Archive for March 2010
30/3/2010(AP)—BANGKOK – The Taii government has extended use of a stringent security law in the Bangkok area until April 7 as anti-government protests enter a third week.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban says the Cabinet voted on Tuesday to approve an extension of the Internal Security Act, which was initially invoked ahead of protests that started March 12.
The security law allows the prime minister to use the military to restore order if necessary.
Mr Suthep said the security law also will be invoked in the seaside town of Hua Hin from April 2-6 for a meeting of Asian leaders from countries that border the Mekong River.
The so-called Red Shirt movement is demanding fresh elections.
Rallies have drawn as many as 100,000 people and sparked concerns of violence.
30/3/2010(AFP)–BANGKOK – AUNG San Suu Kyi’s party has heaped discredit on upcoming elections in military-run Myanmar by refusing to take part in them, but also faces political irrelevance as a result, analysts say.
The junta handed a nasty dilemma to the National League for Democracy in forcing the party to choose between contesting the elections without Ms Suu Kyi in its ranks, or ceasing to exist legally after a May 6 registration deadline.
Through its announcement on Monday that it would boycott the polls, in line with leader Suu Kyi’s wishes, the NLD opted to court legal oblivion by staying out of an electoral process that foreign campaigners say is a sham.
‘They are saying: the elections are not worth our participation and we won’t dignify them,’ said Mr Benjamin Zawacki of London-based rights group Amnesty International. ‘Some will say they are relegating themselves to irrelevance, but this decision suggests … it’s simply not a game worth playing.’
He added: ‘There’s another option. If they don’t participate at all it’s an attempt to delegitimise the polls before they take place. They’re simply trying to create another game.’
The United States and Australia blamed the ruling junta, which cancelled the NLD’s victory in Myanmar’s last elections held in 1990, for boxing the party into a corner and undermining hope for change after decades of military rule.
30/3/2010(AFP)–BANGKOK – THAILAND’S anti-government ‘Red Shirts’ on Tuesday refused the prime minister’s offer of more talks and said negotiations had failed because he would not meet their 15-day deadline to call elections.
Leaders of the red-clad protest movement have held two rounds of televised talks with premier Abhisit Vejjajiva since Sunday, but they appeared to make little progress towards ending weeks of disruptive mass rallies in Bangkok.
‘Negotiations have completely failed and have already ended. No more talks, everything is finished,’ a defiant Red Shirts leader Jatuporn Prompan told reporters, refusing Mr Abhisit’s offer to hold fresh discussions on Thursday.
During talks late Monday, Mr Abhisit offered Mr Jatuporn and two other Red Shirt representatives a compromise deal, saying he was willing to call elections by the end of the year, one year ahead of schedule.
‘We need 15 days, while the government needs nine months,’ Mr Jatuporn said after the two sides parted without agreement. ‘The government is insincere.’
NLD votes not to register for election; faces prospect of dissolution
YANGON – MYANMAR’S biggest opposition party on Monday said it would not register for this year’s election, meaning the party of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi will not be allowed the chance of any role in the military-led political process.
‘After a vote of the committee of members, the NLD has decided not to register as a political party because the election laws are unjust,’ National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesman Nyan Win told reporters.
The NLD, which won the last election in 1990 but was not allowed to govern, is outraged by what it says is a Constitution that offers little real power to elected civilians.
The country’s military rulers introduced a controversial new election law earlier this month, including a ruling that instructs political parties to expel members convicted of crimes or face de-registration.
Participating in the polls would have forced the NLD to oust its detained leader, who is serving a prison term, and recognise the junta’s Constitution.
But the NLD now faces dissolution in less than six weeks for failing to register for the polls. The election laws also require political parties to register before the first week of May.
The April 17 victory day nears its 35th anniversary as comrade Sihanouk descended from his heavenly home in Beijing to insult the killing fields survivors in Cambodia, again. His majesty’s heinous crimes against Cambodian humanity seem escaping the ECCC attention.
“Moi c’est le Cambodge,”then says Sihanouk.
Two worn glasses (right front and left rear) are dead. Two not wearing glasses( left front is Sihanouk KR first President and rear right is Khieu Samphan KR second President and in KRT custody). So it is comrade Sihanouk to be arrested and put in tribunal custody for question. This man bloody hands put nearly over 2 million people to death since 1970. He is to be responsible in every crime that Khmer Rouge committed on Cambodians. The criminal group remains in power and roam the globe freely.
Two million people, at least, were wiped out from the earth under Comrade Sihanouk’s second republic. The survivors are under the rule of another group of Khmer Rouge backed by the same Yuon group in Hanoi.
By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The government will provide highlevel security for leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and China who are scheduled to attend the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit in Hua Hin early next month.
More than 5,000 soldiers and police officers will be deployed to ensure the safety of all participants and leaders attending the meeting, which runs from April 2 to 5, director general of the Department of Water Resources Kasemsan Jinnawaso said at a press conference yesterday.
Cambodian PM Hun Sen, Lao PM Bouasone Bouphavanh, Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung, China’s Foreign Minister Song Tao, Burma’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win and PM Abhisit Vejjajiva have all confirmed they will attend despite the political turmoil, Pimuk Simaroj, an assistant to the natural resources and the environment minister, said.
The leaders and participants will be put up at several different hotels.
Pimuk said the government had set up a committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, to oversee security for the summit.
“The committee will evaluate the situation day by day,” he said, adding that as an additional measure, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan put the plan in operation yesterday.
“At the end of the summit, we expect each member country to achieve a deal and take a mutually beneficial standpoint over the Mekong River development,” Pimuk said.
The MRC’s mission is to promote and coordinate sustainable management as well as develop water and related resources for all countries’ mutual benefit and their people’s wellbeing.
The 4,350kilometre Mekong, one of the world’s major rivers, starts in the Tibetan Plateau and runs through China’s Yunnan province, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. However, in recent years, downriver countries have complained that dams constructed by China on the river’s upper reaches have caused abnormal changes to water levels.
Thais living along the river have been saying that water levels often increase and decrease drastically in the space of a day.
Leaders at the fourday long summit will also discuss food and energy security for the river basin, adaptation and mitigation from the impact of climate change, infrastructure for sustainable development by the private sector and the challenge of organising an international river basin.
Meanwhile, Kasemsan said Thailand would add two new topics to the agenda – haze and drought in the region.
He said China had also asked the Thai Foreign Ministry to hold an unofficial bilateral meeting to discuss management of the Mekong River. This unofficial meeting will be held on April 4.
30/3/2010 (Nation) –The yellow-shirt People’s Alliance For Democracy (PAD) yesterday opposed political talks about a parliamentary dissolution. It said the solution proposed by the red-shirt protesters had a hidden agenda to help fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
PAD coordinator and secretary general of the New Politics Party Suriyasai Katasila, said the red shirts were not qualified to negotiate with the government as they were not representatives of a majority, but just Thaksin’s proxy.
“The government’s recognition of the red-shirt group is equivalent to recognition of a Thaksin regime – which we regarded as the root cause of the current political crisis,” he said.
The PAD called a meeting of its key members yesterday to take a stance in opposing the red-shirt proposal to end the on-going political stalemate.
Dissolution is a normal practice in the parliamentary system, but the red-shirt proposal aimed only to help Thaksin get amnesty for his guilt, the PAD said in a statement.
The red-shirt group, who are political rivals of the yellow-shirt PAD, should not use street protests, violence and innocent people as bargaining chips to achieve their goals, the statement said.
The PAD strongly opposed any move to rewrite the military-sponsored Constitution since it was not the root cause of the crisis, it said.
“We don’t oppose changes to the Constitution as long as that is done for public benefit, rather than the personal benefit of politicians,” the PAD said.
Political reform was the only real solution that could get the country out of the political crisis, it said.
Instead of negotiating, the PAD called on the government to enforce the laws to punish wrongdoers and end the illegal protest as well as bring peace to the country, it said.
The PAD called for its supporters to exercise utmost restraint and not to confront the red shirts. The PAD would soon call a meeting of its network to seek a solution to lead the country out of crisis, the statement said.
Honestly, do you think Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva and his Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya really want to hunt down former prime minister-turned-fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra and bring him home? Do you think they seriously want to push for the conclusion of the extradition treaty between Thailand and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where Thaksin has spent most of his time, so that he could be handed over to Thai authorities to serve his prison sentence in his homeland?
Thaksin was toppled in a military coup in September 2006 on the grounds that he was a corrupt prime minister. In 2008, he was sentenced in absentia to two years’ imprisonment for conflicts of interest. On Feb 26, 2010 he was, once again, found guilty of abusing his power while serving in office. As a result, the Thai Supreme Court ruled that Thaksin’s US$1.4 billion in frozen assets would be seized. Undoubtedly, Thaksin has become the most wanted man in the Thai kingdom.
Yet, all this time, Thaksin has been travelling the world, using his many bases overseas to attack the Abhisit government and to intensify the already-fragile political situation by calling for countless demonstrations among his red-shirted supporters against what he has called the “aristocratic dictatorship”.
From this perspective, yes, Thaksin must be extradited from wherever he is residing, since he is supposedly behind the deep polarisation in Thai society.
But is this objective really in the minds of Thaksin’s political opponents?
The Thai Foreign Ministry has claimed relentlessly that it has worked extremely hard to ensure that the signing of the extradition treaty between Thailand and the UAE would be achieved soon. However, the negotiation process has been long in the making and conducted behind closed doors.
I remember that in April 2009, Panich Vikitsreth, assistant to FM Kasit, and Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot travelled to the UAE to expedite the process.
Today, Mr Panich still hopes that the treaty can be finalised by the end of 2010.
The Foreign Ministry will surely defend itself that the negotiating and drafting process must not be a rushed exercise. The final draft will also have to be approved by the Thai cabinet. But the whole process could get stuck along the way if the treaty needs to be revised and redrafted.
By the time the treaty comes into effect, Thaksin might already have moved to a new location, especially in a country with which Thailand has not yet signed an extradition treaty.
But is it obvious that Thaksin’s opponents would rather want him to continue his globe-trotting and not return home? If Thaksin is a threat from afar, he will be an even bigger, more dangerous threat once he sets foot in Thailand.
Last year when Thaksin visited Cambodia at the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Bangkok elites felt jittery about his presence and his remaining popularity among his supporters.
Indeed, Hun Sen appeared to play into the hands of Mr Abhisit and Mr Kasit when he refused to extradite Thaksin to Thailand.
Mr Panich once said with confidence that if Thaksin moved to create difficulties in Thailand and used the UAE as a launching pad to antagonise the Thai government, the UAE authorities could expel him from the country.
Time and again, Thaksin has continued to play politics, often phoning in and sending messages to his red-shirted fans from his bedroom in Dubai.
Thaksin has openly interfered in Thai politics while living in self-exile in the UAE. But he has not yet been kicked out of that nation.
True, the making of an extradition treaty is a delicate process. At present, Thailand has extradition treaties with only 14 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, China, Belgium, Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, South Korea, Bangladesh, Fiji and Australia. Despite the presence of the extradition treaty, some countries still deny extradition requests if, in that government’s opinion, the suspect is sought for a political crime. Some will not allow extradition if the death penalty may be imposed on the suspect, or if the safety of the suspect cannot be guaranteed. This explains why Thaksin has been making stories about the possibility of him being assassinated should he return to face his “enemies” in Thailand.
On the surface, the extradition is projected as one of a few solutions to end the Thai conflict, with Thaksin being brought home and punished under the law.
At a deeper level, Thaksin’s opponents have adopted different tactics, such as working with their international allies to isolate him. Here, the real agenda behind the extradition treaty is not really about sending Thaksin straight to the Thai jail, but more about discrediting him and de-legitimising his political activities abroad.
If the extradition treaty is truly designed to capture Thaksin, then the government will have to prepare itself to face many more rounds of protest. Thaksin’s loyal fans will do anything to set him free, even with the use of violence. The rise of political violence will certainly destabilise the power position of Thaksin’s opponents.
This explains why I believe it is in their interests to keep Thaksin away from Thailand.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun is a Fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
30/3/2010(STimes)–BANGKOK – ‘RED shirt’ leaders yesterday rejected Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s offer to dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections in nine months instead of within 15 days as they demanded.
A second day of talks between the two sides, aimed at defusing tension in the Thai capital, ended inconclusively. A third round is scheduled for Thursday, but it remains uncertain whether it will take place.
Representing the red shirts were Mr Jatuporn Promphan, Mr Veera Musigapong and Dr Weng Tojirakarn.
Soon after the two-hour meeting ended yesterday, another red shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar told protesters that there would be no more talking.
Thousands of red shirts belonging to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have rallied in Bangkok for more than two weeks to push the government into agreeing to hold new elections. Most of the UDD members support ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Mr Abhisit agreed to talk to their leaders after the protesters stepped up their actions on Saturday, forcing the army to withdraw its troops.
25/3/2010 (Bangkok Post) —Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Thursday sent SMS messages via his website thaksinlive.com to his supporters asking them to join the red shirts’ rally on March 27.
“This 27, you are invited to join another major rally so that our Thai children can grow up in society with justice and democracy,” he said in his short message.
Thaksin did not appear on a video link to talk to his supporters for the past three days, saying he had a sore throat.