UDD out to upset protocol-Thaksin’s Birthday Party and Royal padon

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Unrepentant, defiant and arrogant, the UDD leaders have now embarked on two provocative endeavours which raise a big question about their true motives.

It is barely three months since the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) forcibly turned this year’s Songkran holiday into an unforgettable day of infamy, with its red-shirted mobs rioting in Bangkok and, at one point during the melee, posing a serious threat to the life of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Around the same time, another red-shirted mob stormed the venue of the Asean summit in Pattaya and successfully forced its postponement. Despite the huge damage inflicted on the country’s image and economy through these criminal acts, not one of the UDD’s core leaders has shown any sense of guilt or offered any public apology.

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Unrepentant, defiant and arrogant, the UDD leaders have now embarked on two provocative endeavours which raise a big question about their true motives.

The first action now under way is the collecting of up to one million signatures in support of its petition seeking a royal pardon for exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The attempt has drawn widespread criticism as being highly inappropriate because it amounts to putting pressure on His Majesty the King. It also goes against the traditional rule of practice, which prescribes that only prisoners who have partially served their terms are eligible to seek royal pardon, and that the prisoners themselves or their close relatives must initiate the petition. As a fugitive from the law, Thaksin does not fall into any of these categories.

The inappropriateness of the signature collection campaign, however, pales when compared to the UDD’s plan to stage the 60th birthday celebrations for Thaksin at Sanam Luang on July 26. The initiative is not only improper, but also provocative and outrageous. The plan includes, among others, the offering of alms to 60 monks, the cutting of a birthday cake and a phone-in by the birthday boy himself.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has made the right decision in refusing the UDD’s request to use Sanam Luang to stage the birthday bash. Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said a bad precedent would be set if the UDD were allowed to have its way. “Then anyone would be able to hold a birthday party or a funeral at Sanam Luang,” the governor was quoted as saying.

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Aside from being a public recreational playground and a popular venue for political rallies, like Hyde Park in London, Sanam Luang has for decades been used as the venue for state and royal functions. The annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony and the birthday celebrations of Their Majesties the King and Queen, for instance, have always been held on this spacious commons, which also serves as the venue for royal cremation ceremonies.

Never in Sanam Luang’s long history has the venue been used by any group of people to stage a birthday party for a commoner, no matter how powerful, how wealthy or how popular he or she may be. It is widely understood and accepted by the public that the grounds are exclusively reserved for royal ceremonies only.

The UDD leaders are smart and cannot have missed out on the historical significance of Sanam Luang and the public sentiment regarding the place. The UDD is not an impoverished pressure group surviving on shoe-string financing. It owns a TV station and several publications.

There is no reason why it cannot afford to rent a more suitable venue such as Muang Thong Thani to stage a birthday party for Thaksin, without offending or provoking public sensibilities. Unless, of course, it has a hidden ulterior motive.

Bangkok Post / Opinion

Published: 9/07/2009 at 12:00 AM

 

Red-Shirt Group to Go Ahead with Thaksin’s Birthday Party

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Although fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has asked his supporters to scrap the birthday celebration planned for him at Sanam Luang, the red-shirt group have vowed to proceed with the event.

Noppadon Patthama, former legal adviser of Thaksin, stated that his ex-boss is unhappy with criticism from several parties over his alleged efforts to get the Monarchy involved in political problems.

Noppadon said he did not discuss the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship, or DAAD’s, royal pardon campaign with Thaksin but indicated that the ousted premier has always believed that the group is eligible to do so.

He also said he will wait and see whether red-shirt core leader Shinawat Habunpard will move forward with the planned gathering at Sanam Luang on July 26 and then organize for Thaksin’s phone-in speech during the event.

Noppadon earlier said Thaksin wanted his supporters to reconsider their move to hold the 60th birthday celebration for him at Sanam Luang but Shinawat has insisted on going ahead with the planned rally.

In the meantime, a poll conducted by Assumption University found that 81.4 percent of the respondents do not agree with the DAAD’s plan to hold a gathering at Sanam Luang on Thaksin’s birthday, saying the move is not appropriate and they believe that this could result in social discord and incite more opposition against the ousted premier.

A total of 18.6 percent say they believe that the group are eligible to arrange such an event since Sanam Luang is a public venue.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Spokesman Thepthai Sennapong said Thaksin’s appearance in Malaysia was not just a refuelling stop as claimed by Noppadon.

Thepthai said the information from the Malaysian Immigration Office showed Thaksin entered Thailand’s southern neighboring country using Montenegrin passport .

Thepthai revealed Thaksin submitted a request for a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak but it was rejected due to concern over the relations between the two countries.

He also claimed Thai authorities asked their Malaysian counterparts to arrest Thaksin but a delay in the coordination process allowed Thaksin to flee to Fiji.

TAN

 

ABAC Poll: Majority Opposes Idea of Hosting Thaksin’s Birthday Party at Sanam Luang

An ABAC Poll has revealed that the majority of Thai people disagree with using Sanam Luang as a venue for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s 60th birthday party.

The ABAC Research Centre at Assumption University recently conducted a survey on Thai public opinion about the idea of using Sanam Luang as a venue for former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s sixtieth birthday celebration.

The survey found that 81.4 per cent of respondents oppose this idea, as most people feel it’s inappropriate and it could generate further conflict in society. 18.6 per cent of the majority agree with the idea; given that the area is a public venue.

As for the case against the foreign minister regarding charges related to Suvarnabhumi Airport seizure, the research poll revealed that most people believe he should resign from his cabinet post after the Asean Ministerial Meeting. 35 per cent of respondents say they still support the government; 9.2 per cent say they do not support the government, while 55.8 per cent give no comment on the matter.

TAN

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