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Thai army detains Yingluck

By Agencies in Bangkok, Thailand, and Singapore | China Daily | Updated: 2014-05-24 08:03

Thailand's military government detained former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and members of her family on Friday after summoning her and other ministers for talks a day after the military seized power from her caretaker government.

"We have detained Yingluck, her sister and brother-in-law," a senior military officer said. The two relatives have held top political posts.

"We will do so for not more than week, that would be too long. We just need to organize matters in the country first," said the officer, who declined to say where Yingluck was being held.

An uneasy calm settled over Bangkok on Friday, with tourists venturing onto the streets and shoppers filling the malls as one of the world's most vibrant cities absorbed the effects of a very Thai coup.

Traffic was thin on the normally gridlocked streets, but many people returned to work and the streets were lined with the usual array of sizzling food stalls following a military-imposed overnight curfew, which was expected to come into effect again Friday evening.

In contrast to the last coup in 2006, there were no tanks on the streets and only a limited deployment of soldiers at key buildings.

Many of the wealthy Thais who come to investment manager Charles Blocker have a question for the generals who seized control of the country in a military coup this week: What took you so long?

After months of turmoil and government paralysis, the rich individuals and companies that Blocker works with welcome anything that might get the machinery of state turning again.

Holidaymakers milled along the streets of the tourist hub in their dozens, making the most of Bangkok's daytime attractions after Thursday's 10 pm curfew curtailed their ability to enjoy the city's famed nightlife.

"We went to Khao San (Bangkok's backpacker haven) last night thinking it would be in full swing. Our night was cut a bit short but it was still good," said Scottish tourist Angela, 24, who gave only her first name.

Thai army detains Yingluck

She said she was leaving on Saturday, but said that she "didn't feel alarmed".

Troops stood guard outside the Ministry of Defense, but the mood was calm, with a sound system playing the jazz classic What a Wonderful World and a soldier posing for a picture with a passing cyclist. The coup's direct impact has been felt by senior politicians who were ordered to report to the military. But for the public at large, the curfew was met with a very Thai dose of humor and stoicism in a city whose recent history has been pockmarked by political unrest.

For Thanakan Chalaemprasead the most distressing aspects of the coup so far are the loss of his favorite television shows - after the army ordered the suspension of normal programming - and the early closure of the city's ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores.

"I was hungry ... but I only had instant noodles at home," the 21-year-old mechanic said.

"There was also nothing on television ... if the army wants us to stay home, they should have at least let us watch something."

Instead, televisions and radios blared patriotic music punctuated by statements from a stern-faced military spokesman. The television outage has also posed a challenge for parents, after schools were shuttered on military orders and restless children were denied their cartoon fix.


 Thai army detains Yingluck

A Thai soldier stands guard while Buddhist monks beg for alms outside a temple near Government House in Bangkok on Friday. Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters

(China Daily 05/24/2014 page7)

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