PAK MOON DAM Villagers call Thaksin liar, urge decision
Rasi Salai protest also building up

Ranjana Wangvipula

Opponents of Pak Moon dam yesterday chanted Nai Yok Khee Tua (prime minister is a liar) in front of Government House as they continued to wait for his decision on whether to permanently open the dam's sluice gates.

During talks on Dec 20, the prime minister promised to look into the matter and announce a final decision some time this month.

Villagers say they now have doubts about his sincerity.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra earlier said the study on the dam's impact prepared by Ubon Ratchathani University was incomplete, prompting him to set up his own study team to gather additional information at the dam site.

“He said he would give us a New Year gift, but so far nothing has happened,” said Paolo Khamsawad, 18, who was among 30 representatives of villagers invited to talk with Mr Thaksin last month.

The university's research supports opening the dam's gates for five years to further its study, while the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the dam operator, said the gates could stay open for three years without any problem to electricity supply in the Northeast, where the dam is situated.

Now it rested with Mr Thaksin to decide how to respond to that testimony, Mr Paolo said.

Nantachote Chairat, adviser to the Assembly of the Poor, said he did not know what aspect of the university's study was incomplete.

He said the university conducted the cabinet-sponsored study on the ecology of the river, fishing-based economy of villagers, as well as the need for power supply produced from the dam.

Villagers now had no idea of what the new study assigned by Mr Thaksin was based on, Mr Nantachote said.

About 1,000 protesting villagers have been awaiting the premier's decision, sitting in their shacks across from Government House.

At least 30 villagers protesting against Rasi Salai dam in Si Sa Ket province have been camping adjacent to Government House since Dec 20. Hundreds more are expected to join them later this month.

Phaijit Silaluck, representative of the Assembly of the Poor, said villagers were preparing to begin their demonstration again as soon as the Pak Moon dam problem was settled.

Villagers blame Rasi Salai dam for flooding their farms and causing salination of their water supply.


Opposition cleared of blame
Sant says clash not politically motivated

Mongkol Bangprapa

National police chief Sant Sarutanond has told a House committee that last month's clash between Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline opponents and police was not politically motivated.

No one from the opposition party had engineered the protest in Hat Yai, Songkhla, he said.

Local police had also not started the clash, as had been alleged, and during the riot they had tried to avoid using force, Pol Gen Sant said.

Police had videotaped the clash and found that 100 opponents had been involved in the fighting. Minor charges would be filed against them, he said.

MP Thavorn Saenniam asked Pol Gen Sant to testify following allegations that opposition members had backed the protest.

Mr Thavorn, a Democrat MP for Songkhla and also member of the House committee on police affairs, earlier demanded an apology from iTV for reporting that an opposition MP, apparently himself, was behind the protest.

It reported that the protest was politically motivated and that Mr Thavorn was seen posing for pictures with a group of protesters.

He denied allegations that protesters had been paid 1,000 baht each to cause trouble, saying all concerned agencies had dismissed the claim.

Chumphon Kanchana, chairman of the House panel, said Pol Gen Sant's testimony cleared Mr Thavorn of alleged involvement in the protest.

Yutthapong Charasathian, Democrat MP for Maha Sarakham and secretary of the House panel, said police had, to date, issued arrest warrants for 17 protest leaders.

Prasittiporn KAN-ONSRI [NOI]
Assembly of the Poor. THAILAND.
99, 3 Floor Nakorn Sawan Rd.
Pomprab Bangkok Thailand. 10100.
T:F; 662 2811916 , 2812595, Mo 09-9273556
E-mail : : CC,,

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