House speaker proposes extraordinary parliamentary session in wake of political unrest A weekend of intense protest gatherings has resulted, if nothing else, in the Thai Parliament’s lower house speaker proposing an extraordinary session of parliament to discuss the current protest situation and a possible way forward. The speaker of the lower house, Chuan Leekpai, has been discussing the matter with government and opposition MPs today. Anti-government protests, which began in mid-July, have grown in intensity and frequency, as activists demand the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the dissolution of parliament, and fresh elections. They are also calling for a re-write of the constitution and for reform of the role of the Thai Monarchy. Most observers see the current demands, laid out by protest leaders in a 10-point manifesto, as a “bridge too far”, and that there is little room for compromise in the current political structure. The government’s pro-royalist and conservative agenda, and its support from the Thai Army, is in stark contrast to the protester’s demands for greater democracy, reforms in Parliament and the role of the country’s revered monarchy. Several protest leaders have already been arrested and the PM has declared a State of Emergency in Bangkok, banning gatherings of more than 5 people. Protesters continued to defy the ban over the weekend, assembling in their thousands, both in the capital and around the country. On Friday night, riot police used high powered water cannons to force an end to a peaceful protest at the Pathumwan intersection, a decision greeted with widespread criticism from human rights groups, political observers and social media. Last night, protesters gathered in their thousands at Victory Monument, the Asok-Sukhumvit intersection, by the Imperial World Samrong shopping centre and marched to the Bang Na intersection as well. Another 20 locations outside of Bangkok also hosted pro-democracy protests including the central provinces outside of the city in Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani, in Khon Kaen, Phuket, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai and Pattaya. Thai PM adopts more conciliatory tone with protesters Meanwhile, it appears that the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has switched gear to a softer tone with the young protesters calling for his resignation. Following Friday night’s removal of protesters from the Bangkok intersection, the new, more conciliatory tone coming out of government house over the past three days has been broadly welcomed… certainly by the protesters. The approach is in stark contrast with Friday evening’s statements from the PM that he had no intention of resigning, and that the riot police had acted “within the law”. A government spokesman was also quoted as saying the administration is willing to listen to the issues being discussed and work to find solutions. “The government is willing to listen to everyone’s problems and continues to solve problems in all areas.” Meanwhile the protesters have spent most of the weekend demanding that the arrested protesters be released immediately. Koh Samui tourism operators want cheaper flights to lure tourists Koh Samui needs more visitors, from anywhere. A number of hotels on the island are now certified for alternative local state quarantine and tourism officials are looking to lure travellers in with cheaper flights. But getting the prices down could be difficult. President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says both the airport and pier are owned by the private sector, in the case of the airport, Bangkok Airways. The Bangkok Airways’ monopoly has kept the cost of air fares to Samui inordinately high, when compared to most other air travel costs around the country. Lucky escape for chickens in Udon Thani as crocodile caught trying to enter coop And plucky rescue workers in the north-eastern province of Udon Thani have ruined a hungry crocodile’s dinner plans, capturing it as it was trying to enter a chicken coop. Local rescuers were called to remove the 3 metre long croc as it was attempting to enter the chicken enclosure and enjoy some lunch. It’s understood it took the workers, who admit to having no experience in handling crocodiles, around an hour to wrestle the crocodile and get a rope around its mouth. It then needed 5 men to transport the croc to a waiting vehicle, with the animal putting up a fight the whole way. The homeowner says she believes the animal escaped from captivity at a nearby crocodile farm.