The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) (พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย; also called the National Liberation Alliance - กลุ่มพันธมิตรกู้ชาติ, the National Liberation Party - พลพรรคกู้ชาติ, and the Yellow Shirts - คนเสื้อเหลือง) was originally a coalition of protesters against Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand. Its leaders include media-mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, and former ISOC leader Pallop Pinmanee. It was one of the chief players in the Thailand political crisis from 2005 to 2006. The PAD consists of middle and upper-class Bangkokians and Southerners, supported by the conservative elite, factions of the Thai Army, factions of the Democrat Party, and state-enterprise labor unions. In September 2006, the Council for Democratic Reform under the Constitutional Monarchy overthrew Thaksin's elected government, canceled upcoming elections, and dissolved the constitution. Two days after this military coup, the PAD voluntarily dissolved after announcing that its goals had been accomplished.
The PAD re-established itself after Thaksin-affiliated parties, led by Samak Sundaravej's People's Power Party (PPP), won the 2007 general election. In August and September 2008, PAD members seized the Government House in a bid to pressure the Samak government to resign. They were joined by tens of thousands of supporters, including the Srivichai Warriors - the PAD's paramilitary guards - who barricaded themselves in with barbed wire, bamboo spikes, and an impromptu electric fence. PAD forces also seized airports in Phuket, Krabi, and Hat Yai, blocked off major roads, and stopped train operations across the Kingdom. Armed Srivichai Warriors seized a television broadcaster, the government-owned National Broadcasting Service of Thailand, as well as several government ministries. PAD forces were evicted from NBST headquarters, but they remained barricaded in Government House. Violence between PAD and anti-PAD protesters left dozens injured and one anti-PAD protester dead. Various labor unions supporting the PAD threatened to shut off electricity and water services, although they failed to follow up on their threats. The PAD threatened that its wealthy members could lead a bank run that could destabilize the Thai financial system and economy if the Samak government did not quit. After Samak resigned and was replaced by Somchai Wongsawat, the protests escalated, with thousands surrounding Parliament and using razor wire and barricades to prevent the legislature from meeting. Police used tear gas in an unsuccessful attempt to disperse the protestors, some of whom were armed with guns, machetes, steel pikes, and home-made bombs. Many were injured on both sides. The PAD renounced non-violence and vowed revenge.
The PAD called for the resignation of the governments of Thaksin Shinawatra, as well as Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat, who the PAD accused of being a proxies for Thaksin. Sondhi originally proposed Somchai as an acceptable alternatives to Samak. However, when Somchai replaced Samak, the PAD refused to stop its protests, stating, "He has the image of being a crook. Citing the claimed failure of popular democracy in Thailand and the inability of rural voters to elect a favorable Parliament, the PAD has demanded constitutional amendments that would make the Parliament a largely royally-appointed body. It was strongly opposed to Thaksin's controversial but popular populist economic policies and attempts to decentralize political power. It was also opposed to the Samak government's decision to support the Cambodian government in applying for the listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site. The PAD is largely composed of royalists, has regularly invoked king Bhumibol Adulyadej in its protests, and has claimed that its enemies are disloyal to the monarchy. It has openly called for the palace, the military, and Thailand's traditional elite to take a greater role in politics. General Pathompong Kesornsuk, a close aid of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, appeared in full uniform at PAD protests claiming Prem’s consent and urging his fellow soldiers to follow suit.
The People's Alliance for Democracy had its source in weekly public tapings of Sondhi Limthongkul's weekly political talk show 'Muang Thai Rai Sapda' (Thailand Weekly). Attendance grew after the talkshow was dropped by MCOT Channel 9 and Sondhi started webcasting the show on his website. As the tone grew more controversial, the tapings gradually turned into protests against the government. The PAD was formally established on February 8, 2006 with a five person central committee consisting of:
Besides the five leaders, ten others were part of the PAD management committee: Pitaya Wongkul, Rewadee Prasertcharoensuuk, Rosana Tositrakul, Chaiwat Sindhuwong, Preeda Tiasuwan, Sirichai Maingam, Suwit Watnuu, Kochawan Chaiyabut, Weerapol Sopa, Ouychai Wata, Pien Yongnuu.
Royalist commentator Khamnoon Sitthisaman, Campaign for Popular Democracy leader Suriyasai Katasila, and Thammasat University law lecturers Banjerd Singkaneti and Prinya Thewanaruemitkul all played prominent roles.
Several current and former employees of Sondhi played a role, including Panthep Puapongbhant, Samran Rodpetch, Kumnuun Sidhisamann, Sarocha Pornudomsak, Anchalee Paireerak, Yuthayong Limlertwatee, and Torpong Sewatarm.
Buddhist groups supporting the PAD included the Santi Asoke sect (led by Thaksin's former mentor Chamlong Srimuang), followers of Luangta Mahabua, and Dhammayuttika Nikaya Buddhists opposed to the appointment of Somdet Phutthacharn as Acting Supreme Patriarch of Thailand.
While Thaksin and Samak championed farmers and the rural poor with their "dual-track" economic policies that combined populist perks like universal healthcare with greater participation in the global economy, the PAD are, in contrast, hardline monetarists. They propose interest rate hikes, cutting down spending on the poor, "mega-projects", and squeezing wages.
The PAD led a series of protest rallies cum television shows against Thaksin Shinawatra throughout 2006. For more details, see the full PAD protests against Thaksin Shinawatra article. On 5 March 2008, the PAD leadership gave a press conference indicating that it was preparing to counter Thaksin-instigated inroads into the judicial process in Thailand designed to abrogate charges against the former premier. This announcement was clarified by another PAD press conference on 12 March where all PAD founders, except Chamlong Srimuang who was reportedly abroad, indicated that there would be a major PAD conference on 28 March 2008 at Thammasat University.
The King intervened on 26 April by calling the latest elections undemocratic and ordering the court system to resolve the political crisis. A week later, the Supreme Court disqualified the results of the April election and later jailed the Election Commission.
For the constitution amendment, among the changes proposed was removal of Article 237 which would dissolve a political party if one of the executives was involved in vote buying. Yongyuth Tiyapairat, People's Power Party executive who was also the Parliament president after the election, was being tried for vote buying. Yongyuth was later found guilty by the Supreme Court on July 8, 2008.
For the interference to justice, several key person involving cases against Thaksin and Peolple's Power Party were removed from the post. This includes Sunai Manomai-udom, then Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general working in the case about Thaksin's asset concealment charges, Seripisut Temiyavet, then National Police chief who was installed by the coup but is well known for taking on mafias including those in the police, and Chaiwat Changkaokam, then the head of Tambon Chanchawa who was the key witness to Yongyuth Tiyapairat's alleged vote buying.
Demonstration by PAD started on May 25, 2008 at Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Road to protest the proposal for constitution amendment. The rally attracted ten thousand supporters. The plan was to march the supporters from Democracy Monument to the front of Government House. However, the crowd was stopped by large police barrier at Makkawan Rangsan Bridge. PAD settled at Makkawan Rangsan Bridge and staged continuous rally there.
As the rally went on, PAD announced their effort to collect signatures to request removal house representatives and senates who supported the amendment on May 30, 2008. The next day Samak expressed on government-run NBT television channel his intention to dissolve the rally by force. In reaction to Samak's speech, PAD issued announcement against the government's move.
The new PAD stage blocked Phitsanulok and Rama V roads, causing inconvenience to schools in the area. Other problems include loud speaker noise. Teachers and parents of Ratchawinit Secondary School filed lawsuit against PAD, which PAD appealed and lost. PAD moved its stage back to Makkawan Bride on July 8.
The Public Service International has condemned the Samak government for using "violent measures" on the protesters who claimed that they were unarmed.. The PSI released a statement to condemn the Samak government for using police force to "hit, kick, and step on" the "unarmed protesters of PAD including children, women and senior citizens" . However, most journalists on the scene reported that the some protesters were armed. In the police report, items like ammunitions and golf clubs were found amond the supposedly unarmed protesters.
The injured civilians filed a lawsuit against police brutality. This consequently caused the Civil Court to reject the petition from the Secretariat of the Prime Minister to remove the PAD protesters from the Government House .
Anti-PAD protesters clashed at PAD protesters, prompting the government to establish a State of Emergency.. Dozens were injured, and one anti-PAD protester was shot and killed..
Thousands of PAD forces soon surrounded Parliament to prevent the Somchai government from announcing its policies to the legislature within 15 days of swearing in, as mandated by the Constitution. The protestors closed off the building with razor wire and steel barricades. At 6.00 am 7 October 2008, police loudspeaker lorries issued a warning that protesters should disperse as they would be attacked, and teargas would be fired. The protesters did not disperse and soon after, police at Ratchawithi Road and Pichai Road shot a barrage of teargas grenades. Police and clashed with protestors, some of whom were armed with guns, machetes, steel pikes, and improvised explosive devices popularly called ping-pong grenades. Many were injured on both sides. Eventually the doors to Parliament could be opened for the attending legislators. PAD forces later regrouped around Parliament. After the government had made its policy statement to the legislature, police again clashed with PAD forces as they had blocked the gates to Parliament. The clashes continued into the night.
Several protestors lost their hands and legs, although it was not clear whether these injuries were caused by tear gas rounds or the ping-pong grenades. A PAD protestor, Angkhana Radappanyawut, was killed. The head of Ramathibodi Hospital's Forensic Medicine Department found that the injuries that she sustained were unlikely to be caused by tear gas rounds, but could have been caused by an ping-pong explosive. PAD members drove a pickup truck into a crowd of police, injuring several. A car bomb was exploded outside the headquarters of the Chart Thai party, a member of the government coalition, killing the driver, brother-in-law of PAD leader Somsak Kosaisuk. The PAD renounced its claimed policy of non-violence and vowed revenge.
Afterwards, Doctor Kasem Tantipalacheeva from the Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry issued a statement where he and the psychiatrists of the Institute called the actions of the Prime Minister "evil" and refused to provide medical care to police. Doctor Suthep Kolcharnwit of the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine along with several doctors from Chulalongkorn Hospital also refused to provide medical care to police injured in the clash, and urged doctors of other hospitals to boycott police as well.
After the 2006 military coup, the military junta ordered broadcaster MCOT to cover weekly tapings of Muangthai Raisabdah. Sondhi was also given a slot on the junta-run National Broadcasting Service of Thailand's Channel 11 where he hosted Yam Fao Paendin, a pro-junta, anti-Thaksin talkshow which made accusations of excessive government spending at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Journalists at PAD-controlled Government House reported that they were intimidated, pelted with water bottles, and attacked with a metal pipe. Their vehicle was also attacked. The Nation journalist Samudcha Hoonsara reported that PAD leaders incited hostility towards outsiders, particularly journalists. Journalists also reported that PAD members masturbated in front of them and defecated in front of their Government House working space. Channel 9 news crew were attacked after the PAD claimed their news reporting was biased toward government. The PAD limited media access to Government House claiming that the media might be undercover policemen or anti-PAD groups in disguise.