– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Thailand’s foreign minister Kasit Piromya lashed out at the global community yesterday for failing to take action against fugitive premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whom he branded a terrorist and blamed for the country’s deadly political violence.
AFP reports that Kasit pointed a finger at nations such as Russia, Germany, Dubai and Montenegro for enabling Thaksin to evade the charges against him by allowing him entry into their countries.
“Everyone is playing naive, closing their eyes and so on, simply because he was once an elected leader,” Kasit said, likenening Thaksin to past “elected” leaders such as Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.
Kasit, in Washington attending a landmark nuclear summit called by President Barack Obama, accused Thaksin of orchestrating demonstrations by his Red Shirt supporters.
Finger pointing continues over street clashes
Confusion remains over what exactly happened in Thailand’s recent deadly street clashes between protesters and soldiers.
Autopsies reveal that at least nine of the dead protestors were struck by high-velocity bullets, but Thai soldiers involved in the confrontation are only officially known to have been armed with water cannons, batons, tear gas and rubber bullets.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva on Monday blamed “terrorists” who infiltrated the red shirts for firing on the troops (four of whom died) with M16 and AK47 rifles.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayakorn says, “Their plan is to create so much madness as to provoke the troops to kill indiscriminately”.
Negotiations still possible
Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya offered an olive branch for change yesterday explaining that he expected a negotiated resolution to Thailand’s political crisis.
“I remain optimistic that we will be able to have the yellow, the red, the blue, the pink and the white coming to the negotiating table in the course of the next few days….” The negotiations would be about what political system Thailand should adopt to be a “more open and democratic society,” Kasit said.
This “direct participation of interested groups in society” would prevent the people from taking to the streets,” he added.
But the Reds said Monday that they would not go home until PM Abhisit dissolved parliament.
Corporate travel decreases in Thailand
TODAY online [Singapore]
The violent events in Thailand are affecting corporate travel, with some travel agents saying that they have seen a rise of 15 per cent in trip postponements.
The managing director of Safe2Travel, Mr Brendan Leong, said: “They have just decided to delay their trips.”
Safe2Travel Group chairman Stephen Mangham said: “While the state of emergency is on, we’re advising people not to travel to Bangkok. However, what we’re not doing is stopping people from planning meetings in Bangkok because we’re not sure how events will develop over the next weeks.”
Mr Leong said some companies are considering holding meetings and conventions in neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam, instead.
— Gazette Editors
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