Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban gave an interview to Channel 3 that local people in Pattaya and Chon Buri would come out to prevent red-shirted people from disrupting the Asean summit with dialogue partners.
He said the local residents would act as volunteers to help the government keep order.
Via Bangkok Pundit, Nirmal Ghosh reports:
In the early morning they began marching up the hill to the Royal Cliff Resort, venue of the summit, but came face to face with a few hundred of the pro-government militia, well organized with freshly printed dark blue T-shirts saying 'Protect the Institution' – institution being the a reference to the monarchy.
All the blue shirts were armed with sticks, clubs and iron rods.
The face-offs occurred at two locations, each with around 1,000 red shirts against about 150 blue shirts. The men in blue held pictures of the king and queen. The army’s riot control soldiers and the police held back, and for long tense moments there was nothing between the two groups.
At 0845 there were a series of small gunshot-like explosions at the scene further up the hill closer to the summit venue. There was a small cloud of white smoke from one of them. The blue shirts ran helter skelter up the hill, and the troops who had been sitting on the road rushed to form up. The blue shirts and some of us journalists scrambled through just before they closed ranks.
The blue shirted men – clearly a militia – essentially took shelter behind the army, whose officers made no attempt to disarm them. Three of them displayed superficial wounds they said had come from the bomb which they claimed had been thrown by the red shirts. The wounds were about the diameter of a dollar coin, and some were bleeding.
A senior police officer, asked who they were, told The Straits Times 'They are here to keep the peace.'
The red shirts were further enraged by the clear alignment of the pro-government militia with the army. A woman screaming through a loudhailer in English from on top of a truck, addressing herself to the few foreign journalists at the scene, said 'We love peace and democracy, we came to ask for democracy and justice but we have a group of military behind the government. We did not expect the military to be behind the blue shirts.'
'The blue shirted people are the military under the control of the dictatorial government. We do not accept this government.'
Red shirt leaders then calmed the situation down and the soldiers – 15-20 rows deep – squatted on the road. Behinbd them the blue shirts lounged in the shade, and a few tourists wandered around the scene looking apprehensive.
'We are from Chonburi' one blue shirt said – referring to the province where Pattaya is located.
According to two sources, the blue shirts had been organized by the mayor of Pattaya, who is the son of 'Kamnan Poh' – a controversial strongman of the province.
1045 Thailand time : More details are emerging of the events this morning. The blue shirts were apparently provoking the reds by throwing rocks at them - despite a blue shirt leader urging them to stay calm and not use violence. The reds kept advancing, and apparently (this from an eyewitness) the blues threw a couple of molotov cocktails at them. In the melee, the reds charged and threw some of the bombs back. One exploded. Another small bomb exploded giving off green smoke. There were no guns used. Many of the reds were also armed with sticks and stones. There were minor injuries on both sides.
Red-shirted protesters Saturday alleged that soldiers disguised themselves as blue-shirted protesters to harm the red-shirts.
The red-shirted protesters led by Arisaman Pongruangrong held a press conference at the press room of the Asean summit to display weapons they claimed they seized from the blue-shirted demonstrators.
The weapons included nails modified as road spikes.
It amazes me just how incompetent the security apparatuses are in Thailand.
They can't protect the South.
They can't protect the airports or government house.
They can't manage mobs or traffic.
They can't protect heads of state.
They use vigilantes to keep the peace.
Of course, the worthless Thai media cares nothing about these security lapses. They are too busy attacking Thaksin to care about the security of the state.