Thaksin phone-in blocked? Angry crowds in Chiang Mai

crowds rally at the Chiang Mai DAAD headquarters for the Thaksin addresstechnicians and organisers at Chiang Mai DAAD headquarters struggle to establish the satellite uplink, to no avail...Ex-premier of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra was to have taken part in a live phone-in tonight to supporters massed in a Bangkok stadium, and at rallies around Thailand. However there was both anger and disappointment amongst the several thousand strong crowd in Chiang Mai when the authorities allegedly blocked the transmission of his satellite phone call from "somewhere in a neighbouring country". [Ed. at this stage there is no evidence that the phone-in was deliberately blocked. There was pressure on Thaksin to avoid further provocation, even from within the political groups he used to lead]

- technicians and organisers at Chiang Mai DAAD headquarters struggle to establish the satellite uplink, to no avail...

The anger was pretty muted in the circumstances. Imagine the reaction of a crowd somewhere in the West, gathered together at a major rally to listen to a revered, if fugitive former leader, only to be told that the transmission had been deliberately blocked by the authorities of that country. There would be outrage, demonstrations, possibly even riots. However this is Thailand - and there was a certain resignation at a not unexpected turn of events. Thailand's democracy is stuttering, and the prospect of real freedom of expression is even more remote after tonight, according to one of the Chiang Mai organisers.

DAAD rally organiser puts on a brave faceOne of the rally leaders puts on a brave face, but he couldn't mask his disappointment at what he saw as yet another deliberate attempt to stifle the voice of the ordinary Thai people...

DAAD demonstrators in their thousands in a passionate but peaceful protest

Are these the stupid farmers the PAD would have the public believe to be blindly following Thaksin?Very striking is the composed and orderly nature of every rally I've been to here in Chiang Mai. A far cry from the gangs of stupid thugs that the PAD leaders would have their followers believe are gathering in hordes in the north of the country. With the help of an interpreter, I was able to chat to half a dozen red-shirted followers present at tonight's gathering, and they all expressed an articulate understanding of the issues involved. Hardly the ignorant peasants portrayed by their yellow-shirted opponents.

Feelings run high as it becomes clear that the Thaksin phone-in has been cancelled at the last minute, but people remain calmPlenty of passion - but no aggression

Not a single major Thai TV network broadcast the pre-recorded speech, only showing brief clips of the 50,000 strong gathering at the Bangkok stadium. In the address Thaksin suggested that Thailand was undergoing a "coup d'etat" targeting the newly formed democratic institutions, accusing the military of directly intervening in the current discussions over the formation of a new government.

He also berated PAD for their occupation of the main Bangkok airports,
Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang, and appealed for unity.

The Imperial Mae Ping, Chiang Mai - at 6.30pm. Few lights on in the roomsEarlier in the evening, the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel at 6.30 pm. If the number of lights in the rooms is any indication, occupancy is extremely low, in line with the 10% reported by a number of top hotels in Bangkok

Except for a few expats, the bars in Chiang Mai remain pretty deserted10.30pm, at the What? bar, Loi Kroh. A few expat regulars watch the Liverpool Hull match, barely a farang to be seen in the street outside...

To avoid accusations of bias... here are some yellow-shirts.

A school outing near the Bridge over the River Kwai. Monday royal yellow happily worn in pre-PAD daysTaken in those innocent days when PAD hadn't hijacked the colour for their own purposes, and people happily wore yellow as a sign of respect for the King on a Monday.

A school outing near the Bridge over the River Kwai. Monday royal yellow happily worn in pre-PAD days
Photo taken in those relatively innocent days before the colour yellow became largely associated with the PADLest it be forgotten that ordinary people are the pawns in the machinations of the powerful as the game plays itself out...


November 27th - Thailand - Caught in a humiliating political farce
November 28th - Chiang Mai - the calm before the storm?
November 29th - Thai tuk-tuks to face down the tanks
November 29th - Red-shirts rally in Chiang Mai
November 30th - Thailand - the land of worn and tired smiles
December 1st - Crisis in Thailand? What crisis. Mai pen lai
December 3rd - Airport occupation over... or is it?

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Martyn said...

The red shirts against the yellow shirts. Power and money against working class poverty. One with a renown leader manipulating events from the sidelines, the other fairly unknown by outsiders. The yellows lay siege and looked to have secured victory but up popped Gerrard and it finishes 2-2. Great game.

The FrogBlogger said...

Ha, good spot Martyn. Missed that one!

Jane said...

With regards to the notorious Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand:
Following repeated complaints from tourists and volunteers working at the temple about tigers being shockingly mistreated there, Care for the Wild International (CWI) undertook an intensive two year investigation. The resulting CWI report reveals illegal wildlife trade, animal cruelty, false conservation claims and visitor safety risks at the Temple.

You can read the report at:

You can view the letter sent by the International Tiger Coalition to the Thai authorities protesting about the Tiger temple here:

This issue has widespread media coverage:

CWI's press release - "Illegal tiger trade, cruelty and human health hazards at famous tourist destination":

"Black market tigers linked to Thai Temple, Reports says"
National Geographic News, 20 June 2008:

Britinbangkok said...

I'm not surprised the Mae Ping is empty. I stayed there three years ago over Christmas and it was $58 a night. Three years later, over $120 a night - NO WAY would I ever pay that in Chiang Mai!

Plus, the Mae Ping has the most unhelpful and snootiest staff I've ever come across - would be surprised if a lot of their guests return.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I'm still doing my part to bolster the Thai economy :-)

Britinbangkok said...

And to Jane - total crap. I've visited the Tiger Temple several times. No signs of animal cruelty.

Westerners getting up in the noses of Thais, who often treat animals differently than Westerners do, but not 'worse' really bugs me! Get so sick of some of the do-gooders who come to Thailand and don't understand the culture so complain about it because it's not 'like the West'.