Thaksin faces last pre-poll rally
The protesters are targeting key shopping areas in Bangkok
More than 30,000 people have protested in Bangkok in the campaign to force
Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra to resign.
The three-day protest in the capital's shopping district which has
disrupted business and traffic is the last rally before Sunday's general
Some opinion polls suggest support for the anti-Thaksin campaign is
weakening and that residents are tiring of the disruption the rallies have
Mr Thaksin's critics accuse him of corruption and abuse of power.
There have been weeks of protests by demonstrators calling for his
Allowing this prime minister to continue in power is more dangerous to
the country and more distressing to the public than a traffic jam
On Wednesday, demonstrators descended on the glitzy new Siam Paragon
shopping mall and camped out on the streets.
Organisers from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) said protesters
would stay at least two nights.
The mall, on one of Bangkok's busiest intersections, was closed in
anticipation of the protest.
Traffic was gridlocked around the area and public transport was forced to
cope with extra passengers.
Protesters draped banners reading "Get out Thaksin!" and "Thak, your time
is up" and listened to speeches made from makeshift stages.
PM cancels rally
Protest organisers were unrepentant about the traffic chaos the rallies
Thaksin's offer to include opposition parties has been rejected
"Allowing this prime minister to continue in power is more dangerous to the
country and more distressing to the public than a traffic jam," said Pipop
Thongchai, a PAD leader.
But there were some indications the strategy might be counter-productive.
One opinion poll conducted by Assumption University on Monday showed 26% of
Bangkok people supported the resignation of Mr Thaksin, compared to 48%
three weeks previously.
Protest organisers say targeting the malls serves to highlight their belief
that business will suffer if Mr Thaksin stays.
But the government says the protest could cost businesses 300m baht ($8m) a
Local travel agent Witoon Thanawanchai said: "They should not come and
protest here. It has caused us a lot of trouble."
Mr Thaksin himself condemned the rally in the busy district, saying
protesters were courting police action.
He has cancelled his own rally in a nearby park on Friday to "avoid
His Thai Rak Thai party is expected to maintain its huge majority in the
election on Sunday, but a boycott by opposition parties could make the
result constitutionally invalid.
Mr Thaksin, who was visiting supporters in Lamphun near Chiang Mai on
Wednesday, denies any wrongdoing and says he will not resign.
The prime minister has offered to include opposition parties in a new
government if he is re-elected, but they have refused to participate.
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With its tropical climate and glorious beaches Koh Samui is Thailand's
fastest growing holiday destination. Just 20 years ago this island had
neither electricity nor airport.
Now five-star resorts jostle for space along the shoreline with the
budget accommodation so attractive to young travellers like Katherine
But her murder has drawn the world's attention to a darker side, far
removed from the one seen by tourists hungry for new experiences.
This island's exotic attractions act as a magnet for nearly a million
tourists every year and they spend £200m. There's full employment on
Koh Samui but now there are fears that this booming economy could be
As news of the New Year's Day killing of Katherine, 21, from Cardiff,
made headlines, businesses began to feel the impact.
Her murder not only horrified Thais on the island, but also brought
many anxious enquiries.
A million tourists a year flock to the Thai island "We have some
customers (who) get in touch with us and (ask) if they'll be all right
if they come over to stay with us," Jack Dangsaard of The Spa hotel on
the island told me. There are just 15 tourist police on the island and
a regular force of 200.
Hotels are now employing extra security guards to patrol the beaches.
Women in particular are taking no risks. British tourist Jane
Charlesworth said: "I think I've always been
aware and I think coming away on my own makes you feel more aware.
Katherine Horton was in the final year of a psychology degree
Martine Tempels, one of the travellers, told me: "It's something you
can't really believe, like it's something that will happen really far
away. "But it's really close here, it really makes you think about
On Tuesday, as Miss Horton was laid to rest in her home city,
thousands of miles away many islanders still felt shame that such a
crime was committed here.
They want the death penalty enforced and on Wednesday her killers will
learn their fate. Miss Horton's mother Elizabeth has said she believes
no one had the right to take another's life and wants the Thai
fishermen who murdered her daughter to stay in prison until they die.
About 200 police officers were involved in the murder inquiry
She is satisfied with the pace of Thai justice. A Welshman on holiday
here is not so sure. Robi Dutta said: "It seems awfully quick to find
two men very quickly and hang them very quickly.
It's not really a kind of justice we're used to." Murders are not
unusual on Koh Samui although it's rare that the victim was a
Westerner. Holidaymakers, though, are targets for less serious crime -
theft and robbery.
On Tuesday, the head of Thailand's tourist police will arrive on this
island to discuss how best to protect visitors. Already a government
committee has recommended that CCTV is installed
along these beaches in a bid to reassure tourists and restore this
country's tarnished reputation, not just in Britain but across the
Watch your blonde haired blue eyed wives and daughters on this
Swedish 12 year old raped in Koh Samui Thai resort!
A man has been arrested in Thailand on suspicion of raping a twelve
year old Swedish girl in the holiday resort of Koh Samui, according to
The man was an employee at the hotel where the girl was staying with
her family, reported Aftonbladet and Expressen. The rape is alleged to
have taken place just after New Year and the man was arrested a couple
of days later.
The man has admitted to police that he had sexual intercourse with the
girl, but he denies that he used force.
It is illegal to have sex with anyone under the age of 15 in Thailand.
A Swedish woman told the police she had been raped early yesterday by
two Thai men on the same island where a British woman was attacked and
killed on New Year's Day. The 44-year-old Swede is on holiday on Koh
Samui with her husband and children.
Lt Thiraphon Somsuwanchai said the woman had told the police she had
left a karaoke bar alone to go to the beach when two Thai men had put
a knife to her and taken turns raping her. Thiraphon added that a
medical inspection had shown signs that she had been raped. The police
were looking for the suspects.
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