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Thailand: Protesters disrupt ASEAN Summit

Thousands of opposition Red Shirts in Thailand stormed inside the venue of a major Asian Summit which forced the government to announce the cancellation of the event. The summit gathers leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The summit was supposed to be held at the Royal Cliff Hotel and Resort in Pattaya

Most of the Red Shirts are loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They want incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign. They question the legitimacy of the present government which was swept into power last December after a court ruling forced allies of Thaksin to step down.

The cancellation of the summit is a big blow to the government. Many are wondering if this would lead to the disintegration of Abhisit’s government.

Thanong believes the damage of the summit debacle to Abhisit’s government is “irreparable.” He also asks why the police failed to stop the protesters:

How was it possible that we were about to host the Asean Plus Three Summit, at which people around the world would be following closely like the G-20 Summit in London, but there was a breakdown in security measures to protect the summit leaders?

Personal Thailand also blames the failure of the police to engage the Red Shirts:

So why don’t I blame the red shirts? Because you should not declare a state of emergency just because some red shirts wants to protest.

The military and the police should have stopped them before they came to Pattaya, they should have searched their vans for weapons (which they had). If some of the protesters fight arrest them to. The police can not just stand their and do nothing just because they are scared to be transferred if they do something.

Agam's Gecko was watching the TV when the daring action of the protesters was announced:

While I was watching local live coverage between 12 and 1 pm, the scene showed the interior of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort hotel with a scattering of people seeming to be fleeing from something down a broad stairway from a mezzanine level to ground level. Within minutes, hundreds of the red shirted mob flowed like a great red river down the same staircase, wandering around the lobby with raised fists, waving flags, and apparently wondering “What do we do now?”

Nicholas Farrelly at New Mandala sees a pattern in the tactic of protesters:

As a protest tactic the storming of the East Asia Summit venue must rank alongside last year’s week-long siege at Suvarnabhumi Airport for its audacity. Both episodes show that, at least in the case of Thailand, crowd numbers and commitment can overwhelm the security forces. Looking at the pictures from the frontline in Pattaya it appears that the police were, with much effort, pushed out of the way.

He was referring to the occupation of Bangkok airports last December by a different set of protesters: the Yellow Shirts. They are anti-Thaksin protesters. When Thaksin’s allies were forced out of power, they ended their protests. Then the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts began organizing street rallies of their own.

Thailand Junkie writes about the deteriorating political situation in Thailand:

Don't know whether to laugh or cry. The cancellation of the ASEAN summit in Pattaya a few hours ago is just another indication of the deep malaise that Thailand now finds itself in.

I can't remember any such high level meeting anywhere having to be abandoned due to protesters. The inability of the police to prevent the storming of the hotel is truly shocking….although they are under strict instructions to not provoke violence you would think they could at least manage to hold their ground. Amazing messed-up Thailand.

Red Shirts assemble at Victory Monument. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Y-Not

Red Shirts assemble at Victory Monument. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Y-Not

Via Twitter, the reactions of Bangkok and Pattaya residents over the ongoing political chaos in Thailand:

quikpal: Today Pattaya had light traffic (also on the way from Bkk), except some place with blockades. Few tourists, almost zero Bangkokians!
quikpal: Just come back from Pattaya. Speechless. The crowd was stuck in Royal Cliff from morning till ~3pm. Leaders escaped by boat or helicopters.
thefranz: In South Pattaya now – everything back to normal. No more taxis or red-, blackshirts on the street. Business as usual
abhichartk: Upset with red shirts protestors. thaksin is a mastermind of this , he's a piece of shit
luke_bkk: The #redshirts declare victory? to leave pattaya and head back to bkk. They wont get much of a warm welcome.
Kewrious: Shouldn't curfew have been declared in Pattaya hours ago to save the summit
keikokaneiwa: good job red shirts. u'r proudly ruining thailand. i'm impressed.
xxxdixiechicxxx: da redshirt ppl are real smart they want ppl to join them but they come to pattaya causing madness making us pattaya ppl mad

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