Thai politics

Yellow Shirts Protest Update: Next Week’s Bill Deliberation Cancelled

2012 06 02 yellow shirts front pages

A quick follow-up post on yesterday’s Yellow Shirt protests over the bill that could lead to Thaksin’s return…

Many people here in Thailand, as well as Thailand-watchers abroad, may well be thinking: Here we go again.

The WSJ reported yesterday:

Around 2,000 followers of the so-called Yellow Shirt movement swarmed around the Parliament building, preventing legislators from getting in. The action recalled the massive and sometimes violent political protests in recent years that at times destabilized business and tourism on one of Southeast Asia’s linchpin economies, and raised fears of a possible reprise in the weeks or months ahead.

Political analysts say Friday’s scenes show that a long-simmering question—the fate of Mr. Thaksin, who now lives in exile in Dubai—is coming to the boil, threatening a fragile détente between his supporters in the current government and the military and conservative bureaucrats who removed him from power in a bloodless coup in 2006.


The siblings have made efforts to reconcile with the establishment forces that ousted Mr. Thaksin, say academics and Thailand analysts. Ms. Yingluck in particular has worked to build closer ties with military leaders and key establishment figures such as chief royal adviser, Prem Tinsulanonda, these people say. If the Yingluck government is intent on bringing Mr. Thaksin back to Thailand, they say, now is the time to push through the necessary legislation.

The story also touches on divisions in the Red Shirt camp and the prospects of the Yellow Shirts being able to organize sufficiently large protests going forward.

Reuters ran a story yesterday, as well.

AFP has this story today:

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Saturday warned the deeply divided kingdom faces a “cycle of violence” unless steps are taken towards reconciliation after years of civil unrest.

And finally, MCOT reports today:

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont on Saturday decided to cancel next week’s parliamentary sessions regarding charter amendment and national reconciliation bills following recent chaos and disruption in the parliament.

Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol said Mr Somsak decided to suspend the planned meeting on June 5 to deliberate the charter amendment and the June 6-7 sessions on the proposed reconciliation bills.

Mr Charoen said the House Speaker will call a meeting of representatives from both the government and opposition next Tuesday to find solutions, and if there is still problem with the deliberation of the reconciliation bills, other pending bills may be raised for consideration instead.

Meanwhile, the Red Shirts themselves held a rally today at the Thunderdome arena, in Bangkok’s north.

This Tweet and image came through at 1:20 p.m. Bangkok time from @LyNGinG.

So, what comes next?

Will Yingluck and Pheu Thai continue to push for the bills’ passage, perhaps a week or two down the line? Or will they abandon their efforts for now?

Will the Yellow Shirts continue to block Parliament in an effort to derail voting?

Will the Red Shirts begin protesting again?

What if the vote goes ahead, and the bill is passed?

Image above: Today’s IHT and Bangkok Post front pages.

Thai politics

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.

Thai politics

Self-Promotion: New WSJ Southeast Asia Real Time Story on Scuffle in Thai Parliament

The story is here, and begins:

Thailand boosters may have hoped the World Economic Forum on East Asia now under way in Bangkok would be a chance for the country to put its best face forward after years of political unrest and last year’s devastating floods.

Instead, visitors on Thursday awoke to news of a bizarre scuffle in Parliament that only served to remind people of how far Thailand has to go to resolve its deep political divisions.

The piece includes some embedded videos of yesterday’s events. Worth checking out.

UPDATE: The story has been updated to include today’s happenings.

Thai politics Thailand

Thai MP Gives Nazi Salute and Yells ‘Heil Hitler’ in Parliament

Yet more news from the Thai parliament.

Late last month, as I noted, a graphic image of a woman was broadcast on large screens during a parliamentary session.

Now a member of parliament has given the Nazi salute and yelled “Heil Hitler” during an argument.

Thanks to Saksith at Asian Correspondent for pointing out yesterday the remarkable May 2 video, embedded above and on YouTube here.

The salute and “Heil Hitlers” start at around the three minute mark.

Here’s Saksith, translating a Thai news story:

Reports say that before parliament was about to decide [on a proposal], a little bit of chaos ensued when MP Boonyod Sukthinthai of the Democrat Party raised his hand to protest House speaker Somsak’s hasty attempts to end [the session], but the latter refused to listen and proceeded to the voting, leading to Mr Boonyod yelling loudly that he will protest until the speaker will listen to him, as he then shouted “Heil Hitler, Mr Speaker of the dictatorship! Heil Hitler!” – to which Mr Somsak still refuses to listen and requests the parliament to cast in their votes.

As Saksith notes:

This arbitrary and erratic display of Godwin’s law evidently shows the still volatile political climate that is being maintained, if not even increased by the parliamentary infighting over amendments to the constitution, to which the opposition fears potential abuse of power by the government (and most of all a carte blanche for Thaksin). Nevertheless, it also shows an unacceptable behavior by our elected representatives, who think that any rough measures for this political discourse is legitimate.

This is not the first time a Nazi-related story has made the news in Thailand. CNNGo ran a piece in Feb. about the issue.

(All emphasis mine.)

Thai politics

Once again, File under…

…If I didn’t mention this I would be failing to keep you updated on Thailand news:

The BBC reported last Wed.:

Proceedings in Thailand’s parliament have been interrupted after the graphic image of a semi-naked woman flashed up on giant screens during a debate.

The close-up picture of a young woman striking a provocative pose appeared on monitors as an MP addressed the house.

The images appeared in between footage of the debate, on a controversial constitutional amendment.

The session was halted and the monitors hastily switched off after an MP complained.

The origin of the images is now being investigated. The Speaker, Somsak Kiatsuranont, said an official told him that the image’s appearance was the work of hackers outside of parliament.

Hackers? Or could the image have come unwittingly — or even intentionally — from others in the building?

As The Nation says today:

Electronic devices of a particular brand were found yesterday to be capable of sending data to display screens inside Parliament and could be responsible for a recent “porn pic” scandal.

Kamphi Ditthakorn, deputy secretary-general of the House of Representatives, who chairs a fact-finding team investigating the scandal, said yesterday the culprit could be a Samsung smart phone.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident on the same day, The Bangkok Post said:

In addition, an unidentified MP was caught by an unnamed photographer looking at an erotic photo on his cell phone during the House meeting today.

Note that the MP was looking at a different image — not the one that ran on the large screens. Click through for a photo of the MP.

It turns, out, as The Nation said:

A red-faced Democrat Party MP, a son of former party leader Banyat Bantadtan, Thursday admitted that he accidentally viewed a porno picture during a parliamentary meeting Wednesday.

Nat Bantadtan admitted during the meeting held to deliberate the charter amendment bill in the second reading that he used his mobile phone to watch a porno picture.

So, to re-cap:

1) A graphic photo was displayed on large screens in the Thai Parliament.

2) Later, an MP was photographed viewing an erotic image on his mobile phone.

For more info on both events, see this post by Kaewmala at Asian Correspondent, and this one by Bangkok Pundit.

Embedded at the top of this post and on YouTube here: A Thai-language news report about the first incident.

(All emphasis mine.)