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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        21  March 2011

Red shirts rally in Northeast

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Supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra and the Puea Thai Party have ramped up their activities, particularly in the northeastern province of Udon Thani.

Several political gatherings to reignite the pride and rights of the red shirt members in Udon Thani have been prepared since the emergency decree was lifted in December.

The gatherings, held separately in Phen and Si That districts, over the weekend came amid the strong surge in the coalition Bhumjaithai Party's influence in the region. The gathering in Phen district was held on Saturday night.

Meetings in Si That district were held last night.

In Si That district, the event named "Eye-Opening for Three Rivers" aimed to draw residents from six districts through which three rivers, Nong Han, Lampao, and Lamphanchad, pass.

More than 500 people joined the event last night at Ban Kud Nakho temple in tambon Tad Thong. Saensri Phadchet, 52, chairman of the red shirt-dominated Wang Sam Mo district, said the gathering was to rebuild the interest and knowledge of the people on issues of democracy and justice, particularly after the censure debate ended on Friday.

Puea Thai MP Kiat-udom Manasawas and outspoken MP Sunai Jullpongsathon joined the event. A few other speakers from Red Siam and United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship movements also participated.

Thaksin also spoke to the red shirts via a phone-in.

But Kwanchai Praipana, the main red shirt leader in Udon Thani, who has been recently released on bail after being charged with terrorism, was absent.

"We would like to gradually move from politician-based to people-based politics," Mr Saensri said. Yet, political observers believed despite the two-year continuously-injected populist schemes under the current government and rising political influence of Bhumjaithai which controls the Interior Ministry and local administrations, the Northeast region still remains under the dominance of Puea Thai and Thaksin.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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