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Shinawatra clan is still the protest target

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters marched towards Government House from all directions yesterday as they blew whistles, shouting "Get out" and "We won't take it" - even after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra made an early morning announcement of a House dissolution.

Some wanted a military coup to finally dislodge the administration. Others said they would be satisfied only when Yingluck and the whole Shinawatra clan leave politics for a period of time.

Only through a military coup could the Yingluck administration be ousted, said 50-year-old Somchai, family name withheld, a merchant from Bang Bon district of Bangkok, adding that Yingluck won't give up easily.

Another, retired Pol Lt-Colonel Voraphon Pob-udom from Surat Thani province, said he's unsure how things will end as the administration insists on going ahead with a general election. But he wants the whole Shinawatra clan, including the premier, to leave politics for a while.

"They don't have to leave Thailand. They're Thais after all," said Voraphon, who came to Bangkok four days ago with his wife and two children to join the protest.

Many began heading toward Government House from early morning. The BTS system was unusually crowded for that time. One well-heeled lady told a stranger - a fellow protester at the same table sharing refreshments at a hotel near Government House - that it was her first time to ride on the BTS Skytrain. The stranger, a wealthy Thai-Chinese man wearing a diamond-studded Rolex replied: "My driver's a red shirt," a reference to the pro-government group. "What if we encounter red shirts?"

Red shirts, if there were any, were nowhere to be readily identified along Phetchaburi Road leading toward the Government House. The majority of protesters appeared to be overwhelmingly middle class. One male protester quickly applied sun block before he re-emerged into the crowd from a cafe and into the blaring anti-Communist songs from the Cold War era played through loudspeakers on the street.

Lae Dilokvidhya, a well-known economist from Chulalongkorn University, was among the crowd yesterday but insisted he came as an observer.

He said what Yingluck did by dissolving the House "was a response too late", adding that the huge number of mostly Bangkok protesters is linked to concerns about corruption, something pro-government supporters would never acknowledge.

Lae said people should be mindful of a military coup in the foreseeable future, which is something not to be welcomed, and added that he "ideally" hoped the whole Shinawatra clan would quit politics for a period of time to lessen the anger and anxiety of the protesters.

Lae also said he hoped leaders from both sides would rein in demonstrators to avoid a bloody confrontation.


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