.

The place, which used to be the buzzing hub of the red shirts, is now all but abandoned.

Later, I called red-shirt leader Weng Tojirakarn, who was arrested right after the coup and has since been released, to ask if he still considered himself a red shirt and a leader of the UDD.

After much pressing, he eventually conceded, saying he was indeed a red shirt and a UDD leader, before adding that the situation was far from normal. “We’re under martial law so we can’t do anything.”

However, he said he was convinced that the plan by the junta – which operates under the name ‘National Council for Peace and Order’ (NCPO) – to dissolve the red shirts and other political groups would not succeed if all sides are not treated equally.

“In the end, it’s the people who will decide [whether to continue being red shirts or not],” he said.

Red-shirt academic Suthachai Yimprasert, one of those summoned by the NCPO, said the seeming absence of thered shirts in post-coup Thailand was artificially induced and wouldn’t last for too long.

“I don’t think it’s going to work. People’s beliefs cannot be changed at gunpoint. Forcing people not to think will just not work,” he said, adding that everybody in a democratic society should have the freedom to think differently.

Suthachai pointed out that some of the red-shirt leaders who publicly denounced their political identity after being detained by the military were not really telling the truth, because “there is no free will”.

“It’s like goons pointing a gun at you. You just have to say what they want.”

On the other side of the political divide, Tankhun Jitt-itsara, a co-leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), also thinks the scheme will not work.

“It is impossible [to dissolve red or PDRC] identities,” said Tankhun, who spoke at the PDRC protest stage for most of the six-month-long period.

“This will also ruin the opportunity for people to be politically alert,” he said, adding that the real need was not dissolving colour-coded politics, but getting rid of violence and hate speech against those who think differently.

Back at Imperial World, the owner of Post Cafe on the ground floor, insisted that some red were still visiting the mall – though not necessarily going up to the fifth floor or wearing red shirts – and they were still discussing politics.

Red Shirt group calls off tomorrow’s major rally

Posted by Nuttapon_S On April - 17 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
BANGKOK, April 17 – The pro-government Red Shirt group today cancelled a planned rally on Aksa Road, earlier scheduled for tomorrow, but vowed to hold political a demonstration whenever a crucial situation arises.
Tanavuth Vichaidith, spokesman of the Red Shirt’s United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), said the group will re-assess the situation before deciding if a major rally will be held but the cancellation of tomorrow’s demonstration is not a retreat.
The UDD earlier rallied at Aksa Road in Buddhamonthon before Songkran, but cut short its activity after three days of gathering. It announced before dispersing that a major rally would be held after Songkran.
Mr Tanavuth said the UDD would fight without pulling back, for genuine democracy for Thailand.
Thida Thavornseth, UDD adviser, said a proposal by anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban to appoint a prime minister under imposition in Section 7 of the Constitution would be impossible.
“That’s why we (Red Shirt members) have to rally to emphasise our principles against ulterior power,” she said.
She said the UDD originally planned a rally after a the Constitutional Court’s ruling (on the fate of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra) but “we may organise the activity earlier if necessary.”
She called on Red Shirt supporters to be ready for the next rally which is planned for Aksa Road and urged the Election Commission and independent agencies to ensure a fair general election, otherwise Thai people will fight for justice. (MCOT online news)