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Sonthi Outsmarted Thaksin At The Eleventh Hour

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Sonthi outsmarted Thaksin at the eleventh hour

by: Thanong Khanthong - The Nation

Had Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin not moved as fast as he did to stage a coup on Tuesday, Thaksin Shinawatra would have launched his own coup a day later. Don't be fooled by Thaksin's claim that he stands for democracy.

As the political crisis developed to the point of no return concerning whether Thaksin should stay or be booted out, General Sonthi had no choice but to swallow his words about the days of military coups being over. He had been very reluctant to resort to a coup, as he was known not to have any political ambitions. Moreover, he was not known to be an enemy of Thaksin. Although General Sonthi has a good relationship with both Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda and Privy Council member General Surayuth Chulanont, he came to power partly due to a political compromise struck with Thaksin.

However, an intelligence report reached General Sonthi's camp stating that there would be bloodshed on Wednesday. The People's Alliance for Democracy had planned to hold a political rally that day at the Royal Plaza in order to force Thaksin out of politics. Had that rally taken place, there would have been clashes between the People's Alliance for Democracy and Thaksin's supporters and blood would have been spilt on Rajdamnoen Avenue. If only Thaksin had promised that he would take a break from politics and allow a period of political reforms to take place, the PAD and other branches of the anti-Thaksin movement would have declared victory. All political confrontations would have subsided. Thaksin could have run for office once the Constitution was amended, and he would have been returned to the premier's post, probably in the latter part of next year.

However, Thaksin never considered taking a break from power. Again, don't be fooled by his "taking a break" story - the idea never crossed his mind.

The General Sonthi camp learned that during the PAD rally, Yongyuth Tiyapairat and Newin Chidchob were planning to rally their supporters to create an ugly scene at the Royal Plaza. During the ensuing commotion, there would be human casualties. Thaksin would then have stepped in and declared a state of emergency, placing the country under martial law.

Now you can understand why he had time to prepare his state of emergency statement and read it at 9.20pm on Channel 9 from his New York hotel room. You can also understand why Yongyuth and Newin are now at the top of this country's most-wanted list and have surrendered themselves to the CDRM for interrogation.

Once the situation was under his complete control, Thaksin had planned to fly back yesterday in order to declare victory over anti-democratic elements in society. He had a military reshuffle list in hand that would have further consolidated his control over the military. With that accomplished, everything would have been easy. Virtually all institutions in the country would have been under his directive.

From his New York hotel, Thaksin was preparing to deliver an address at the UN Assembly. The room instead turned out to be the headquarters from which he attempted to launch a counter-coup and negotiate a political settlement. In New York, he planned to recruit top-notch American political consultants to advise him on his political campaign for the next election, which would have been pushed back from October 15 to some time in November.

Thaksin's talk of taking a break from politics was simply lip service. He told the Thai public he would decide whether to take a break from politics only after his Thai Rak Thai went to the Election Commission to register as candidates. This means Thaksin would have liked His Majesty the King to endorse a new election date before he made his decision.

Members of the Thai elite and the PAD, however, would not allow this to happen. If Thaksin were to run in the next election, he would have won. With 12 million votes or so, he would have claimed a democratic majority and he also would have stayed on as prime minister. After that he could rewrite Thai history by turning Thailand into his own regime.

General Sonthi had to act fast to head off Thaksin's coup. He staged a military coup on Tuesday, a day before the bloodshed was set to take place. He and Thaksin did have a telephone conversation on Tuesday evening, with Thaksin trying to buy time and negotiate a settlement.

He told General Sonthi that if he kept his cool, Thaksin would take a break from politics. He asked Sonthi to wait until he returned from New York so that the two could talk things out and said that he would reschedule his return flight to Bangkok to Wednesday, instead of yesterday as he had planned.

General Sonthi was polite, but told him that he had no choice, that he had to stage the coup.

In the meantime, Thaksin was checking on his military allies, who had control of Bangkok, for the most part. He remained certain that in a military power play, he could still emerge the victor. Maj-General Prin Suwannathat, commander of the First Infantry Brigade, is a close ally of Thaksin and he holds the most powerful military post in Bangkok. The commanders of the Air Force and the Navy are also good friends of Thaksin.

General Sonthi had the support of Lt-General Saphrang Kalayanamit of the Third Army, who had been outspoken in his anti-Thaksin remarks. The Third Army is in charge of all military operations in the North. Another key ally of Gen Sonthi is Lt-General Anupong Phaochinda of the First Infantry Division in Bangkok. Maj-General Sanit Prommas, the commander of the Second Cavalry Brigade, also came to play an important role in the power play to seize the capital.

Troops from Prachin Buri and Lop Buri were also mobilised to the capital to assist in the coup, the decisive outcome of which was ironically the victory of thaharn ban nok (upcountry military).

As it turned out, all of Thaksin's military allies, most notably Maj-General Prin, had been marked out - they could not move. General Ruengroj Mahasaranont, the supreme commander and a Thaksin ally, was to look after Bangkok once Thaksin had declared martial law. He too was subdued. Chidchai Vanasatidya and Prommin Lertsuridej were unable to launch any sort of counter effort.

Thaksin's wife Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra was supposed to take a 12am flight to Singapore on Tuesday night. She quickly changed her flight to 9pm. Well, Gen Sonthi had to let her off the hook.

Twenty-five minutes later, knowing that his wife was safely on an aircraft bound for Singapore, Thaksin read out his state of emergency address from his New York hotel room, effectively sacking General Sonthi .

But an hour later, General Sonthi declared a counter-coup to overthrow the Thaksin regime and tear up the Constitution.

The rest is history.

--The Nation 2006-09-22

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NOTE TO OUR MEMBERS:

All media was today 2006-09-21 ordered by ICT to exercise censorship of any news critical of the coup-makers and the new military regime. Offenders face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to Bt10,000, or both.

This also prohibit Thaivisa to publish such content. We kindly ask our members to refrain from posting sensitive political content. We reserve the rights to delete content that could be dangerous for the operation of our website. We have to do a bit of self-censorship here so we don't get into trouble. Thanks for your understanding.

:o

/Admin

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But to agree with the coup and cheers Sonthi shouldn't be a problem, or?

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Sounds like post 1 matches my prediction, and I agree with post 2. Lets give them time to get things sorted out. From the outside it looks like the new leaders heads and hearts are in the right place. I know it will take time to undo all of damage Thaksin has done and work on insuring it does not happen again.

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Had Taksin's plan succeeded there would have been nothing standing in his way of having himself appointed interim PM for an indefinite period and carrying on wars of attrition against all his opponents. What a terrifying scenario!

Edited by fruittbatt

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Question of status looms for ousted PM

Thaksin Shinawatra was travelling light. As far as the British government is concerned, however, he may have arrived in London yesterday with very heavy political baggage.

It's not about attempts to buy an English Premiership football club this time. The smiling politician has been overthrown by a coup in his country, accused of massive corruption among other things, and his arrival immediately triggered speculation about political asylum.

As of yesterday, he had not made any request, and his British hosts, while providing the best welcome he can expect, must hope that he will not do so.

There are plenty of reasons why No 10 Downing Street must be feeling uneasy about the prospect that former prime minister Thaksin might try to seek to live in political exile in the United Kingdom.

While he can call himself a political victim, future criminal charges or corruption probes can make things very complicated for Britain where international laws, bilateral relations or simple moral standards are concerned.

Thai sources said the British government surely would be happier if Thaksin stayed quietly in London, where he maintains a Kensington apartment and a luxury home near the Thames, on his normal visa. "On his normal visa he can stay quite a while and the British officials surely will heave a sigh of relief if he uses it," said one London source.

Thaksin and his entourage arrived at Gatwick Airport from New York yesterday on a Thai International flight. He was seen waving to his supporters while disembarking from the aircraft. He wore a dark suit, white shirt and a red tie.

He and his entourage were whisked away by private car and left Gatwick Airport via the VIP channel.

Thaksin was looking forward to reuniting with his wife Khunying Pojaman and their children in the English capital. His statement issued yesterday didn't signal an asylum intent - yet - just vaguely mentioning a "deserved rest" and charitable work.

The BBC quoted Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett as saying that Thaksin, who has business interests in the UK, had "chosen to come privately to London".

"This is a matter for the people of Thailand," she told BBC news. It was "not a matter in which the British government is engaged", she added.

She must be quietly hoping it stays that way. The Thai sources said an asylum request would create a political controversy in the UK. While Thaksin has admirers in government and diplomatic circles, his image among people on the street is something else. And there will be more to ponder if Thai authorities sought extradition on criminal charges.

Meanwhile, other sources said if Thaksin was given some form of political status in the UK, it would be extremely difficult for him to travel because he would then be subject to certain conditions that would limit his mobility.

"If he were to travel to France, and the Royal Thai government learnt about it and asked that the French government send him back to Bangkok, Thaksin would have to go through the complicated legal process of fighting the extradition charges," one source said.

The International Herald Tribune quoted Pansak Vinyaratn, Thaksin's former chief policy adviser, as saying Thaksin would rest in London before travelling to other countries in Europe for further recreation.

Pansak said Thaksin would concentrate on doing charity work for Thailand.

"Dr Thaksin, as of now, will take a deserved rest. He will be planning to work on research and development and possible charitable work for Thailand," Pansak said, reading from a statement that Thaksin planned to issue later yesterday.

Thaksin also called for a quick general election and suggested that the United Nations (UN) should get involved in the process to ensure fairness.

Although he fell short of making a direct plea to the UN to intervene, Thaksin told reporters that his Thai Rak Thai Party could secure another victory if the world body was to sponsor the election.

"We hope the new regime will quickly arrange a new general election and continue to uphold the principles of democracy for the future of all Thais," said a statement distributed by Thaksin's aides in London.

In a related development, eyewitnesses said two of Thaksin's children, Panthongtae and Paethongtarn, were still in Thailand.

Reporters yesterday called Panthongtae's personal number and a man claiming to be his personal aide insisted that Thaksin's son was still in the country.

He said Panthongtae was still keeping his normal schedule, adding that he had gone to his office at How Come Company before returning home.

Meanwhile, a reporter of a Thai-language newspaper saw Thaksin's youngest daughter Paethongtarn entering the Shinawatra residence on Charan Sanitwong Road.

According to previous reports, Panthongtae and Paethongtarn flew to Singapore before going to London with Thaksin's wife Pojaman only minutes before the military took over the country.

A lecturer of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Political Science said Paethongtarn was still enrolled as a student and pointed out that she had one year left before graduating.

"Two weeks ago, Paethongtarn's mother sent a request for Paethongtarn's absence for going abroad and I think she will return to the country," he said.

The faculty will have its final examination on Monday, he added.

--The Nation 2006-09-22

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Thai military to probe Thaksin assets

September 22, 2006

THAILAND'S new military rulers will set up a committee to investigate the assets of ousted billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and 15 members of his cabinet, the Nation newspaper has reported.

It said two judges and a former central bank chief were likely to be on the six-person panel to probe Mr Thaksin, his wife and other relatives as well as political colleagues.

The newspaper today quoted sources at the military council, which toppled Mr Thaksin in a coup on Tuesday, as saying trials could follow if the panel turned up any evidence of corruption.

The military cited "rampant corruption'' for its move against the Government while Mr Thaksin was in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Thaksin, a former police colonel who founded a firm which grew into Thailand's biggest telecommunications group, has denied charges of corruption since street campaigners began accusing him of it late last year.

However, his family's tax-free $US1.9 billion ($A2.5 billion) sale of their controlling stake in Shin Corp to Singapore state investment firm Temasek in January infuriated Bangkok's middle classes and breathed new life into the street campaign.

Mr Thaksin called a snap general election in April to counter it, but an opposition boycott rendered the result invalid. The result plunged Thailand into a political stalemate which the military said left it no choice but to step in.

A separate Commerce Ministry probe into the Shin deal, examining whether Mr Thaksin's family legitimately paid no taxes, was being accelerated and its findings should be reported to the coup leaders by the end of this month, a senior official said yesterday.

full story here

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story...52-1702,00.html

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First there was to have been a PAD rally on Wednesday and it has been reported that Taksin intended to bring on the Forest Police with rifles to "deal with" the demonstrators...the upshot would inarguably have been bloodshed and a "state of emergency" declared for sure....with very predictable favorable outcomes for the scurrilous Toxin. The initiative of Sonthi and the generals loyal to the King must surely be viewed in this context as socially responsible and highly compassionate.

Edited by fruittbatt

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Question of status looms for ousted PM

Thaksin also called for a quick general election and suggested that the United Nations (UN) should get involved in the process to ensure fairness.

Although he fell short of making a direct plea to the UN to intervene, Thaksin told reporters that his Thai Rak Thai Party could secure another victory if the world body was to sponsor the election.

"We hope the new regime will quickly arrange a new general election and continue to uphold the principles of democracy for the future of all Thais," said a statement distributed by Thaksin's aides in London.

LOL ! That's rich. Would he have allowed UN inspectors to monitor the last couple of elections ?

Considering how Thaksing is usually against outsiders 'interfering' in Thailands affairs, this is a bit of a U-turn for him. Not that he's a stranger to those...

Personally, I think he'll try to regain power.

Pedro

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But to agree with the coup and cheers Sonthi shouldn't be a problem, or?

Seems to be ok. A pretty large group was outside army headquarters yesterday and all was fine.

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George, do you have a link for the OP, please? For some reason I can't find it in The Nation. Thanks.

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From BKK Post article today:

Dressed casually and smiling as he emerged with his daughter, the ousted premier said he was now on ''holiday'' and going to ''buy some Thai groceries'' as he left an apartment block opposite Hyde Park and got into the back of a blue van with Thai diplomatic plates.

Mr Thaksin flew to London by a special Thai Airways flight. His use of the national flag carrier after having lost his office raised questions about Mr Thaksin's authority. But THAI president Apinan Sumanaseni said it was part of the mission ordered by the PM's Office, and dismissed speculation the pilots would be punished.

Huh??? Big questions on the above! How could he be on a special arranged Thai Aiways flight and in a van with Thai diplomatic plates AFTER the coup?

Also: why has Sonthi not ordered his arrest yet?

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If Dr.Thaxin is going to be conducting charitable fundraising for Thailand ?

Then I am the Prime Minister if Great Britain and I can assure you that pigs CAN Fly :o

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