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Thai politics Thailand

Following Thailand protest news: blogs, my Twitter lists, local media, and more

2014 02 09 bkk shutdown

Since I’m now in Singapore covering technology news across Southeast Asia, my posts about the ongoing unrest in Thailand will probably be limited in the weeks and months ahead.

So, as I’ve done in the past, I wanted to offer suggestions for following the news as things develop.

Blogs

Twitter

Google News search

Local media

Wikipedia

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Thai politics Thailand

Map of planned ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ protest sites

Here’s a map, courtesy of The Nation newspaper, of planned rally locations for protests tomorrow, Monday Jan. 13:

2013 11 29 bangkok protests map2

There’s also a larger, printable PDF version.

(Via @Kelly_Macnamara.)

UPDATE: Here’s another map, via Richard Barrow.

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Thai politics Thailand

Thailand update: Protesters plan to ‘shut down’ Bangkok Jan. 13

As expected, more protests are on the horizon here in Bangkok, with anti-government demonstrators continuing their efforts to topple the prime minister and derail elections scheduled for February 2.

There have been rallies in recent days, and protesters plan a city-wide “shutdown” on Monday, January 13.

Reuters reported yesterday:

Thailand is heading for a political showdown, with anti-government protesters aiming to sabotage an election by shutting down Bangkok next week, deepening a crisis that has divided the country and looks set to squeeze economic growth this year.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faces swelling opposition in Bangkok ahead of the February 2 election in which her supporters in the rural north and northeast are expected to return her to power – if the vote can go ahead.

Thousands of demonstrators marched through Bangkok on Sunday as a prelude to rallies starting on January 13, when they plan to block government offices and occupy key intersections for days in a bid to force out Yingluck and scuttle the poll.

And said in a story today:

The authorities say 20,000 police, backed up by troops, will be deployed in the streets on Monday, the first day of the planned “shutdown”.

“We’re expecting large crowds on Monday and are concerned about the likelihood of violence … especially third parties trying to instigate violence,” National Security Council Chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr told Reuters.

And:

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has tried to keep the military above the fray but some recent comments have been ambiguous.

Asked by reporters about coup talk on Tuesday, he said: “Don’t be afraid of things that have not yet happened … but if they happen, do not be frightened. There are rumours like this every year.”

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Bangkok issued, via email, this message today. It mentions various parts of the city that may be targeted:

This is to advise U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Thailand that political activists have announced plans to resume marches and lunch time “whistleblowing” protest activities in Bangkok this week in preparation for simultaneous mass rallies at key intersections in Central Bangkok beginning on Monday, January 13th.

Currently, areas around the Democracy Monument and Government House are the main protest sites. Protest leaders say, however, that these stages will be dismantled and that protest sites will be dispersed to many different intersections spread throughout downtown Bangkok, including Asok, Lumpini, Ratchaprasong, and Silom intersections. Protests may also occur elsewhere in Thailand.

Elsewhere, The Nation says:

The Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, one of the seven spots, will be blocked to bar civil servants from working.

Other rally sites will be the Lat Phrao intersection, which will be under the control of representatives of Rangsit and Kasetsart universities and joined by people from the north and northeast. The Victory Monument and Pathumwan intersection will be held by Chulalongkorn University, Lumpini Park by Silom business group, Asoke intersection by Srinakharinwirot University and the National Institute of Development Administration, and Ratchaprasong by Dr Seri Wongmontha and entertainment personalities.

And:

Suthep gave assurances that Suvarnabhumi airport and transport terminals would not be sealed off, and all public transportation services will operate as usual.

I may write more on this in the days ahead, or as events warrant, though I have posts planned on unrelated topics.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter for the latest.

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Bangkok Thai politics Thailand

Thailand update: 1 killed in clashes with police, EC urges election delay, Nattawut speaks

The AP reports:

Thailand’s election commission on Thursday urged the government to delay upcoming polls as clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters killed a police officer and injured nearly 100 people, adding to political turmoil threatening to tear apart the country.

The hours-long unrest took place outside a Bangkok sports stadium where election candidates were gathering to draw lots for their positions on the ballot. Protesters threw rocks as they tried to break into the building to halt the process, while police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

There’s more from the WSJ, Bloomberg, the BBC, and Reuters.

Elsewhere, the WSJ’s Southeast Asia Real Time has a Q&A with Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikua:

WSJ: Both the Red Shirts and Mr. Suthep’s People’s Democratic Reform Committee claim to command mass support. Can the two sides avoid a conflict?

Mr. Nattawut: I will try my best to prevent a confrontation and protect a rules-based system. I think the Feb. 2 election could be the answer and help prevent conflict. But if Mr. Suthep prevents the election going ahead and succeeds in setting up a people’s assembly, it will be the last straw. It will drive our side onto the streets. We are always ready to talk with Mr. Suthep’s supporters, though. Our demands are for elections under the democratic system, but Mr. Suthep’s are not. If we can achieve that, then each person will get one vote. On the other hand, if Mr. Suthep succeeds, then nobody will have a vote because he took them all. Mr. Suthep’s victory would not be the people’s victory, but our victory is the real people’s victory because everybody will have the same rights and freedoms as everybody else.

Meanwhile, there’s this:

As ever, stay tuned.

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Thai politics Thailand

In editorials, the WSJ and NYT criticize Thailand’s anti-government protesters

Those among Thailand’s anti-government demonstrators who care what foreigners think about their efforts to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra may want to avert their eyes from editorials that ran in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times on Monday.

In a piece with the headline “Thailand’s Disloyal Opposition,” The WSJ said:

Faced with almost certain defeat at the polls, the Democrats have decided to pursue power by making the country ungovernable. Such behavior is the definition of a disloyal opposition, and the protesters use the word “insurrection” to define their movement. While they pay lip service to reforming the democratic system, at other times they demand that the monarchy install a new leader and that democracy give way to rule by the elite.

And:

So far the pro-Thaksin rural population has remained relatively quiet, but they are seething with anger. They are capable of mobilizing far bigger protests to defend their elected representatives should that become necessary.

And finally:

The Democrats’ claims to represent the will of the people, but their leaders are bent on returning to power with or without the support of a majority. With such an opposition, Thailand’s democracy will continue to suffer.

Meanwhile, The NYT noted:

Mr. Suthep and his followers — who are mostly from the capital, Bangkok, and represent the middle class and economic elite of the country — are playing a cynical and dangerous game. They have concluded that there is no way the Democrat Party, which has lost every election since 1992, can win against Ms. Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party, whose populist policies like free health care and subsidies for rice farmers has earned it the loyalty of many voters, especially those in northern and northeastern Thailand. If they manage to depose the Ms. Yingluck’s government, the supporters of Pheu Thai will likely take to the streets as they did in 2010.

The theme of both pieces: The protesters are subverting democracy, and their efforts will only lead to more turmoil in the long run.