– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva Thursday insisted his party is determined to overthrow the “Thaksin regime”, saying the government had lost legitimacy.
He said the Democrats are ready to support popular movements conducted within constitutional limits.
Abhisit did not rule out the possibility of party MPs quitting in order to conduct the campaign.
“If it leads us to win the battle, we won’t hesitate [to do it] with unity,” he said.
“The Democrat Party is inviting everyone to join us in reforming the party in order to reform Thailand. Our aim is to uproot the Thaksin regime. If we succeed, we in the Democrat Party will not accept any post arising through unconstitutional means,” he said.
Mr Abhisit was speaking after chairing an urgent meeting with the party’s executive committee and MPs to discuss what role the party should play in the protests.
PHUKET: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Thursday urged protesters to leave all government offices, stop their rallies and hold talks with the government.
PM Yingluck went on TV at 1:50pm to insist that her government wanted to talk with protest leaders to find a solution for the country that would draw an end to the protracted political crisis.
She said the protesters should leave the government offices they are occupying so that government officials could continue to work to serve the people.
She added that the protests should end because the country is about to celebrate HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday.
The Prime Minister said the call for the establishment of a people’s council to reform the country could not be done under the current Constitution.
As a result, the protesters should hold talks with the government instead of continuing the protests.
PM Yingluck also expressed confidence that government officials would continue to work to serve the people even though the protests were making their work harder.
PHUKET: Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun speaks to Nation Multimedia Group’s editor-in-chief Thepchai Yong. The interview was conducted in Thai and translated by The Nation. Here are some excerpts:
Q : Do you see a way out of the prevailing situation?
A: Suthep Thaugsuban as well as the government can best answer your question. They are direct parties to the conflict.
I am not informed enough about the situation, though I believe that we shouldn’t be over-excited by what is happening on the streets.
Protest marches happen in other countries. During the racial struggle in the United States, millions of people marched in Washington DC demanding that then-president [John F] Kennedy issue a pledge for the civil-rights law.
This law came into effect in 1964, during the administration of president [Lyndon B] Johnson. Other countries, such as India, have also faced similar experiences. The march led by [Mahatma] Gandhi, if you remember, gave birth to civil disobedience.
Q : So, what is happening can be seen as normal in a democracy?
This is normal. In England, millions of people, including university students, marched to protest against what they saw as the country leaning too close to the US on the nuclear issue.
We should view this protest as normal and not an attempt to overthrow the political regime or not abiding by the rulebook.
England, the original model for Westminster democracy, or the US, as a model for the presidential system, have both experienced protest marches. France and Greece as well.
What I am pleased to note is that the prevailing Thai protest is unarmed. It may be noisy, caused by whistle-blowing or through musical entertainment or by other elements. But, in my opinion this is frivolous as long as the protest is peaceful and unarmed. I have to commend the government for not trying to do anything in the extreme.
Therefore, I see little chance for clashes to erupt. Of course, there will be exchanges of fiery words if you listen to statements made by either side of the conflict.
I still hope words do not lead to a breaking point, causing street fights.
As the situation stands, there seems to be no potential resolution involving the disputed parties.
But I hear some voices going in the right direction, such as proposals for reform. We have been preparing reports on reform for the past years and no one paid attention. Now everyone is interested in reform. The government as well as the Democrats have started speaking on the matter.
That is the next step but the immediate issue is how to resolve the tension.
If you can convince people to remain hopeful for a resolution, then the immediate tension will dissipate. It is important to set new agendas, which are not about dealing with existing feuds but diverting attention to national issues.
Some say the problem is Thaksin [Shinawatra]. Others say it is Abhisit [Vejjajiva] or Suthep. Yet others say it is the yellow and red shirts. I think this will only lead to an endless argument.
You cannot speedily wipe out deep-rooted perceptions. You have to create a diversion to focus on other issues that have plagued the country.
There have been a lot of proposals to resolve the situation, such as each side taking a step back. But in practice, there is no tangible way to implement this. In your opinion, who should be held responsible for signalling the stepping back?
All sides should talk quietly in order to make a mutual retreat. The talk about stepping back raises the world’s unsolved puzzle – which side will make the first move. The rivals should retreat at the same time.
Q : This means the rival camps should talk outside the glare of the media?
Before talking about reconciliation, you should touch on measures to dissipate tension or hatred. At present, a few television stations are seen as pro-reds. There also are those pro-blue and pro-yellow. A war of words is being carried out 24 hours a day.
Problems occur because some people fall prey to biased views. I think this rival broadcasting should cease.
Reconciliation can happen only after a quiet talk to work out the agreement on key issues, hence forging understanding and trust.
They need to engage in a dialogue before embarking on peace talks.
Q : As prime minister, Yingluck [Shinawatra] cannot avoid the responsibility of solving the problems.
No, she can’t.
Q : What do you want to see the country’s leader do at the moment to ease the situation? Maybe, at least some talks to find a solution and to see if any is possible?
Yingluck must present more of her leadership as now there is doubt that Thailand’s prime minister is Yingluck Shinawatra. They don’t believe this. It’s a question of perception versus reality.
— Phuket Gazette Editors