Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Update: Thailand Still In “Some Turmoil”

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 3, 2007

On Tuesday, September 19, 2006 the military leaders of Thailand, in an unexpected coup, removed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra while he was in New York City at a United Nations meeting for heads of state.

Shinawatra left Thailand the democratically elected head of state of a free nation and flew out of New York toward London a jobless man unable to return to the land of his birth.

Thaksin Shinawatra, was democratically elected twice. A billionaire, he was no angel. In fact, he was known for corruption in government. Critics charged that his universal health care program, food subsidies to the poor and care for the elderly and others were crass ways to buy votes. His critics said, when votes in the legislature looked to be on the fence, he’s buy the votes he needed to get what he wanted. His entire party was called “the mafia” by many Thais. The opposition sat out the last election in protest.

Shinawatra was also unable to stop a Muslim insurgency that was taking a mounting toll in lives in their terror campaign in southern Thailand.

We have learned that Shinawatra now resides in Beijing, where the Chinese welcome his business acumen, his money and his connections even if they have some doubts about the man himself.

In December 2005, Thailand's monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, criticized the Prime Minister in a speech. That probably signaled that Shinawatra’s government was on borrowed time.

In Thailand, a Muslim general took over. Democracy was lost.

Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin, army commander in chief and an ally of the royal palace, engineered a bloodless coup. The coup-makers wore the monarchy's traditional colors, and the king later endorsed Sonthi's transitional government.

Part of the General’s rationalization for the coup was that his predecessor was unable to put down the Muslim insurrection.

On New Year’s Eve, Bangkok was rocked by the explosion of eight small bombs. Three people were killed and scores were injured. One bomb was diffused by police and did not explode, we are told.

An Irishman, an American and two Serbs were among at least 38 injured.

We were unable to determine the identity of the lone American.

Britons Alistair Graham, aged 47, and Paul Hewitt, aged 55, were among seven tourists hurt at a shopping precinct popular with visitors.

Now the Thai police say the bombs can be traced to the political opposition of the coup makers: the allies of former Prime Minister Shinawatra. The police are blaming Shinawatra’s mafia and not the Muslim insurgents.

So what evidence do the Thai police hold?

We’ve seen next to nothing in the mainstream media but insiders in Thailand told us this: the bombs used by the Muslims in the south use a vastly different detonation system from the bombs used in the New Year’s bombing. Thai police also say the Muslims usually target rich, foreign tourists to Thailand. The New Year’s bombs killed and injured only ordinary Thai people.

Shinawatra has denied any wrongdoing or involvement and as of this writing the Thai police have made no arrests.

Outside observers at the U.N. told us that Thailand was in “some turmoil.”

All we know for sure is this: the Thai tour industry which was just recovering from the tsunami two years ago can ill afford another setback.

``There are several overseas tourists canceling their bookings to Thailand,'' Suvit Yodmani, the minister of tourism and sport, said in comments broadcast by state-controlled Channel 9 television yesterday. ``In the short term, we admit the bombs will have a significant impact.''

And the Thai generals, for all their power, have not reinstated full order in their homeland.


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