Thailand News: PDRC heads to bridge; Can’t choose PM, says senior judge; Pattaya to extend beach


Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PDRC shuts Lumpini rally site, heads for final battle
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) will today end its rally at Lumpini Park and move all rally sites to Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge.

PDRC secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban last night made the final speech on the stage at the park.

Suthep yesterday made a speech at the Chamai Maruchet rally site of the Students and People Network for Thailand’s Reform and advised the demonstrators that he would lead the march to Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge near Government House today.

After reaching the new rally site, he said he would lead the demonstrators to Parliament to observe a special meeting of the Senate to see if the new Senate Speaker would nominate a non-partisan prime minister for His Majesty’s endorsement.

Suthep said he would set up his new office inside the Santi Maitree Building in the Government House compound.

He would make future statements from his new office and would hold meetings with any group that came to meet him. Protesters would not be allowed inside the compound, only some PDRC staff involved.

Suthep said the latest round of rallies would be the final battle. If the PDRC won by pushing for real reforms, he would return to live in Surat Thani but if he loses, people could visit him in jail.

Meanwhile, Phra Buddha Issara, the monk who is leading the PDRC rally outside Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, cancelled all activities yesterday.

He rested behind the rally stage after he was injured by a water canon and teargas during a clash with police at the Royal Thai Police Club on Friday.

The Chaeng Wattana rally stage had only music shows yesterday. The PDRC protesters, who had occupied the country’s five main television stations, returned to their rally sites yesterday.

Chumphon Junsai and Chitpas Kridakorn, who led the PDRC protest at MCOT (Channel 9) and returned to Lumpini Park, said MCOT had cooperated with protesters.

Buddhipongse Punnakanta, who led protesters at Channel 7 and returned to Lumpini Park, will protest at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge on Rajdamnoen Avenue today.

Nathapol Teepsuwan, who led protesters at Channel 3 on Rama IV Road, said the demonstrations at the TV stations were not a threat to the media and the protesters had not intruded into restricted areas.

We can’t pick a new PM, senior judge says
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A call by Rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban for the Senate Speaker to consult with the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, Constitutional Court and Election Commission to nominate a neutral PM received a cool reception yesterday with a senior judge saying no charter provision empowered judges to do that.

The judge, who asked not to be named, said such a proposal was unprecedented in Thai history.

“Although judges of the Administrative Court, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court were asked to help dissolve a political crisis before the September 2006 coup, their role was only to hear cases righteously and without political bias and not to nominate a PM as demanded by Suthep,” he said.

“There is not any provision in the charter that empowers judges with such responsibility. Opponents of Suthep and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) will reject the proposal and that would not help reduce the conflict. It is not easy for the presidents of the three high courts to nominate a PM because that would involve the courts, which are the country’s important institution in politics,” the judge said.

The proposal was a sensitive issue as it may be deemed a violation of Royal power, he said, and if rivals of the PDRC did the same move, how could the crisis be resolved?

The government’s Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) issued a statement against the PDRC proposal, saying it was unconstitutional because the PM must be an MP and voted for by the House of Representatives. Besides, the country was still run by a

caretaker Cabinet led by acting PM Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan.

“To appoint a new Cabinet and PM while the current one is still in power is unconstitutional and may be deemed a violation of the royal power,” the statement said.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said that Suthep’s goal in seizing Government House and calling for an “Article 7 PM” was designed to provoke the military to stage a coup the same way the People’s Alliance for Democracy group did.

Meanwhile, the government camp has said it plans to arrest Suthep and other leaders today. Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdith said yesterday the Arintarat police SWAT team was ready to round up Suthep and 13 other PDRC leaders.

Tarit said a court would decide today whether to approve arrest warrants for Suthep and 51 others wanted on 10 serious charges including sedition and insurrection after the Office of the Attorney General had decided to indict them.

“We are confident we will have permission to arrest them and we will have the Anti-Money Laundering Commission seize their assets. The SWAT team is ready, if we have the warrant tomorrow [Monday], we will immediately start the operation,” Tarit said.

The DSI chief warned people not involved to stay away from the targeted PDRC leaders or they could risk being injured possibly from stray bullets or clashes, because Suthep and 13 PDRC leaders are heavily guarded. Tarit said different police teams had been assigned to seek an opportunity to nab each of the 14 leaders.

He insisted the operation was not to disperse the anti-government protest and was not directly related to the proposal to nominate a neutral PM.

Grenade ‘attacks by same group’
The Ntion / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: POLICE believe the latest M79 attack in Bangkok was carried out by the same group who fired grenades at Chulabhorn Hospital last week.

In the latest attack – the 72nd overall since anti-government rallies began last October – two M79 grenades were fired at the rally site of the Students and People Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR) at about 10.30pm on Saturday.

The first grenade hit behind the rally stage, injuring Narongchai Leesirirungrot, 52, and Isarawan Sriklai, 55.

The second grenade hit in front of Rajavinit Secondary School, damaging three phone booths and three cars.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officers led by Metropolitan Police Division Commander Maj-General Wicharnwat Borirakkul and Colonel Kamthorn Auicharoen, Metropolitan Police Bureau EOD unit commander, inspected the explosion scenes near the STR rally site yesterday.

Kamthorn said the two grenades were fired from the same launcher with an interval of about five seconds. The attacker was apparently aiming at the STR stage.

“The manner of the attack was similar to the M79 attacks against the Siam Commercial Bank head office on Phaholyothin Road and against Chulabhorn Hospital on Wednesday,” Kamthorn said.

The attack on Wednesday followed the Constitutional Court’s ruling that ousted Prime Minister Yingluc

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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