News @ AsiaOne

Thai PM condemns race-baiting at anti-govt rally

Leader of anti-govt protesters called on on ethnic Chinese Thais to join the protests. -AFP

Tue, Aug 05, 2008

BANGKOK, THAILAND - THAI Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Tuesday threatened to have anti-government protesters arrested for using racially divisive slogans during a street rally.

A leader of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), Mr Sondhi Limthongkul, campaigned Monday night in a T-shirt calling on ethnic Chinese Thais to join the protests.

The PAD - a motley group of royalists, businessmen and activists - has held small rallies near Mr Samak's offices since May 25.

Mr Samak accused Mr Sonthi of wearing the T-shirt to incite racial divisions.

'I think this act is offside because he used the racial issue to incite unrest', Mr Samak told reporters before his weekly cabinet meeting.

'I ordered Special Branch police to prosecute all those who perpetuate ethnic divisions', he said.

Thousands of protesters have been attending daily rallies for the past two months, demanding the government step down.

The PAD accuse Mr Samak of acting as a proxy for former premier Thakin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a 2006 and now faces numerous corruption charges.

Mr Thaksin is Sino-Thai along with about 10 per cent of the national population - but despite their small number they hold disproportionate power in the country.

High inflation, slowing economic growth and an ongoing border dispute with Cambodia are also high among their complaints.

The PAD are also fighting amendments to the country's constitution, which they see as beneficial to Mr Thaksin and his allies. -- AFP

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