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Thai wrath turned to Singapore and Temasek

Updated On: Mar 10, 2006

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has written to Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong to set a deadline for Temasek Holdings to back out of the Shin Corp sale otherwise Singaporean products would be boycotted in Thailand.

Somsak Kosaiyasuk, a core leader of the PAD, and Rosana Tositrakul, head of the Federation for Consumer Rights Protection, led 50-odd protesters on Wednesday to the Singapore embassy with placards saying "Temasek Get Out, Thaksin Get Out", and "Thailand Not for Sale". Today, March 9, a bigger protest was launched outside the Singapore embassy.

The Bangkok Post reported that consumer rights activists believe such “negative economic momentum'' will oust Thaksin and thus “have drawn up a ''boycott list of goods and services linked to Shin Corp and Singapore” which include banks, airlines and hotels. Already there has been the destruction of SIM cards for mobile phones operated by Advanced Info Service (AIS), a unit of Shin Corp.

Saree Ongsomwang, manager of the Foundation for Consumers, said she expected more people to discard their AIS SIM cards over the coming days as 50 boxes would be placed around Bangkok for people to drop off their unwanted SIM cards. AIS (the biggest mobile service provider) is reportedly losing customers to its rival DTAC. Consumers like Amornrat Wongsaenganan, an office worker, said, ''AIS is no longer a Thai firm, so there's no reason for me to patronise it.'' Subhak Sivaraksa, president of TMB Bank, which has Singaporean bank DBS as a major shareholder, said he disagreed with the boycott, warning it could hurt Thailand's image in the world market.

Meanwhile, although Thai protesters threaten to scupper the deal and have warned that a boycott would start on Thursday if Temasek Holdings completes its purchase, the company has told The Straits Times that the original purchase of a 49.25 per cent interest had been completed and was continuing with the purchase of additional shares as required under Thai corporate law.

Besides potential ramifications on bilateral relations, such economic nationalism as displayed places doubts on the push for faster economic integration within ASEAN. 

The rising antagonism in Thai society between the urban and rural people and even within families has caused the Army chief, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, to urge Thais to unite and end the political stalemate out of concern for the King. "His Majesty would be very unhappy while we are having this problem," he said. Moreover, one of the King’s closest aides, Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont, has called on Thaksin and his opponents to negotiate their differences through talks.

It seems momentum is growing for the King to take action to end the political crisis as it continues to cause internal strife and affect the economy. Thaksin himself is ambivalent, declining to comment on whether he would quit politics temporarily as his critics demand. "Let's talk about it later," Thaksin replied when asked whether he would heed public calls for him step down from politics after the April 2 snap election.

Sources:                                                                                                                                     

We can do nothing about the deal : Singapore Embassy, The Nation, 9 March 2006                 

Surayud: It's time to sit and talk, Bangkok Post, 9 March 2006                              

Boycott campaign gains momentum, Bangkok Post, 9 March 2006                 

Singapore PM asked to look into Shin deal, Bangkok Post, 9 March 2006            

Farmers converge on Bangkok to boost Thaksin's spirits, Bangkok Post, 9 March 2006                                                                                                                                             

Army chief: Resolve crisis for the King, The Nation, 8 March 2006                                 

PAD protests outside Singapore embassy, The Nation, 8 March 2006                                      

Rise in family rifts because of political tensions, Bangkok Post, 8 March 2006                    

Rural folk break their silence to support PM, Bangkok Post, 8 March 2006                 

S'pore told to scrap Shin takeover or face boycott, Bangkok Post, 8 March 2006 







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