The Nation


South China Morning Post

Red shirts in Chiang Mai in favour of new capital in case of coup

The red shirt movement in Chiang Mai province has prepared a retreat for caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra should the military stage a coup d'etat.

In that case, Yingluck government can be relocated to Chiang Mai, the home province of the Shinawatra clan, with the Northern city becoming the capital.

Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted red shirt activist, Mahawang Kawang, as saying that their movement is large enough to challenge the military.

"We are not afraid. All the red groups will unite. We are willing to sacrifice our lives," said Kawang, president of the alumni association of Yupparaj school in Chiang Mai where Yingluck was once a student.

"It is likely the government will move to Chiang Mai. We can defeat tanks because we have the numbers," Kawang added.

Red shirt supporters have spread rumours that the military will intervene to quell the ongoing chaos in the country caused by antigovernment protests led by former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban. Suthep has led 'Bangkok Shutdown' campaign since January 13, seeking national reform

The Post reported that some experts consider the government relocating as an unlikely prospect.

Red shirt organiser Supon Fumuljaroen, a former classmate of Thaksin, is now vicechairman of the UDD in Chiang Mai province. They both hail from the small town of San Kamphaeng, about 30 minutes’ drive from the city of Chiang Mai.

The Post quoted Supon, a former policeman as saying "The majority of redshirts really like the idea of a separate state. If they stage a coup, we can live without Bangkok."

Pinkaew Laungaramsri, a sociologist at Chiang Mai University, said the northsouth divide meant that Thailand was breaking up.

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