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The Nation (Thailand)
January 29, 2001, Monday
Activist groups pledge they'll keep Soros out
Reprinted from 'The Nation', a Thai publication, not the US magaine of the same name
TWELVE non-governmental organisations yesterday vowed they would work together to prevent international financier George Soros from setting foot in Thailand.
Amarin Khoman, leader of the Thai Club for National Rescue (TCNR), said the alliance would write in protest to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, which invited Soros to speak at a dinner at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok on Thursday.
Among the organisations united against Soros are the Civil Rights Group (CRG), the Confederation for Democracy, the People's Rights Protection Group, the Patriotic Businessmen and the Siam Protection Club.
Amarin said the alliance wanted to send a message that Soros' visit was an attack on Thais' dignity.
"It would be an utter humiliation if we allowed a person who nearly destroyed our country to set foot on our soil," he said.
Soros has been accused of triggering the country's economic crisis by attacking the baht and making billions of dollars through currency speculation in the process.
"[Soros] is Satan in the guise of a saint. After robbing
our country of Bt1 trillion he donated a small amount to our
government," Amarin said.
The alliance is necessary because Soros is likely to try and intimidate the next government into abandoning its pledge to amend laws that have so far benefited Soros' financial activities, he said.
CRG chairman Veera Somkwamkid has threatened to file charges against Soros, Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, Finance Minister Tarrin Nimmanahaeminda and other Cabinet members if the financier enters the Kingdom.
"It's a matter of criminal law. Those guilty of harming the sovereignty of the country or any part of it face either life in prison or death," he said.
Veera said "eye-for-an-eye" measures were necessary to let the world know that Thais would not tolerate Soros' presence in their country. He declined to divulge what he had in store to greet the financial wizard but implied it would not be in the nature of throwing a few rotten eggs.
TCNR chairman Kerkchai Charoenratchapak meanwhile said the alliance also planned to sue the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for damages to Thailand from the fund's financial bail-out package.
"We could ask the International Court to rule on the issue. We should make an example of Thailand's case: when the IMF makes a mistake it must be held responsible for its actions," he said.
Thanat Khoman, former Democrat Party leader and a former foreign minister, yesterday urged Thais not to make Soros welcome in their country, saying he had once robbed the country and might try it again.
Thanat also said he had received unconfirmed reports that a Thai-speaking associate of Soros who had helped the financier "rob" Thailand three years ago was planning to return to the Kingdom as a diplomat.
"Soros is a bandit. Our government should not let him enter our territory. If he does come, he should stand trial in court for his thievery," Thanat said.
Thongkon Wongsamut, leader of a group of disciples of Luangta Mahabua, suspected that making a speech was not Soros' real motivation for visiting Thailand.
"Economic issues aside, I think Soros is planning to attempt some kind of political interference," Thongkon said, adding that his group would certainly try to prevent Soros from entering the country.
Meanwhile Metropolitan Police Commander Maj-General Tritos Ronnariddhiwichai called on Thais not to resort to violence if they expressed opposition to Soros' arrival in the country.
"We must be careful not to play into the hands of the international media. Our country's image is at risk," Tritos said.
However, the police commander did not expect any violence during Soros' stay, saying threats of violence were limited to messages on a small number of websites.
Soros and the hotel will be given adequate police protection, Tritos said.
(c) The [Thai] Nation - Reprinted for fair use only
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