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Old 10-06-2011, 06:35 PM   #2201 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrB0b View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerbil
For a party who seem to be convinced that they are ahead and going to win, they certainly seem to throw a lot of legal threats
Quite. Why don't they do what other parties do and have hitmen bump off the people they're having problems with? After all, they have an army of terrorists to call on, don't they?
Murder is messy...witnesses, bodies to deal with, accountability etc (although that isn't such a big problem here it seems).

Far easier to silence your opponents by issuing threats and wrapping them up in litigation.

Hey, you can even massage the truth while you are at it, knowing that when/if the case proceeds to court, it will be months if not years after the election....or you can just drop the case at a later date, but by then the purpose will have been served...

But it looks good to the public, right?

Unless of course you do it so often that people begin to smell a rat. Oops.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand.

So, anyone believe that a Thai politician was wandering around in the community without armed guards? Especially after all the hullabaloo about how dangerous this election is supposed to be etc etc.
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:36 PM   #2202 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gerbil View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
^ The 4th legal threat/action from someone in the PTP in 8 days or so.
For a party who seem to be convinced that they are ahead and going to win, they certainly seem to throw a lot of legal threats, etc. around. They seem to be worried about any negative news at all.... Is the race actually a lot closer than they would have us believe?
it's not smart to threaten those who could depose you in a split second,

haven't they learn yet ?
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:38 PM   #2203 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrB0b
Quite. Why don't they do what other parties do and have hitmen bump off the people they're having problems with? After all, they have an army of terrorists to call on, don't they?
better yet, they should protect themselves behind an army of cattle while throwing grenades to the standing army on the other side,

oh wait they tried that already
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:39 PM   #2204 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SteveCM View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerbil
For a party who seem to be convinced that they are ahead and going to win, they certainly seem to throw a lot of legal threats, etc. around. They seem to be worried about any negative news at all.... Is the race actually a lot closer than they would have us believe?
Of course, the sensible thing for PT to do would be to just sit back and coast to victory for the next three weeks..... Oh, but then they'd be accused of complacency, arrogance, taking the voters for granted - in fact just about all manner of appalling things. Tricky..... damned if you do and damned if you don't. Just the way some obviously like it..... got them coming and going both ways.
Strange logic there Steve, sorry.

Why would people accuse them of such a thing?
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:41 PM   #2205 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
Why would people accuse them of such a thing?
stevie the fascist is hearing voices in his head,
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:04 PM   #2206 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrB0b View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerbil
For a party who seem to be convinced that they are ahead and going to win, they certainly seem to throw a lot of legal threats
Quite. Why don't they do what other parties do and have hitmen bump off the people they're having problems with? After all, they have an army of terrorists to call on, don't they?
Yeah and I live among all those terrorists,

I'm soooo scared
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:19 PM   #2207 (permalink)
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Asia Sentinel - Thailand Lurches Towards an Election

Written by Our Correspondent
Friday, 10 June 2011





The spectre of Thaksin Shinawatra grows

It is beginning to appear that fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s gamble to install his sister Yingluck as the head of Thailand’s surrogate Pheu Thai party with the election slogan “"Thaksin Thinks, Pheu Thai Acts," is starting to pay off.

The latest polls show that Pheu Thai – literally “For Thais” – is opening a narrow lead over the Democrat Party headed by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, in nationwide elections scheduled for July 3. While Thailand’s polls are considered to be somewhat unreliable, the National Institute of Development Administration, in a June 9 poll made public by the government’s National News Bureau, reported that Pheu Thai was supported by 25.4 percent of the 1,234 respondents from across the country, while the Democrats drew only 18.3 percent approval.

The undecided vote is obviously a wild card and none of the major parties is likely to win an outright majority, with a plethora of minor parties looking to profit from horse trading. At that, the respondents appeared to be holding their noses, with 38.09 percent believing politicians would benefit the most from government policies under a new government, followed by the people at only 26.18 percent.

Most observers paint a grim post-election scenario no matter which way it goes, with the distinct possibility of violence in a society that has seen plenty of it since the 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin. The northeast of the country, called Isaan, remains solidly behind the former premier according to the polls, which show Pheu Thai pulling 63.9 percent approval to only 20.7 percent for the Democrats. The Democrats appear equally strong in the south, an indication of the lack of direction with three weeks to go before the election. Bangkok appears more aligned with Pheu Thai.

Much of the attention is focusing in the Bhum Jai Thai Party, headed by Newin Chidchob, a former Thai Rak Thai minister who swung the political leadership to the Democrats in 2008 and cleared the way for Abhisit to become prime minister. Although Bhum Jai Thai controls only 23 of the 480 seats in the National parliament, it is reasonable to assume that Newin, whose loyalty is largely to Newin, will once again seek to be a power broker. He has been described as an opportunist who has maneuvered his Buriram Province-based party into a position of influence largely through vote-buying and corruption.

Both Pheu Thai and Bhum Jai Thai have publicly ruled out any possibility of a coalition although Newin’s second in command, Sophon Zarum told the Bangkok Post earlier that the party’s main goal is to be in the government, no matter which side wins. If Pheu Thai is close to forming a government, it is probable that Newin – named for the late Burmese dictator Ne Win – will seek to do a deal and the Thaksin-backed forces are likely to agree to it.

The bigger questions revolve around what the generals will do. Most observers believe that they will not countenance a Thaksin return under any circumstances, in large part because they feel he will attempt to jail them. In 2008, the military brought down the original Thai Rak Thai government headed by Thaksin and is said to have been behind the 2008 decision on the part of the courts to dissolve its successor, PPP. Anuphong Poachinda, then the army commander, reportedly pressured many of the PPP members of parliament to defect to the Democrats, along with Newin’s splinter party, and pave the way for Abhisit’s election as premier.

Certainly a Thaksin-engineered purge of the generals would be in the offing despite the amnesty that the military granted itself in the wake of the 2006 coup. Probably at the top of Thaksin’s list is Prayuth Chan-ocha, a tough-talking officer who helped to orchestrate the coup that toppled the former prime minister and who was later promoted to head the armed forces.

Yingluck herself has said she would grant amnesty to everybody including her brother and to allow his return from exile, to which he fled in the wake of a court decision that pronounced him guilty of corruption in the sale of his telecommunications empire to Temasek Holdings of Singapore. The government later seized US$2 billion of Thaksin’s fortune. She has also said she would grant amnesty to the generals who perpetrated the 2006 coup and the events that ensued. Few in the military are prepared to believe that.

Nobody is ruling out the possibility of further violence of the kind that has paralyzed Bangkok on and off for the last three years, first when the royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy, the so-called Yellow Shirts, supported by conservative army officers, staged months of strikes and sit-ins, taking over the parliament and seizing and closing the city’s international airports. The PAD ran weeks of street protests to help to bring down the PPP, then headed by the late Samak Sundarevej, when a constitutional court dissolved the party and banned its leaders from politics.

On the other side, the Red Shirts, known as the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, are in no mood for compromise, or to see a possible victory snatched away from them again. Over April and May of 2010, an estimated 100,000 Red Shirt demonstrators seized the center of Bangkok resulting in a bloody military crackdown on May 19 that saw 91 people killed, most of them protesters, and hundreds arrested in the wake of the breaking of the siege.

The bigger problem is that it appears that the glue that has held together the disparate elements of Thai society for generations...... <large snip to comply with TD policy>

......it appears there is little to keep the disparate elements of the society from each others’ throats. The Red Shirts, demanding democracy, are perceived as a threat to the established order made up of the Bangkok elites. Thaksin has played on those emotions, describing grandiose plans to rallies by telephone to better their lot.

Against that, the government has done all it can with its own populist program, increasing the rice subsidy, providing electricity free to poor households, subsidizing diesel fuel to the tune of US$10 million a day and granting raises to the country’s bloated civil service. It has promised to lift the minimum wage by 25 percent through 2012, is delivering education loans to 250,000 university students and making low-interest loans to taxi drivers. It has capped the prices of palm oil and sugar, among other commodities. The government has rigged the electoral process to the extent it can, cutting the number of directly elected seats in parliament from 400 to 375 and increasing party-list seats, which tend to favor the government, to 125.

Once again, the army is likely to try to engineer a coalition that will keep the royalists in power. But if that happens, voter anger could well swell out of control. It may well come down to Newin Chidchob and his ability to wheel and deal.

The question is whether the winner, on whichever side, is going to have the ability to pull the society back together.
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:21 PM   #2208 (permalink)
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Thai-ASEAN News Network



Democrat Leader Faces Another Verbal Attack in Silom

UPDATE : 10 June 2011

The Democrat leader, along with the party's key members, visit the Silom area but face another verbal attack from a man from Chiang Rai Province.

Interim Prime Minsiter and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, along with the party's key members Apirak Kosayodhin, Chawanon Intarakomalyasut and Piraphan Saleeratwipak visited Sun Tower in Bangkok's Silom area to help constituency 4 MP candidate Attawit Suwanpakdee gather votes.

The Democrats were warmly welcomed by office workers, vendors and members of the public in the business district.


Some asked for their autographs, handshakes, and pictures with Abhisit and his team.

Abhisit expressed his gratitude for everyone who turned up to show their support for the Democrat Party during his campaign speech.

The Democrat leader said he personally believed that most office workers want to see peace and order in the country and want to see the country move forward.

He also thanked Thais for helping the country overcome all crises and asked everyone to vote for the Demcocrats in both the party-list and constituency ballots.

During Abhisit's campaign in Silom, a man from Chiang Rai Province held up a piece of paper with the words “all talk” on it, while verbally attacking the Democrat Party.

A confrontation ensued as Democrat supporters countered by attacking the Pheu Thai Party.

The war of words almost turned into a physical fight but security guards were able to escort the man out of the area without any problem.
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:10 PM   #2209 (permalink)
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From the blog world.....


Suthichai Yoon's personal journal: Insiders' estimates: Pheu Thai: 250+; Democrats 170+

Friday, June 10, 2011

Insiders' estimates: Pheu Thai: 250+; Democrats 170+



If you go off the record with some core members of the Democrat Party, they would admit that their expected performance in the July 3 election would be around 170 seats. Anything above that would be a bonus. But the strategists there say they still plan to form the next government by joining hands with the No 3,4 and 5 which they assume could win a combination of about 100 seats. That would make it possible for a Democrat-led coalition of 270 seats in the 500-member House.

But the Pheu Thai Party insists that they would win at least 270 seats alone, and during the last two weeks before election day, a strong last-minute boost could prople them up to 300 seats. That would mean that the Democrats would have no legitimate excuse not to let Pheu Thai form its own government, with or without coalition partners.

All polls suggest that Pheau Thai will emerge No 1 while the Democrats would be trailing behind by about 30-50 seats. In the end the No 3-5 parties, depending on however many seats they could jointly win, will decide who's to form the next government.
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:06 PM   #2210 (permalink)
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Buffalos, lizards, monkeys… and politicians?

Thai politicians rebuke campaign equating them to dirty beasts

Patrick WinnJune 10, 2011 04:40


A pedestrian walks past a 'no vote' campaign billboard posted by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in Bangkok on June 9, 2011. The Thai Election Commission has ordered the removal of these billboards which failed to meet the standards of the campaign regulations. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

As Thailand nears a heated July 3 election, political hopefuls have strewn Bangkok with massive placards.

Most display candidates' airbrushed faces paired with some grand promise to raise wages or build train lines that they may or may not keep.

But among the images are snarling Jack Russells, pink-faced macaques and even monitor lizards, a creature synonymous in Thailand with scumbaggery. The tagline: "Don't Release the Animals into Parliament."

The broader message is that none of the candidates are worthy of political office and that voters should register their disgust with a "no" vote, which actually a checkable box on Thai ballots.

The campaign is funded by a party linked to the "Yellow Shirts," a hyper-nationalist protest group formally known as the People's Alliance for Democracy. Despite their title, they have at times pushed for strikingly un-democratic reforms: letting voters elect only 30 percent of parliament and, more recently, shutting down elected government for several years to purge unsavory politicians.

Predictably, electoral candidates resent their portrayal as drooling dogs and buffaloes.


PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

One hopeful actually filed defamation charges for portraying candidates as "bad people," reports the Bangkok Post. Other complaints have compelled a police spokesman to order the signs' removal, though they remain standing after squabbles with election officials.

Perhaps the offended politicians are a bit too sensitive. The campaign is a rare sign of humor from a group that often oozes moral righteousness -- remember their seizure of Bangkok's chief airport in 2008? -- and hyperventilating nationalism.
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:10 PM   #2211 (permalink)
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Thailand's battle for peace - 101 East - Al Jazeera English

Thailand's battle for peace


Thailand is bracing for new elections, but will they bring peace and stability or fresh political violence and protests?

One year after the government crackdown that left 91 protesters dead and Bangkok burning, Thailand is going to the polls.

But observers say the deep rifts in Thai society that flared into the worst political violence in decades remain.

It is the ruling Democrat Party's first test at the polls. It faces Puea Thai, a re-badged opposition party with links to the Red Shirt movement which organised the protests.

Will the polls offer reconciliation or yet another trigger for fresh political violence? As the electoral race heats up, 101 East asks: What is the future of peace and democracy in Thailand?

This 101 East episode airs from Thursday, June 9, 2011 at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2230; Friday: 0930; Saturday: 0330; Sunday: 1630.



Watch the full Al Jazeera piece at the link above...no YouTube option at this time, no other way I know of to embed here.
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Old 11-06-2011, 12:30 AM   #2212 (permalink)
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Abhisit stays defiant

ANALYSIS


Abhisit stays defiant

By THE NATION
Published on June 11, 2011


In an exclusive interview, Democrat chief says he's unfazed by opinion polls

Abhisit Vejjajiva's well-known eloquence can sometimes make it hard to tell if he's being defiant or simply stating the obvious. That was the case yesterday when, during an exclusive interview with The Nation, the prime minister sought to dismiss his buoyant political rivals' begging for a chance to form the next government. Opinion polls have margins of error, and the upcoming election may yet be closer than everyone believes right now, he said. The Democrat leader refuses to give up. While virtually questioning their accuracy, Abhisit noted that none of the major pollsters like Dusit, Abac and Nida had predicted the Pheu Thai Party would win a majority (a minimum of 251 seats) of the House of Representatives. He took time to emphasise this point because his chances of keeping office may hinge on it.

One day after Pheu Thai prime minister candidate Yingluck Shinawatra pleaded on TV for the right to form the next government if her party wins the most seats (regardless of whether it wins 251 or more), Abhisit reiterated that even Western democracies allowed smaller parties to group together and grab power. He also saw what he described as a discrepancy in how Pheu Thai foresees the election outcome.

"On one hand, Pheu Thai is telling the public that it's expecting a landslide victory, a sweep of up to 300 seats. If they are so confident about that, why do they keep demanding the right to form the government?" Abhisit asked. "If you win, say, 270 seats or more, you don't even have to ask. Who will be able to deny you the right?"

He vowed to give Pheu Thai a chance if it wins, but made clear that if the party tried and failed to command a majority in the House, it would be his party's turn. Abhisit also warned Pheu Thai, which has been asking its rivals to "respect" election results, to do the same if the outcome was not as it expected. Abhisit said he was afraid that Pheu Thai, which was drumming up its "landslide" prospect almost on a daily basis, could cry foul if the election results did not go its way.

Abhisit was cautious when commenting on his coalition allies, all of whom bar Bhum Jai Thai are believed to be ready to switch sides and back Pheu Thai in the blink of an eye. "I saw no problems when I met them at Cabinet meetings," he said, half tongue-in-cheek. He attributed some anti-Democrat remarks by the allies recently to their need to gain media space currently dominated by the two biggest parties.

Most analysts believe the Democrats will need most, if not all, their current allies to remain loyal to them to stand any chance of keeping power. In this pro-Democrat scenario, Abhisit's party needs to win around 170 seats or more, and the present partners must together win closer to 100 so the alliance can edge out Pheu Thai and claim the right to form a government.

Pro-Pheu Thai scenarios have the opposition camp either scoring a real landslide, sweeping more than 250 seats, or winning fewer than 250 but close enough. Pheu Thai needs to be in a position to tempt just one or two smaller parties with great incentives. Either the Chart Thai Pattana Party or the Chart Pattana Puea Pandin Party, or both, will fancy their chances in the two scenarios. Pheu Thai can also form a single-party administration if the 300-seat expectation becomes reality.

Abhisit hinted that the Democrats would step up their campaign by scrutinising the Pheu Thai Party's blanket amnesty plan with greater intensity. He said he did not believe the rival camp's pledge would lead to reconciliation but rather keep the political conflict alive.

He cautioned that there was danger in Pheu Thai's use of the amnesty amid a myriad of election promises. There was no way to determine if pro-Pheu Thai voters wanted the amnesty or supported its other policies, he said. According to Abhisit, if Pheu Thai was to push for a public referendum on the amnesty, it could be at the expense of reconciliation.

Democrat sources still rule out a TV debate between Abhisit and Yingluck, a showdown the ruling party believes could reverse its sagging fortunes prior to July 3. Odds remain against Abhisit with three weeks to go, but the biggest sign of defiance, if that was what he demonstrated yesterday, could be his answer to the question of whether his House dissolution was mistimed, and thus a mistake. "No. I still believe the election is the only way out," he said.
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Old 11-06-2011, 12:35 AM   #2213 (permalink)
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Pheu Thai candidate faces police complaint

Pheu Thai candidate faces police complaint

By THE NATION
Published on June 11, 2011

The Army has filed a police complaint against a Pheu Thai candidate in Bangkok for allegedly threatening an on-duty soldier with a pistol, the Army spokesman said yesterday.

Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the complaint was filed against Pairote Issaraseripong.The soldier in question is an Army sergeant who is part of the government's anti-narcotics Unit 315 and was gathering information in Nong Chok district before his encounter with Pairote, the spokesman said.

The issue turned into a conflict between the Army and the Pheu Thai Party as each side started accusing the other of politicising the matter.

Sansern insisted yesterday that Pairote - who was accompanied by six or seven other men - confronted the sergeant and signalled that he was carrying a pistol.

"I am not worried if there is a complaint filed against me. As a public official, I am ready for that," the Army spokesman said, adding that Unit 315 was effective in reducing the narcotics problem in the city.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai's prime-ministerial candidate Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday that she had no problems with the government or the Army over the anti-narcotics campaign and Unit 315. However, she asked for relevant parties to "play by the rules". She did not elaborate.

As for reports that the authorities would look into some "villages of the red shirts" in the North and Northeast, Yingluck said these villages had been called that because some people had probably put up a few too many banners. She was quick to add that she personally did not want people to be split into different political colours.

The red shirts regard themselves as supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra - Yingluck's brother - who is believed to be pulling the strings behind Pheu Thai.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who is also leader of the Democrat Party, said yesterday that he had heard these so-called red-shirt villages were meant to mobilise people, but the purpose of this mobilisation remained unclear.

When asked whether this move would divide society further, Abhisit asked people to think for themselves and do what they could to allow the country to go forward.
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Old 11-06-2011, 12:58 AM   #2214 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
He cautioned that there was danger in Pheu Thai's use of the amnesty amid a myriad of election promises. There was no way to determine if pro-Pheu Thai voters wanted the amnesty or supported its other policies, he said. According to Abhisit, if Pheu Thai was to push for a public referendum on the amnesty, it could be at the expense of reconciliation.
No way to know what the voters are voting for. Yes, there is - a referendum on amnesty. Can't have one of those - it "could be at the expense of reconciliation". And, of course, Mark has achieved so much of that.....
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:04 AM   #2215 (permalink)
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More on the earlier story....

Mae Rim police chief transferred for ignoring security measures

Mae Rim police chief transferred for ignoring security measures

By The Nation
Published on June 11, 2011

The chief of Chiang Mai's Mae Rim police station and another senior officer have been transferred to inactive posts for failing to stop local redshirt supporters from interrupting a Democrat election rally led by Abhisit Vejjajiva.

National police chief General Wichean Potephosree said the transfers were not politically motivated and the action was being taken because both officers had failed to follow the security measures they were meant to put in place before Abhisit's election campaign on June 2.

Pol Colonel Somchai Inthasothit and Pol LtColonel Wichathorn Phewphan will be removed from their posts for at least six months, effective immediately.

Provincial police chief Somsak Janthaphing said both officers had ignored the orders and it was not yet decided whether they would return to their jobs at the Mae Rim police station.

"No checkpoints were set up, and no policemen were manning risky areas, the exits or inside the convention hall being used. No policemen were given the job of videotaping the redshirt supporters shouting abuses at the prime minister," he said.

The police, in a joint operation with the Election Commission, have worked out strategies, coded under the colours yellow, orange and red, to guard against violence and electoral fraud. Neither the police nor the EC have explained whether the strategies are colourcoded according to pro or anti Thaksin Shinawatra sentiments or a mixture of both.

Police had earlier worked out two lists dubbed "hot spots" and "red zones", and also designated eight districts in Bangkok as most at risk for political violence.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:08 AM   #2216 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Butterfly
it's not smart to threaten those who could depose you in a split second, haven't they learn yet ?
You've got to the heart of Thai democracy there, Butterfly.

Just remind me who the fascists are again.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:12 AM   #2217 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCM
Of course, the sensible thing for PT to do would be to just sit back and coast to victory for the next three weeks.....
I do see what you mean Steve, but i think the sensible tactic is to set up every possible legal tactic and defence now before the shit comes down.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:23 AM   #2218 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCM
Asia Sentinel - Thailand Lurches Towards an Election
Asia Sentinel now appears to be unbanned as I found out when I went to look for the <redacted> bits. A month or two ago Asia Sentinel articles went straight to an MICT block. Maybe they're starting to realize that internet banning just reinforces the impression of an undemocratic authoritarian regime while giving few benefits of effectively banning the information they are trying to ban. Cooloo and proxies etc.

I wonder - and don't know because of my very poor Thai - if the same is happening with banned thai language sources.

I'd be interested if anyone could tell me about this.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:28 AM   #2219 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
Abhisit Vejjajiva's well-known eloquence
What? When?
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:01 AM   #2220 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomta View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCM
Of course, the sensible thing for PT to do would be to just sit back and coast to victory for the next three weeks.....
I do see what you mean Steve, but i think the sensible tactic is to set up every possible legal tactic and defence now before the shit comes down.
Tomta, please go back to my post and read it again with the following in mind. Not reproduced in your quote of the first line is the at the end - i.e. it was intended sarcastically as a comment on earlier posts about PT taking legal action. I absolutely agree with you that they should continue to be very careful and to protect themselves by every legal route possible - and not relax for a moment between now and election day (not to mention afterwards). There are plenty of games being played out there to wrong-foot them - it's only sensible (and I mean really sensible) that they should respond to those threats accordingly. Some seem set on laying into and more usually just mocking PT no matter what they do/don't do - hence the "damned if they do, damned if they don't" part.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:04 AM   #2221 (permalink)
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^ So Pheu Thai shouldn't be mocked? It is only acceptable to do that to the Dem's, right?
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:07 AM   #2222 (permalink)
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The Al Jazeera video referred to in post #2211

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Old 11-06-2011, 02:18 AM   #2223 (permalink)
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Bangkok Post : Bold new approach essential to avert political crisis

INPrint

Bold new approach essential to avert political crisisAll political parties are campaigning hard to win the hearts and minds of the electorate amid speculation that political tensions will flare after the election.


Social commentator Prawase Wasi, chairman of the Assembly for National Reform, right, makes a point at a news conference at Ban Phitsanulok last year as former prime minister Anand Panyarachun listens. CHANAT KATANYU

Social critic Dr Prawase Wasi has outlined solutions to possible disturbances once the election is over, notes Thai Rath. He says that many people believe that after the election, the country will still face political instability as the conditions that cause this have yet to be resolved.

If Pheu Thai fails to win an absolute majority in the House of Representatives and the Democrat Party is able to form a coalition government with small parties, Pheu Thai and the red shirts will accuse the armed forces and "invisible hands" of interfering to prevent Pheu Thai from assuming power.

This is not democratic, they will charge, and resort to street politics to oppose a Democrat-led government.

If Pheu Thai wins and can form a government and brings Thaksin home, those who hate and fear the former prime minister and those who worry about possibly endangering the future of the monarchy are likely to combine forces to oppose the Pheu Thai government.

Dr Prawase proposes the following solutions. If Pheu Thai wins, the party should be given the opportunity to form the government without any outside interference.

"Don't use any non-system power to compel parties to do as one wishes. Let the process of forming a government be as transparent as possible and people can trust this process," said Dr Prawase.

If Pheu Thai can form the government, and whether Thaksin can come home or not, he can always dictate to a Pheu Thai-led government. Dr Prawase advises Thaksin to mend his ways.

Thaksin used to be the most powerful figure in the country. No matter how much Thaksin thought he did for the country, the fact that so many people hate and fear him shows that his dominant presence is not good for the country.

"If Thaksin reforms himself, whatever he did to make people hate and fear him, he should refrain from repeating. He must think carefully about how Thailand should proceed in the future.

"If Thaksin changes his ways fundamentally, it will benefit Thailand greatly and will unlock a condition that creates political instability."

<snipped, board rules>

The opposition is bent on destroying the government and vice versa. Buddhism teaches us that polarised thinking is unnatural as all things in nature are related. Polarised thinking can lead to much violence.

Dr Prawase notes that parties should aim to develop the country, not to destroy each other. Whatever is good for the country, parties must join hands to work for that goal, not to oppose every issue, criticise everything.

In the United States, when an issue is important and contentious, the president often invites the opposition law-makers to breakfast at the White House for consultation.

Sometimes, the president appoints someone in the opposition party to become a cabinet member such as Robert Gates, a Republican, who was reappointed as defence minister in the Obama administration.

Even though Mr Gates is a Republican, he agreed to serve in the Obama administration because he loves the country more than his own party.

Dr Prawase wonders if it is possible that a Pheu Thai-led government could appoint one or two ministers from the Democrat Party, and if the Democrat Party forms the government again, why not appoint one or two capable ministers from the Pheu Thai Party?

This will herald the beginning of Buddhism's moderate way that parties can complement each other while monitoring each other. "We must love the country more than our party."

Dr Prawase chides the media for cheering both sides on to fight each other. The political arena is not a fighting ring. It is an arena in which people use wisdom to work for the country. Global societies should adopt a new way of thinking, away from violence. Albert Einstein once remarked: "We must adopt a new way of thinking if humanity is to survive." On people's participation in politics, Dr Prawase believes that people politics, if constructive, is a valuable tool in driving policy implementation.

Violent confrontation must be avoided as it will be easily crushed. Crude, harsh words should be avoided as it can easily lead to a dead-end. Protesters must not do anything that society hates as they will not get any support and they will lack legitimacy.

Any mass movement to fight against inequality and injustice will get more support and more participants if it is legitimate and non-violent.

Dr Prawase advises street protesters to concentrate on the big issues proposed by the National Reconciliation Committee including reforming the state's power, land distribution for the poor and a progressive tax regime.

If the mass movement can drive policy implementation it will help reduce inequality and injustice, and the movement will become a constructive force in society for peaceful change.

"Creating social justice and reducing inequality should be the goal for all Thais, whether they are yellow shirts, red shirts, Mr Thaksin, Mr Abhisit or anyone," he said, adding that the Thai people have never had a unified goal but a goal for specific person, group or institution.

This creates differences and conflicts, plunging the country into an ever deeper crisis.

Dr Prawase notes that Thai society is getting bigger and bigger while the Thai people's hearts are not growing as much, still being narrow-minded, thinking only for themselves and associates, much more than society as a whole. This is the main reason why Thai society is sick and in crisis.

The Thai people must mend their ways and expand their hearts to work for the public good. This is the only way to restore society's equilibrium.

"This new way of thinking for the public good is hard to come by, but the political crisis can force this to happen because if Thai society continues to think in the old way, the crisis will continue to occur, again and again until it finally forces us to think in a new way with a new spirit," said Dr Prawase.

Dr Prawese expands his thought to the global stage, arguing that the old way is leading the world to a crisis, a crisis of interdependence, living together between people and nature.

If people cannot live together with other people, or with nature, humanity will reach a crisis, a crisis that will create a new civilisation that necessitates mutual dependence for survival of mankind.

Time to ditch populist policies

If people don't help turn the direction of politics, the country's future will look bleak, noted Nha-Kran Laohavilai, Post Today's editor.

He says political parties are clamouring to offer outlandish promises to the people, which will empty the state's coffers.

If the country's fiscal position is in jeopardy, there will be no money to be invested in important policies including education.

Nha-Kran cites Singapore and Malaysia as now leaping past Thailand due to education.

Of course, investing in education needs a huge sum of money and capable people. If all the money is given away in various populist policies, there will be none left to invest in education.

Nha-Kran says Vietnam has about 13,112 students in the United States for advanced study in the 2010-2011 academic year, more than any other Asean country.

In global terms, Vietnam is ranked 9th for the number of students studying in United States, six times more than 10 years ago, according to the Institute for International Education, a non-profit organisation based in the US with 13 branches throughout the world, which compiled the statistics by sending questionnaires to 3,000 US universities.

The Vietnamese government allocates funds for overseas education in needed disciplines for more than 1,000 students every year. The aim is to produce 20,000 PhD graduates in the next 20 years. These graduates will come back to teach in universities and colleges as part of the country's social and economic development overhaul for the next 10-20 years.

What are Thai politicians doing? Nha-Kran concludes.

WB issues warning against inflation

The global economy is set to expand 3.2% this year, a slight decline from the earlier forecast of 3.3% while Thailand's growth is seen at 3.7%, noted Hans Timmer, development director of the World Bank on Wednesday.

Mr Timmer advised political parties to learn the lesson of Thailand's 10-15 year period of economic management that saw the country grow with stability.

Even though Thailand's fiscal position is still sound, the country should think of possible risks in the future rather than concentrate too much on populist policies for short-term gains.

"Thailand's fiscal policy should be prudent and reduce expenditures as there is too much capital flowing into the country, putting inflationary pressure on assets and the value of the baht.

The counter measure should be fiscal to control inflation, which will be more effective than the monetary policy of incremental interest rate rise, which will attract even more capital inflow, risking an overheated economy," he said.

Mr Timmer also did not think well of the current policy of commodity price controls and oil price subsidies, which need a huge budget outlay.

It is better for Thailand to give money directly to the poor to alleviate hardship. The current policy might be good in the short term, but will create problems in the medium and long term.

The government should concentrate on solving people's problems in the areas that people need help such as food prices which have risen 43% globally and 10-12% domestically.

Kiripha Paovichitr, a World Bank senior economist, noted that whichever party comes to power must not allow inflation to get out of control, which is quite worrying as all the parties promise higher minimum wages and massive spending.

The World Bank places the utmost importance on budget deficits and public debt figures and hopes that the new government will not jeopardise fiscal discipline by running a huge budget deficit as it will destroy the government's reputation for fiscal prudence.

Last edited by StrontiumDog : 11-06-2011 at 03:04 AM.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:19 AM   #2224 (permalink)
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Bangkok Post : A force to be reckoned with

EDITORIALWith only three weeks of campaigning left before the July 3 elections, political party strategists appear confident they have tailored policies to appeal to all potential supporters. But, says a specialised group of doctors and social researchers, they are making a big mistake by neglecting an increasingly influential group of eligible voters who now make up nearly one-fifth of the electorate _ senior citizens.

Many retirees and others in their golden years tend to be politically aware, have time on their hands and often influence the way their family members vote. "Grey power" has become a potent political force in the West, if only because this generation is far more likely to vote than other younger groups and usually has a more developed sense of civic responsibility. It is a comparatively recent phenomenon here but represents a trend that politicians ignore at their peril.

So where, asked the specialists in press interviews earlier this week, are the policies that cater to this generation? A populist move to double the 500-baht allowance and vague mention of more retirement homes do not constitute a structured approach. That would involve providing senior citizens with vocational training, prompting local administrative organisations to develop environments that are friendly and accessible to them and ensuring that adequate social welfare and income support exist if they have little or no means to generate funds of their own. This would be an interim measure until the Social Security pension scheme is launched in 2014, although there is some doubt about how viable and sustainable this will be in the long term.

Other Asean countries have already thought this through. For instance, Malaysia gives priority housing to adults who have their parents living with them and provides job retraining and even job placement. Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia all offer tax breaks for relatives caring for elderly family members, but the Philippines and Singapore offer employers of older people additional incentives in the form of tax deductions.

Due to improved health services, people tend to live longer and this is good news for children close to their parents. But when they grow up to become taxpayers, it could turn into a nightmare. Our country is ageing rapidly, birth rates are falling and the spectre of zero growth looms, heralding a society in which the old outnumber the young, with each new generation smaller than the previous one. Many Thais can now look forward to two or three decades in retirement. Putting their skills to use for training the newer generations and continuing to work in areas of benefit to the country for a number of years should be encouraged. Older people do need to be allowed to play a more useful and constructive role in society. In doing so they will also be guaranteed healthier, longer and, in most cases, more enjoyable, financially rewarding and fulfilled lives.

Politicians canvassing for votes from this demographic should avoid the trap of promising to build more "old folk's clubs" as a perceived solution. Such thinking is based on outdated stereotypes and is discriminatory. It is guaranteed to alienate this powerful voting bloc.

Private or state institutional care or residential homes also meet resistance because of the restrictions they place on individuality, freedom and lifestyle and, of course, the fact that they split up families. But there is a real need for community-based services centres which can assist in tasks such as cleaning, cooking and shopping and in providing basic health care.

Society is changing and the policies of political parties must reflect this. No longer does one size fit all.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:22 AM   #2225 (permalink)
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Bangkok Post : Prayuth gives nod to target Pheu Thai

Prayuth gives nod to target Pheu Thai Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has given the green light to army officials to launch a war of words with the Pheu Thai Party's politicians who criticise the army's role.

At the same time, he has told high-ranking army officers he is ready to quit if the political pressure upon him becomes too great.

"Don't be worried. If they lambast me too much, pressure me too much, I'll just quit. I've already tried my best to do my job," an army source quoted Gen Prayuth as saying during the army's morning briefing session yesterday.

Gen Prayuth did not elaborate on which particular scenario he was talking about but army officials understood he was referring to the situation after the general election if Pheu Thai wins and becomes the ruling party.

Gen Prayuth fumed on Thursday over an alleged attempt by a Pheu Thai election candidate to obstruct the 315 anti-drugs task force's work in Bangkok, saying he would flood the area with soldiers to assist the government in its drug crackdown.

This drew fierce criticism from Pheu Thai Party politicians and supporters.

His angry outburst followed an incident in which Pheu Thai candidate and former MP Pairoj Isarasereepong and his aides allegedly intimidated three military members of the task force who were conducting a search for drugs at Sap Charoen estate in Nong Chok district on May 23.

The source added the army chief had also encouraged all army officers to counter allegations and criticism of the military by the Pheu Thai Party.

Nevertheless, he told the officers not to name anyone but only refer to them as "good guys" and "thugs".

Chaturon Chaisaeng, a banned politician from the dissolved Thai Rak Thai Party, criticised Gen Prayuth on his Twitter page yesterday, saying the army chief's remarks on Thursday about the 315 task force were inappropriate.

"He seems to have forgotten that he is the army chief, not a gang leader who will not let anyone offend," wrote Mr Chaturon.

Mr Chaturon also asked whether Gen Prayuth and the army were intent on cracking down on drug traffickers as they claimed, or actually trying to harass certain election candidates.

"His acts were seen as intimidating candidates and damaging the election atmosphere and this could lead people to view him as not neutral," Mr Chaturon said.
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