Thai protesters force Asia summit cancellation
Sat Apr 11, 2009 1:11pm EDT
By Bill Tarrant
PATTAYA, Thailand (Reuters) - A summit of Asian leaders in Thailand was canceled on Saturday after anti-government protesters swarmed into the meeting's venue, renewing doubts about the durability of the government.
The events will pile more pressure on an economy teetering on the brink of recession, especially if foreign tourists are put off by the scenes of chaos and emboldened protesters intensify the fight to kick out Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.Abhisit imposed a state of emergency for a few hours in Pattaya, a resort about 150 kms (90 miles) south of Bangkok best known for its racy nightlife and as a port of call for U.S. sailors, which was to host the East Asia Summit.
He lifted it after the foreign leaders had left the country. About half of them had had to be evacuated by helicopter from the venue to a nearby military airbase.The summit fiasco is a huge embarrassment for Abhisit's government, which came to power in December through parliamentary defections that the opposition says were engineered by the army.The weekend's events will also raise questions about how enduring his government can be.
Four prime ministers over the past 15 months have failed to resolve Thailand's deep political rift between the royalist, military and business elite on the one hand, and a rural majority loyal to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on the other.
Asked by Reuters if he planned to resign, Abhisit said simply: "We have to restore law and order."On Saturday, hundreds of red-shirted Thaksin supporters broke through lines of soldiers and invaded the media center adjacent to the summit venue, the Royal Cliff hotel, blowing whistles, waving flags and shouting "Abhisit Out.Troops tried to stop them, but "red shirts" and soldiers came hurtling through a huge picture window at the media center in a furious scrum. Soldiers then bolted down the road to protect the hotel where Asian leaders were to hold a lunch.
HUGE EMBARRASSMENT (+ komen aku)
After rampaging about the media center, an elderly woman in a wheelchair among them, the "red shirts" were soon huddled with reporters in impromptu news conferences around the conference center, denouncing Abhisit's government as "anti-poor."The East Asia Summit brings together the 10 member nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand for discussions about trade, economic issues and regional security.
Investors are likely to see the government's failure to stop the demonstrators getting anywhere near the summit as a sign of Abhisit's indecisiveness, even if his aim was to avoid bloodshed. It could even threaten the British-born and Oxford-educated Abhisit's leadership of the Democrat Party.Kongkiat Opaswongkarn, chief executive of Asia Plus Securities in Bangkok, called it "a huge, huge embarrassment."
"The economy is already bad and after such an event, it's pretty obvious business sectors like tourism will really fall off the cliff," he said.The disorder may mean losses worth no less than the estimated $3.7 billion caused by the closure of Bangkok's two main airports late last year during previous unrest, said Kongkrit Hiranyakij, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand.
The red shirts quickly abandoned Pattaya and headed back to Bangkok to resume the protests there, although the capital is in holiday mode for the Thai New Year. On Wednesday, they assembled 100,000 people around Government House, turning the center of the capital into a sea of red.
"We are leaving for Government House to continue fighting," said protester Kittisak Chimplewanasom. "We won this time, as we were able to show ASEAN that we don't need this prime minister." Thaksin, who lives in self-imposed exile to avoid jail on a corruption conviction and is thought to be bankrolling the protests, phoned in to his "red shirts" at Government House in the evening.
Less rabble-rousing than on some occasions, he thanked them for their sacrifice at this holiday time and asked them to be patient for a few more days as they were on the point of achieving something."If our people in Bangkok and all the provinces unite, ... I think this time we can change the country. We will see real democracy with the king as the head of state," he said.
He is aiming to force Abhisit out and get new elections, which his supporters would most likely win.The billionaire was ousted in a 2006 coup, but his reconstituted party regained power after elections, sparking months of protests last year by yellow-shirted opponents.The "red shirts" say they had intended to protest peacefully but became infuriated when blue-shirted, pro-government vigilantes arrived, armed with clubs, bricks and slingshots. Thaksin alleged these were police and soldiers in disguise.
(Additional reporting by Isabel Reynolds, Martin Petty and John Ruwitch in Pattaya, Viparat Jantraprap, Kittipong Soonprasert and Panarat Thepgumpanat in Bangkok; Editing by Alan Raybould and John Chalmers)
BaLdiMeraH:: Thailand sgt unik akhir2 ni. kerajaan boleh ditukar hanya dengan demo.. Mp pulak boleh lompat2 mana - mana parti yang dapat sokongan demo masa tu.. cukup senang tukar kerajaan. masa rakyat habis dengan berdemo. Tapi nk buat apa pon. Siang demo malam mengangkang.. keh3..
Apepun, perlu diingat thaksin syaitan besar, salah satu shabat israel zionis (bukan yahudi-ada beza tu)penyembelih kaum Islam selatan Thai, aku ada post kot sebelum2 ni. takpun kat blog sejarahnagarakedah..ada link dia kat sidebar tuh..
Inilah demo yang di agung agung kan.. aku pon mushkil kenapa suma suka sgt demo neh..kita dilekakan dengan berbagai2 hak asasi manusia, demo pon kira hak asasi, merusuh pon hak asasi, makan babi pon hak asasi, maki hamun org pon hak asasi, tapi kalau dia yang kena maki, menjatuhkan maruah..saman kat court berjuta ringgit. (aku rasa sistem blog ni pon salah satu dakyah zionis melekakan masyarakat dunia-sibuk berperang dalam blog sementara zionis merangka perancangan mereka tanpa di ganggu gugat).
Apepon, walopon aku rakyat Malaysia, aku sokong Abhisit. nnt aku buat pulak gelombang Baldi Merah kt Melesia vs Baju Merah kt Thailand...Hehehe..
BaLdi biRu: Org yang berdemo ni org yang byk masa, org yang berpolitik sakan ni pon, org yang byk masa, x berusaha carik makan, tapi sibuk berdemo nk dapatkan kerajaan baru ntok sebat kontrak, sebab tak puas hati puak satu lagi byk dapat kontrak, bukan nk berjuang untuk kemajuan bangsa pon, bohong je suma tu.
Baldi Besi: Semoga Allah lindungi Malaysia dari Malapetaka, tanggungjawab Muslim Malaysia kepada duni sgt besar, bukan sekadar berdemo dan memaki orang, sumanya sedang dilalaikan dengan dakyah baru, hak asasi dan kebebasan manusia. Tak percaya? pikirkan. aku akan post lagi.