Thai authorities take "red shirt" TV off air again

By Ambika Ahuja

BANGKOK, April 10 (BestGrowthStock) – An opposition TV station in
Thailand was off the air on Saturday, a day after “red shirt”
protesters had stormed a satellite earth station and forced the
authorities to reverse an earlier decision to censor it.

Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said security forces had
returned to the station late on Friday after Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva had ordered that People Channel be blocked.

“We retreated today because we did not want any loss of
life or to hurt anyone,” Sansern said shortly before midnight
on Friday. “But the station is inciting violence and spreading
false information and rumours to the detriment of the country.”

It was unclear how the red-shirted supporters of ousted
former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra would respond.

They have been demonstrating in Bangkok for almost a month,
with one of their encampments effectively closing down an
upmarket shopping mall and hotel district for a week until some
big stores reopened on Friday.

Tens of thousands have rallied in Bangkok to demand an
early election, but the numbers at their two main rally points
generally dwindle to a few thousand overnight.

Many protesters, including Bangkok residents who have
rallied to the “red shirt” cause, will want to leave the
capital from this weekend to be with their families for
Songkran, the Thai New Year festival, which runs from April 13
to 15.

VIOLENT CONFRONTATION

Friday’s confrontation was the most violent yet in the
latest rally, although the security forces eventually pulled
back rather than risk bloodshed.

Fourteen protesters, three police and a soldier were
wounded, a medical centre said. One red shirt suffered a
gunshot wound, most likely from a rubber bullet. Others had
minor scrapes.

Security forces had fired water cannon and tear gas in a
failed attempt to push back thousands of protesters who had
driven to the Thaicom Pcl (THCOM.BK: ) satellite station about 60
km (35 miles) north of Bangkok.

The protesters had climbed over rolls of barbed wire and
forced open the gate of the compound, holding it for about
three hours in defiance of an emergency decree.

The broadcasts had resumed after talks between police and
protest leaders, and the demonstrators left.

The increase in tension since Abhisit imposed the state of
emergency in Bangkok late on Wednesday caused a wobble in the
stock market, but the main index (.SETI: ) turned higher on
Friday after influential fund manager Mark Mobius told Reuters
he remained bullish on Thailand.

“We are not so concerned about the political situation in
Thailand,” Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset
Management, said in a telephone interview.

“Because, as you know, we have been investing in Thailand
for almost 15 years or more. And we think that this kind of
change in the Thai political environment has happened many
times before.”

Stock Investing

(Addition reporting by Warapan Worasart and Viparat
Jantraprap; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Alex
Richardson)

Thai authorities take “red shirt” TV off air again