POST-THAKSIN ERA IN THAILAND
Todd Pitman of Associated Press wrote: “The army deposed Thaksin in a 2006 coup. Controversial court rulings that critics labeled "judicial coups" forced the resignation of two Thaksin-allied prime ministers who followed in 2008. One of them was Thaksin's brother-in-law, who saw his own office at Government House occupied by protesters for three months in 2008. He never set foot in his Government House office: He worked for 10 weeks out of the VIP lounge of the capital's old airport until protesters evicted him from there, too. The same year, army-backed parliamentary maneuvering allowed the opposition Democrat Party — a minority that has not won an election for more than two decades — to take power for several years. [Source: Todd Pitman, Associated Press, December 2, 10, 2013]
The opposition Democrat Party took over, and in 2009, pro-Thaksin protesters overran a regional summit, forcing heads of state to be hastily evacuated by helicopter from a hotel rooftop. The next year, red shirts occupied Bangkok's glitziest shopping district for weeks in a standoff that ended with parts of the city in flames. More than 90 people died, many of them protesters gunned down in an army crackdown ordered by Suthep, who was deputy prime minister at the time.
New Constitution in Thailand and Elections in 2007
After the September 2006 coup, a new constitution that aimed at preventing a single party from amassing as much power as it did under Thaksin was drafted by body appointed by the military junta that took power after the coup. It weakened electoral politics and the power of the prime minister and the political parties and gave more power to the military and the bureaucracy. The parliament system remained in place although the number of seats was reduced from 500 to 480. The make up of the Senate was greatly altered (See Legislature). Some academics called the new charter “managed democracy.” It gave the military great powers, including amnesty for the coup leaders and oversight by the military over political activity at all levels.
The new 2007 constitution—Thailand’s 17th constitution since the absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932— was approved in a referendum held in August 2007 with 57 percent of voters supporting it and 41 percent voting against it. The voter turnout was 57 percent. The new constitution was prerequisite for going ahead with elections. The 41 percent vote against it was a clear sign that a large number of people were not pleased. Many of those who voted in support of the new constitution did so that elections would happens sooner than later.
General elections were held in late December 2007, the first after the September 2006 coup, after many delays. A total of 5,000 candidates from 39 parties took part but the election was mainly as showdown between the People’s Power Party (PPP), comprised of Thaksin supporters, and The Democratic Party. The campaign was mostly calm and violence-free. There were relatively few allegations of voter fraud. Videotapes of Thaksin urging people to vote for the PPP were widely distributed. Over Over 200,000 police were deployed on election day.
The PPP won 233 of 480 seats. The Democratic Party won 164 seats. The constitution court ruled that the election was valid even though a couple of top PPP members were disqualified for vote buying. The PPP forged a six party coalition that held two thirds of the 480 seats in parliament. Thaksin returned to Thailand in February 2008 after the new government made up mostly of his supporters took office. He had been in exile for 17 months.
Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat
The PPP leader Samak Sundaravej was named prime minister in February 2008. Known for his earthy, abrasiveness, direct style, short temper and shoot-from-the-hip remarks, he clung to power despite having a strong coalition to support him in the midst of street protests to oust him. He got off to bad start in the eye of many by defending Thaksin in his first major speech and promoting policies supported by Thaksin while saying he would not interfere with the corruption trial against Thaksin. The tirades he made trying to hold on to power didn’t help matters.
In February 2008, Samak launched a new weekly television show using the state-run television called “Samal Talks” . He also hosted two cooking shows,”Tasting, Complaining” , which included bits on traditional Thai cooking and rants on subjects of Samak’s choice,” and “ All Set at 6 am “ . Samak is an avid cook with a hefty frame. Some joked the shows showed that at least one person liked his food. “Tasting, Complaining” had run for seven years before it was pulled off the air after the coup in 2006 by the ruling junta.
The son of Chinese parents from Bangkok, Samak first made a name for himself as a fiery right-wing, anti-communist radio commentator in the 1970s. His political career began in 1968 when he joined the Democratic Party and served as the governor (mayor) of Bangkok and held several cabinet posts. His aggressive, shoot-from-the-hip remarks won him fans among the working classes but rubbed the educated class the wrong way and angered members of his own party who wished he would tone it down. In 1976 he allegedly stirred up right-wing mobs that killed student activists. He was investigated over shady waste management contacts and the purchase of Austrian fire trucks that took place when he was Bangkok governor from 2001 to 2004.
In March 2008, Samak proposed legalizing casinos and opening some in tourist centers in part so the government could get a share of the billions of dollars that otherwise goes to illegal gambling in Thailand. In April 2008, Samak lashed out at a famous fortuneteller for predicting the fall of his government. The fortuneteller, Varin Buaviralert, is said to have been consulted from time to time by Thaksin and his wife and the man who overthrew Thaksin, former army chief Sondhi Boonyaratglin.
Samak survived a no confidence vote and tried to cling to power by reshuffling his cabinet and proposing a referendum but these moves satisfied no one. He was ousted by a court order in October 2008 that ruled that payments he received for appearances on the cooking shows violated conflict-of-interest laws. A producer of one show said that Samak was paid $2,300 for his appearance on four shows.” By the end of his stint as prime minister Samak had antagonized everybody in Thailand, it seemed, including the media and the military. Even his supporters didn’t shed any tears when he was ousted.
Somchai Wongsawat was named acting prime minister after Samak’s ouster in October 2008. He is married to Thaksin’s sister. His government, which included many Thaksin friends, allies and family members, was accused of being a puppet of Thaksin. Somachai, a soft-spoken former judge and bureaucrat, came across as much more urbane and restrained than the fiery Samak. But any hopes that he would pacify anti-government protesters didn’t last. The protests only seemed intensify when Somachai replaced Samak. Somchai was ousted by a court order. See Below
Yellow Shirt Protests in 2008
Fervent anti-government street protest began in May 2008. They were lead by a group that called itself the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which supported the opposition Democratic Party but wasn’t part of it. The protesters called for the ouster first of Prime Minister Samak and then the ouster of Prime Minister Somchai—which they regarded as Thaksin puppets—and the purging of the government of Thaksin allies. For his part Samak claimed his right to his job as was chosen through democratic means. Threats of force by Samak only seemed to egg on the protestors.
The PAD was made up mainly of Bangkok urban elite—embracing businessmen, academics, activists and people from all walks of life— and led by the firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul, a wealthy media tycoon, and believed to be supported behind the scenes by Queen Sikrit. The group was far from reformist: its members called for constitutional restriction of democracy to reduce the influence of the rural voters that supported Thaksin. They wanted a parliament in which only 30 percent of the members are elected and the most are appointed.
Hannah Beech wrote in Time: “They called themselves the people's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), but their aims were hardly democratic. During their 192-day protest campaign, the PAD paralyzed Thailand, blockading the capital's two airports for eight days and besieging the Prime Minister's office complex for months. By the time the opposition alliance withdrew on Dec. 3, a democratically elected government had been disbanded by the country's courts and political street violence had claimed several lives. And should future polls bring back politicians linked with Thailand's ousted rulers? "The PAD will return," vowed alliance leader Sondhi Limthongkul, who earlier in the siege told his thousands of supporters to "shed your blood if it is necessary." [Source: Hannah Beech, Time, January 1, 2009]
“Thailand was once celebrated as a democratic oasis in a region awash with authoritarianism. Today, the Southeast Asian nation is reeling from its worst political crisis since a democracy movement toppled a military regime 17 years ago. A new government has been formed — the fourth in 2008 — but its Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, was forced to delay his inaugural policy address because of protests by supporters of the previous administration. Hovering in the background is the PAD, which draws its ranks from the very middle class and élite that supported the 1992 democracy movement, and has as its ultimate aim a so-called "New Politics," whose fuzzy, oft-shifting aims have included the undemocratic step of appointing parliamentarians. "We're looking at a dead end politically," says Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. "It's hard to understand how democracy in Thailand has come to this."
King Bhumibol was silent but his wife Queen Sirikit gave tacit support to the protesters by giving financial assistance to protesters injured in the clashes and attending the funeral of the protestor who died, which protesters viewed as a “green light” from the monarchy for their activities.
Background of Yellow Shirts
The Yellow Shirts regarded themselves as the upholder of the values of King Bhumibol. Yellow has traditionally been the color of the Thai monarchy. Chang Noi wrote in The Nation: “The roots of the yellow movement go back to 2005. Farmers, teachers, state enterprise workers, foes of free trade agreements, human rights defenders and environmental groups came out to oppose then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. This was a revival of the energetic civil activism of the 1990s that had been crushed in the early years of his government. [Source: Chang Noi, The Nation, May 4, 2009]
The second element was Sondhi Limthongkul and his urban audience. In the pre-crisis boom, Sondhi's Manager newspapers had best captured the confidence and aspirations of a new, modern middle class that saw themselves as the leaders of the future. Sondhi's split from Thaksin in 2005 may have resulted from personal conflict, but it also reflected a broader political shift. Many middle-class people were deserting Thaksin because of his corruption, growing authoritarianism and shift towards populism. They looked at both Thailand's large, remaining rural population and its corrupt, corner-cutting businessmen as drags on the country's conversion to first-world modernity.
After being thrown off television, Sondhi drew an audience to his Lumpini rallies and ASTV broadcasts by thundering against corruption and promising to lead a middle-class crusade to clean up politics. He also made common cause with the civil society activists by backing their causes and inviting them onto his stage. Still, the movement almost died in January 2006. Sondhi had already called a "farewell" rally when the Shin Corp sale was announced. Disgust at the trickery behind the sale deepened opposition to Thaksin across the middle class, but especially among the ranks of small businessmen, officials, professionals and white-collar workers who see themselves as respectable, honest, tax-paying citizens.
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) was formed on February 9, 2006. The 15 founding members included Sondhi, leaders of students, teachers, workers, NGO activists other protest groups, and various artists. Chamlong joined a few days later. The civil activists recruited support through a dense web of personal networks woven from protest campaigns of past years. Chamlong brought along his "Dhamma Army" committed to this-worldly Buddhist activism, and his ranks of old, mainly lower middle-class admirers. Through ASTV, Sondhi broke the state's stifling grip on broadcast media, and created a new genre of political television that was fascinating simply because it was so novel.
Sondhi swathed the movement in yellow, portrayed Thaksin as a threat to the monarchy and called for royal intervention to remove him. This provoked a crisis behind the PAD stage. Several civil activists objected to this strategy. Some peeled away, while others remained but with less influence over the movement. PAD started a debate on why Thai politics was dominated by a minority of not-so-honest businessmen, and how to move beyond this system so Thailand could progress.
Describing an early manifestation of the Yellow Shirts in 2005, Alan Sipress wrote in the Washington Post: “When a campaign of largely peaceful protests began against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra over allegations of corruption, many demonstrators looked to their sovereign. They waved banners in yellow, the royal color, and donned caps that declared, "We Love the King." Some protest leaders called on him to appoint a new prime minister to oversee constitutional reforms. "We want Thaksin to start showing proper respect for our king. We want the king to save us," said Taveesak, a garment exporter. [Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, May 28, 2006]
The efforts to wrap the anti-Thaksin campaign in yellow were not appreciated by senior officials in the palace, according to Thai and longtime resident Western observers who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of discussing the king. The king, according to sources close to the palace, feels ill at ease with his role as political backstop. He is reluctant to act unless he is guaranteed to succeed. But the palace was at the same time growing weary of Thaksin's autocratic administration. Some influential members of the king's privy council telegraphed through statements and actions that they thought it was time for the prime minister to quit, the longtime observers said.
Protestors Take Over the Prime Minister’s Home and Fight Bloody Street Battles
In August 2008, PAD protestors took over the Government House compound, home of the prime minister, and vowed not to leave until Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resigned or was overthrown. At times 30,000 people occupied the compound, sometimes accompanied by 1,000 police. The protestors surrounded the compound with razor wire, car tires and barricades and formed human chains around their leaders when police showed up and tried to arrest them. After a few days the smell or urine was said to be overpowering. Supporters on scooters shut airports in Phuket and Krabi, shut down rail service in parts of the country and threatened to cut of water and electricity.
In October and November, protestors clashed with police. There were many injuries. Two protestors died. One died in a grenade attack at in protesters at the Government House that injured 23. Another was killed in an explosion from an unusually powerful tear gas canister. Two other men had parts of their legs blown off by exploding canisters of cheap tear gas from China laced with a powerful explosive. The protestors fought back by spewing sewage from a truck at police headquarters and marching on parliament with the aim of shutting it down, The police responded with barricades, water cannons and tear gas. Among the injured were dozens of police.
Anti-government protestors dressed in royal yellow and government supporters dressed in red threw rocks and fired sling shots at each other. Shots were fired bay anti-government protestors and government supporters at one rally. Grenade attacks on antigovernment protestors outside the Thai prime minister’s office at Government House killed two and wounded dozens. In a clash between protestors and police one policeman was skewered with a flag pole and several police officers were shot. It was the worst street violence in Thailand since 1992. The Yellow Shirt leader Sondhi Limthongkul later said, “We regard those who died during our fight, and many hundreds who lost their limbs and became blind, as our heroes.”
In November 2008, protestors, declaring a “finale battle’ was at hand, blocked the Thai parliament, forcing it to postpone an important legislative session. Riot police offered only token resistance as only about PAD 10,000 protesters, armed with metal bars, golf clubs, machetes and stakes were allowed paralyze the government. A series of explosions at the site of antigovernment protests at the end November injured 51.
Yellow Shirts Airport Takeover in 2008
In late November 2008, after six-months of non-stop protests, protestors took over Bangkok’s two airports—first, the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport and then, the next day, the old Dong Muang Airport. Protesters at the prime minister’s residence joined the protesters at the airports The government declared a state of emergency. As similar tactic had been used a couple of months before to close airports in Phuket and Krabi.
The protesters wore Yellow Shirts to symbolize their allegiance with King Bhumibol. More than half the protesters at the airport were middle-aged women. There were significant numbers of seniors and some children too. The protestors had prepared themselves for a show down with police. They surrounded Suvarnabhumi International Airport with three kilometers of razor wire. Some of the protestors brought crushed hot peppers to throw at police and swimming goggles for protection from tear gas. One middle-aged woman told the New York Times, “I told my sister that I have come out to die, I am ready to die.”
There were only about 4,000 protestors in Suvarnabhumi International Airport and 2,500 at Don Munag Airport. Many asked how what was essentially a mob of housewives could hijack the government like they did and why the military and the king couldn’t do anything to stop it. The protestors were believed to have the tacit support of the military, who first could have prevented the mob from taking over the airport, and second could cracked down on the protesters once they were there.
The week-long airport shutdown cost the Thai economy hundreds of millions of dollars and caused great hardship to foreign tourists. Many flights were cancelled,. More than 300,000 foreign travelers were stranded. The protesters were apologetic about the trouble they caused. Many foreigners were flown out in special flights from a navy air base. Special flights were arranged for Thai Muslims attending the hajj. It was unclear what the long term effects would be. One Australian newlywed trapped at he airport told AP, “Our main concern is to get the first flight home and never come back.” A French businessman said, “I have some meeting in Shanghai today. I had a big meeting with big customers.”
End of the 2008 Crisis and New Anti-Thaksin Government
The 2008 crisis ended when the constitutional court found the ruling party and two of its five coalition partners guilty of election offenses and ordered the parties and coalition disbanded, forcing the ouster of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. A total of 109 lawmakers, including Wongsawat, were guilty of election fraud and barred from politics for five years. The protestors left the airport and the prime minister’s residence, claiming victory. The airports reopened after a week and the state of emergency was lifted. The constitutional court decision is believed to have been politically motivated and influenced by the military and the political, business and royalist elite.
Analysts said the declaration of victory by the PAD was premature. Although Somchai was ousted Thaksin allies were still in control with power to form a new government. The dissolved ruling party and coalition partners said they planned to continue administering the country by simply forming new parties with the same members. The opposition in turn said they would return to the streets if things turned against them.
The opposition Democratic Party formed a government, with five coalition partners and 260 seats in the 480-seat lower house, with the help of defectors from the ruling coalition. The turn of events was seen by many as being made possible by behind the scenes maneuvering by the military and the political, business and royalist elite. The 260 seats were made of 166 seats held by the Democratic Party and the rest made up mostly by defectors. The Democratic Party called an emergency session of parliament. Thaksin’s Peoples Power Party was reborn as the Phuea Thai Party but could do little but stand by and watch as its coalition partners abandoned it.
Yellow Shirt leader Sondhi Limthongkul, the media mogul man behind the airport blockade, was sentenced to two years in jail for defaming a government transport minister. The sentences was later reduced to six months afer he was sentenced to another prison term on a separate charge, He faced a number of libel charges by people he criticized such as one Thaksin he said was a communist who criticized the Thai royal family in a website. In April 2009, Sondhi was ambushed on his way to work by men in a pick up truck that riddled his car with at least 84 bullets. Armed with AK-47s and M-16s, the attackers first shot out the tires and then sprayed bullets into the car. Sondhi was struck in the shoulder and grazed above the eyebrow and left with bullet shards in his skull but otherwise survived the attack.
Abhisit Vejjajiva Become Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democratic Party was named prime minister in December 2008. Handsome, refined and possessing a British accent, he was born in Britain to an influential Thai family and educated at Eton and Oxford, where got his degree in economics. At Eton, where he was known by the name “Mark Vejj”, he was best friends with Boris Johnson, the future mayor of London. In 1992, at the age of 27, he became the youngest person to win a seat in Thai parliament. The Times of London described him as “handsome, youthful, brilliant, cosmopolitan, impeccably well mannered and rather posh...As a young politician, he was a heart-throb among middle-aged Bangkok matrons.”
Abhisit took office when he was 44, making him one of Thailand youngest prime ministers ever. Like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, he billed himself as a new generation politician who listened to rock music and was in tune with globalization. He has said his favorite book was “The Myth of Sisyphus” by the French philosopher Albert Camus and said his musical tastes ranged from British indie rock bands to Barry Manilow.
In his political career, Abhisit had risen steadily through the ranks of the Democratic Party and earned a reputation for being clean, honest and idealistic and was untainted by corruption or scandals. On the negative side he was accused of lacking charisma and being too comfortable with Thai elite and not have a common touch or an ability to relate to Thailand’s rural masses.
After Abhisit became the leader of the Democrat Party in 2005, there were two general elections in Thailand. He boycotted the first one in 2006, which was won, for the third time in a row by Thaksin. In 2007, his party was defeated decisively. Richard Lloyd Parry wrote in the Times of London: “The greatest ‘challenge’ of democracy for Mr Abhisit has been as simple as that — whenever they have been given a chance to elect him, Thai voters have chosen someone else. Abhisit owes his job, not to the will of his people, but to the support of powerful friends — and even they have required a comically large number of attempts to propel their boy to power. First there was the army, which drove Mr Thaksin into exile in a bloodless coup in 2006.” Then came an election “which followed in footballing terms: the Democrat Party was playing downhill, against a team without a striker, in a game refereed by one of their dads. And still Thaksin's side won.
Abhisit Vejjajiva as Prime Minister
Abhisit served for 17 months as prime minister. The new 35-member cabinet appointed by Abhisit contained some unseasoned politicians and a diplomat who supported the airport blockade as foreign minister. Three leading members of the airport siege were appointed as advisers to the government. His government seemed stuck in Thailand’s seemingly endless cycle of protest and counterprotest.
After coming to power Abhisit had to deal with four major issues over which Thailand was sharply criticized: 1) an Amnesty International report that detailed the systematic torture during detention by Thai security forces of Muslim suspects in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat; 2) the pushing back to sea of illegal Rohingya migrants from Myanmar that landed in Thailand; 3) the lese majeste cases in which foreigners were imprisoned for insulted the Thai monarchy; and 4) the temple-border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia (See International). [Source: Kavi Chongkittavorn, The Nation, February 16. 2011]
Abhisit was given some credit by his supporters for trying to reform the police force which has traditionally had a very cosy relationship with the ruling party and for overseeing fairly transparent investigation over the violence that occurred during his time in power. He came into office at a difficult time, showed some restraint dealing with protests, and handed over power to a political opponent without military interference. Many the of the economic ideas and policies of the Abhisit government—promoting a free economy, supporting foreign trade and improving infrastructure—were not all that different from the Thaksin government.
Kavi Chongkittavorn wrote in The Nation: “Against all odds, the Abhisit government tried to create conducive political environment to ensure some levels of predictability for Thais and outsiders. He set forth quickly that there would be an early election before his term ended...Building consensus among stakeholders, especially among the civil society groups, is clearly one of Abhisit's strength. His handling of issues related to environment protection, respect of human rights, governance and transparency are participatory in nature. Such process takes times and patience, especially putting together views and policy recommendations from all concerned parties including private sectors, grassroots, civil society organizations and academia. Mediations in public and community related schemes such as in the Map Ta Phut's pollution concerns, community land deeds to end land evictions are good cases in point. [Source: Kavi Chongkittavorn, The Nation, July 18, 2011]
Abhisit’s critics accused him of presiding over a chaotic and callous government that was just as corrupt as any other. Richard Lloyd Parry wrote in the Times of London: “In the four years that Abhisit was head of Thailand’s Democratic Party Thailand “has gone from being one of the most free and stable countries of South-East Asia to one of its most chaotic and divided. Writers, academics and journalists have been imprisoned or hounded into exile for harmless comment on Thailand's monarchy. Helpless boat people have been chased out to sea to their deaths. Democratically elected governments have been forced out, first by the army and then by the power of the mob. [Source: Richard Lloyd Parry, Times of London, March 13, 2009]
“A series of disgraceful incidents have made it harder than ever to understand what has happened to the liberalism for which he used to stand. In January, the Thai military beat up and set adrift some 1,000 boat people from Burma, scores of whom died at sea. Journalists and academics continue to be arrested and imprisoned under Thailand's Kafakaesque lèse-majesté law, under which a prison sentence of 12 years can be imposed for dispraise of the Thai King and his family. At times, it has looked as if someone in power is consciously making a fool of Mr Abhisit - such as the speech he gave last week about the importance of media freedom, which was followed a few hours later by the arrest of the webmaster of an independent website.
Abhisit and Corruption
Ambika Ahuja of Reuters wrote: Abhisit “signaled zero-tolerance for graft when he took power in December 2008 with fellow a Oxford University alumnus, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij. But corruption indicators show graft remains deeply rooted two years into Abhisit's administration. The reason lies in one of the fundamental weaknesses of his premiership — \ he holds on to power only with the support of networks of politicians, generals and bureaucrats whose reputation for probity does not match his own, and who epitomize the patronage politics that has long bedeviled Thailand.[Source: Ambika Ahuja, Reuters, September 28, 2010]
“Corruption allegations have shadowed a $42-billion government-spending plan to rescue Thailand from recession. Questions were raised over procurement projects involving security forces, while abuse-of-power complaints against police and provincial officials remain a staple of local media reports. To form a government, Abhisit has been forced into uneasy alliances. A case in point is Bhumjai Thai, a party whose support is crucial to Abhisit in his six-party coalition government. The party's de facto leader Newin Chidchob is famed as one the country's most skilled practitioners of patronage politics, but is banned from parliament due to past alleged infractions.
“Months into Abhisit's $42-billion three-year government stimulus program, two government ministers resigned in scandals linked to abuse of the funds. Allegations ranged from irregularities in the procurement of hospital equipment and school supplies to rigged bidding process on construction projects. Official Bhumjai Thai leader Chavarat Chanvirakul oversees the Interior Ministry where he has been accused of auctioning off provincial governor posts to the highest bidder. He's also accused of orchestrating construction deals to benefit his family and helping to manipulate district chief examinations in northeastern Thailand to help allies. He has denied all allegations, calling them politically motivated.”
Early Unrest Under Abhisit Vejjajiva
The Abhisit government was dogged early by demonstrations by Thaksin loyalists. Days after he was appointed prime minister, thousands of protesters gathered in central Bangkok waving signs and banners that said: “We Love Thaksin” and “No Confidence in Abhisit Vejjajiva.”
After being named prime minister, Abhisit called for reconciliation. The king asked the new government to bring “peace and order.” Supporters of Thaksin in northern Thailand welcomed the news by burning a coffin and an effigy of the new prime minister. A major policy speech on the economy had to be postponed when protesters blockaded the parliament building. Another speech blocked by demonstrators at the parliament had to be given at the Foreign Ministry building.
Pro-Thaksin and anti-Abhisit demonstrations in February drew 30,000 to 40,000 people to a open field near the Royal Palace in Bangkok. In March 2009, Abhisit survived a no confidence motion in parliament by a 246-176 vote and an impeachment motion brought by the opposition against for siding with protesters that took over the airport. Days later, red-shirts began besieging Government House.
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.
Last updated May 2014