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Was the attempted assassination on Thaksin for real?

Updated On: Aug 29, 2006

The alleged assassination attempt on Thaksin’s life last Thursday has disrupted the Thai Rak Thai party’s campaigning format.

The Bangkok Post reported that senior TRT leaders are worried for Thaksin’s safety and have advised him to scale down his campaigning, some TRT leaders going as far as standing in for him in “risk-prone areas”. TRT spokesman Ekkaporn Rakkwamsuk has also announced that Thaksin should “canvass for votes in safe areas and broadcasting the campaign nationwide through video-conferencing facilities”.

The authorities also plan to crack down on anti-Thaksin protestors by telling the police to “strictly enforce the law when dealing with demonstrations”. These include the dismantling of makeshift structures used in protests –with negligence charges against the city administration if it failed to comply, and police surveillance through “dispatching ‘rapid deployment forces’ armed with cameras to various locations to collect information for use in case of crimes”.

It seems that only Thaksin, the TRT and the police are supporting the “pity-party”. The Democrat party, The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and half ofBangkok think that Thaksin is merely crying wolf and trying to gain public sympathy. Just after this bomb scare, another fake bomb has been found 500 metres away from Thaksin’s residence.

For one, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has announced that since Thaksin knows that there were four army officers orchestrating the bomb plot, “legal action must be taken and arrests must be made immediately”. PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang has further denounced last Friday’s demonstration by 100 supporters of the prime minister outside the residence of Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda. He felt that they were trying to “link Prem to alleged murder attempt”.

In a survey by Bangkok University, 49.8% of the 1,174 people in Bangkok and surrounding provinces questioned believed that the bomb attempt was a stage-managed. Only slightly over than 20% of the respondents thought it was a genuine assassination plot. However, another poll by Assumption University of 1,133 people in Bangkok and adjacent provinces showed that almost 47% reserved judgment on the issue as “official findings were not available”. The second poll was released yesterday and conducted on between Thursday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, the sole arrest made is for Lieutenant Thawat-chai Klinchana on charges of “unlawful possession of explosive devices”, police spokesman Lt-General Ajiravid Subarnbhesaj told the media. Security at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) where the suspect is detained has been enhanced with the deployment of 40 surveillance officers and barricades. No additional arrests have been made due to lack of evidence.

Lt. Thawatchai has pleaded innocence and insists he was framed –there was apparently a man called Jui who had asked to pick up the Daewoo car at the Bang Phlat flyover. Police suspect Lt. Thawatchai of having civilian collaborators, which means he will be prosecuted and tried in a civilian court. This is against his family’s wishes of having a military trial. Sgt-Major Itthipol, the suspect’s elder brother, told the Bangkok Post, “I want my younger brother to be put under military custody as I have more faith in its neutrality.”

Sources:

Suspect's kin want military court trial (Bangkok Post, 28 August 2006)

Fake bomb found near Thaksin's house (The Nation, 28 August 2006)

Inquiry is moving at a 'snail's pace' (The Nation, 28 August 2006)

Detain alleged bomb plotters or pipe down (The Nation, 28 August 2006)

Capital divided over bomb plot (The Nation, 28 August 2006)

PM to campaign remotely instead (Bangkok Post, 27 August 2006)

Abhisit urges Thaksin to arrest four military officers 'linked' to bomb plot (The Nation, 27 August 2006)

PM seen reaping short-term gains (The Nation, 27 August 2006)

Abhisit challenges Thaksin to make arrests (The Nation, 27 August 2006)

Thaksin supporters plead with Prem to save premier (The Nation, 27 August 2006)

Police 'instructed to get tougher' (Bangkok Post, 27 August 2006)