Friday, July 17, 2009

Spin??? You decide

Veera Prateepchaikul in a Bangkok Post opinion piece:
"Niyom was released on bail the next day, but the red shirt mob remained unperturbed and went on with their protest against Finance Minister Korn at Chiangmai University, apparently urged on by hate statements from their community radio. Violent confrontation ensued as the red shirt thugs tried unsuccessfully to break through a police cordon to get into the campus. During the clash, huge firecrackers were allegedly lobbed at the police by the protesters. But as always with all the violent incidents perpetrated by Chiang Mai's red shirt mob, not a single red shirt was arrested at the scene. Police said they were collecting evidence to seek the arrest of the troublemakers. But will that ever happen? I doubt it".

I now cannot believe anything I read in in the Bangkok Post, and its depressing to think that The Nation is generally considered worse than the Post!
(btw, I am not claiming that there are no violent elements withing the Rak Chiang Mai 51 group, but the Friday lunchtime protest continues to be misreported, and I am confident the vast majority of the people at the Rak Chiang Mai 51 events are just peaceful protesters, disenchanted and disillusioned at how their votes have been taken away from them.

Bangkok Post report
Ch. Mai red-shirts march against Korn
Published: 17/07/2009 at 02:19 PM
At least 200 red-shirts marched to Chiang Mai University on Friday afternoon to protest against Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, who was briefing local officials and businessmen on the government's economic stimulus projects, police said.
Mr Korn called a meeting of representatives from the private sector and leaders of local communities in Chiang Mai for a briefing on the 18.6 billion baht budget allocated under the government’s Thai Khem Khaeng (Strong Thailand) scheme for the development of the northern city.
The minister said the budget, the second largest after Bangkok, was for the development of education, transport, tourism and irrigation systems in the province.
The march began about 1pm from the protesters' base at Grand Waroros Palace hotel in Chiang Mai. About 1,000 police were deployed to maintain order and to prevent the demonstrators from storming into the university.
(Hobby: They never even looked like attempting to storm the Uni)
Police using loud hailers asked the red-shirts to comply with the rule of law and return home, but they did not. The red-shirts tried to force their way through the police lines to go the meeting hall, but they failed.
(Hobby: IMO, that's a lie)
After being pressured by police for more than half an hour, the red-shirted supporters of Kon Rak Chiang Mai (People Who Love Chiang Mai) 51 group dispersed and the regrouped at the Grand Waroros Palace hotel.
One police officer was injured by giant firecrackers thrown at police by the red-shirts during the confrontation. He was rushed to a hospital.

The Nation report
Some 200 red-shirt protesters blocked from reaching Korn in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai - Some 200 red-shirt protesters were stopped by police from reaching the auditorium of Chiang Mai University where Finance Minister Korn Chatikavenij was holding a meeting Friday afternoon.Some 1,000 policemen blocked the roads that lead to the auditorium, preventing the red-shirt protesters from storming inside. (Hobby: There was no attempt to storm the building, nor did it ever look like that was intended)

Korn was holding a meeting of officials from banks owned by the Finance Ministry at the university's auditorium.

Eyewitness report
The red shirted protesters, numbering approximately 200, left the gathering point near the Grand Waroros Palace hotel in a well organized convoy and made their way peacefully to the Chiang Mai University site. They caused little disruption to traffic, and were watched by the lunchtime crowd, many of whom offered encouragement to the protesters.

Upon arriving at the Chiang Mai University site where they believed Korn was in attendance, they were met by a large formation of police in riot gear and carrying shields & batons.
The protesters formed into a group about 30 metres away from the line of police, who appeared to greatly outnumber the protesters by about five police for every protester.

For the next half hour or so the protesers gathered peacefully, holding signs up, chanting slogans, led by a speaker with microphone & loud speakers on top of a platformed vehicle.
Whilst the police had blocked off Nimmanhaemin Road themselves with barricades and their riot formation, the traffic on busy Suthep Road was still just flowing (slowly), and most motorists seemed to take the protest in good humour, with many still offering encouragement to the protesters.

Suddenly the police formation crossed the 30 metres of road intersection space, and advanced on the protesters in close riot formation and confronted the protesters. After a stand off lasting less than a minute, the police maintained their formation, and used their shields to force the protesters back to the sidewalk, or down Suthep Road.

There were a few shouts of anger at the sudden move by the police, and some plastic water bottles & firecrackers were thrown into the police formation.
After the police had forced the protesters off the road, they kept them barricaded on the sidewalk, until some light rain fell and most of the protesters dispersed, apparently heading back to the Grand Waroros Palace hotel meeting point.

NOTE: Today's protest came after more serious clashes last night at the Chiang Mai Airport for Korn's arrival, and at Phuphing Police Station after one of the red shirt leaders was detained for having an unlicenced pisol in his car at the airport.