Thai 'State Of Emergency' Lull As Government Waits Budget Day

Thousands  of tourists , hundreds of them British, continued their slow evacuation from the Thai capital Bangkok tonight as a ‘State of Emergency’ declared by the government provided a lull in violence.
The  state enterprise unions, who have joined the anti-government protest, allowed flights to continue uninterrupted from Bangkok and the country’s southern resorts of Phuket and Krabi while the stand-off in the city becomes more tense.
And the Thai Airways Union said they wished to help tourists to leave the country unaffected.
Protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy, numbering an estimated 70,000 in Bangkok, who want Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his Cabinet to step down immediately, were expected to be joined by thousands from the provinces.
The PAD has held Government House for a week, temporarily closed down the tourist airports, and shut down the country’s rail network, claiming that they believe Samak and his People’s Power Party Cabinet, were enriching themselves at the country’s expense – a charge they had previously laid against former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. That spells further trouble tomorrow (Wed) a crucial one in the besieged government’s calendar.
The main agenda of the Parliament is how the PPP wth its majority is going to allocate government funds and the Prime Minister has refused to postpone the event.
Today, not only did the demonstrators asked him to resign, but the Election Commission which investigated how the PPP got into power also said Samak and his party should step down, because its members had concurred that the PPP were guilty of buying votes when elected.
But that has to be decided by the Constitution Court.
Samak’s resignation was also called for by Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Eton and Oxford educated leader of the Democratic Party, who said he was deeply suspicious that yesterday morning’s violence in which one person was killed and forty more injured was orchestrated…
Abhisit was careful not to directly point a particular person or party but said he was convinced the ‘violence was manipulated by important and influential figures.’
Co-incidentally amongst those treated for injuries in the violent eruption outside Government House was a government MP.
Udon Thani  MP Surathin Phimarnmekhin,  was treated at Bangkok’s Hua Chiew hospital with two stitches for the head injury he suffered during the clash between the pro and anti-government protesters.
But his secretary, Thirapol Suriyo,  insisted,  apparently with a deadpan expression , that Thirapol was not leading pro-government people into the clash.  He was ‘holding surgery for his constituents’ who had come to Bangkok.
Thailand’s Outlook Television Channel, strongly critical of the government, also broadcast footage of two former M.P.s from Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party at this mornings demo.
PAD supporters insist that their opponents,  from the from a group calling themselves the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship,  have been bussed in from the provinces and paid just under ?10 a day to counter-demonstrate on behalf of the government and Thaksin Shinawatra.
So far tonight there remains a state of impass. The Army has been called upon to enforce the terms of the ‘State of Emergency’ but as it was the army who ousted Thaksin Shinawatra in a military coup just how far they will go remains to be seen.
So far they have refused to move the protesters, among which of course, are more than a few army wives.
Meanwhile workers in all the state unions, which cover mainly utilities and transportation, have come out in sympathy with the protesters.
They plan to use the national grid to black out and deprive water from the homes of politicians and police leaders responsible for police violence, they claim was used at an attack on the protesters at Government House.
The leader of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship, is led by a man called Shinawatra Pabunchart who said:  ‘More of our supporters are coming. We will take back government house.’
Meanwhile a Thai style ‘State of Emergency’ continued to operate.  And that means that it was business as usual in the bars and clubs of Bangkok and the rule banning more than five people gathering was as usual ignored.
The Foreign Office updated its travel advisory to say major demonstrations were continuing in Bangkok but merely advised British tourists to be cautious in those areas.

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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