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Thread: How to end a rally?
04-06-08, 01:24 PM #1
How to end a rally?
How to end a rally?
By Bangkok Post Reporters
The government's talk of using Article 68 of the constitution to disperse the rally of the People's Alliance for Democracy has raised the eyebrows of legal experts and been shrugged off by the protesters. The article forbids attempts to overthrow democracy.
PM's Office Minister Chusak Sirinil, a legal expert of the People Power party (PPP), expressed confidence the constitutional provision would provide a legal basis for police to deal with the PAD demonstration.
Article 68 says a person is prohibited from using the rights and liberties provided in the constitution to overthrow democratic rule with the King as head of state, or to acquire power to rule the country by means other than is provided for in the charter.
Witnesses to people acting as such have the right to report the matter to the attorney-general, who can investigate and request the Constitution Court to order the cessation of such activities.
The PAD, however, dismissed the government's latest tactic.
Suriyasai Katasila, one of the PAD leaders, said Mr Chusak was showing a lack of knowledge about the issue.
He said the PAD was trying to protect the constitution.
It was the PPP that had tried to get rid of the charter and its provisions by pressing for change through the parliamentary process.
Other legal experts, including former charter writers, were surprised at the government's new plan.
Komsan Phokong, a charter drafter and a Thammasat University law lecturer, did not view the PAD rally as an attempt to overthrow democratic rule.
The rally is demanding the ouster of the government and anyone can mount such a protest, he said.
"Overthrow under this article means setting up a communist party or preparing a coup. The article is not applicable to the PAD rally," Mr Komsan added.
Two other charter drafters Chuchai Supawong and Seree Suwannapanon echoed his view, that the PAD was exercising its right under the constitution to express its opposition to the government.
"From my perspective, the rally by the PAD is not aimed at overthrowing democracy," Mr Seree said.
The PAD began its rally on May 25 at the Democracy Monument in protest against the People Power party (PPP)led attempt to amend the constitution. It also demands the impeachment of all MPs and senators who signed up to support the motion.
Last Friday, the motion for the charter amendment was withdrawn by the PPP in a bid to defuse the political crisis.
The PAD has now raised its campaign to a new level, trying to force the government, which it calls a puppet administration, from office. The rally site is now at Makkhawan Rangsan bridge.
The PAD said last night it would send 500 demonstrators to the houses of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, the Department of Special Investigation and the Office of the Attorney-General tomorrow to pressure them not to interfere in the court procedures in all the corruption cases involving Thaksin Shinawatra.
The PAD core leaders are insisting that their right to hold rallies is protected by the constitution. But police claim the protests have blocked traffic and inconvenienced motorists and school children.
Interior Minister Chalerm repeated his calls for the PAD demonstrators to move elsewhere to ease the traffic jams around the protest site.
He also challenged PAD leaders such as Sondhi Limthongkul and Mr Suriyasai to form a political party if they were so confident that the public supports them.
"If Mr Sondhi and Mr Suriyasai are confident they are doing the right thing, they'd better form a political party, with Mr Sondhi as leader and Mr Suriyasai as the secretary-general, and then work out a policy to compete against the PPP," Mr Chalerm said.
PAD leader Somsak Kosaisuk said the demonstrators would remain at the protest site for at least another seven days but would try to avoid causing problems for teachers and students at schools.
The PAD had planned to stop blocking traffic during rush hours in the morning and afternoon yesterday, to allow teachers and students to pass the rally site to get to schools. The road was opened in the morning, but PAD leaders later changed their minds and closed it.
Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, and Pibhop Dhongchai, two of the PAD leaders, said the group decided to block a traffic lane running along the Phadung Krung Kasem canal behind its stage for security reasons after it was opened temporarily to traffic from 6am to 9am yesterday.
Protesters feared that unblocking the road could leave them vulnerable to assault from anti-PAD groups as no officers had been sent in to police the area, they said.
Pol Maj-Gen Panu Kerdlarppol, deputy city police chief, said the rally has blocked Ratchadamnoen avenue, which is a main route.
Police had tried to ask the PAD to help ease the traffic flow, even though they said it is clear that the protesters are violating traffic laws.
04-06-08, 05:01 PM #2
Re: How to end a rally?
Police call on protesters to open roads
(BangkokPost.com) - Metropolitan Police Bureau on Wednesday called on supporters of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to open the road at their rally site so motorists can use it as well.
Metropolitan Police chief Asawin Kwanmuang said the area near Makkhawan Bridge does not belong to anyone, nor is it a special administrative zone, so protesters should respect the rights of others as well.
His statement came as the protesters continued their rallies for the 11th day. They are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and the government.
Pol Lt Gen Asawin said police officers are deployed at the area to make ensure that no third party uses the opportunity to stir unrest or attack the protest.
05-06-08, 03:51 PM #3
Re: How to end a rally?
PAD to decide soon if rally will go on
Suriyasai says govt still trying to amend charter
BANGKOK POST REPORTERS
Mr Suriyasai explained the decision would depend on various factors as the PAD was monitoring the unfolding political situation on a day-to-day basis.
The reason the PAD did not wind down the rally earlier was because it still enjoyed public support, he said.
"But the important reason why we're still here is because the People Power party has not let up in its efforts to try to amend the constitution," he said.
Mr Suriyasai said whether the protest will go on will become clear tomorrow or on Saturday.
The PAD must be able to explain if it suspends the rally. "We can't wait for the situation to become ripe to mobilise the people again. It's not that easy."
He maintained the PAD had no conflict with people in the neighbourhood and that even the management of Wat Makutkasattiyaram school where the demonstrations were disrupting traffic understood the PAD's stance.
The PAD demonstrators have been occupying a stretch of Ratchadamnoen Nok avenue on one side of the Makkhawan Rangsan bridge since May 25.
Chamlong Srimuang, another PAD leader, hinted at the possibility of a protracted protest.
"We cannot stop the rally now. We haven't got any assurance from the government on whether it will back down on the charter rewrite or resign."
He shrugged off Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung's bid to have Maj-Gen Chamlong's classmates, Panlop Pinmanee and Maj-Gen Manoonkrit Roopkachorn, talk him into dispersing the rally. He said his friends knew him better than to ask him for a favour he could not give.
Gen Panlop, former Internal Security Operations Command deputy director, yesterday refused to act as a go-between.
"The PAD has come a long way (with its protest). There's no turning back now.
"Chamlong is a very determined man," he said.
Gen Panlop agreed with the suggestion that a national government should be established with a neutral person chosen to replace Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.
The PAD members will also visit the agencies involved to push them to speed up the prosecution of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on charges of corruption and power abuse.
"It seems the process has proceeded unusually slowly, especially at the stage preceding the court," said Mr Suriyasai.
The anti-government group will visit Mr Samak, Mr Chalerm as well as agencies involved, including the Office of the Attorney-General.
The PAD is considering whether to "roll the drum" again and call for another major gathering of supporters.
"We have food supplies to last a year," Mr Suriyasai said.
The government has insisted it never planned to invoke security laws or impose the emergency decree to deal with the rally as long as it was peaceful.
Meanwhile, a group from the Students Federation of Thailand led by its secretary-general Pongsuwan Sitthisena yesterday placed a wreath in front of the office of Campaign for Popular Democracy, of which Mr Suriyasai is secretary-general and another PAD leader Pibhop Dhongchai is an adviser.
Mr Pongsuwan read a statement opposing the PAD's rally which said that it is causing the economy to head into the doldrums and leading to conditions that will lead to a new coup.
06-06-08, 03:43 PM #4
Re: How to end a rally?
Tactical retreat best for PAD
The mounting complaints from people affected by the People's Alliance for Democracy's street protest does not bode well for its political cause. For the past 12 days, the noisy demonstration at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge has inconvenienced many people. Traffic congestion and the noise from loudspeakers have made life horrible for private and state office workers, school children, monks and others living or doing business in the area.
It is now time for the PAD to rethink its strategy before it loses public support for the ongoing campaign against the Samak Sundaravej administration.
Many may find the PAD's rally a political campaign with a noble cause. However, the frustration of many people over these past days indicates the PAD might not hold the public's support for very long. Its decision to elevate its campaign to push for the ouster of the coalition led by the People Power party - after successfully forcing it to temporarily withdraw a questionable constitutional amendment bid from parliament - has become a cause for concern in many quarters.
With all the more immediate economic and bread-and-butter issues facing the population, no one wants to see the country heading for another political crisis which could end in violence.
The PAD and its supporters obviously deserve applause for their courage in taking to the streets to oppose the political manoeuvring by elements in the ruling PPP. However, they should not take public sentiment for granted. A prolonged demonstration in the middle of Ratchadamnoen avenue will only create more foes than friends.
Now that the PAD's original goal to prevent the PPP from amending the constitution has been achieved, albeit temporarily, it is time the movement made a tactical retreat to review its strategy.
The PPP-led coalition came to power amid claims it is a nominee of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai party and its former boss Thaksin Shinawatra. The overwhelming support the PPP received in the Dec 23 general election has given it the legitimacy to run the country.
Instead of concentrating on working to alleviate the country's problems, however, the Samak government has wasted the past four months in political gamemanship. All of which has been indicative of its intention to install Mr Thaksin back in power and save itself from possible legal punishment for alleged electoral fraud. The government should set its dubious political agenda aside and focus on tackling the economic hardship which is now affecting the people.
It has been known from the start that Prime Minister Samak is almost a loner in the PPP. He has admitted that he took the helm at Mr Thaksin's request. He has almost no control over certain political factions within the PPP who have been actively moving to push for changes to the country's supreme law and for a violent end to the PAD's protest.
Apart from controlling his own desire to use force to end the demonstration, Mr Samak will have to exert power to stop these political elements within his own party from resurrecting the constitutional amendment bid, which would only add fuel to the fire.
It is a good sign that the PPP and opposition Democrat party have agreed to sit together with the participation of some outsiders, to study how the constitution should be changed. The move represents a logical way out of the bitter conflict. Both the PAD and government must allow this latest parliamentary process to take its course, if either is to show that it cares for peace and the interests of the people.
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