Dateline SBS, TV

ไกรศักดิ์ ชุณหะวัณ ให้สัมภาษณ์รายการ Dateline SBS TV “วิกฤติสถานการณ์ภายในประเทศ” เมื่อวันที่ 3 กันยายน 2551

Kraisak Choonhaven

hailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has declared a state of emergency and banned gatherings of more than five people after long-running protests turned violent.

This week Dateline speaks with Thai politician and former member of the Senate for Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Kraisak Choonhavan about the latest protests.

He talks about the future of Thailand and what consequences the protests have on the country’s politicians and furthermore what’s being done to crackdown on vigilante violence.

Earlier this week, one person was killed and dozens injured when pro-and anti-government campaigners clashed on the streets of the country’s capital, Bangkok.

Army reinforcements were called in and gunshots were reportedly fired as thousands of demonstrators faced off near Government House.

TRANSCRIPT

The political crisis in Thailand, for the past eight days now, protesters have been calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sudarajev, despite a state of emergency they are refusing to leave the grounds claiming the Prime Minister is no more than a puppet of the country’s deposed former leader Thaksin Shinawatra. For the latest on the Bangkok stand-off, George Negus spoke with Kraisak Choonhavan, a political observer and member of the Thai Senate from 2000 to 2006.

GEORGE NEGUS: Mr Kraisak, in the last day or so we have seen pictures here on television and in the print media of the military being called in on the streets of Bangkok to put down a running battle, it seemed to us, between the supporters and the opponents of the government. How bad is the situation on the streets of Bangkok as we speak? Is it getting better or worse?

KRAISAK CHOONHAVAN, OPPOSITION MP: I think things will get worse before it gets better. It’s not only Bangkok now. I know for sure that it has spread to 14, maybe 16 cities now in the provinces. Hundreds of thousands of people are mobilising, including 49, I believe, labour unions. Every single press associations have come out to condemn the government for instigating the violence against the demonstrators. I think the only solution to all this is the resignation of the Prime Minister.

GEORGE NEGUS: But if I can interrupt you there, he’s made it very plain he has no intention of going.

KRAISAK CHOONHAVAN: Yes, that is true. That is why I think things will get worse and we have emergency law in which the army chief and the supreme commander of the army has to take action against demonstrators from both sides, but the larger demonstration is against the government, you see? And the military has refused to take any action, even though the protesters are occupying government buildings.

GEORGE NEGUS: How do you explain that, because we got used to the fact that in your country the military usually gets involved, terribly involved, at the behest of the government, sometimes at their own doing. Why are the military holding back on this occasion? Is there a split in the military?

KRAISAK CHOONHAVAN: This is very strange situation. It boils down to the fact that the judges, the Supreme Court has withdrew the order for the removal of the protesters from Government House. This is the fifth day they have occupied Government House and there are tens of thousands of people inside there. The military has been given the job by the Prime Minister to remove the protesters and yet the military refuses to act so we have, I think, a state mutiny going on here. The demonstrators that were clashing, we found out today in the parliament, we discovered that those who attacked the anti-government people were hired thugs.

GEORGE NEGUS: Can you explain to us what this is happening? Is it simply a case that the people protesting against the government believe that the Prime Minister is merely a puppet of Thaksin Shinawatra, In fact, Thaksin Shinawatra could even be finding his party?

KRAISAK CHOONHAVAN: Yes, basically it boils down back to Mr Thaksin Shinawatra because people have been protesting now, coming in the third year, and it led to a military coup, and now the first issues that Mr Samak came in with a majority in the parliament is to undo the investigation, to try and help Mr Thaksin, and going back to the same old policy of corruption and abuses and has nothing to do with any new demands that the people in Thailand want. Basically it’s just a national uprising against money politics, against abuses, against corruption and against what they feel is injustice and an insult to their intellect.

GEORGE NEGUS: Is the situation further complicated by the fact that the Thai electoral commission have actually declared the Prime Minister’s own party illegal and are suggesting it should be banned from any political activity? This turns the whole thing into a farce, doesn’t it?

KRAISAK CHOONHAVAN: Well, it’s, as I said, Mr Samak himself has seven court cases against him and the court could make decisions any day on corruption and on slander. That is why I’m telling you that the protests will continue until Mr Samak ends his office.

GEORGE NEGUS: Mr Kraisak, thanks so much for talking to us. Unfortunately we have to leave it there, thank you. We’ll stay in touch.

KRAISAK CHOONHAVAN: Your welcome.

Producer / Researcher
Jane Worthington

Editor
Slavica Gajic