Thai anti-government protesters demonstrate against Singapore

Thai protesters seeking Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's ouster rallied Thursday at Singapore's Embassy, demanding a halt to the sale by Thaksin's family of a giant telecom company to a Singapore-owned enterprise.

The movement to force Thaksin to resign swelled last month after his family sold its controlling stake in Shin Corp. to a Singapore government-owned investment company, Temasek Holdings, netting a tax-free 73.3 billion baht (US$1.9 billion; Ђ 1.55 billion).

Thaksin's detractors have long accused the prime minister of corruption and abuse of power but gained a wider following after the high-profile Shin deal. Critics allege the sale involved insider trading and tax dodges and complain that key national assets, such as the country's communications satellites, are now in the hands of a foreign government.

More than 500 protesters marched to the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok, threatening to boycott products from the island republic if the Singapore government fails to halt the sale.

Carrying signs that read "Thailand is Not For Sale," protesters chanted "Thaksin Get Out!"

The demonstrators planned to march on to the Stock Exchange of Thailand later Thursday, the last day of a tender offer linked to the deal.

Shin Corp.'s stock has plunged this week over the uncertainty of the sale and the Thai stock market fell by 2 percent Wednesday as the political crisis showed little sign of abating.

Tens of thousands of protesters have been holding regular street rallies in Bangkok, the capital, to demand Thaksin's resignation, and they have said they will rally every night until he quits.

Thaksin, who has been accused of widespread abuse of power and corruption, has repeatedly said he will not bow to anti-government protesters but has said he was willing to sit down with his critics, reports the AP.


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