The Nation



Red shirts meet business group

SENIOR RED SHIRTS led by Thida Thavornseth yesterday met with the group comprising seven private-sector organisations to explore an exit from the political impasse while expressing concern that another mass rally by the People's Democratic Reform Committee on Sunday might end in a stalemate and violence.

The core organisations were the Board of Trade, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Bankers Association.

The government has proposed proceeding with reform talks along with holding the election on February 2 as scheduled, while the PDRC has proposed postponing the polls until reform is completed, which would take at least a year and a half. Nuttawut Saikuar, caretaker deputy commerce minister and another red-shirt leader, said the PDRC's way was equivalent to a coup and there was no legal basis for delaying an election for more than one year.

"If Suthep Thuabsuban of the PDRC scraps the election, I will be here in Bangkok [with an army of red shirts] to say that we want to have the vote. One man, one vote equally," he said, referring to a premise from an academic that the rural poor deserve no right to vote equally with the urban rich.

Thida also said the red shirts could not just stand by and watch the country drift into anarchy.

"We try to avoid violence but the country is being dragged into danger."

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