Home > World News > Yellow Shirts officially turn on ex-ally Abhisit

Yellow Shirts officially turn on ex-ally Abhisit

While the number of protesters was
far from their peak of the past few years, the yellow shirts provided
all the other ingredients for a deja vu when they returned to their
familiar spot near Government House yesterday.
In fact, the Abhisit government
must have felt something eerily familiar as it suggested it was not
taking the seemingly peaceful protest for granted.
As big TV projectors sprang up,
cooks started working and the sounds of “clappers” in the Makkhawan
Bridge area revived old memories, government leaders immediately
rejected the three main demands of the People’s Alliance for Democracy
(PAD) concerning Thailand’s territorial conflicts with Cambodia.
The three PAD demands are:
  • Cancellation of the year 2000 memorandum of understanding with Cambodia;
  • Thailand’s withdrawal from the World Heritage Committee working on the Preah Vihear Temple management;
  • Push “encroaching” Cambodians back.

The government vowed to get tough if peace is broken at any point in what the PAD promised would be a prolonged encampment.

“We simply can’t yield to their
demands,” said Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. “The demands
will put national security in danger.”
The Centre for Situation
Monitoring (CSM), which has replaced the now-defunct Centre for
Resolution of the Emergency Situation, believes that the PAD, and its
splinter group – the Thai Patriots Network – which had been protesting
to push for similar demands on the other side of Government House, were
hell-bent on a protracted stay.
Normal non-military
surveillance has been in place in the area, but military units have
been instructed to be ready for reinforcement requests.
The yellow crowd was estimated
at between 2,500 and 3,000 protesters yesterday, but security officials
expected the number could climb to 5,000 in the next few days.
The CSM decided that there was
no need to invoke the Internal Security Act, which allows more
stringent measures on crowd control, at the moment. However, the CSM
does not rule out use of the law if things take a turn for the worse in
the future.
Sondhi Limthongkul, on the
yellow-shirt stage, reminded Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, “whose
handsome look still fools many people”, of the time when relentless PAD
protests immobilised the Thaksin government and eventually triggered
its downfall.
Abhisit can also be forgiven
for shrugging off a promise by another PAD leader, Chamlong Srimuang,
that protesters would behave themselves and “not go anywhere”, at least
for now.
“We apologise to the public if
this protest is causing disturbances, but we are doing it for the
country,” Chamlong said in what could also sound eerily familiar.
“We will not move anywhere in the first few days and we will immediately call off the protest if the demands are met.”
The PAD leaders claim that this
time they are out on the streets to defend 1.8 million rai of Thai soil
from being encroached by Cambodia and condemned the Abhisit
administration for not defending Thailand’s national sovereignty.
As evening fell, the crowd
began to swell and its less powerful leaders such as Praphan Koonmee
began attacking Abhisit and the administration, claiming the government
was selling out Thai soil along the border with Cambodia.
“Since I was born, I have never
seen any prime minister speak harmfully to Thai people and his own
country,” Praphan told the crowd.
“You are fake!” he shouted, referring to Abhisit.
The movement’s supporters, such
as taxi driver Nattasun Thitiraet, told The Nation that the latest
fight was more serious than the one against Thaksin Shinawatra because
it was about national sovereignty.
“We’ll purge it. This government is going to fall,” he predicted. “The people will be roused.”
Protester Nattasun, who is in
his 50s, said Abhisit had simply let the PAD down. “He himself doesn’t
cheat but he allows people around him to do so. He doesn’t do anything
and simply wants to hang on as prime minister.”
The yellow shirts are back. And if Thaksin Shinawatra could say anything to Abhisit, it could be: “Welcome to the party!”
The Nation/Asia News Network
Categories: World News
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