Thailand has cancelled a major regional summit for a second time as thousands of anti-government protesters, known as red shirts, laid seige to the venue, causing huge embarrassment for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as he struggles to hold on to power.
Leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations including Japan, China, South Korea, India and Australia were in attendance. Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the resort town of Pattaya to ensure the guests could get away safely. The prime minister took power last December after his supporters shut down Bangkok Airport in protest over the then government’s links to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. It is reported that the military and police did little to prevent “red shirts” from storming the building. Thailand is struggling as both sides of the political divide have their own supporters willing to destabilise the country if they disagree with government policy. The country has had four prime ministers in the last 15 months all of whom have failed to ease Thailand’s deep political rifts.