Phuket: PAD Versus Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej

Friday, August 29, 2008

Even though there seems to be some unrest over whether or not the Samak government is really a puppet for Thaksin, or if the PAD is just plain crazy (and if you believe one survey the majority of folks in Bangkok think they are) - at least there hasn't been any explosions yet:

PM asks people to rethink before joining rally

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said he was the one who ordered police to retreat from the Government House on Friday afternoon to ease tension between anti-government protesters and police officers. "I was afraid that the two sides would clash so I ordered the retreat," he said. He also called on the Thais to re-think before deciding whether to join the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) rally, saying that the protest does not reap any benefit to the nation. He called on the people to be on the government's side to prove their love and respect to the royal institution. "Do you want the country to fall apart in front of your eyes?," he asked. "Or are you not Thais?"
Rifts behind Thailand's political crisis

The PAD first emerged in September 2005. At the time it was a largely personal crusade by maverick media mogul Sondhi Limtongkul, once a passionate Thaksin supporter who turned on his former mentor after feeling abandoned when his business went bankrupt. But it picked up momentum at the end of that year as public unease grew over the tax-free sale of the Shinawatra family telecoms business for an estimated $2bn (£1bn) and escalated into a movement that helped bring the seemingly impregnable Thaksin administration down. Most Thais probably thought that was the last they would see of the PAD
Thai protesters, police scuffle over court order

The alliance accuses Samak's government of serving as a proxy for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and faces several pending corruption cases. Thaksin is in self-imposed exile in Britain. The crowd outside the compound swelled Friday afternoon. When the police pulled back, many demonstrators followed them to a horse racing track about 500 yards from the Government House. Sonthi Limthongkul, a protest leader, vowed Friday to continue the protests until Samak steps down. "We definitely won't leave the Government House until we can topple Samak's administration," Sonthi told the Associated Press. "He cannot stay on for long, I am very sure of that. You can see people coming more and more to join us."
Thai Protesters Enter Prime Minister’s Compound

An estimated 30,000 protesters gathered outside several government ministries and entered the grounds of the prime minister’s office. To avoid them, Mr. Samak moved a scheduled cabinet meeting to the military headquarters. Protesters often gather outside the building, called Government House, but rarely enter the grounds. The crowd, which did not try to enter the building, appeared peaceful, television showed. Mr. Samak said he would not be provoked and would continue to take a soft line with the protesters. Continuing protests by the same group, the Peoples Alliance for Democracy, weakened Mr. Thaksin before he was ousted in a coup in September 2006. Mr. Thaksin is in London, where he fled 10 days ago from Beijing, to evade prosecution in Thailand for corruption cases. He is reported to have asked for political asylum together with his wife, Pojaman. The couple left Thailand after Ms. Pojaman was sentenced July 31 to three years in jail for tax evasion. After attending the Olympics in Beijing, they failed to return home for a scheduled court date. The Peoples Alliance, a loose grouping of pro-democracy advocates, anti-Thaksin forces and others, has accused Mr. Samak and his party of trying to amend the Constitution to help Mr. Thaksin evade the corruption charges.