Sunday, August 31, 2008

Update on unrest in Thailand

Man... this country needs help!!! I can't go for my holiday in Phuket and Phi Phi Island anymore! :( .... well at least i hope by December or even sooner they will open airports again and i can go for my holiday! I miss Phi Phi!!!!!!


Here is the update on Thailand - 'The Land of Smiles' .. (And shopping heaven!)

Protesters enter Thai P

M's offices, King consulted as protests spread

article taken from MSN News

About 45 protesters used bolt cutters to break into Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's abandoned office Saturday, after five days of occupying the grounds surrounding the building in Bangkok.

One of the activists told AFP that protest leader Chamlong Srimuang had ordered them to force open the doors so that he could use the offices himself.

The so-called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has led thousands of protesters in anti-government rallies since May, but they stepped up their campaign on Tuesday as they marched into the Government House compound and set up camp.

Thai news of the office invasion comes as Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej met with the nation's revered king on escalating protests that have closed three key airports and sparked clashes with riot police, an official said.

After the protests erupted into skirmishes with police Friday, causing minor injuries and rattling nerves in the coup-prone kingdom, Samak flew from Bangkok around midnight to the nearby town of Hua Hin to meet the king at his seaside palace.

"He reported to the king on the current situation and he will return to Bangkok today," the government official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The protesters from the so-called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have squatted on the grounds of Samak's Government House compound for five days, demanding that he resign and accusing him of acting as a puppet for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The same group helped topple Thaksin in 2006, and has openly called for the palace, the military and Thailand's traditional elite to take a greater role in politics.

The PAD rails against popular democracy, saying it has encouraged corruption, and in July unveiled a plan for a new system of government in which 70 percent of the seats in parliament would be appointed rather than elected.

Although the demonstrators regularly invoke the king, both in speeches and with royalist imagery, he has remained silent in the current standoff, staying away from the protests in his beachfront Klaikangwon palace, whose name means "Far from worries."

The king has little formal political power, but he holds enormous sway over his subjects and has acted as a referee during past political crises in his six decades on the throne.

After returning to Bangkok early Saturday, Samak Sundaravej was set to meet with Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn at a previously scheduled event on national reconciliation.

Despite torrential rains early Saturday, at least 6,000 protesters barricaded themselves for a fifth day inside Bangkok's main government complex.

A handful of activists wearing motorcycle helmets practiced combat techniques with homemade shields and bamboo rods. Nearby, free food was distributed to the protesters.

"We will not quit. We will not go home until we win," one woman shouted from a makeshift stage set up in their camp.

The airport on the holiday isle of Phuket -- a key magnet for international tourists -- was shut down after protesters marched on it Friday, causing the cancellation of more than 30 international and domestic flights, said Sereerat Prasutanont, president of Airports of Thailand.

"It's up to PAD protesters when they will allow the operation to resume," he told AFP.

The State Railways of Thailand, meanwhile, said about one quarter of all services had been halted since Friday, after nearly 250 drivers and mechanics called in sick to support the protests.

PAD protestors have been demonstrating against Samak since May, but they stepped up their movement on Tuesday by storming a TV station and the Government House grounds.

The turmoil has raised fears of a new coup in a country that has seen 18 military takeovers since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

The powerful army chief, General Anupong Paojinda has so far insisted that the military will not return to the streets.

Hoping to defuse the crisis, Samak has called for an emergency parliamentary debate on Sunday, but has refused to step down or call new elections.

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