“Thaksin to receive award from Bolivian president”

Today’s Bangkok Post has this strange story: Thaksin to receive award from Bolivian President

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was considering giving Thailand’s deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra the Order of Simon Bolivar after he aided Thai people in the grass-root level, improved their living conditions, and settled the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

Mr Thaksin was scheduled to receive the award at Plaza Murillo in Bolivia’s La Paz.

In addition, President Morales was expected to approach former premier Thaksin to become his advisor to overcome the economic problems in Bolivia.

The award was named after Simon Bolivar, a historical figure who freed many South American countries from Spanish rule.

I was going to bold certain sections that seemed especially odd. But then I’d just be highlighting the entire article…


Bangkok Protests: Thursday Update

The clashes between police and anti-government protesters here in Bangkok on Tuesday morning left two people dead and more than 400 injured. Order has been restored, but political uncertainty remains. Here are some recent news reports:

WSJ editorial: Thailand in Turmoil

Two years after the Thai military ousted then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the full cost of that bloodless coup is finally becoming clear. Violent antigovernment protests this week have left two people dead, 443 injured, and the country’s democratic prospects in jeopardy.

The struggle is over whether Thai citizens will continue to enjoy their democratic rights. The protesters, who seek to oust the current government, have brought the government to near paralysis. The cast of characters is similar to 2006: Seven months ago the same group that had helped organize protests to oust Mr. Thaksin re-formed, led by a similar coterie of Bangkok elites, businessmen and academics.

They now call themselves the People’s Alliance for Democracy, but they are anything but. Their goal is to eliminate Thailand’s one-man-one-vote democracy and replace it with a parliament that is 30% elected and 70% appointed. Why? To make sure that no one like Mr. Thaksin is ever elected again.

NY Times: Some Thai Protest Charges Dropped

In a victory for anti-government demonstrators, a Thai appeals court on Thursday dropped charges of treason against nine protest leaders, calling the evidence against them too “vague.”

The court, however, upheld a charge of inciting unrest.

Thousands of demonstrators have barricaded themselves in the compound of the prime minister’s office for the past six weeks and shows no signs of abating.

Reuters: Thailand’s political crisis: how it might play out

Thai protesters vowed to intensify their campaign against the government on Wednesday, a day after two people died and more than 400 were injured in the worst street violence in 16 years.

The Southeast Asian nation has been locked in crisis since the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) began street protests in May, accusing the government of being a puppet of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Following are some scenarios of what might happen next, although none are likely to heal the fundamental rift between the rural and urban poor who support Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup, and the Bangkok middle classes who despise him…

AFP: Deadly Thai protests will shake economy: industry experts

Violent clashes between police and protesters will send shockwaves through Thailand’s economy, which is already struggling with the global financial crisis and prolonged unrest, industry experts say.

News that two people died and more than 400 were injured during protests outside Bangkok’s parliament on Tuesday could discourage foreign investors, wary since a September 2006 coup overthrew premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

For more news, go to:

  • The Bangkok Post
  • The Nation

    For ongoing links to news reports, check out:

  • BangkokPundit
  • Categories

    Thai Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters

    Bloomberg: Thai Police Fire Tear Gas to Disperse Protesters, Several Hurt

    Thai police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who were blocking the Parliament building to prevent Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from presenting his new administration’s policies. Dozens of people were injured.

    Thousands of Bangkok residents who have occupied the prime minister’s office since Aug. 26 moved to surround Parliament last night in a bid to stop today’s session. Somchai called on the police to ensure that lawmakers could convene, saying they were “representing the whole country.”

    AP: Police fire tear gas against crowd

    Police fired tear gas Tuesday at several thousand demonstrators attempting to block access by lawmakers to the Parliament building in the Thai capital.

    Reporters at the scene Tuesday saw at least one person injured by the gas. Sounds of gunfire were also heard but senior police officials said that only tear gas was being used against the crowd.

    “I don’t think there are many injuries,” police Maj. Gen. Viboon Bangthamai said.

    The protests are part of an effort by the People’s Alliance for Democracy to bring down the government, which it says is merely a proxy for ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in 2006 by military leaders who accused him of corruption and who now resides in exile.

    BBC (with video): Tear gas fired at mass Thai rally

    Police in Thailand have fired tear gas to disperse a demonstration by thousands of anti-government protesters in Bangkok.

    Dozens of people were injured as police intervened in the dawn protest in front of parliament.

    The clashes came just hours before new PM Somchai Wongsawat was to deliver a key policy statement.

    The protesters say he is a proxy for ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra and want the government to resign.

    The political crisis has gripped the country for about six weeks.

    UPDATE, 8 p.m. Bangkok time:

    BBC: Thai deputy PM quits over clashes

    A senior government minister in Thailand has resigned after violent clashes between police and protesters.

    Deputy PM Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said he was stepping down to take responsibility for the clashes, which injured at least 65 people.

    The unrest came just hours before new Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat delivered his inaugural speech.

    NY Times: Thai Protesters Trap Legislators

    Thousands of anti-government protesters surrounded Parliament on Tuesday, trapping hundreds of legislators, cutting off power to the building and vowing to remain until the government falls.

    Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat escaped over a back fence after delivering a policy address but other members were unable to leave, according to reporters inside the building.

    The siege escalated a six-week sit-in on the grounds of the nearby prime minister’s office that has forced the government to relocate its activities to a former international airport.

    AFP: Thai police fire tear gas at protesters

    Thai police fired tear gas Tuesday to try to disperse anti-government protesters blocking parliament, injuring 116 people as months of political turmoil boiled over, police and medics said.

    Twenty-one people suffered serious injuries, a medical official said, as police tried to disperse several thousand protesters surrounding parliament who tried to stop the first policy speech by new Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

    The address went ahead, but the special session ended after two hours as protesters continued to mass outside, forcing Somchai and five ministers to climb over a fence to escape the mob, an AFP correspondent saw.

    CNN’s In the Field blog: We all scream for ice-cream

    In how many riot zones can you eat an ice-cream?

    Seriously, Bangkok this morning, was a sea of choking tear gas, baton-wielding cops, firing stun grenades, furious anti-government protesters launching rocks into the air… and ice-cream salesmen. I’m not complaining. Ice-cream, I like, I lick.

    You scream, they scream, we all scream for ice-cream, especially when the tear-gas is choking you and you need some soothing cool coconut glace down your throat.

    But it was slightly incongruous to say the least, to see cold refreshments being served amid the chaos.

    Thailand though, does a good line in juxtaposition and defying cliche. It’s a riot, but only until lunchtime, when protesters and police retreat to enjoy a fiery plate of rice and minced pork. Then it’s back to the serious business of overthrowing the government.

  • Here are my previous posts about the ongoing Bangkok protests.
  • Categories

    Ecuador: Voters Approve a New Constitution

    Ecuador has a new constitution: Front page rom La Hora in Quito

    CSM: “Ecuador votes to lock in its shift to the left”

    The overwhelming approval by Ecuadoreans of a new Constitution that gives leftist President Rafael Correa a tighter grip on the economy puts the country firmly on a socialist track similar to Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela.

    “Today Ecuador decided to found a new country,” Mr. Correa said Sunday after nearly 70 percent of Ecuadoreans voted for the new charter. “The old power structures have been defeated.”

    With the passage of the new Constitution, Ecuador became the first country after Venezuela in the region to institutionalize its leftward shift, says Larry Birns, director of the Council of Hemispheric Affairs in Washington.

    “This is a lurch to the left on the part of Correa,” he says.

    AP: “Ecuador has new constitution; opposition worried”

    Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa urged his opponents Monday to join his efforts to build a more just society, saying the overwhelming victory of his constitutional referendum gives him a broad mandate.

    “Thank God my triumph was so convincing and so crushing, beyond all our expectations,” he told international reporters at a breakfast. “Let’s hope they reflect and let the country advance peacefully.”

    With 90 percent of ballots counted, 64 percent of Ecuadorean voters approved the measure, according to official results. Correa got the majority he needed in all but two of Ecuador’s 24 provinces.

    The 20th constitution in the history of this chronically unstable nation considerably broadens Correa’s powers and will let him run for two more consecutive terms, consolidating what he calls a citizen’s revolution.

    NY Times: “President Wins Support for Charter in Ecuador”

    Ecuador’s president, the leftist Rafael Correa, won easy approval of a new Constitution on Sunday that enhances his power in the chronically unstable Andean country while introducing a range of other measures, including raising pension payments for the poor and prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    Following a huge spending campaign by Mr. Correa’s government, voters approved the Constitution by 63 percent to 29 percent, according to early unofficial returns.

    The victory reflects festering resentment against Ecuador’s traditional political class and hopes that Mr. Correa, an American-educated economist, can broaden the reach of antipoverty programs. Repeated economic crises in Ecuador have prompted more than 10 percent of the population to emigrate.

    And finally, Andes scholar Miguel Centellas has some interesting observations here and here.

    Image credit: yesterday’s front page from La Hora newpaper in Quito. Via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages feature.


    Thai PM Quits (for now) Over Cooking Show


    Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled Tuesday that the country’s prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, should resign from his post for violating the constitution by hosting a TV cooking show while in office.

    Tuesday’s ruling against Sundaravej, who has faced weeks of violent street protests, also forces the resignation of his cabinet.

    Ministers are barred from working for private companies, and Samak’s opponents filed the case hoping that a conviction will compel him to step down.

    In theory, analysts say, Samak can return as prime minister in days — if the ruling coalition nominates him again and a parliament vote is taken.

    As ever, for more info, I suggest The Nation, the Bangkok Post, and Bangkok Pundit.


    Bangkok Protests: Thursday Update

    When news spread last night that Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was to give a radio address at 7:30 a.m. today, rumors swirled that he would use the occasion to announce his resignation. Instead, he refused to cave in. “Don’t even think I am going to quit,” he said. “The country needs a leader, and the world is watching us.”

    As protesters occupied Government House for the 10th straight day, Samak proposed a nation-wide referendum to find a way forward.

    The state of emergency continues, and more and more countries are warning their citizens to exercise caution here — or not to come at all. The majority of Bangkok is unaffected by the demonstrations. Still, there are concerns about what the turmoil means for the Thai tourism industry.

    Here’s a roundup of the latest media coverage:

    New York Times: “Thai Leader Promises Referendum”

    Economist: “An emergency in Thailand: The army is called in as pro- and anti-government protesters clash”

    Bloomberg: “Thailand May Miss Tourism Targets as Unrest Spurs Cancellations”

    Reuters: “Defiant Thai PM refuses to quit”

    AP: “Thai protest leader wants to reduce voters’ power”

    Wall Street Journal: “Thailand’s New (Old) Politics”

    Telegraph: “Bank steps in to support the baht as Thailand plagued by political unrest”

    Notable blog posts:

    Bangkok Pundit: “Resign, No; Dissolution, No; Referendum, Yes UPDATE”

    2Bangkok: “PAD’s ‘final war'”


    Thai PM Imposes State of Emergency

    A state of emergency has been imposed here in Bangkok after a protester was killed and several were seriously wounded in clashes between anti-government and pro-government demonstrators early this morning.

    For ongoing coverage, check out:

    The Nation

    The Bangkok Post

    Here’s a story from the Straits Times: “Emergency in Bangkok: At least one killed by PAD gunfire in pitched battle between pro and anti-government mobs.”

    And here’s an AP video report on YouTube: “Thai PM Declares Emergency in Capital”


    Bangkok Protests: Monday Update

    Here’s a round-up of media coverage regarding the ongoing protests here in Thailand.

    The most recent news:

    — There was a small explosion at a police booth here in Bangkok early today (Monday). There were no injuries.

    — The airport in Phuket has re-opened.

    — And Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who protesters say is a puppet of ousted PM Thaksin, says he won’t resign. Protesters say they won’t relent until Samak steps down.

    New York Times/IHT: “Thai Government Backers Take to Streets”

    Thailand’s political crisis entered a more delicate and volatile phase on Sunday when government supporters took to the streets as a counterweight to the antigovernment protesters who have occupied the prime minister’s compound for almost a week.

    Thai academic Thitinan Pongsudhirak, in the Bangkok Post: “Tyranny of a minority”

    In other civilised countries, provocation and occupation of the seat of government would bring swift enforcement of the law. The PAD’s revolting rampage has been met with tame official responses.

    AFP: “Thai PM searches for end to protests after rejecting new polls”

    Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej sought a peaceful solution Monday to end a week of anti-government protests, after again rejecting calls for him to resign or hold new elections.

    Thousands of protesters remained camped at the main government complex in central Bangkok early Monday, after storming through the gates seven days ago accusing Samak of acting as a puppet for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

    Samak called an emergency session of parliament on Sunday, but the debate failed to produce any plan for ending the protests.

    Wall Street Journal: “Thai Leader Vows to Remain Despite Crisis”

    Thailand’s besieged government is struggling to defuse a political crisis after waves of antigovernment protests spread beyond the country’s capital, forcing closures of several regional airports and disrupting rail services.

    The escalating political confrontation threatens to destabilize the popularly elected government of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and could begin to undermine the country’s economy, especially the vital tourism sector, which is vulnerable to any prolonged disruption of air travel.

    Reuters: “Small bomb explodes near occupied Thai Govt House”

    A small bomb exploded in a central Bangkok police booth on Monday as a stand-off between the Thai Prime Minister and protesters occupying his office entered its seventh day with no sign of either side backing down.

    The blast, shortly after 1 a.m. (1800 GMT on Sunday), shattered nearby windows but caused no injuries.

    And the BBC’s Jonathan Head has this analysis: “Rifts behind Thailand’s political crisis”

    It has been nearly two years since an unexpected military coup deposed then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and appeared to freeze Thailand’s democratic evolution in its tracks.

    The country has experienced 15 months of benign military rule, the drafting of a new constitution, and a general election which returned a party run by Mr Thaksin’s allies to office.

    Yet there is still a sense of unending crisis, of a country still deeply polarised over the former prime minister and his attempts to transform Thailand.

    The occupation of the main government offices in central Bangkok this week by protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has underscored just how difficult it is to end this turbulence.

    For ongoing news, check out Bangkok Pundit. And my audio slide show from last Wednesday contains some images and sounds from the protests.


    Bangkok Protests: Audio Slide Show

    Here’s a 1 minute, 42-second audio slide show I just created after spending a few hours snapping photos and recording audio at the site of massive anti-government protests here in Bangkok today.

    Protesters are rallying against Thailand’s Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej. The protests has been organized by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which accuses Samak of being a proxy for ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra. People at the event who I talked to said they want Samak to resign, and they want Thaksin — who has fled to England — to return to Thailand to face corruption charges.

    For more information on the situation, you can search Google News.

    Update 1: Those of you reading this via my rss feed will need to click through to view the audio slide show on my site.

    Update 2: Here’s my newest audio slide show about the protests, from Tues. Sept. 2.


    Bangkok Protests

    AP: “Protesters lay siege to Thai television station”

    Bloomberg: “Thai Protesters Storm TV Station in Bid to Oust Samak”

    Reuters: “Thai PM says losing patience with anti-govt protests”

    And Bangkok Pundit is live-blogging the protests.