Yellow Shirts Say They’ll Rally If Amnesty Bill Not Withdrawn

There are stories on this news today from The Bangkok Post:

The yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has warned the government that it will stage a mass rally if the reconciliation bills are not withdrawn when the parliament reconvenes on Aug 1.

…as well as The Nation:

The People’s Alliance for Democracy Tuesday called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranon to withdraw the contentious reconciliation bills to ease the political tensions.

“If the bills are still on the agenda for the next Parliament session convening on August 1, PAD will stage a rally,” PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said after a meeting of the group’s leaders.

…and MCOT:

Yellow Shirt activists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) threatened Tuesday to rally unless the reconciliation bills currently before Parliament are withdrawn within seven days.

Yellow Shirts Protest at Thai Parliament

Just briefly, an update on the Thai parliament and the controversial reconciliation bills:

A vote was due to take place today, but the Parliament building was blocked this morning — and apparently continues to be blocked — by members of the PAD (yellow shirts) and the so-called multi-colored group.

The demonstrators’ intention is to stop a vote by preventing the ruling Pheu Thai lawmakers from entering the compound. It’s unclear when the vote will now occur.

Here are some photos I snapped from Thai TV a few hours ago.

Some MPs were forced to access the building via a hole in a fence:

2012 06 01 thai parliament

And here are some photos of the PAD/multi-colored protesters:

2012 06 01 thai parliament4

2012 06 01 thai parliament3

More recently, here’s a Tweet (via @RichardBarrow) and photo (via @LyNGinG) from 1:10 p.m. Bangkok time:

(Image: @LyNGinG.)

You can follow me on Twitter for more.

Thailand News: The Week Ahead

2012 05 29 assk

There’s lots on tap here in Thailand over the next few days:

  1. Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in Bangkok tonight on what will be her first international trip in 24 years. Reuters has a scene-setter. Suu Kyi will be speaking at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, which runs from tomorrow (Wed.) through Friday. Here’s the gathering’s program of events (PDF file).
  2. A verdict is due tomorrow (Wed.) in the lèse-majesté case against Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn. Al Jazeera has a video report on her case and the lèse-majesté issue. Chiranuch faces 20 years in jail.
  3. The yellow shirts‘ People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), according to The Bangkok Post, will rally tomorrow (Wed.) against the government’s reconciliation bill. The Post says: “The government is confident that this week’s World Economic Forum on East Asia will proceed smoothly despite the spectre of mass street protests…” (For the record, it is unclear how many supporters might turn out for this rally.)
  4. Also tomorrow (Wed.), a five-year ban on 111 ex-Thai Rak Thai politicians expires. Al Jazeera has a story. More on the subject in my next post.
  5. And finally, there’s this: The Bangkok Post says Thailand’s intellectual property department “will submit a letter to the US ambassador in Bangkok voicing its concern over pop princess Lady Gaga’s tweet about buying a fake Rolex in the city.”

Stay tuned…

(Image: Reuters.)

A few images from today’s PAD protest in Bangkok

Red shirt “mobile rallies.” Remember those?

Well, today the yellow shirts, also known as the People Alliance for Democracy (PAD), took to the streets.

Here are a few cell phone snaps of what appeared to be the latter stages of a rally that began at the UNESCO Bangkok office and made its way down Sukhumvit Road.

I took these images in the Asoke area around mid-day.

As I tweeted, the demonstrators carried “Vote No” signs, encouraging people not to vote for anyone, since the yellows are unhappy with politicians — all of them.

There were also placards saying the Preah Vihear temple — that’s the UNESCO connection — had been “stolen by Cambodia.”

Economist on yellow shirt protests

preah_vihear.jpg

From The Economist:

Thailand’s nationalist protesters: Yellow badge of courage:

YELLOW polo shirts? Check. Plastic hand clappers? Check. Nationalist banners? Check. And so the supporters of the right-wing People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) once again took to the streets of Bangkok on Tuesday, ready to stand up to a treacherous government. In the past, the PAD staged marathon protests against the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and his allies. They claim credit for toppling two elected governments in 2006 and 2008, though on both occasions the army or the courts delivered the coup de grâce.

This time their fire is directed at the current prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, who is accused of betraying the nation along its border with Cambodia…

(Image: Economist, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Red shirts and Thai government: still at an impasse

Red Shirt leaders say they won’t leave the Rajaprasong protest site ((Again, Bangkok protest site maps are here and here. And my photos from Rajaprasong and elsewhere are here (May 1), here (April 6), and here (April 4).)) until an exact date for potential new elections is set. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier proposed Nov. 14 for a new poll. ((Interestingly, I noticed earlier today that there is already a Wikipedia page called Thai general election, 2010.))

But the red shirts say they want to ensure that the Democrats’ coalition parties are on board with the plan, and the reds point out that only the election commission, not the PM, can call new elections. Red Shirt leaders also say they want to know the exact date that Parliament will be dissolved, which would determine the date for a new poll.

Meanwhile, the PAD — the yellow shirt group that shut down Bangkok’s international airport for a week in Nov. 2008 — have voiced their displeasure with Abhisit’s plan. They say he should step down if he cannot enforce the rule of law, and that he shouldn’t give in to the Reds’ demands.

Earlier, there was a sense that the red shirts might take the deal, and that it would be a few days until they dispersed. Not anymore.

Here are stories about the current state of affairs from the BBC, WSJ, and Reuters.

Two stories: Red shirts to protest, and Thai Airways sues the PAD

Two stories from Bangkok today that I wanted to point out:

  • Anti-government red shirt protesters will gather today at Bangkok’s Democracy monument for a demonstration between noon and midnight. Ousted PM Thaksin is expected to speak via video-link at 7 p.m. This story from Bloomberg has more info.
  • Thai Airways has sued the PAD — including Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya — for shutting down Bangkok’s airports just over a year ago. The airline wants $17 million for lost revenue. AFP has more.

“Fierce PAD nationalism on stage”

That’s the title of this post at Prachatai, which describes the PAD rally that took place here in Bangkok on Sunday:

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) took to the stage at Sanam Luang with intense nationalism. Fiery nationalist rhetoric was stressed and repeated, while decades-old nationalist anti-communist songs were played throughout. The ‘Hun Sen Model’ was the latest term introduced to characterize the Cambodian leader. A larger rally was called for 5 Dec.

On 15 Nov, on stage with a pink backdrop which read in Thai ‘Unite the Strength of the Land. Protect Nation, Religion and King’, and in English ‘Fight for Thailand. Fight for our King’, the event started around 4 pm with some lesser known speakers.

Prasert Lertyaso called for the beheading of Hun Sen, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, and Thaksin Shinawatra, alluding to an old Thai saying of shedding blood to wash royal feet. He banished Thaksin’s supporters to Phnom Penh and Dubai.

Saken Sutthiwong said that Cambodia was afraid that [Thai] F16 fighter jets would miss their targets and bomb Angkor Wat and Prear Vihear instead, because they earn their living from those ‘old stones’. Afterwards he sang ‘Ayutthaya’ and ‘Bang Rajan War’ songs which are about defending the country from its enemies, the Burmese in this case. He said he wanted Cambodia to get rich, so it could take its tens of thousands of beggars back home. Cambodian people are poor, as can be seen on TV when they storm through the border checkpoint like hell breaking loose. Thailand is not like that, because the Thai people have the King and Queen, he said.

(Emphasis mine.)

WSJ on yellow shirts as a political party

WSJ: “Thai Protest Group Votes to Form a Political Party

PATHUM THANI, Thailand — Members of Thailand’s yellow-shirt protest movement voted to form a political party, creating a potentially influential force as the country struggles to pull itself out of recession.

Tens of thousands of members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy — a movement instrumental in bringing down two governments — converged on a sports stadium in this town near Bangkok on Monday and voted to transform the grass-roots campaign against corruption into a formal political party.

The apparently overwhelming assent — almost the entire stadium stood up to vote for the change — points to an expanded political role for the group’s leaders after it gained global notoriety for shutting down Bangkok’s international airports for a week last year.

The new party, which the PAD hasn’t yet named, could further elevate publisher and broadcaster Sondhi Limthongkul, the 61-year-old driving force behind the movement.

The PAD’s vote comes as Thailand grapples with its worst economic slump in more than a decade. The state economic planning agency said GDP contracted 7.1% in the first three months of 2009 from a year earlier, the worst performance since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

Also in today’s WSJ: “Thai Economy Enters Recession, but Recovery Is in Sight.”

Thailand’s economy plunged into recession in the first quarter as the global downturn hammered exports and tourism slumped due to political unrest. But the government and economists say the economy is probably at or near the bottom.

Seasonally adjusted gross domestic product shrank 1.9% in the three months ended March from the prior quarter, said the head of the National Economic & Social Development Board, Ampon Kittiampon. The state economic planning agency said GDP contracted 7.1% in the first three months from a year earlier, the worst performance since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.