8 Mar 2006

Protesters demand Singapore pullout

By David Ogan 8 March 2006 11:54

Protesters hold banners at the demonstration outside the Singaporean embassy yesterday.

The anti-Thaksin Shinawatra alliance launched its “urban guerilla warfare” campaign yesterday by demonstrating outside the Singaporean embassy and calling on the city state to annul Temasek Holdings’ purchase of Shin Corporation.

A leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), Somsak Kosaisuk, led a small protest outside the embassy on Sathon Road yesterday afternoon and handed over a letter addressed to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stating that the deal represented a serious threat to Thailand’s national security and would damage good relations between the two countries.

Essentially, the letter stated that Shin Corp owns various national concessions in telecommunications, satellites, airlines and television and that Thaksin may have abused the law to benefit his family.

PAD demanded that Temasek Holdings, a Singapore state enterprise, disclose details of the contract and stop the deal going through, or face a large-scale boycott of Singaporean products and services in Thailand.

“The secretary of the Singaporean ambassador accepted our letter and promised to send it quickly to his government,” Somsak told ThaiDay.

“We also told him that we would come back again on Thursday en masse to receive their answer.”

The protest outside the embassy was the first in a series of planned “guerilla warfare” tactics that will continue daily, culminating in a mass march on Government House next Tuesday while the Cabinet is in session.

“We are adapting our strategies and will utilize urban guerilla warfare tactics. We will divide our forces to target the power base of the Shinawatra family,” Suriyasai Katasila, a founding member of PAD, told ThaiDay.

“These venues include the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the Revenue Department and the Shinawatra Building. We will be holding daily activities until we march on Government House.”

This morning, a female workers’ group is scheduled to march from the Royal Plaza to Government House to demand Thaksin’s resignation, according to Suriyasai.

Somsak added that at 9am on Thursday, 5,000 protesters will march from Lumphini Park to the Singaporean embassy.

“We will ask for their answer,” he said.

In justification for their actions, Suriyasai said that it was a matter of national security.

“The Shin Corp sale represents a threat to national security, particularly in the case of satellites,” he said.

“If Shin Corp decides at some point in the future to move the ThaiCom 4 control station to Singapore then it will affect the safety of our country.”

Suriyasai added that details of other planned marches had not yet been finalized, adding that they would be worked out on a daily basis.

“We decided to monitor the situation daily before making any move. But all the little moves will culminate in the march on Government House on March 14.”

Pian Yongnu, president of the Metropolitan Electric Authority Union and a leading PAD member, told ThaiDay that various state enterprise workers’ groups plan to join Tuesday’s march on Government House.

“We will meet with other groups within the State Enterprise Labor Relations Confederation this week and expect there will be up to 100,000 state enterprise workers joining the march on Government House,” Pian said.

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