Pattaya Daily News

31 January 2009 :: 13:01:52 pm 28036

Security Tightens in Bangkok as Anti-Govt Mass Rally Looms

BANGKOK, Jan 31 - Thousands of police were deployed in Bangkok on Saturday to ensure that law and order are maintained as anti-government Red Shirt demonstrators plan to march to Government House Saturday evening.
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Pongsak Poonsiriwong, senior government official in charge of security, said some 150 police have been deployed inside the Government House compound, while some police personnel were positioned outside the compound to protect the seat of government.

All main entrances to Government House were locked and secured with padlocks, and only a few have been left open for authorised authorities and vehicles to enter. All valuable belongings and key documents had been removed from Government House, said Mr. Pongsak.

Some demonstrators, many having travelled from provinces in Thailand’s northern and northeastern provinces, gathered at Sanam Luang before being led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to Government House to blockade the heart of the administration.

They demanded that the Democrat-led coalition government remove all those formerly involved with the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), including Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

       

The UDD’s main leaders — Veera Musikapong, Nattawut Saikua, Jatuporn Prompan and Jakrapob Penkair — announced earlier that the group will demonstrate at centrally-located Sanam Luang on Saturday at 4pm before the marching to blockade Government House. Mr. Veera said the gathering would be called ‘Red in the Land’ and that those at the rally would be informed about UDD’s position and its move to press the government to more quickly take legal action against the PAD, charging that it had violated laws through its actions, including last year’s seizure of Government House and the country’s two main airports.

The UDD demanded the removal of Mr. Kasit from his position, along with others who were involved with the PAD movement and demanded the government reinstate the 1997 Constitution.

The UDD are key supporters of convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now a fugitive.

Mr. Jatuporn stressed earlier that the protesters would not enter the Government House compound, but wanted to show that the UDD could also do anything that PAD could do.

The latest move of the UDD is seen as similar to the PAD strategic plan to protest againt the Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat governments.

 

The ‘Yellow Shirt’ PAD occupied Government House compound from late August until early December, and also seized Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late November and early December before dispersing when the court ordered the dissolution of the then ruling People Power Party.

Mr. Jakrapob, former minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, said the Saturday demonstration would be a test of the Red Shirts popularity of the Red Shirts power.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who supervises security affairs, said the police are responsible for ensuring law and order and prevent any action that would contrary to law. He also said back-up from the military would be sought to help the police if needed, he said.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Friday said the military would provide the back-up only if requested by the police to help maintain peace and order inside and outside Government House. (TNA)

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OPPOSITION MOVES TO IMPEACH 3 MINISTERS

BANGKOK, Jan 30 – Thailand’s parliamentary Opposition has moved against three members of the Cabinet of coalition leader Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, impeached on charges of casting votes for the 2009 mid-year budget.

During Thursday’s Lower House meeting, Puea Thai MP Chaowarin Latthasaksiri said the three Cabinet members — Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga of the Democrat Party, Transport Minister Sopon Zarum of the Phumjai Thai Party and Deputy Transport Minister Kuakul Danchaiwijit of the Chart Thai Pattana Party — had voted as members of parliament in approving the supplementary budget bill.

The Puea Thai MP said it was unconstitutional for members of cabinet to have done so, given the possibility that they might have had vested interests in plans and schemes to be financed by part of the supplementary budget.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and most of his cabinet members refrained from voting for the Bt116.7 billion budget bill.

For that reason, the Puea Thai-led Opposition would ask the Constitution Court to rule as to whether or not the three ministers had breached the Constitution’s Article 177 which might lead to their impeachment if found guilty as charged.

Justice Minister Pirapan Sarlirathavibhaga contended that he and his portfolio have no stake in the supplementary budget, primarily designed to address the economic slump and to boost domestic consumption.

Government chief whip Shinaworn Boonyakiat said Puea Thai MP Chalerm Yubamrung had earlier cast his vote as an MP to pass such important legislations during a previous government.

Mr. Shinaworn’s comment prompted Mr. Chalerm to rise in protest, saying he was not a cabinet member when he did so.

Deputy House Speaker Aphiwan Wiriyachai suggested that the issue was beyond the jurisdiction of the legislative body and that it should only be handled by the Constitution Court. (TNA)

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DEPUTY PM WARNS DEMONSTRATORS AGAINST BREAKING LAW AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE

BANGKOK, Jan 30 – Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Friday he had told police to take action against any demonstrators found breaking the law during their planned mass rally at Government House which anti-government protesters have pledged to mount, and warned that the military could be dispatched to help police if needed.

The pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) said it would resume its mass rallies and blockade Government House on Saturday, demanding the government dismiss Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

Mr. Suthep, in charge of security affairs, said he had instructed Pol. Gen. Patcharawat Wongsuwan, national police chief, to mobilise the police to control the expected crowd and prevent any action that would be contrary to law.

 

“I told the police that the military could be asked to reinforce police in maintaining law and order if the number of police is insufficient to handle the situation,” the deputy prime minister said.

He warned that the police would be held responsible for duty negligence if no immediate action is taken against any lawbreakers.

“I hope the demonstration would not become violent,” he said, “and that the demonstrators would refrain from raiding the Government House compound, and they not causing any damage to official property.”

Mr. Suthep also said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who is now attending the Word Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said he was not concerned about the planned mass rally by the anti-government Red Shirts at Government House on Saturday.

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‘RED-SHIRTS’ GROUP LODGES COMPLAINT TO ASEAN MEMBERS

BANGKOK, Jan 30 – Anti-government ‘Red Shirt’ protesters on Friday presented letters to the ambassadors of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok, urging the neighbouring countries to review the legitimacy of Thailand’s Democrat-led coalition government.
Veera Musikapong, Nattawut Saikua and Jakrapob Penkair, key leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), together with supporters, went to the embassies of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in Bangkok to hand over letters to the three countries’ ambassadors to Thailand, amid tight police security from the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
According to the UDD, the letters said the current government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva does not genuinely represent the people and does not have legitimacy to administer the country.

Also, the Abhisit administration appointed Kasit Piromya, who once supported the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in its two main airports siege late November, as foreign minister.

The UDD leaders urged members of the Association of Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN) to review their stance towards the Democrat-led coalition government and the appropriateness of Mr. Kasit’s appointment.

The ‘Red Shirts’ had earlier submitted letters to six other regional grouping members, so that now all nine ASEAN members other than Thailand,are aware of the UDD position.

Meanwhile, ‘Red Shirt’ protesters in the northern province of Lampang gathered at the provincial railway station for free rail transport on the Chiang Mai-Bangkok line to join the UDD’s mass anti-government rally on Saturday.

Key UDD leaders earlier announced that the group will demonstrate at Sanam Luang Saturday evening before marching to blockade Government House, to press the government to take legal action against the PAD and to remove Mr. Kasit from the post.

As for the comments by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban that police would strictly monitor the UDD’s mass rally and would arrest those who commit illegal actions, UDD leader Nattawut Saikua said Friday that the deputy premier himself has no authority to act against the UDD’s movement, as he and his Democrat Party had already sided with the PAD.

“The Democrat Party is not impartial, as they have already sided with the PAD,” Mr. Nattawut said.

“So the Democrat-led government cannot be considered as the government of all Thais,” according to Mr. Nattawut, a former Government spokesman.

The UDD key leader enphasised that what the Red Shirts will do on Saturday is to exercise their freedom and rights under the democratic system.

Mr. Nattawut said he was informed that the government has been attempting to block the UDD supporters in many upcountry provinces to join the mass protest in Bangkok, but he insisted that the government could not stop the UDD.

“Saturday’s demonstration will prove it,” he said.

He added that if the UDD demonstration and their march to Government House was not blocked or interrupted, the rally would be ended on Saturday.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Pol. Lt-Gen Suchart Mueankaew, Bangkok metropolitan police chief, said the UDD rally must be law-abiding and that the protesters cannot enter Government House grounds or block the entrances of the complex. He warned that violators will be arrested promptly.
Gen. Suchart said the police would not use tear gas or commit any violence against protesters but will carry shields to protect themselves and will remain unarmed.

Meanwhile, government officials boosted security and packed up valuable belongings and documents to avoid losses and damage as when their offices were vandalised during the PAD occupation last year.(TNA)

 

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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