The new Thai government has announced that the prestigious ASEAN (Association of South East Nations) summit will be hosted in the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin. The conference will be held from February 27 to March 1 and it is yet another change in venue for the conference. The original meeting was scheduled for Bangkok in December 2008, but anti-government protests by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) led former prime minister Somchai to announce Chiang Mai as the new venue for the ASEAN meeting. However, Somchai and his People Power Party (PPP) were removed from office before the original summit could take place and because of the internal political chaos in Thailand the conference was postponed.
With a new government installed under the leadership of Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Democrat Party, the decision has been taken to host the ASEAN meeting in Hua Hin next month. The announcement follows yet more anti-government protests in Bangkok. However, the protests this time are not by the yellow-shirted PAD supporters; instead they are being staged by the so-called red-shirts, a combination of groups who support the deposed government and also support the controversial figure of Thaksin Shinawatra. The red shirts say that new prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has no political mandate and is in power only because of the ‘judicial coup’ which removed former PM Somchai and his PPP party from office.