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Thai Protesters Turn in SIM Cards Seen Linked to PM’s Family

Thai Protesters Turn in SIM Cards Seen Linked

Bangkok – Some Thai anti-government protesters followed the advice of their leader on Saturday, shunning products of firms linked to the family of Prime Minister YingluckShinawatra and handing back cellphone SIM cards. The protesters have blocked main Bangkok intersections with tents, tires and sandbags, seeking to unseat Yingluck and halt the influence of her billionaire brother, ThaksinShinawatra, an ousted former premier regarded by many as the real power behind the government.

This week, they targeted businesses linked, or once linked, to the Shinawatra family, sending stock prices tumbling and on Saturday some answered protest leader SuthepThaugsuban’s call to return their SIM cards belonging to mobile phone company Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS).

The company promptly sent a text message to clients saying it no longer had any connection with the Shinawatra family. “AIS is not involved in politics and is not a pipeline for any side,” it said. “DrThaksin and family have already sold all shares in the company since 23 January, 2006, and from then are no longer connected with the company.”

AunjitWongsampan, 65, lined up in central Bangkok to hand in her SIM card. “I think the signal is poor and I am changing it because the company is too wealthy,” she told Reuters. When shown the company’s text message, she said: “I don’t believe them any more. I have made my choice.”

Yingluck’s supporters denounced the targeting of business when the protests have already taken a toll on the economy, on tourism in particular, with arrivals in Bangkok sharply down. “What we don’t like right now is their involvement in threatening companies on the stock exchange that is not involved with government,” TidaTawornseth, chairwoman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), told Reuters. “It’s a move away from government into business.” (Reuters)

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