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The PAD finds a small audience on Phuket for political protest

Has Phuket Grown Wary of Protest Politics?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
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ABOUT 400 people turned out last night for a People's Alliance for Democracy meeting in Phuket aimed at raising interest in Thailand's border temple dispute with Cambodia.

The attendance probably disappointed PAD leaders. Seating for about 800 had been created at the Royal Phuket City Hotel.

Security was extremely tight. Some of the PAD's best-known faces travelled from Bangkok for last night's gathering.

The ultra-nationalists aim to bring as many people as they can to Bangkok on January 25, for a mass protest designed to prevent any deal with Cambodia over the historic Preah Vihear temple.

Based on last night's attendance, organisers will have to work harder to attract any sizeable number to the Bangkok rally.

Phuket people, it seems, may no longer view political protest with the same intensity they did back in 2008 when the yellow shirts seized Phuket International Airport, a practice run for the occupation of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport weeks later.

This Cambodian border dispute may confuse many Phuket people because it pits the PAD against the ruling Democrat Party. Back in 2008, they were seen as allies and joint winners.

Phuket remains a Democrat stronghold, and with 2011 an election year, there may be some who prefer to stay loyal to the Government of Abhisit Vejjajiva on all issues.

Although the temple is still a point of contention, relations between Thailand and Cambodia are heading back towards normal since former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra resigned as an economic adviser to Cambodian PM Hun Sen in August.
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