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Front-page headlines from the past few days in the Bangkok Post which are in no way an exaggeration.
The anti-government protests by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), or “Red Shirts”, have been going on for two months now, and friends and family back home who’ve seen dramatic news footage have enquired about my safety, to which I had always replied that “it looks much worse than it is”, and that I was completely safe so long as I stayed away from the demonstration zones.
Not anymore. (more…)
Filed under: News, People, politics, Thai news | Tags: Abhisit Vejjajiva, Adolf Hitler, airports, America, Bangkok, Bumrungrad Hospital, cake, cancer, Charles Bronson, Chatuchak, Chatuchak Market, comedy, conflict of interest, cookery, cooking show, corruption, coups, death, economy, exports, Fawlty Towers, food, foreign investment, government, Government House, Health, high farce, hospital, journalists, liver, liver cancer, markets, media. Thaksin Shinawatra, mosquitoes, motorbikes, obituary, PAD, People Power Party, People's Alliance for Democracy, political demonstrations, politics, Potjaman na Pombejra, PR, press, press intrusion, prime minister, protests, psychology, public relations, public toilets, reporters, Samak Sundaravej, saving face, Somchai Wongsawat, spin doctor, Thai, Thai economy, Thai politics, Thailand, toilet, tourism, USA, yellow shirts
Former Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej died yesterday. He succumbed to liver cancer in Bangkok’s Bumrungrad Hospital, aged 74.
Samak was PM when I moved to Thailand in April last year. He was quite a character and his presence – along with the movements of his rivals and his interactions with the press – could at times be quite comic, if not downright farcical. Before Thai politics turned sour with mob protests, airports seiges and coups, it could even be quite fun to read about Samak’s exploits.
He was the first of three PMs in my time here (three leaders in 19 months in itself is an indictment of the state of Thai politics) and by far the most memorable. He was nowhere near as photogenic as current PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, nor was he anything like as polite as his successor, Somchai Wongsawat, but that is precisely why he made his mark. He behaved aggressively, he was beligerent to the media, he sulked in public, he was unafraid to belittle people if he felt they deserved it, he was stoic in the face of political pressure – and his hardened appearance matched these, ahem, qualities.
Filed under: News, politics, Thai news | Tags: Abhisit Vejjajiva, anti-government protests, Bangkok, civil unrest, democracy, Democrat Party, Don Mueang airport, elections, PAD, People Power Party, People's Alliance for Democracy, politics, red shoirts, Samak Sundaravej, Somchai Wongsawat, Suvarnabhumi airport, Thai army, Thai Democrat Party, Thai politics, Thaksin Shinawatra, UDD, United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship, yellow shirts
The first item on the agenda is to fill in the gaps between September 2008 and September 2009, before I will start writing about more timely stuff, as and when it happens. I will be concise, because 12 months is a long time to chronicle, and will perhaps return to certain points in more detail at a later date.
There have been two major anti-government protests during my time here. The first, aforementioned one culminated in the “yellow shirts”, or People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) closing down Bangkok’s two airports for a week in November. This essentially forced out the then-government led by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, to be replaced by the unelected then-opposition Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva.