Thai Protesters Pause Anti-Government Push for King’s Birthday

Thai Protesters Pause Anti-Government Push for King’s Birthday

Anti-government protesters in Bangkok said they will suspend street rallies tomorrow to mark the birthday of Thailand’s king, before resuming a push to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. “From Dec. 6 we will resume the fight every day, every hour and every minute until we achieve victory,” protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban told supporters late yesterday in Bangkok. He has called for the government to be replaced by an unelected council to combat corruption and destroy the political network of Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled by a military coup in 2006.Protesters entered the grounds of Yingluck’s office and Bangkok’s police headquarters yesterday without facing any resistance, as security forces moved to ease tensions after more than two days of violent clashes. Thai financial markets are closed tomorrow to mark the 86th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch.

“The protest leaders now realize that Yingluck is not going to suddenly cave in to their demand to resign,” said Paul Chambers, director of research at the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University. “So they had to give their followers a success.”

The police removed barriers protecting Government House and the city’s police headquarters and told demonstrators they were free to “hold a symbolic rally,” spokesman Piya Uthayo said yesterday at a media briefing.

‘Partial Victory’

Thailand’s SET Index (SET) of stocks rose 0.7 percent to 1,383.89 at the close yesterday, gaining for a third day. The benchmark gauge for the nation’s $371 billion stock market retreated 5 percent last month as foreign investors sold a net $1.5 billion of shares, the most among 10 Asian markets tracked by Bloomberg.

“This is a partial victory,” Suthep told supporters after demonstrators entered Government House, adding that the protests won’t end even if Yingluck quits or dissolves parliament. “It’s not absolute yet because the tyrant government is still there. So, we still can’t go home.”

Suthep has refused to negotiate, saying he wants to replace Thailand’s democratic system with a council consisting of people from a cross-section of society.

“If they hold an election again, Thaksin will buy votes and will win again, and the same cycle will be repeated,” he said on Nov. 2. Yingluck the same day said the demand was “unimaginable” under the constitution.

The rallies began more than a month ago to oppose a proposed amnesty law that Yingluck’s critics said would benefit her brother. Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile since fleeing abuse of power charges in 2008, and has helped guide policy from abroad since Yingluck led the Pheu Thai party to victory in a 2011 election.

Thaksin’s Influence

After the amnesty legislation was rejected by the Senate last month, the protesters switched their goal to dismantling the political network of Thaksin, who was accused of corruption and showing disrespect for the monarchy when in power. Parties linked to the former premier have won the past five elections on support from voters in northern and northeastern provinces.

Suthep was a former deputy premier with the opposition Democrat party, which hasn’t won a national poll in more than 20 years. He faces murder charges for his role in helping to oversee a deadly crackdown on supporters of Thaksin in 2010 when the Democrats were in power. Courts issued two warrants for his arrest this week, including one on a charge of insurrection, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment or death.

The protesters have called on the military to choose a side. So far, Army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha has simply offered to act as a mediator. The armed forces will “stand from afar and monitor” the protests, Prayuth told reporters yesterday, adding that political disputes should “be solved by politics.”

While tensions will ease on the king’s birthday, protests may resume soon after, said Jade Donavanik, dean of the Graduate School of Law at Bangkok’s Siam University.

“This is like pressing the pause button on a movie,” Jade said. “You never know from here on whether it will be a happy ending or whether everyone will die at the end.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Supunnabul Suwannakij in Bangkok at; Anuchit Nguyen in Bangkok at

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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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