* Government supporters plan rally for Sunday
* Protest leader says "let them come"
* Indonesian trade official sees signs of Thais dumping rice
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre
BANGKOK, Feb 20 Protesters campaigning to oust
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra turned to Facebook and
other social media to attack businesses linked to her family on
Thursday and rallied outside the offices of a property developer
whose share price tumbled.
Yingluck's government appears increasingly hemmed in by
opponents and the judicial system, lacking the fiscal powers to
fund key policies and warned by a court on Wednesday that it
cannot use a state of emergency to disperse protesters.
Four protesters and a police officer were killed on Tuesday,
in the deadliest clashes since the unrest began in November,
when police attempted to reclaim sites near government buildings
that have been occupied for weeks.
The protesters are seeking to unseat Yingluck and stamp out
what they see as the malign influence of her brother, Thaksin
Shinawatra, a self-exiled former premier regarded by many as the
real power behind the government.
About 500 protesters gathered outside the Bangkok offices of
SC Asset Corp, a property developer controlled by the
Shinawatra family, waving Thai flags and blowing whistles.
"We will hamper all Shinawatra businesses," protest leader
Suthep Thaugsuban told supporters at a rally on Wednesday night.
"If you love your country, stop using Shinawatra products and do
everything you can so that their business fails."
Yingluck was executive chairwoman of the company before
being swept to power in a landslide election victory in 2011.
Shares in SC Asset fell 4.3 percent on Thursday, following a
similar fall the previous day. Shares in M-Link Asia Corp
, a mobile handset distributor with links to the
Shinawatras, have also lost almost 10 percent over the past two
Anusorn Iamsa-ard, deputy spokesman for Yingluck's Puea Thai
Party, said the building the protesters targeted had nothing to
do with her.
"The prime minister has no shares in SC Asset," he said.
"The thing that will worry her is the impact of the protest
today, and the fact employees of the office tower had to leave,
on the Thai economy overall. But the campaign against Shinawatra
businesses will not weaken her resolve to see Thailand through
Other stocks affected include telecoms group Shin Corp
, founded by Thaksin before he entered politics, and
its mobile affiliate Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS)
. Shin Corp said it no longer has any connection with
the Shinawatra family.
"We should change our service provider and stop using AIS
... it's easy to change SIM cards these days," said a post on
the "No Thaksin" Facebook page.
"I ask the people to stop using the tyrant Thaksin's
products. Stop using AIS ... so we can teach Thaksin a lesson
... and so he can know that hell really exists," a user posted
Yingluck has headed a caretaker government with limited
spending powers since calling a snap election in December.
Voting on Feb. 2 was disrupted by her opponents, and it could be
months before a new government can be installed.
An anti-corruption agency this week filed charges against
her over a soured rice subsidy scheme that has stoked
middle-class anger and left hundreds of thousands of farmers,
her natural backers, unpaid.
More than 1,000 farmers, many riding in farm trucks, were
travelling in convoy towards Bangkok from the rice-growing
central plains and were due to reach the city overnight or on
Chada Thaiseth, a former member of parliament, said he would
lead farmers on Friday to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport,
blockaded for eight days by royalist, anti-Thaksin "yellow
shirts" in 2008.
"We are not sure where we will set up camp, but we will not
leave the capital until we are paid for every grain of rice
sold," Chada told Reuters.
"LET THEM COME"
Yingluck's "red shirt" supporters plan a rally in Nakhon
Ratchasima, northeast of the capital, on Sunday, when they will
decide what to do next.
"We are not saying that we want to come out and fight, but
it seems that Suthep is challenging us red shirts to come out
and face off," spokesman Thanawut Wichaidit said.
"Let them come," Suthep said in a midday speech to
protesters in Bangkok. "Do they dare?"
The protests are the biggest since deadly political unrest
in 2010, when Thaksin's red shirt supporters paralysed Bangkok
in an attempt to remove a government led by the Democrat Party,
now the opposition.
More than 90 people were killed and 2,000 wounded when
Suthep, at the time a deputy prime minister, sent in troops.
The protests are the latest instalment of an eight-year
political battle broadly pitting the Bangkok middle class and
royalist establishment against the mostly rural supporters of
Yingluck and Thaksin.
Demonstrators accuse Thaksin of nepotism and corruption and
say that, prior to being toppled by the army in a 2006 coup, he
used taxpayers' money for populist subsidies and easy loans that
bought him the loyalty of millions in the country's populous
north and northeast.
Yingluck has continued her brother's policies, but the rice
scheme, which paid farmers way above the market rate, has proved
ruinously expensive and has run into funding problems.
Thai rice prices fell 15 percent this week as the government
rushed to sell some of its record stockpiles to prop up the
scheme. An Indonesian trade official said there were
"indications" Thai suppliers were dumping the grain in
Thailand's anti-corruption body began an investigation last
month into the rice scheme and said on Tuesday it was filing
charges against Yingluck. She was summoned to hear the charges
on Feb. 27.
Police have made no further moves against the protesters,
whose barricades and encampments are still blocking several big
intersections in central Bangkok, since gun battles erupted
during a security operation on Tuesday.