Seeing red

15 01 2010

The red shirts brought their peaceful protest at Khao Yai Thiang to an end, vowing to continue to seek state action against Privy Councilor and former prime minister Surayud Chulanont.

In the Bangkok Post (13 January 2010) it is reported that Surayud has stood firm against all demands. He has even “refusing to give up his land at Khao Yai Thiang until he is required to do so by a Royal Forest Department ruling.” Naturally he has “shrugged off red shirt demands for him to resign his position as privy councillor.

Interestingly, the General is also chairman of the Foundation for Khao Yai National Park Protection.

The Post also reports that the red shirt leadership has “approved a planned ‘war’ on the bureaucracy…”. This will involve visits by red shirts to the Forestry Department, the Crime Suppression Division and the Office of the Privy Council, all to file complaints against Surayud, the Department of Special Investigation to file a complaint against Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga for negligence for delaying the royal pardon petition for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and a related visit to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary.

Later they will hold a mass gathering of red-shirts at Khao Soi Dao golf course in Chanthaburi province. The red-shirts claim the 400 rai golf course, which had encroached on the Khao Soi Dao forest reserve, is owned by the president of Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda.

More worrying for the government and some of the pundits is the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Thaksin’s 76.6 billion baht assets seizure case (Bangkok Post, 13 January 2010).

The government and anti-Thaksin commentators assume a guilty verdict and the confiscation of this sum. PPT guesses that they are probably right to guess this based on the outcome of previous cases against Thaksin. However, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban is urging “faith in the justice system and not worry about violence…” when the verdict is given. Using a relatively new line amongst the anti-Thaksin crowd, Suthep invokes the idea that “majority” interests should reign. Invoking the Abhisit Vejjaiva mantra,he adds: “When everything goes according to the rule of law, which is accepted by Thais, then everyone will have to accept it…”.

The Army chief General Anupong Paojinda assured the public that “the army is ready to maintain order if the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) intensifies its anti-government activities.

Anti-Thaksin activist Kaewsan Atibhodhi, a former member of the Assets Scrutiny Committee, urged all parties to respect the Supreme Court when it hands down its verdict.” Kaewsan testified for the prosecution, but held out the chance of a not guilty verdict.

PPT expects to see many more warnings to the red shirts on these matters over the next month or so. We also don’t expect any backing down on the anti-Thaksin side. Any loss of face or decision is seen as a major negative outcome with serious repercussions. The word is, don’t back down. Several red shirts make similar statements.



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