Suthep and Sonthiyan: fierce foes of Thaksinism

Suthep and Sonthiyan: fierce foes of Thaksinism

Politician-turned-revolutionary and controversial figure Suthep Thaugsuban, who is leading the People's Democratic Reform Committee as it instigates massive civil unrest in the capital, undoubtedly has not only strong financial backing, but also a network of brainstormers behind him.

In the middle of 2012, Suthep began his civic movement by sponsoring the establishment of the Thai TVD satellite channel - and assigned Sonthiyan Chuenruetai-naitham to be in charge of the station.

Sonthiyan, who had earlier run the T News agency and T News satellite channel, has played an important role in spearheading anti-Thaksin regime campaigns in association with the Siam Samakkhi group since 2009.

To achieve a strong nationwide network, Sonthiyan recruited Chaiwat Surawichai and his team to establish the Political and Human Resource Development Institute as his "think tank".

With all the resources ready, Suthep embarked upon his civic movement by launching "Public Forum" rallies in Chumphon, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Songkhla, broadcasting live the events via the Blue Sky, T News and Thai TVD channels.

After some time, Suthep's Public Forum events were turned into "Reveal the Truth" rallies run by the Democrats every Saturday with more than 60 rallies across the country.

Sonthiyan, or Toi, a former left-wing Ramkhamhaeng student, revealed on his personal Facebook page that his ties with Suthep began when the Democrats became the main opposition party in 2011.

"Suthep refused to take up any position in the party because he wanted to devote himself to [opposing] the Thaksin regime. He wanted to wash his hands of politics," Sonthiyan said.

Sonthiyan, who once had faith in revolutionary theories in line with Marxist and Leninist ideologies, has changed his beliefs and adopted constitutional monarchy as the new way to go.

"For 80 years, Thais have been deprived of power after the country changed from absolute monarchy to military dictatorship to capitalist dictatorship. The Thaksin regime represents capitalist dictatorship that wants to run the country with absolute control, overlooking the fact that people have hearts and intellect," he said. "I have never declared that I am a co-leader. Suthep and I worked together from day one as partners and I demand nothing in return."

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