Weekly News Round Up: May 12

King Bhumibol Marks 64 Years on the throne |  EC regulations on the use of armoured vehicles and bulletproof vests | PDRC's final battle for an appointed "People's Government"

King Bhumibol Marks 64 Years on the Throne

A ceremony to commemorate the 64th anniversary of Coronation Day at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin on May 5, 2014 (Source: Screengrab/TPT)

King Bhumibol Adulyadej made a rare public appearance last Monday (May 5) at Klai Kangwon Palace in the coastal town of Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, to mark the 64th anniversary of his coronation.

Televised nationwide, King Bhumibol, who appeared in a wheelchair, did not give a public speech on this occasion and assigned Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to represent him at the ceremony. Monks led prayers as the King paid respect and looked on.

Key figures such as Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attended the ceremony whereas 81-year-old Queen Sirikit was not present.

King Bhumipol and Queen Sirikit have lived in Hua Hin since leaving Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok last August.

The 86-year-old King was crowned on May 5 1950, although he ascended to the throne in June 1946 following the death of King Ananda Mahidol, his elder brother.

PDRC Secretary-General Suthep Thaugsuban led PDRC supporters on a march from Lumpini Park to Sanam Luang to celebrate Coronation Day and make an oath to eliminate the so-called "Thaksin regime". (Source: Facebook/RatchadamnoenAvenue)

Meanwhile in Bangkok, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) led by Suthep Thaugsuban marched to Sanam Luang near the Grand Palace to celebrate Coronation Day and make an oath to protect the monarchy and to eliminate from Thai politics the so-called "Thaksin regime", referring to the influence of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his cronies.

 

EC regulations on the use of armoured vehicles and bulletproof vests

The Election Commission issued 2 regulations on the "possession and use of armoured vehicles" and the "possession and use of bulletproof vests".

Persons eligible to apply to own and use armoured vehicles and bulletproof vests are:  (1) chair and members of the Election Commission (2) Secretary-General of the Election Commission (3) chairs and members of Provincial Election Commissions (4) Officers of the Election Commission (5) others who must be public officials or assistants who need to use such vehicles/equipment on government service.

The two regulations were issued and published in the Royal Thai Government Gazette, Vol 131 Section 46 ก on 2 May 2014. [1], [2]

The regulations come after the February 2 2014 election was held, but disrupted in Bangkok and the south.

 

PDRC's final battle for an appointed "People's Government"

PDRC leaders (from 3rd L to R) “Green Politics” coordinator Suriyasai Katasila, Suthep's step-son and PDRC spokesperson Ekanat Prompan, PDRC Secretary-General Suthep Thaugsuban and NSPRT leader Nitithorn Lamlua sitting in the Santi Maitri Building at Government House on Saturday (May 10, 2014). (source: Facebook/Suthep Thaugsuban Fan Page)

 

The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) launched a major rally called the "Final Battle" starting at 9.09 am on Friday (May 9), divided into six groups heading to destinations with following PDRC leaders:

Channel 3 led by Nataphol Teepsuwan and Taya Teepsuwan
Channel 5 led by the Dhamma Army, the People's Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime and former PAD leader Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang
Channel 7 led by Issara Somchai, Buddhipongse Punnakanta, and Sakontee Pattiyakul
MCOT led by Chumpol Julasai and Chitpas Kridakorn
NBT on Viphavadee Road led by Taworn Senneam and NBT at Phetchaburi Road led by Wittaya Kaewparadai
Government House and Parliament led by Suthep Thaugsuban and the NSPRT leader Nitithorn Lamlua

The PDRC protesters demanded that the five TV channel broadcast live reports of PDRC press conferences and stop reporting on the current government by blockading and staying overnight outside the stations.

Meanwhile, the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) decided to impose a ban on all television and radio broadcasts geared towards promoting the PDRC movement. Any broadcasters found to defy the ban or follow the PDRC’s instructions would be subject to both criminal and civil punishments.

In response to the PDRC and CAPO moves, the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) released a joint statement on Friday (May 9) to condemn the threat and call on the PDRC to end the blockade of the television stations.

The TJA and TBJA issued a second joint statement later on the same day to demand that CAPO not violate press freedom and repeal the order limiting press freedom.

Speaking on Saturday (May 10) outside Government House, televised for a few minutes over free TV, Suthep urged the Senate to urgently consult with the heads of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Election Commission, and independent agencies to appoint a new prime minister and set up an interim government.

"We, the great mass of the people, have therefore called on the Senate to consult with the heads of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Election Commission, and independent agencies, to swiftly and jointly address the current crisis so that Thailand can move forward, particularly on the critical issue of selecting and establishing an interim, fully-functioning prime minister and government. I submitted a letter to the Senate yesterday on behalf of the great mass of the people in this regard.

"We shall continue our peaceful demonstrations until this is achieved and critical, substantive reforms are instituted before elections." said Suthep

Suthep also warned “This matter must end by Monday. If it's not finished by then, we'll do it ourselves.”

On Sunday (May 11) the PDRC withdrew from the 5 television stations to Lumpini Park. After that they relocated to a new protest site in front of the United Nations Building on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and Government House on Monday (May 12).

Suthep and the PDRC leaders also plan use the Santi Maitri buiding in Government House as their new headquarters and meeting place. They have been allowed to use it by the military commander of the Calvary Centre from Saraburi Province which was guarding Government House, on condition that they would stay within the areas allowed by the army and protesters would not enter the Thai Khu Fah building.

The latest major PDRC rally came after the Constitutional Court ruling on Wednesday (May 7) to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine other cabinet members from their caretaker positions. The court found them guilty of abuse of power in transferring Thawil Pliensri from Head of the National Security Council to become an advisor to the Prime Minister in 2011, adding to the sequence of events that critics viewed as a “judicial coup” in Thai politics.

Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisal, acting Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister, was later declared caretaker Prime Minister.