Archive for September, 2006

Suvarnabhumi internet fees: 500 Baht an Hour

TOT is providing all telephone and internet fees at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Domestic and international calls supposedly follow regular rates, but if you want to use an internet cafe… it’s 500 Baht an hour.

Considering what internet fees are normally in Thailand, and the fact that most new airports now provide free Wi-Fi, TOT looks like it’s trying to get away with murder. Maybe tourists entering Thailand will pay the fee, but I don’t think anyone leaving Thailand would stand for that price.

I am flying through Suvarnabhumi next week, when I’m looking forward to seeing it and writing about it here also. Has anyone already been through Suvarnabhumi who would like to comment?

i miss bangkok

recently got an email about “how do you know you’re old” and it was pretty much a checklist of what you recall from the past. which made me think about the good ‘ol bangkok i used to know and loved so much.

sometimes i feel bad for people who recently moved here, or have been absent for a really long time and recently returned, and think that they know bangkok with this highly skewed perception. because honestly, there’s more to it than freaking astra and dinners at lame-o places like mahanaga’s and pseudo quasi artist bullshit dinner slash galleries. hahaha. and model’s night. oh my. laaaame. little girls from war torn countries that nobody even knows the name of trying to build a better life by eating sashimi and getting coked out on the worse shit that even the janitor at leo grotto’s back in the day wouldn’t even want to wipe away.

the end of bangkok. hahaha. when people stopped buying cocaine from the resident gay guy at leo and instead got it from men in dresses and a hats around nana.

i tell you, the infiltration of this new party system is ricockulous. it makes me roll my eyes at retards that get in line to go to clubs. please this is bangkok. nobody gets in line. except if it’s for food. real good food too, not this roti boy malarky.

i miss bangkok. when metro, big bell was around. and waiting in line for the best gyoza in town at daimaru rajdamri.

when central chidlom still had a petting zoo, a shark tank, and tea cups we could sit in and spin until we puked.

when mbk was the first place to have a food court, and we’d alternate eating deep fried chicken drum sticks with jumping on the bounce castle.

and when birthday parties were held at mcdonald’s– the only mcdonald’s in town at sogo.

when buildings were called ‘world trade, regent, hilton. and not central world, four seasons, raffles.. and that the hilton now is across the river. yes. and brunches at hilton nai lert. everybody went to the sunday brunch there and would come out with a balloon animal.

taking ice skating lessons at the mall ramkamhaeng, then graudally move over to world trade when they got an ice rink.

when taco’s, popeye’s, wendy’s, hoburger and shakey’s pizza was still around. damn! and arby’s at central lardprao.

in middle school, when we all started dating, the hottest place to go was darn naramit aka magic land to international school kids.

when going to the movies, and the seating was split into 40/50/60 baht zones.

when the highway toll was only 10baht, then increased to 15, 30, and now 40baht.

when don muang had only one terminal.

when pagers were still around, and calling into 152 phonelink services was a daily routine.

before ratchayothin existed.

the michael jackson, guns n roses and bon jovi concerts! hahaha!

and foremost was the best ice cream in town. the best chocalate chip ice cream ever.

no. airport tax.

when palace, rome were the best places to club at. hahah vibrations, sharkey’s, taurus and discovery. damn i miss taurus. everybody i know misses taurus. remember axil, red bar? yeah that was the beginning of the death of good wholesome clubbing. when the real mccoy and mc sar used to be played over and over, and everybody would know the words to “another night” or “one more time”

when the dollar was 25 baht and the pound sterling was at 40 baht. and buying a porsche boxster in ’96 for the base price of US$37,000 was okay even when you’re 16 and still in boarding school because it cost less a million back home.

yes. a sweet time that was.

The effects of blogging in todays info thirsty culture

Here at Bangkok Metblogs, we were pretty quick to start writing about the Coup, what was happening, and the effects on the people of Thailand. We were also quick to head down to the streets to get firsthand accounts and pictures of what was going on

I myself noticed how few traditional news networks were a the scene at 11pm on the 19th, and it seemed that the news reports that were being delivered were being done by people in news studio’s and not ones physically there.
Blogging has changed the way the public now receives information. Gone are the days of waiting for the big guns (CNN/BBC/Reuters) arriving at the scene to give the report, now local residents take it upon themselves to write up what’s happening and post it on their blogs. In recent events it’s these personal accounts that lead to the news agencies referencing.

The London bombings on 7/7 saw the first initial reports coming from local bloggers who lived near to the blasts. In India, local bloggers were the first to react to the terrorist attack on the Mumbai train attacks and the public found these blogs more up to date with information than local TV channels.

This blog received a large amount of traffic during the first hours of the coup and we also had our reports and images used by various other news websites since. in Brazil used two images and details of what was happening on their news site (thanks to Luciana Mastrorosa)
BlogTV included our site and images in a report on the coup. (If anyone would mind translating it that would be great)

The future of journalism has changed and it will be interesting to see how the mainstream media accept bloggers as a source of news rather than a passing fad


Well, my friend finally found out where his father disappeared during the Coup. I’m relived for him.

“A spokesman for the military leaders who staged the takeover said Thursday that four ministers from Thaksin’s administration had been detained.”


Personally, I’m in a strange situation. As I have close ties to both the TRT party, and the Coup factions.

But, I’m leaning in favor of Coup as I’ve seen first hand how TRT operates behind the curtains. Yes, there’s corruption everywhere in Thailand, and no doubt it’ll take a 100 years before it can make western standards. But kickbacks, and under table stuff is all fine and dandy, but the line has to be drawn when the nation’s best interest is constantly superceded by their own pockets.

I once was a part of consortium that won the bid to operate all the buses, taxis, and veichle links in the new airport. The following week, we were approached by a messenger from “The Big Lady” and informed we must pay to the tune of $10 Mil USD upfront as a fee just for winning the contract. The process is normal in big projects in Thailand, however the scale of money they asked is outrageous. The contract was abandoned because that alone would push the ROI back so far, it wouldn’t make any business sense at all. The operating rights eventually got spread amongst what I would call a “1st degree group.”

There’s no point in fighting the coup at this point, I rather urge effort be put into forming the new constitution with the idea of idependent operating government branches that ACTUALLY checks & balances one another. Terms of PMships be clearly defined, motions so the consitutions can’t be repealed like toilet paper, an audit committee and voice of the people (BKK & Provinces) where the King doesn’t have to come in and save us every single time.

The King can’t save us forever, yes he’s a great man but the laws of nature still apply to him. Thais must begin to realize he won’t live forever.

I don’t know how to draft laws, and far from a being political know-anything- England/American consitutions work to a degree, why can’t Thais base it on that? Electoral college? But even that system fails at times, *cough* Bush/Gore 2000.

Bring in foreign experts to help draft the constitution, don’t have such an ego and think we can solve everything on our own. It is great the coup is soliciting help to draft the new constitution, I only hope that they truely mean it and will genuiely take into account the suggestions sent it.

Anti Coup Gathering Paragon 18.00 Today

received about 10 different phonecalls telling me not to go around paragon area tonight, supposedly there will be a mob against the soldiers.

apparently the’ve asked people to gathered around the fountain area at 18.00 to sign the petition against the coup.

also the website:, has been ordered to shut down by the ict already.

yo i dont know how to make the thai font bigger.

english: scroll down;

ภาคประชาชนระดมชื่อ รักษาสิทธิ ต้านความรุนแรง พิมพ์บทความนี้

ตามที่นักศึกษามหาวิทยาลัยเชียงใหม่ มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์ จุฬาลงกรณ์มหาวิทยาลัย สมาคมสิทธิเสรีภาพของประชาชน นิตยสารฟ้าเดียวกัน องค์กรนิรโทษกรรมสากล และคนที่ไม่เห็นด้วยกับการรัฐประหาร นัดไปรวมตัวกันที่พารากอน ลานน้ำพุ เย็นวันศุกร์นี้ เวลา 18.00 น. ภาคประชาชน ก็ออกจดหมายเปิดผนึกเพื่อระดมชื่อ เพื่อรักษาสิทธิเสรีภาพในการแสดคงามคิดเห็น และต่อต้านความรุนแรง

อย่างไรก็ดี ขณะนี้ มีจดหมายเปิดผนึก นำโดย นายธงชัย วินิจจะกูล นักวิชาการจากมหาวิทยาลัยวิสคอนซิน-แมดดิสัน สหรัฐอเมริกา เพื่อระดมชื่อเรียกร้องให้กลุ่มรัฐประหารยอมรับการรวมกลุ่มทางการเมืองของประชาชน และย้ำว่ากลุ่มรัฐประหารไม่มีสิทธิจับกุมคนที่ไม่เห็นด้วยกับการยึดอำนาจครั้งนี้

นายศิโรตม์ คล้ามไพบูลย์ นักวิชาการอิสระ แสดงความคิดเห็นในอีเมล์ระดมชื่อดังกล่าวว่า “ไม่ว่าจะเห็นด้วยกับการคัดค้านรัฐประหารหรือไม่ หลักการขั้นมูลฐานที่เราควรเห็นร่วมกันก็คือ พลเมืองในระบอบประชาธิปไตยมีสิทธิเสรีภาพที่จะรวมกลุ่มและแสดงความคิดเห็นทางการเมือง”

เขายังได้แสดงความกังวลต่อด้วยว่า ขณะที่กลุ่มรัฐประหารดูจะไม่เข้าใจหลักการพื้นฐานข้อนี้ เพราะได้เกิดการปิดวิทยุชุมชนในสามจังหวัดภาคเหนือ , “ขอร้อง” ให้เว็บไซด์ไม่เผยแพร่และรายงานความเห็นที่ขัดแย้งกับคณะรัฐประหาร , จับผู้ประท้วงที่อนุสาวรีย์ประชาธิปไตยไปเงียบ , ห้ามพรรคการเมืองมีกิจกรรมทางการเมือง ฯลฯ ถ้า “ระบอทักษิณ” คือ “อาณาจักรแห่งความกลัว” การรัฐประหารของคนกลุ่มนี้ก็ได้สร้าง “อาณาจักรแห่งความรุนแรง” ซึ่งอันตรายยิ่งกว่า เพราะมีการใช้กำลังทหาร, รถถัง, อาวุธหนัก เป็นรากฐานของการเปลี่ยนแปลงทางการเมือง

อย่างไรก็ดี หากเห็นด้วยว่า สิทธิเสรีภาพเป็นเรื่องสำคัญ เชิญร่วมลงชื่อในจดหมายเปิดผนึกฉบับนี้ได้ที่โดยคลิกไปที่ลิงค์นี้


Thai authorities must not arrest or harm the protesters.

To whom it may concern,

We are deeply concerned about the situation in Thailand at the moment. We regret that the coup on September 19th, 2006, took place and hope democracy will be restored to the country as soon as possible.
เราเสียใจที่เกิดรัฐประหารขึ้นในวันที่ 19 กันยายน 2549

It is likely that there will be people who disagree with the coup and will
express their opinions in the media, web sites and at a gathering in public
places. We urge the Thai authorities to allow those expressions and
tolerate the differences of political opinions. We urge the Thai authorities
that there should not be any arrest or harm to those people who express
their views peacefully.
และแสดงความเห็นต่างๆในสื่อ เว็บไซต์ และรวมตัวกันในพื้นที่สาธารณะ

Freedom of expression and the rights to express opinions belong to every
human being and cannot be suspended or taken away by any authority of any regime.
และไม่อาจถูกลบล้างหรือถูกพรากไป โดยอำนาจใดๆ ในระบอบใดๆก็ตาม

Respectfully yours,

Thongchai Winichakul, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
ธงชัย วินิจจะกูล มหาวิทยาลัยวิสคอนซิน-แมดดิสัน สหรัฐอเมริกา


เครือข่าย 19 ก.ย. ต้านรัฐประหาร ‘การสร้างประชาธิปไตยทีเริ่มต้นจากการทำลายล้างประชาธิปไตย


if the prachathai sites gets shutdown, they have a back up at:

Activists to hold anti-coup gathering

A group of some 80 students and activists under the banner “19 September Network against Coup d’Etat” is calling on members of the public who oppose Tuesday night’s coup to express their disapproval by wearing black and gathering peacefully at Siam Paragon this evening.

“Political differences are normal and will always be with us but the task of getting rid of Thaksin [Shinawatra] should be the responsibility of the people without relying on people with weapons,” said Sombat Boonngam-anong, an activist and a leading member of the group.

Sombat said his group would peacefully defy the order issued on Wednesday by the coup-leaders barring more than five people assembling for political reasons, as he claims no one has the authority to take away this fundamental right.

“They can’t permit us or forbid us. This right is innate,” said Sombat. “I do not think rights and liberties are the result of someone handing it to you. The basic rights are always with everyone.”

The group yesterday issued its first statement, condemning the actions of the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy for staging a coup to remove an elected government under the Constitution, which was drafted by the people.

“Abolishing the Constitution, harassing the media and putting an end to independent agencies are regarded as acts abolishing the parliamentary democracy. This act will lead to the same outcome of previous coups,” the statement read.

Chotisak On-soong, leader of the Student Activity Information Resource, said his group would join the network’s campaign at Siam Paragon today.

“We will also provide black armbands for people who want to join the campaign,” he said.

Chotisak yesterday filed a petition at the office of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), urging it to protect their right to gather at Siam Paragon.

Meanwhile Thanaphol Eiwsakul, editor of Fah Diew Kan magazine, yesterday submitted a letter demanding the NHRC take a clear stance on the coup.

“In the interview given by Saneh Chamarik, chairman of the NHRC, he stated, ‘I do not think [the coup] is about progression or regression [of democracy] but about problem solving’,” Thanaphol wrote. He added the statement had given legitimacy to the coup and demanded other NHRC commissioners take a position on the matter. Suwit Lertkraimethi, who is studying for a master’s degree in Thammasat University’s Political Science Department and is a member of the 19 September Network against Coup d’Etat, demanded Saneh resign.

“His role is to protect human rights, but his statement showed his approval of human-rights violations,” Suwit said.

The network invites people to exercise their freedom of expression on its website So far it is the only visible group of coup opponents to emerge. As of yesterday more than 1,000 people had read the statement on its website.

Media clampdown in operation

Thailand could be facing serious media clampdowns in new rules proposed today. 

Starting tomorrow, all media operators, including Internet media companies, face immediate closure if any news articles or comments, which could be deemed a threat to Thailands national security and monarchy, are published.

The Information Ministry invited all companies and operators to discuss cooperation methods in helping the government “to restrict, control, stop or destroy information deemed to affect the constitutional monarchy”.
Chief internet inspector Kritpong Rimcharonepak told reporters: “We seek their cooperation not to present articles, remarks, or information that will infringe the democratic reform under the constitutional monarchy. They can still present political comments on their media, but if anything goes wrong, the caretakers of those media must take responsibility.”

What is unusual about this is that the Thai people are immensely patriotic people. It is almost unheard of people making dismissive comments about the monarchy.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out and also what changes are ahead for free speech in Thailand. If a website like Bangkok Metblogs has a comment which is deemed “unpatriotic” by the Ministry of Information, will all access to the site be blocked by the ISP’s content filtering systems?

What are your thoughts?  

Thaksin in New York
Although I don’t know if it’s for better or worse, I have been on vacation in New York and missed the coup this week. However, in what seems a creepy twist, I met Thaksin Monday on his last day in power at a luncheon at the Council on Foreign Relations. In town for the UN General Assembly of course, Thaksin was the guest speaker at a small luncheon where he gave a speech ironically titled “The Future of Democracy in Asia” and fielded questions. This was effectively his last day as Prime Minister; everyone woke up the next morning to hear of the news from Bangkok.

Thaksin’s speech focused on what he thought were the key attributes of “Asian Democracy,” comparing it to a child learning how to walk. He said his proudest achievement as PM was the transfer of capital from the central government to the provinces and villages to help the poorest. During the Question and Answer period that followed, the first question was on the sale of Shin Corp, which he defended as the prerogative of his children and saying that capital gains were naturally tax exempt.

But another questioner asked Thaksin if he could ensure that he could return political stability to the Kingdom. Thaksin confidently answered yes: things would get back to normal in a few months and stability would return. Asked if he would rerun as PM, he said he had not decided.
The amazing thing is that the whole time Thaksin must have known what was on the verge of happening. Because the day before, Thaksin had requested his UN Speech be rescheduled for as early in the week as possible. The same day, he had requested a teleconference with Sonthi, but Sonthi never showed up.

In retrospect, Thaksin seemed calm. He sat at an adjacent table eating from a chicken vinaigrette salad and plate of mixed cheeses. During his speech, he joked with the audience.

Outside on 68th Street, however, a small group of Thais were protesting him. After the event, he cut fast, being whisked into a limousine and speeding off in a motorcade.
The next day, the same protesters were cheering outside the UN on 1st Ave, holding signs that said “Thaksin: Born 1949, Died Sept 20, 2006.”

Bangkokers and the Coup

i don’t know if it’s alarming or comforting to see how mellow bangkokers are. sure, we’re a pretty laid back bunch. but people are going on with their daily lives as if nothing has happened. i was actually pretty surprised there were civilians out and about around the parliament taking pictures of the tanks and posing with soldiers.

not something i would do on a tuesday night, or any other night.

so the situation is, thaksin is reportedly in london on what the media is calling a “private visit”. sudaratt is supposedly in paris. and now the us is “condemning” the coup.

not saying that thai politics is hard to understand, or complex, or even “special” than anyother country’s politics, because it isn’t. corruption et al has been around since the dawn of time. there’re are so many other countries that that are in the same position. i don’t think you have to live in thailand, or be thai to comprehend the coup. but at the same time, it can’t really be viewed in such a black and white way, no? i suppose because of the time that is needed to be invested in understand what leads to the coup, ie. historical, socio, econo context, is quite significant, there are some that try to bypass the groundwork.

off the bat, a coup might seem drastic. even ‘a step back’ as many media sources are reporting. martial law is not something to be taken lightly. but as of now, most bangkokers and the rest of the country seem to be in agreement of the coup. at the same time i don’t know if a lot of people can answer the question ‘who you would like to see step up as pm’.

i really wonder how the next elections are going to play out. and what sort of policies that thai citizens will be looking out for, and what policies they will be giving importance to after the thaksin era. if more city people would now make more of an effort to reach grassroots people, like how thaksin did, and not undermine their political power. just because they’re out of sight, doesn’t mean they should be out of mind?

perhaps because i see a lot of bangkokers so mellow. about the whole ‘yellow ribbon coup’. and it’s a bit nervewrecking. at the same time i dn’t know what they’re suppose to be doing if not mellow, because freaking out isn’t really a better option.

sutichai yoon at the nation writes an article:

‘Yellow ribbon coup’ was a very high price to pay

Call it a “reluctant coup” or a “yellow ribbon revolt”, Tuesday’s assumption of power by military leaders was still a prohibitively high price for the country to pay to remove an entrenched political tyrant.

You can of course try to stretch the point and argue that Thaksin Shinawatra did ask for it. In fact, his arrogance and autocratic proclivity might have served as the last straw, prompting the top brass to opt for the “really inevitable last resort”.

While the use of unconstitutional means to topple a democratically elected government can never be justified, some insiders have suggested that Army Chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin’s decision to topple Thaksin through a military takeover was in fact a pre-emptive strike – or a “counter coup” to stave off an even more ignoble “self-coup” planned by Thaksin to establish himself, once and for all, as an all-powerful despot.

General Sonthi’s assurances that the top brass have no intention whatsoever to hold on to political power – and his public pledge to “return the power to the people as soon as possible” – might have allayed some of the fears inherent any time the military intervenes in national politics. However, he will have to move fast and convincingly, particularly in determining how to embark on genuine political reforms, to offset the negative impact brought about by the putsch.

Of equal, if not greater, importance is how he can turn this crisis of confidence into an opportunity for real national reconciliation. Whether he likes it or not, Thaksin will always be remembered for his dubious record of having brought Thai society to its most divided point in history, centred on the wild ambitions of just one power-hungry politician.

Paradoxically perhaps, the political havoc Thaksin wreaked through his claims on electoral democracy will have to be healed by Sonthi’s extra-constitutional modus operandi. If the Army chief is able to use these “extraordinary means” to solve an “extraordinary crisis” in order to reunify the country and help Thai society put its deep divisions in the past, he might be able to claim, however controversially, that the ends justified the means.

Quite apart from the debate over the pros and cons of this coup, however, this latest political episode underscores a deep-rooted flaw of this country. The fact that this change of government was effected through force shows that, whatever we say about having matured politically, we are basically still an extremely fragile society.

In fact, we are so vulnerable that any politician with sufficient money and clout, plus a shrewd marketing strategy, is capable of whipping a large segment of the population into a frenzy, confusing electoral manipulation with grassroots democracy. Worse, once a corrupt and powerful leader is entrenched, none of the existing constitutional mechanisms are capable of dealing with him.

Military intervention in a democratic system is always a “bad habit” that may stick if we once again allow ourselves the illusion that this will be the last time this dose of strong medicine is required to cure a serious disease.

Even if the first declaration from coup leaders sounded uncharacteristically apologetic (“Forgive us for the inconvenience caused”), once a political precedent of such proportion is set, it invariably stays. True democracy means never allowing coup leaders the excuse to stage their next exercise, even if they say they are sorry for their previous one.

In other words, if we can’t devise an effective system to get rid of a despot through constitutional means, that means we haven’t really graduated beyond the basics of democracy.

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. -Winston Churchill

Poll On The Coup

According to a popular public opinion poll, the Dusit Poll [figures not exact as I couldn’t here correctly]

83% the people approved the “peaceful” coup as a way to calm the political situation in Thailand.
17% disapproved….

Of course there is a margin of area of about 1%, and I’m pretty sure the majority of the poll takers were Bangkok citizens.

Most of the people I talk to pretty much agree with actions. Quite a few of my friends have even went to the areas where the Army tanks to take pictures WITH the soilders and tank. The situation is stable, and the country is pretty much business as usual.

However, the international view on the situation still differ greatly to those who live in the country. Thais seem to view it as a necessary step to a problem that just wouldn’t go away. The biggest impact I see would be from an econmic standpoint – international investors doubts in putting their bucks in the country where a coup can happen anyday.

Check out Bangkok Pundit for updates >>> Pundit seems to be the most accurate and quickest with the facts.

Update from the scene

As soon as i heard the details, i grabbed the camera and jumped in a cab.
Once i had arrive, the military police were already starting to move everyone out of the way. I flashed the press pass and was allowed to stand closer to the parked tanks, whilst the general public were being moved.

All of a sudden a series of Mercedes drove in with various armed guards following. Once they were in the buildings the tanks moved and more armed guards stood their ground. I have to admit the mainstream media, including CNN, have gone overboard with the general mood. The area around the parliament is calm and the guards aren’t doing much in the form of stopping people from moving around.

Currently everyone is expecting it to be quiet until the morning, but that could change. I’ll post updates as i have them



Image Copyright Daniel Cuthbert © 2006

Update: 02:32am

Seems the British Foreign Office has issued a warning to all Britons to stay off the streets and avoid any crowds or demonstrations. I’m not sure if this is a general warning given when most foreign countries have coups, but i dont think it would help the general mood here.

The crowds have been growing and there is a talk of a curfew, yet i can’t see on in effect from here


Update: 04:03
there are small groups of mainly students chanting and cheering the fact that Thaksin is gone. i have been speaking to various people on the street and the general feeling is good. One elderly gentleman shouted “Thailand is now good” is Thai to me.

Update: 05:05
The major news networks are on scene now and have setup camp. They seem to have confirmed that bbc and cnn satellite feeds have been blocked from within Thailand.

Update: 05:44
Seems CNN can’t report on the truth, so they make it up instead. Inside the government compound, all roads have been sealed off with tanks, armoured humvee’s and APC’s. Contrary to CNN’s “Tanks are rolling through the streets of Thailand’s capital city..” story, that just isn’t the case at all. They are all stationary and most soldiers are catching up on some sleep or posing for pictures.


It seems that the foreign news agencies were slow off the mark on this one and we found 1 tv crew broadcasting from within the compound, and that was CNN.

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