Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Thaksin - it all kicks off

The furore surrounding former (or current depending on how you look at it) Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been brewing here in Thailand for the last week or so but today it seems to have really gone into overdrive.

Over the last week or so the government has removed his diplomatic passport and attempted to clamp down on the media and prevent them from reporting his or his spokesmans comments. The media held meetings about this clamp down and certainly as far as I could see the print media at least had decided to ignore the clamp down.

Then Thaksin Shinawatra arrived in Singapore and did two things.

Firstly he gave a live interview to CNN. That intervies has yet to be shown on TV in Thailand and General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, chief of the Council for National Security has admitted that the interview with the deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on CNN was blocked from airing, but only by cooperation and appropriate judgment of cable TV operator UBC. Yeah right.

Secondly he held a meeting with the Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar. Thaksin Shinawatra and Singaporean officals insist that this was purely a private meeting as the two are old friends. The Thai military junta is absolutely furious about this meeting. The government has called in the Singaporean Ambassador and has cancelled the visit of Singapore's foreign minister due later this month.

The government is clearly getting jittery about Thaksin Shinawatras movements and statements to the international media and has even gone as far as to go on record to say so. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said 'the movements of the ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra caused him to worry. We do not keep an eye on anything in particular but the movements result in political problems within the country, especially the recent one where he went to see the Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister.'

Meanwhile the political temperature on other fronts within Thailand is also rising as court cases against Thai Rak Thai and two other political parties arising from the abortive elections last year get under way and concerns continue to be expressed about the make up of the group charged with drafting the new constitution.

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