Home  
Is Thaksin increasingly “under siege”?

Updated On: Jan 17, 2006

After Sondhi Limthongkul’s Friday Thailand Weekly talk show at the Lumpini Park, he led about 3,000 protesters to Government House to demand Thaksin’s resignation and “return powers” to the King.

Charges of disrespect to His Majesty, corruption and inefficiency were also levelled. 

The 40 protesters, arrested Saturday morning, were released at 8 pmon Saturday pending further legal action against them. Meanwhile Deputy PM Chidchai Wannasathit said Mr Samarn, Mr Thanit and 40 other protesters are charged with assembly with intent to instigate civil disobedience. Metropolitan Police Bureau Commissioner Viroj Chantharangsee said the protest constituted unrest, damage to public property and assault of the police.

Thaksin vowed to prosecute the intruders of Government House. On his weekly radio programme: PM Thaksin meets people, he said, “I’ve been patient enough but breaking into Government House's compound was a show of disrespect to an official place… ."

The legal ramifications of the protest are unclear. Mr Thanit said police actually opened the Government House gate for the protesters. This easy entry is now widely seen as a trap. "It cannot be called a break-in or forced entry if the police themselves let the public enter the premises without a fight, as recalled by some eyewitnesses," ThammasatUniversitylaw lecturer Prinya Thaewanarumitkul said. "It is still unclear whether the protesters had destroyed state property while gathering inside. If so, they would have to be held accountable," he said. He also said the protesters had the right to peaceful assembly under the constitution.

As for political stability, although the rally was reminiscent of the 1992 protest that led to the downfall of Suchinda Kraprayoon, ThammasatUniversityacademic Theerayuth Boonmee said the protest was too soon to have an effect on Thaksin. He said the activists needed more evidence of corruption to bring down the Thaksin government. However, he also warned that small groups of activists would continue to rock the government, as Friday’s protest was “only the tip of an iceberg”.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday cautioned Thaksin not to stereotype people who joined Sondhi Limthongkul's talk show. Anek Laothammathat, warned against alleged attempts to provoke a clash between supporters and opponents of Mr Sondhi. "If people in government are behind this, that's not smart at all. Intimidation will make the crowds grow." From Thaksin’s reaction, he seemed unwilling to admit the disillusionment among Thais for his failure to resolve crises such as the escalating violence in the three southernmost provinces and the uproar over massive corruption, or to alleviate various economic and social ills. It is said that “the worst is yet to come for a prime minister who is increasingly alienated by the middle class.”

Sources:

Demonstrators 'can't be sued' if no force used, Bangkok Post, 15 January 2006.

40 arrests in Govt House clash,Bangkok Post, 15 January 2006.

Moving to the next level,Bangkok Post, 15 January 2006.

EDITORIAL: Not quite a revolt – yet,The Nation, 15 January 2006.

SIDELINES: Reality knocks in run-up to reality show, The Nation, 15 January 2006.

Friday's anti-Thaksin protest - tip of iceberg: Theerayuth,The Nation, 15 January 2006.

Released protesters regroup at LumpiniPark: report, The Nation, 15 January 2006.

Thousands of protesters lay siege to Government House,The Nation, 14 January 2006.

Sondhi seeks PM’s ouster, The Nation, 14 January 2006.

40 protesters released,The Nation, 14 January 2006.

Leaders of anti-Thaskin protest identified, The Nation, 14 January 2006.

Enough is enough: Thaksin, The Nation, 14 January 2006.