Hardening lines II

16 08 2020

With another student-led gathering planned for today, rightist ultra-royalists are networking in opposition.

Thai Post reproduces a letter being circulated to oppose the students and their ten demands. This group appears to be the handiwork of Tul Sitthisomwong, the Chulalongkorn University medical faculty lecturer who has quite a history.

Clipped from The Nation several years ago

We think PPT’s first mention of Tul was in early April 2010 when he was a part of a pink shirt – channeling the king – rally, opposing red shirts. Abhisit Vejjajiva, then premier, gave them lots of support. At the time, Tul claimed that the group saw “themselves as a civic group opposing the offensive attempts against the monarchy, an unjustified snap election and runaway protests disrupting normalcy and peace.” Despite his claims that the pink shirts were not linked to the People’s Alliance for Democracy, Tul acted as a representative and member of PAD. The pink shirts later morphed into the “multicoloured- shirt group” and the “Citizen Protecting Homeland Group” or sometimes rendered “Citizen Network for Protection of Motherland.” In 2012, royalists including Tul cheered two thugs who had beaten up Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut because he called for reform of the lese majeste law. In 2013-14, Tul Sitthisomwong joined People’s Democratic Reform Committee rallies.

In other words, Tul’s has been around at the beginning of every royalist movements since the mid-2000s. His beffuddled understanding of monarchy is reproduced here.

The mobilizing of ultra-royalists has been a task often assigned to the Internal Security Operations Command, and has often been a precursor to increased political conflict.

While ultra-royalists are organizing, the media is being censored. In a remarkable op-ed at Khaosod, on the divide between youngsters and the old man royalist-military elite, Pravit Rojanaphruk demonstrates censorship.

The demands are listed here.

Meanwhile, universities have been ordered to prevent students from expressing their views on the monarchy.

Former communist, former academic, former failed politician, opportunist, bow-tied buffoon, and newly appointed Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Anek Laothamatas demanded universities fall into line on royalist boundary riding and indoctrination:

Universities must be strict with their students in this respect and they must take responsibility if they fail to act, Mr Anek said.

“Teachers must explain to their students how important the monarchy is. Thailand has a constitutional monarchy. We must work together to prevent students and outsiders from insulting the monarchy. You can’t afford to turn a blind eye,” Mr Anek said.

Those present at the meeting included the presidents of Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, Thammasat University, Chiang Mai University, Khon Kaen University, and Silpakorn University.

We imagine that this hardening of response, including arrests, represents the regime’s response to “royal advice” received during the king’s few hours in Bangkok earlier in the week.





Why we are not surprised IV

22 06 2011

It is about a month since we had our third post in this series. It’s time for the fourth post, as a series of summaries of unsurprising news reports.

1. Bangkok Pundit has an important post on ballot irregularities. His comments should be read in conjunction with the comments, which refer to other claims of ballot problems for overseas voters. We are not surprised that the Election Commission could make such a “mistake” with the Puea Thai Party logo. PPT can confirm the comment made on BP’s post that claims the EC documents sent to voters use a different logo for Puea Thai than that in the ballots. That can only confuse voters, especially for party list. Remember when Election Commissioners were jailed a few years ago. We are willing to bet that these commissioners are treated better.

2. Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn is reported to have said that “he was a government official and not a member of any political party.” PPT has never expected that this unscrupulous person was anything less than a Privy Council and Army connected toady. He’s paid to be a professional sycophant. But who pays him? If he is a government official, why is he shadowing Abhisit Vejjajiva on the campaign trail? Isn’t this a form of corruption? Has he quietly resigned from his acting position? We wouldn’t be surprised to find Panitan pilfering the public purse.

3. Can readers remember the reports of a week ago when Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared that he’d keep quiet until the election? We are not surprised that just a week later, the mega-mouth general has been at it again. This time he has rejected the Puea Thai election policy to make the three southern border provinces a special administrative zone. He couldn’t help himself.

4. We weren’t at all surprised to learn that the leader of the Bhum Jai Thai Party Newin Chidchob has demanded that all the supporters of his top-ranked Thai Premier League team Buriram PEA vote for his party. Okay, he’s not the official leader, but everyone knows he’s the boss. Newin has spent billions and a couple of years building what he said was an apolitical effort to lead a great soccer team. Everyone knew that this was a way to get “automatic” support for Newin’s party. Does any of that spending count as election campaign spending? Probably not for this EC.

5. Former People’s Alliance for Democracy, pink shirt, multi-color shirt leader and anti-red shirt Tul Sitthisomwong, who is now a leader of the so-called Civil Network Against Thaksin’s Corruption Pardon just ended a four-day signature campaign that asked people to file complaints against Puea Thai’s Yingluck Shinawatra. He gathered a paltry 4,000 signatures, but beamed when he claimed “[t]he majority does not necessarily equate with righteousness.” We were not surprised when he stated: “If and when [Pheu Thai] becomes the government and takes any action, we will come out in opposition again.” Of course they will!





Abhisit and PAD

4 11 2010

PPT has longed pointed to the mutually supportive links between the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and the People’s Alliance for Democracy. While there have been the odd little tensions, the fact is that the Democrat Party pretty much owes its control of government to PAD’s willingness to rally for months. And when the political going gets tough, the yellow/pink/multi-color shirts have always come to its aid.

The problem for the Abhisit government is that the yellow shirts are ultra-nationalists and are unpredictable. Hence, it is no surprise seeing a little more argy-bargy over the Cambodian border. However, Abhisit always takes such actions personally. So it is no surprise to see the police suddenly make a move on charges against the PAD leadership from 2008.

For both sides, this is potentially troublesome and could get out of hand. The elite that backs Abhisit is also a factor in this. Like Thaksin Shinawatra,PAD’s  Sonthi Limthongkul has the capacity to mobilize crowds. That makes him a possible threat.

 





Dangerous Sombat

12 10 2010

PPT has intimated before that political crackdowns under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime tend to be associated with an outpouring of seemingly coordinated hyper-ventilating from security forces, the government’s acting spokesman, CRES, palace associates and a bunch of angry pink/yellow royalists. That point seems to have been reached again. It remains to be seen if their is an escape valve for all this anger and fear.

Prachatai has a report that relates to the fear and anger of yellow shirts associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Their report is about “Khamnoon Sitthisaman, appointed senator and Sondhi Limthongkul’s right-hand man” who has vigorously attacked Sombat Boonngamanong’s symbolic and peaceful protest activities, saying they “are more dangerous than violent campaigns, as they cannot be handled by the law.”

The dangerous Sombat at Rajaprasong

Ominously, Khamnoon draws a (false) comparison with the period of communist insurgency, but claims the red shirts are more threatening. But he makes the excellent point that the “March-April 2010 [red shirt] rallies seem to be a defeat, but only in the form of large public gatherings.  In contrast, illegal, underground, decentralized and guerrilla-like campaigns have pervaded.  Khamnoon believes that even if Thaksin Shinawatra wanted to order a halt, he couldn’t because he wouldn’t know who to give the order to.  It is not really an exaggeration to say that a certain number of red shirts have already gone beyond Thaksin…”

Of all red shirt activities, Sombat’s are said to be the most dangerous:  “Sombat’s campaigns cannot be prosecuted under any laws, whether the lèse majesté Section 112 or anything else.” Other yellow shirts agree and they want the government to do something.The New Politics Party has urged Abhisit “to be strong and to tighten his grip on power in dealing more firmly with problems, particularly the anti-monarchy movement.”

This is how authoritarianism is embedded.





Newin’s pro-monarchist rally a non-event

27 09 2010

Siam Voices is a blog worth following. Most recently, Saksith Saiyasombut has a useful post on the Newin Chidchob-Bhum Jai Thai Party-Ministry of Interior efforts to mobilize so-called pro-monarchy groups prior to the red shirt events on 19 September.

The event was promoted as large and impressive, with loads of pink shirt wearing people marching about with plenty of flags. In fact, while 50,000 people were predicted to participate, the pro-monarchy ASTV/Manager “said only 20,000 came and the national news agency NBT states that only 5,000 showed up…”.

Saksith concludes: “Considering the comparatively mute media coverage in the following days (and since the red shirt protests on Sunday were larger and more significant), this whole occasion was a non-event.”





PAD, multi-color, pink and no color are all the same

1 06 2010

Readers might remember that not long before the bloody crackdown on the red shirts, the government suddenly had supporters rallying claiming first to be pink shirts and then no color and finally multi-color. The line pushed by the mainstream media was the fairytale that these groups were independent and peace-loving. The obvious relationship of these groups to the yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy was covered up or barely mentioned.

That dissembling continues as the royalists – and that is what they are – seek a crushing victory over the hated red shirts and all associated with them. Hence the Bangkok Post (31 May 2010) reports on a PAD lawyer filing a petition with the Election Commission “seeking the dissolution of the opposition Puea Thai Party and the banning of its leader and executive committee members from politics.”

Alleged “human rights” lawyer Nitithorn Lamlua, says that since April this year Puea Thai leader and executives “had collaborated with convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and core members of the anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to violate the Political Party Act of 2007 … [and] had told the red-shirts at various UDD rallies to break the law, including setting fire to government offices.”

At the same time, the “anti-UDD multi-colour group” – a branch of the royalist PAD –  “submitted a petition to Senate Speaker Prasobsuk Boondej seeking the removal from office of three Puea Thai MPs for allegedly violating the constitution.” That group of so-called multi-colors was led by PAD member Tul Sitthisomwong. “Their petition was signed by 22,100 people, and copies of their IDs were attached. The petition alleges the three MPs violated Articles 164, 270 and 274 of the charter by attending and speaking on the stage at the red-shirt rally at Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong commercial district.”

Remarkably, they blame the MPs for all loss of life and damage caused by the military’s crack down on the red shirts. As was the case in 1976-78, when the looney royalists are in the ascendant, politics becomes increasingly right-wing and partisan.





What PAD and associated pink/“no”/”multi” shirts want

7 05 2010

When the no and multi-colors suddenly emerged and were trumpeted by many in yje mainstream media as “independent” of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Of course, as PPT and others showed, this ignored a remarkable amount of obvious links between PAD and the pink/no/multi shirts.

Now that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has offered to deal with the red shirts and has met with the leaders of PAD and the no/multis, what do PAD and the no/multis say? Do their positions vary? The basic answer is unsurprising with both opposed to any “deal” that doesn’t crush and/or punish the red shirts.

PAD have been clear. In the Bangkok Post (5 May 2010), several PAD leaders were cited following the meeting with Abhisit. PAD spokesman and New Politics Party secretary-general Suriyasai Katasila stated that the premier’s proposals are “not a solution to the country’s ills.” Suriyasai saw the proposals as a kind of deal between the Democrat Party-led government and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship. Suriyasai said that “while the country faced terrorists and movements threatening to topple the royal institution which were linked to the red shirt protesters,” Abhisit essentially avoided these issues. Most worrying for PAD was the possibility of an “amnesty for … Thaksin Shinawatra, terrorists, anti-royal movements, red shirt protest leaders and politicians banned for electoral fraud.”

At My.sinchew.com (6 May 2010), PAD are quoted as calling for the resignation of the prime minister after accusing him of secret deals with the red shirts.

They opposed the announced early election plan and “vowed to oppose any attempt to change the constitution or grant an amnesty for politicians hit with bans after their parties were dissolved.” The militant Chamlong Srimuang claimed Thailand’s problems would only worsen after the dissolution of the lower house, and subsequent elections…”. He slammed the prime minister for reconciling with “terrorists” to dissolve the house. He added: “it’s extremely bad for the country and the monarchy…”.

PAD leader Somsak Kosaisuk “called on the government to decisively enforce the law against Red Shirts…” while others “accused Abhisit of abandoning those who have supported the government in its fight against Thaksin’s allies.”

In the Bangkok Post (7 May 2010), the pink/no/multi group said to also be opposed to the dissolution. PAD affiliate Dr Tul Sithisomwong, cited as if he is a leader of an independent group, claims that he had told the prime minister to wait until a budget was in place. He seemed to think that the premier was under pressure from the red shirts. This is seen as a “bad precedent.” In addition, Tul said his group opposed any attempt to amend the constitution. And, just like PAD, Tul worried about an amnesty for banned politicians and wanted strong action against red shirt leaders on “various charges including offences against the monarchy.” He confirmed that his group would continue its anti-red shirt rallies. While Tul didn’t call on Abhisit to stand down, the space between PAD and his group is negligible. The group would continue to stage rallies to counter the red shirts until the red shirts stopped their rally.

Abhisit, who seems to be uncomfortable with his “own” proposals and is apparently canvassing those opposed to “his” proposals. On amnesty, he stated that “there would not be an amnesty for politicians on criminal charges. However, he said whether there would be an amnesty for politicians on political offences depended on the people throughout the country to decide.”

PPT have a feeling that opposition to the proposals may well suit Abhisit. He’s clearly not happy with them and has been forced into a narrow set of “principles” that lead to a political solution. Many of his supporters, including many in the Democrat Party seem to want a “final showdown” rather than what they see as a not-so-final stepdown.





Updated: Explosions at Silom

22 04 2010

This a post began as a running report on bombings on Silom Road on the evening of 22 April 2010. PPT has now edited it to be more of a regular post.

At around 8 p.m., there were explosions on Silom Road, near the intersection with Rama IV road, where a small group of so-called multi-clor demonstrators had gathered to hurl abuse and objects at red shirt demonstrators, barricaded behind bamboo and tires across the intersection. Soldiers and police were in attendance. Soon after, the first media reports began (here and here).

Initially the reports were of 2-4 explosions and a few minor injuries. The reports placed the explosions in the Silom area near the skytrain station (BTS) at Saladaeng although there were several reports saying near CP Tower, further up Silom. As each report came out, the injury toll went up (TAN said 20 injured; other international sources had 50 were injured; an updated AP report said 1 killed and 50 injured, citing government accounts; Reuters was soon saying 75 injured and 1 dead).

The Nation (above) said that the explosions were grenades fired from M-79 grenade launchers and were “near” the anti-red shirt group.  As might be expected, the explosions caused some panic. The Bangkok Post was soon reporting that the explosions were more widespread than the BTS station. The number of bombs was unclear (and remains so). The Bangkok Post was reporting up to 6 grenades/bombs near the Dusit Thani Hotel and skytrain station.

A foreign correspondent at the scene emailed PPT a couple of hours after the first bomb, saying that the whole scene and events remain “murky.” So murky was it that The Nation reported the arrest of 5 suspects, 4 of them arrested at the nearby Robinson Department Store.Soon it was reported (see Bangkok Post) that these suspects were arrested while aiding the injured and 4 of them claimed to be anti-red shirt. The Bangkok Post soon stated that the “suspects” were released: “four were supporters of the multi-coloured group who opposed the red-shirt’s movement. They had digital cameras and video cameras containing footage … of the soldiers working at Silom intersection. One of them – Kitti Keycharoen – was arrested after he took off his shirt and shouted angrily after his friend was wounded from one of the blasts.”

Some  post-blast video was soon available.

Remarkably, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Taugsuban was on television claiming that the grenades were launched from within the red zone, apparently even before the final explosion had occurred. He was also reported as saying “at least” 3 dead, 70-75 injured. Thai media was reporting that some grenades were fired Chulalongkorn Hospital and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was saying that the black-cloaked terrorists of 10 April were now in white.

Al Jazeera has this important comment:  “The army had blamed the red shirts for Thursday’s grenade attacks,even before all five explosions had taken place and Suthep Thaugsuban, the deputy prime minister, went on television to say that the grenades had been fired from an M79 grenade launcher from within the red shirts’ protest area.” Suthep was also contradicted on casualties. The Bangkok Post reported “the Erawan Emergency Centre on Friday morning to one woman confirmed killed and another 86 people  wounded.”

Deputy PM Suthep also vented his frustration with the police for “doing nothing” to stop the standoff between people on Silom and red shirts. This video seems to show police in action, being attacked by the supposed “no color” shirts, and then being blocked by the military.

From Bangkok Post

The Nation said the explosions were separated by up to 1 hour and 45 minutes. The Bangkok Post had a different story with a map (right). The Post implied red shirt prior knowledge of the attack.

On the other side, a report from inside the red zone became available, including comments on the grenades, and more video became available, including disturbing aftermath video here. Al Jazeera video:

Basic things remain unclear. How many explosions were there? What was the timing of the explosions? Where did the bombs come from? On the latter, the Bangkok Administration claims to have evidence that grenades were launched “from the direction of the Lumpini Park into the crowds on Silom Road.” How many deaths and injuries are there? The Erawan Center that reports injuries is usually very reliable on these matters, but there are many different reports.

Update: This video is shot from the red shirt zone and is claimed to be of the grenade attacks.





With 4 updates: PAD is on the march

18 04 2010

The People’s Alliance for Democracy has been organizing various pink shirt and “no color” rallies in support of the Abhisit Vejjajiva government over the past few weeks, opposing the red shirts. Now they are mobilizing in a more serious way. The Bangkok Post has this telling headline: “Thai govt given ultimatum by “Yellow Shirt” allies.” The article says: “Thailand’s elite-backed ‘Yellow Shirts’ vowed Sunday to take action if the government failed to deal with their rival red-clad demonstrators in Bangkok within a week, a spokesman said.”

A PAD spokesman said: “In seven days we hope that the government will deal with the terrorists from Thaksin immediately otherwise we will show our voice to protect the country and the royal family…”. Terrorists, Thaksin, nationalism, monarchy. This mix is meant to galvanize opposition to the red shirts and to push the army to action.

Update 1: PAD gets considerable support in the mainstream media. Of course it has its own media in ASTV/Manager, which is venomous in its attacks on anyone considered “soft” on Thaksin Shinawatra, and it hates the red shirts. In the English-language press, the Bangkok Post is owned and managed by Democrat supporters and funders, with Chirathivats (Central Group) and Vejjajivas included. The Nation is often foaming at the mouth in its editorial pages in support of anyone who opposes Thaksin and the red shirts. The recent blog, pointed out be a regular reader, by the ever maniacal Thanong Khanthong of lying on ABC TV infamy, is barking mad, but reflects the yellow-shirted fear and fight. He argues that Abhisit Vejjajiva must smash the red shirts now or risk a red-yellow civil war.

As we have said before, Thanong is a pretty good bell weather of PAD discussions and thinking. He says it is “clear that one of the hidden agendas of the Red Shirts is to take over the state before downgrading or removing the Monarchy from the facets of the Thai society.” His scenario, warning Abhisit, is that “Thais from all colours will come out to kill each other because by that time they can’t differentiate who are their friends or foes.”

Thanong makes 6 points:

1. The “Military and the Police have not exhibited any signs of urgency to take on the Red Shirts.”

2. The “security forces and the Police have yet to nab the 25 Red Shirts leaders…. The attempt to arrest Arisman … at SC Park Hotel on Friday turned into a farce. It reflects a dark plot to repeatedly show that the Abhisit government is no longer in control of law and order. The Police are in full neutral gear mode.”

3. Abhisit “is hanging on his premiership by a tiny string. Both the Military, the Police, the Red Shirts and the coalition partners are applying tremendous pressure for him to resign or to dissolve Parliament immediately. Within the Democrats, Abhisit is also losing his control.”

4. The red shirts will get “more confrontational and violent.” mode. They are “now attempting to stage a Revolution to change the Thai regime. The high profile role of the left-leaning faction of the Red Shirts is evidence of this movement.”

5. The military is divided. The “flip-flop announcement of the leadership restructuring of the Emergency Operation Command shows that Abhisit’s power is being eroded.”

6. The PAD 7-day deadline to Abhisit will put “pressure on Abhisit to act on the Red Shirts. So far Gen Anupong and his Army are reluctant to take on the Red Shirts…. Many are raising doubts about the ambiguous stance of Gen Anupong.”

Thanong concludes that Abhisit must act against the red shirts now or there will be civil war.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post has a short story:

PAD co-leader Somsak Kosaisuk – Sondhi Limthongkul has been missing for months, perhaps in China – reportedly said “Thailand has never experienced a deep division like this one before. The red-shirts are using the words ‘commoners’ and ‘elites’ to create such division.” In fact it might have been wealthy PAD backer Arthit Urairat saying this as the report is unclear. Arthit is reported as opining that the “country belongs to everyone of us but there are some people who are destroying the country to gain personal benefits…”. The alway grinning but exceptionally dangerous former mercenary and PAD co-leader Chamlong Srimuang said the red shirts were made up of the “MPs who work in the House of Representatives, the demonstrators and the insurgents.”

In fact, the PAD meeting appears to have been rather more rabid than these reports indicate. Some of the tweets indicate this.

Update 3: It seems that PAD reckons that the government killed no one on 10 April. AFP cites Parnthep Pourpongpan, a PAD spokesman fas demanding that the red shirts “value their own lives by not making any untrue statements saying that the government killed the people…”. Continuing with this threatening line, he added: “The Red Shirts should save their lives by stopping the rally…”. Very clear and to the point and very reminiscent of statements by the frenzied right before the blood-letting on 6 October 1976.

Update 4: The Nation reports that Chamlong Srimuang said the “red shirts have caused polarisation with words like ‘prai’ and ‘ammat’ but their real intention is to mobilise the masses as a means to transform the political system…”. PAD leader Pipop Thongchai “blamed fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Pheu Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh for the April 10 violence.” He also claimed that “[h]ardcore leftists and certain remnants of the nowdefunct Communist Party of Thailand had teamed up with the red shirts to try to trigger a civil war…”.

PAD issued a statement “condemning Thaksin and his army of red shirts for trying to incite a rebellion. Pheu Thai Party, the red shirts and a private army were seeking to agitate the public, leading to an uprising, it said in the statement.”

This might all sound far-fetched but these notions are believed and accepted by their supporters. The inciting of right-wing rage is required to justify strong, violent and probably deadly  action against the red shirts.





With 4 updates: Alerts from Bangkok

16 04 2010

This received from a reader (with PPT adding some news links):

RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 14, 2010: We have received the following credible information indicating the Thai government will attempt to clear red-shirt protesters from Ratchaprasong tonight and continue with their failed attempt of this morning to assassinate UDD leaders.

The information supplied late this afternoon from various reliable sources states:

1.    Many ambulances around Rajaprasong this evening even though there are many hospitals in the area.
2.    Intelligence report says that weapons are being transported via Sansaeb Canal.
3.    Extra war weapons are being brought in from Prachinburi ETA 10 pm at Bangsue.
4.    Police Sources report that snipers are being placed on roof tops at Rajaprasong.
5.    Soldiers are instructed to wear combat uniforms this evening.
6.    Trucks with Amplifiers are being  prepared.
7.    Chinook Helicopters are being prepared, possibly to transport captured people.
8.    Military Barrack at Hat Yai is being prepared for a prison camp.

Abhisit [Vejjajiva] was just on the air. Suthep [Thaugsuban] just got replaced by [General] Anupong [Paochinda] as head of the Emergency Operations Command…. This was obviously sorted out earlier today as Abhisit was expected to make a statement at 1pm– it is now 9:30pm, and Anupong has called a meeting for all officers above the rank of Maj-Gen for Monday, so he must have been feeling confident. Anupong seems to be going along with the whole “clear out the terrorist” thing. Rumours of tanks rolling out of 11th infantry.

Update 1: AP reports Abhisit in this way:

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, speaking in a special television broadcast on all stations, said Gen. Anupong Paochinda would take charge of the peacekeeping force meant to prevent violence by red-shirted protesters who are seeking to topple his government.

“A decision has been made to make the command line more effective and swifter,” Abhisit said. “Therefore I have made an order to change the person in charge to Anupong, the army commander.”

He said the peacekeeping force will be able to “call in forces in a more united and integrated way, so that they can handle the terrorism-related activities specifically.”

It looks exceptionally dangerous. Abhisit seems to be determined to get a higher body count.

Update 2: Prachatai has been blocked locally and, it seems, internationally. What’s happened there? Army action? [Now back up]

Prachatai reports that “The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation has ordered the MICT to close 190 websites, of which over 60% are claimed to be politically seditious.  Since the red shirt protests started, the MICT has ordered the blocking of about 500 URLs per day on average.” On the 16th, CRES “ordered the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology to close 190 seditious websites, most of which broadcast the red shirts’ protests. According to the source, officials are keeping a close watch, especially over camfrogs broadcasting the protests which provoke and incite violence and divisiveness.  It takes less than 10 minutes to block an URL.”

Update 3: msn news reports that “Thailand’s embattled prime minister put his army chief in charge of security in the capital … [and the] Thai army planning operation to clear protesters…”. The report states that the “military said it was planning another operation to disperse the thousands of protesters from Bangkok’s commercial district but the timing had not yet been decided.” This from the horse’s mouth, the horse being Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd:  “There will be an effort to retake the area. We can’t allow protests there because it damages the country…”.

Democrat Party insider Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fellow at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said:  “When you let the military control a situation it hardly ever ends nice and peacefully. There’s a possibility it might turn nasty.” We at PPT agree. This is potentially a bloody disaster.

Update 4: The government is happily being pushed by yellow shirts, effectively baying for red shirt blood. The Nation (17 April 2010) calls them pink shirts, but their leadership is made up of yellow shirts from the People’s Alliance for Democracy. The paper says “thousands” attended a rally outside the 11th Infantry Regiment, but provides no more precise estimate. They rallied to urge Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to stay and to take tougher action against the red shirts.

The group waved “the national flag and carry[ied] signs such as ‘We love the King. Thai people don’t have colour’, they handed out roses, snacks and energy drinks to the soldiers there.” Led by PAD activist Tul Sitthisomwong, other speakers included General Pathompong Kesornsuk and lawyer Nithithorn Lamlua, both members of PAD. Copies of a statement were handed out that claimed “the red-shirt rally in Bangkok instigated social division, amounted to lese majeste, and created violence. They alleged the red-shirt gathering violated the Constitution and had the intention of overthrowing the democratic form of government with the King as head of state. The group hence would exercise its right to protect lives, property and communities, as per Articles 70 and 71 of the 2007 Constitution.”

Abhisit had apparently “thanked the people for their support and vowed to continue working and restoring the peace.” The group “asked all leading PAD members from all provinces to gather at Rangsit University tomorrow.” Where is Sondhi Limthongkul in all of this?

The usual cast of 40 pro-PAD  senators also “called for action against red-shirt leaders.” They urged the “public to show their power, as national security and the high institution were facing a threat.” Can this call to action be any clearer? It is equivalent to events in 1976 when right-wing radio urged people to come out and then saw a massacre of students. These right-wing, royalist and Pad-supporting senators “opposed dissolution of the House or resignation of the government.”