May 20-31, 2007
Four years ago today Watcharee's grandfather on her mother's side died. Today all of his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren gathered at a Buddhist temple in Ayuthaya to make offerings before going to the grandmother's house to eat and relax. Watcharee's grandparents had 12 children. The number of grandchildren is 21. Great grandchildren? Just 5, but give them time. Oh, and then there were the spouses.
The only order that I could see was that the women clustered in groups; the small children were all over the place except when games were being played; the younger men sequestered themselves far from the feminine chatter and further insulated themselves with beer. Hey, pretty much like in America!
Yesterday's events in Ayuthaya can be divided (by the camera) into five parts. The first involved the offering of prayers by the monks and others. The second dealt with food preparation.
Check in tomorrow for the other three.
A really important PS:
My grand daughter Flora doing hoops while listening to background political talk. (5mb MPEG) She is so sweet!
When the monks visit a home they always eat first. After that the family members eat. When all have eaten various offerings are made to the monks.
Hey, somebody has to do the dishes.
After the ceremony at her grandmother's house Watcharee and I drove to her mother's home in a pickup trip. The house is located on the far side of the river and two new high hump bridges had to be 'navigated' to reach it."(*) As you can see neither one of our own cars would have been able to make the trip without scraping bottom.
Just recently her mother and stepfather raised the ground around their house by about a meter so as to prevent the river's flood waters from again reaching their front steps. Last year was the worst year in a century for floods in Thailand.
(*) The distance between the two houses, as the bird flies, is only a hundred meters. By road it is 20 times longer.
Our friends Pen and Jimmy stopped by for dinner on their way back to the US.
Don Bull took up his ambassadorial post in Bangkok (using his day name).
Perhaps a new member of the stable. Though it will be stationed up in Ayutthaya ... not here in Bangkok.
Here is Watcharee as a teenager ... as seen in her mother's photo album (*).
(*) Or, are these the snaps of a sister of an American Idol contestant who undeservedly made it into the top 10? "Check it1 out!", as Randy might say.
1 The smile.
The Honda dealer in Ayuthaya:
Is life just a view?
It went from this to that, weather wise, in less than an hour. [Present]
Meanwhile it has been about three weeks since I last visited Athenee Residence. There is now a lot more glass than when I went there three weeks ago. [Future]
Stuck on an escalator? Sound impossible?
Well, we might just get stuck on a staircase here at River Garden. The bars are going up; soon the locked gate will be in place.
Thai history is being made just a few kilometers away. Here is The Nation's coverage as of 2 pm today:
1:30 pm: Constitution Tribunal judge Jaran Hatthakam starts reading the verdict. [Look inside for more updates]
Many people believe that the country is on the brink of a major political disaster as the Constitutional Tribunal judges set to deliver rulings for the country's two major parties. Noisy gatherings of parties' supporters are expected in the capital. People reportedly stock their food and other essential supplies, while police have cordoned off several areas. Here are the Nation online live update on incidents before and after the judgement day. (During the crunch time, updates will be very frequent so please keep refreshing your screen.)
2:00 pm: A man in black unfurls a black banner reading, "Against Coup" on a footpath opposite the Constitution Court.
1:30 pm: Constitution Tribunal judge Jaran Hatthakam starts reading the verdict.
1:25 pm: The chair of the Constitution Tribunal pleas for calm before the reading of the verdict against the Democrat.
1:00 pm: The nine judges start presiding over the bench, getting read to read the verdict at 1:30 pm.
Wiphuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai, spokesman of the Saturday People Against Dictatorship Group, says police have released their truck so the group will distribute the talismans once the shipment arrives.
12:55 pm: The Saturday People Against Dictatorship Group announces it fails to meet the schedule to hand out Jatukam Ramathep talismans at Sanam Luang at noon. The group claims police have stopped its truck carrying the talismans. About 300 people are waiting at Sanam Luang for the talismans. Police tell the group to cancel the plan to distribute the talismans if they fail to do it by 1 pm. Observers believe the group plan to use talismans to draw people to join its demonstration.
12:50 pm: The number of people in front of the Constitution Court rose to about 20.
12:30 pm: Abhisit arrives at the Constitution Court. He has to push through an army of policemen and reporters waiting outside the court. About 500 reporters, both Thais and foreigners, are covering the event.
11:40 am: After meeting with CNS chief Sonthi, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont says his government is ready to impose the state of emergency if the situation is threatening to get out of control. He his government and CNS will meet again after the Tribunal delivers verdict and will stay at the Government House all day long to monitor the situation.
However, the premier says there's no report of such threat.
Sonthi confirms that there are no mobs heading to Bangkok from other provinces. However, he says officials are now closely monitoring some areas in the capital such as Chatuchak and Khlong Toei.
11:15 am: A small group of people arrive at the Constitution Court to express their support for Thai Rak Thai. The group has about seven and eight people. They say Thai Rak Thai should not be dissolved. Officials have allowed them to sit on the footpath in front of the court.
Meanwhile, all roads leading to the Constitution Court remain open to traffic. There is no report of traffic jam. Everyone who arrive at the court must park their car outside and walk into the court's compound.
10:00 am: Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, chairman of the Council for National Security, Defence Minister Gen Boonrawd Somtas, Army assistant chief Gen Anupong Paojinda, First Army Area commander Lt Gen Prayuth Ocha arrives at Government House to meet Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.
Deputy Bangkok Governor Wallop Suwandee arrives at the Constitution Court to inspect security measures.
9:00 am: Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lt Gen Adisorn Nonsee says mobilized groups of villagers from provinces may begin rallying about noon, especially at Sanam Luang. Police will be deployed to keep security at Sanam Luang as well.
8:45 am: Pol Maj Gen Amnuay Nimmano, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 2, inspects the security measures at the Democrat Party head office.
8:30 am: Constitution Tribunal members arrive at the Constitution Court in a van amid tightened security. They are escorted by Metropolitan police chief Adisorn Nonsee. The judges enter the court building through a backdoor without giving interview to reporters.
6:30 am: Supreme Court President Preecha Thanomrod, who chairs the Constitution Tribunal, summons clerks in charge of preparing documents related the cases to a meeting.
6:00 am: An army of reporters and photographers arrive at Constitution Court to make preparations for the coverage of the historical rulings.
Hundreds of police and military officers secure the place around the Office of the Constitution Court. Metropolitan police line up from Phra Pokklao Bridge along the roads around the office.
Metropolitan police announce through public addressing system, asking people not to gather at the court but wait for the verdicts at home. The police play patriotic songs in alternation with making the announcements.
People living in the neighbourhood go up on rooftops to monitor the situation.
The traffic on the road in front of the court has started to slow down.
5:00 am: Security officials start make preparations for keeping security by installing two bomb detectors at the entrance to the Constitution Court building. Two police dogs are deployed to the court's compound.
PS: A 4:10 pm update from The Nation:
4:10 pm: Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont gives an interview saying that the National Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council have confirmed that the situation remains normal.
He visits these two agencies when he briefly left the Government House.
Surayud discloses that he has teleconference meetings with various provincial governors today. All of them says the situation is okay.
3:45 pm: Activist Waranchai Chaichana arrives in front of the Constitution Court with a mock-up constitution-carrying tray. It is the mock up of the tray and constitution on top of the Democracy Monument.
Waranchai says this tray carries the Constitution of BE2550. He says he wants the Constitution and the election, not the dissolution of political parties.
Prayad Nakto, 29, joins Waranchai in demanding the election. Prayad wears a yellow headband reading, "PTV: We are against Coup".
3:45 pm: Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont returns to the Government House for a meeting with the Council for National Security. The Constitution Tribunal is still reading its verdict on the Democrat Party.
3:30 pm: Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont leaves the Government House. He visits National Intelligence Agency officials.
2:55 pm: Cell-phone users receive SMS message saying, "All Thais should embrace HM the King's words of advice. Be conscious. Cherish unity. Be sensible and Respect laws...from CNS".
CNS has asked cell-phone service providers AIS, DTAC and TRUE to send the message.
2:40 pm: Tribunal judge Nurak Mapraneet reads the Democrat's defense.
2:15 pm: The Saturday People Against Dictatorship Group starts handing out Jatukam Ramathep talismans. The shipment arrives at Sanam Luang at 1:45 pm but a brief turmoil takes place, prompting the group to delay the distribution. About 2,000 people turn up for the talismans.
PPS: From The Nation as of 11:07 pm:
11:07 pm: The Constitution Tribunal rules that Thai Rak Thai's election frauds damaged the national order and good morality of the society and violated Article 66 of the constitution.
11:05 pm: The Constitution Tribunal rules that the Thai Rak Thai is guilty of violating the constitution by collaborating with other parties to unconstitutionally gains power.
10:56 pm: The Constitution Tribunal rules that the Thai Rak Thai must he held responsible for the electoral frauds committed by Thamarak and Pongsak. The tribunal says the two hired two smaller parties to contest the April election on behalf of Thai Rak Thai.
9:55 pm: The Constitution Tribunal finds Thamarak and Pongsak guilty of collaborating with Pattana Chart Thai party leader Boonthaweesak to falsify records of Pattana Chart Thai's membership records.
9:50 pm: The Constitution Tribunal finds former TRT deputy leader Thamarak Isarangura and ex-deputy secretary general Pongsak Ruktapongpisal guilty of involving in paying and hiring politicians of Pattana Chart Thai party to run in the April national election.
7:50pm: Thai Rak Thai's former MPs, executives and senior members sign an agreement to be and to work together if the party is dissolved.
A number of 289 TRT politicians sign the agreement as the Constitutional Tribunal read the verdict on the party. They say they will work and be together although the party is found guilty of violating the election laws and dissovled.
7:45 pm: Kuthep Saikrajang, a deputy spokesman of Thai Rak Thai, tells party supporters, who rallying in front of the party, to go home and wait for the ruling at home. Kuthep tells the supporters that the verdict reading could take time. The party will later inform them of the party's stand after the ruling.
6:30pm: TRT deputy spokesman Suthee Klangsaeng said that the Tribunal's ruling on Democrat and small parties are unexpected particularly on disbanding and five-year revocation of voting rights of Progressive Democratic Party executives.
Suthee said he did not expect the revocation to be backdated. Council of National Security has issued an order after the coup d'etat that executive members of the party that is dissolved would be banned of their voting rights for five years.
Suthee said that Progressive Democratic Party had committed violation before the CNS issued the order, so the party's executives should not have entitled to be banned of the voting rights.
6:25 pm: The Constitution Tribunal begins reading the charges in the case against Thai Rak Thai.
6:10 pm: A Thai Rak Thai supporter hopes his favourite party will be spared like the Democrat Party.
6:05pm: Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and his team arrive at the party headquarter and were greeted by loud applause. People lined up along the street as their vehicle approached the headquarter.
When Abhisit arrived, many people shouted "Chaiyo, Chaiyo." Some people gave him and the team bouquets. He told the crowds, "Today's victory is for people and the country. Today is the end of pressure on the party and the people. What I wish from is that Council of National Security and the government holds the national election as promised and as scheduled."
5:45 pm: Democrat supporters outside the Constitution Court cheer after learning that the party escapes dissolution and is acquitted in all charges.
5:40 pm: The Constitution Tribunal rules that the Announcement No 27 of the Council for Democratic Reform, which bans party executives from holding political offices for five years if their party is dissolved, is retroactively enforced.
5:30 pm: The Constitution Tribunal rules that the Democrat has not committed wrongdoing warranting party dissolution.
The tribunal rules to dissolve the Progressive Democratic Party.
5:26 pm: The Progressive Democratic Party is found guilty of falsifying its membership records to enable its candidates to run in the three Trang constituencies.
5:24 pm: The Constitution Tribunal acquits the Democrat Party of trying to prevent candidates from small parties from entering the race.
5:05 pm: The Constitution Tribunal acquits the Democrat in the charge of it arranged for the leader of Better Life Party to frame the Thai Rak Thai Party for bankrolling the small party.
5:00 pm: The Constitution Tribunal acquits the Democrat of leading three electoral candidates from Progressive Democratic Party to frame the Thai Rak Thai for bankrolling them.
4:50 pm: Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont leaves the Government House. He says he will listen to the Constitution Tribunal's ruling at home.
4:25 pm: Constitution Tribunal rules Democrat is not guilty of framing Thai Rak Thai during election campaigns.
My friend, Don Bull, finally discovers all of his three long lost brothers.
It took the judges 10 straight hours to read the verdict of the Court. This morning's headlines summarize it in just a few big typeface words.
PS: Last night we took my friend, Alex, and his new girl friend, Moo, to dinner at the Next2 in the Shangri-La hotel. After dinner they came to our place to relax.