Campaign against Thai PM in Singapore | india | Hindustan Times
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Campaign against Thai PM in Singapore

Campaigners trying to oust Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra marched to the Singapore embassy, demanding that the tax-free $1.9 billion sale of the business empire he founded be scrapped.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 11:49 IST

Campaigners trying to oust Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra marched to the Singapore embassy on Thursday, demanding that the tax-free $1.9 billion sale of the business empire he founded be scrapped.

The protesters, accusing Thaksin of selling Singapore state investment firm Temasek vital national security assets such as satellites and telephone networks, threatened to boycott Singapore goods and services if their demands were not met.

More than 2,000 people took out a march on the last day of Temasek's mandatory tender offer to buy the remaining 1.5 billion shares in Shin Corp at 49.25 Baht each, after it bought a 49.6 percent stake from Thaksin's relatives in January.

The sale of Shin Corp, which Thaksin said was intended in part to answer opposition charges of a conflict of interest over the business empire he founded, turned a small campaign to oust the Thai leader into a big one.

Bangkok's middle classes were outraged, an extra-parliamentary coalition staged the biggest anti-government demonstrations in 14 years and Thaksin called a snap election for April 2, three years early, in a bid to end a mounting crisis.

But the three main opposition parties declared a boycott of an election they said could not be free and fair with Thaksin having taken over institutions meant to be independent.

Now, at least temporarily, the focus of the campaign by the extra-parliamentary People's Alliance for Democracy to oust Thaksin has been switched to Singapore.

"Thailand's not for sale," and "Singapore shouldn't join Thaksin to rob Thailand," the marchers chanted.

Kraisak Choonhavan, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, urged Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long to "help address allegations of impropriety from this transaction and clarify any misunderstanding between our peoples".

"I truly feel the relationship between our two countries must not be jeopardised as a result of a single business transaction," Kraisak wrote in a letter to Lee.