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AT THE MOVIES Lorena Ochoa gets
From blockbusters to art house Rohit Brijnath’s vote
flicks, movie goers are spoilt for choice. for golfer of the year


Jockeying for » UPFRONT

Give us our
power begins promised
land: Cry of
as Thailand poor Filipinos

uncertainty By Alastair McIndoe
be confident until the very last Philippines Correspondent
Pro-Thaksin party minute in parliament. In Manila
seems to have support Even after deals have been struck,
the constitution does not require WITH a wince, farm worker Mar-
of two minor parties, Members of Parliament to vote along lyn Trinidad removes her flip-flops
party lines. In fragile coalitions, and inspects her badly blistered
but situation is fluid therefore, a few defectors on a single feet.
issue could make a huge difference. The 33-year-old mother of four
The bottom line, according to ana- from a poor tribal community in
By Nirmal Ghosh lysts, is that there is more instability the southern Philippines has worn
Thailand Correspondent in store – and especially if the PPP out three pairs in a punishing
In Bangkok forms a government, because Bang- two-month march for land.
kok voters had by and large rejected Trudging along roads in the sear-
THAI politicians yesterday began the party. ing heat and rain-sodden dirt
what promises to be a complex and “It won’t take much for the PPP tracks, she is one of 55 farmers who
protracted battle to form a coalition to make a misstep,” noted Chulalong- walked 1,700km – more than three
government, following the election korn University political scientist Thi- quarters the length of the country –
on Sunday in which no clear winner tinan Pongsudhirak. to Manila to press their case with
emerged. He added: “With the PPP likely the president.
The People Power Party or PPP – to force issues like an amnesty for Thirteen years ago, they were
essentially a proxy for former pre- the 111 banned former Thai Rak granted land by the government un-
mier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was Thai politicians (including Mr Thak- der an agrarian reform programme
ousted by the military last year – sin), there will be brinkmanship on ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM to give land to landless small farm-
their part, and there could even be ers.
emerged as the single largest party, But these farmers have yet to
but the 228 seats it secured was just protests in Bangkok.
short of a majority on its own.
While it seemed likely yesterday
that PPP leader Samak Sundaravej
“On the other hand, a Demo-
crat-led coalition will comprise sever-
al parties, which will make it weak
and unwieldy from the outset. There
A SPECIAL DAY turn a spadeful of earth they can
call their own. To be sure, their
case is complex, and may not be as
clear-cut as civil society groups and

may succeed in forming the next gov- the Church claim.
ernment with the support of two will be internal bickering and wran-
gling, and they will have a potent op- Even so, their campaign, promi-
small parties, that could change over- nently covered by the local media,
night. position in the PPP.”
The morale of the Democrat Par- has dramatically highlighted the
The additional 15-odd seats from ty, in the meantime, has been boost- desperation of land-reform benefici-
the Ruam Jai Thai and Pracharaj par- ed by the 166 seats it won – a huge
It will be an especially operations soon, the first one in two
weeks’ time. The 74-year-old retired army aries whose cases have been stuck
ties would give the PPP a razor-thin in legal and bureaucratic quag-
– but easily eroded – margin of less
improvement over the less than 100 meaningful Christmas for officer and his wife, 64, a secretary, will mires.
in the last widely accepted poll in be baptised today by Father Gerardus
than five seats in the 480-seat parlia- 2005. Mr George Soh and his Suyono, an assistant priest of the church.
It is also focusing attention on
ment. As a result – and secure in the legislation pending in Congress –
PPP spokesman Kuthep Saikra- knowledge that it won Bangkok,
wife Anne this year. “Jesus was born on Christmas Day, and marked urgent by President Gloria
jang said senior party executives matched the PPP’s proportional “par- now we will also be reborn,” said Mr Soh. Arroyo – to extend the country’s
The couple, who have been married for Christmas is widely celebrated in Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
would also be conferring with the ty list” vote tally, and has the back-
Chat Thai and Puea Pandin parties – 32 years, will begin their new life together Singapore, where about 15 per cent of the Programme, or Carp, as it is re-
ing of the ruling military-royalist as Catholics when they are baptised today
the two biggest winners after the sec- elite which had thrown out Mr Thak- population is Christian according to the ferred to, by another 10 years.
ond-place Democrats – to form a coa- sin – party leaders are confident. at the Blessed Sacrament Church in last census report. Through compulsory purchases
lition government. “This is the real fight now. Every- Queensway. The festivities include floats and lights of idle private land and converting
There could be another complica- thing is up for grabs, up for negotia- “We are overjoyed. It has taken such a as part of Celebrate Christmas in the state holdings, the programme was
tion to the horsetrading. tion,” a party insider told The Straits long time for us,” said Mrs Soh. aimed at social justice for tenant
Heartlands programme. The floats farmers and sharecroppers by giv-
Analysts expect the Election Com- Times. As free-thinkers previously, the couple travelled from Orchard Road to Katong on
mission to hand out several “red “We believe there is a very high had always held a healthy respect for Sunday, and the neighbourhood was alive CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
cards” and “yellow cards” as well – chance as of today, of us managing to religion. Most of their family members are with bazaar stalls and street carnivals.
disqualifying candidates and requir- form a coalition.” Catholics or Protestants and had
ing by-elections in constituencies Said Professor Thitinan: “The par-
where it finds evidence of malprac- ty-list result, plus the Bangkok re- encouraged their conversion to the faith PM’S GREETINGS: The Prime Minister
tice. sult, gives the Democrats some claim for several years. wishes all Christians a Merry Christmas.
A few red cards for PPP candi- to legitimacy to form a govern- “I always told them the time was not
dates could scupper its numbers ad- ment.” right yet,” said Mr Soh. ST’S GREETINGS: The Straits Times
vantage. Foreign reaction to Sunday’s elec- It took a serious turn in his health last wishes all its Christian readers a Merry
Small and medium-sized parties tion has been positive, with the Unit- month for them to take stock of their Christmas.
are negotiating their own alliances so ed States, Japan and the European lives. He found out that three major
that they can bring some bargaining Union welcoming the return towards
elected government in Bangkok. vessels in his heart were blocked – despite NO TNP TODAY: The New Paper will not
power to negotiations with the big not suffering any major symptoms prior to
parties. Chat Thai leader Banharn Si- be published today. It will be the only it. SPH English newspaper available
lapa-archa, with 39 seats, remains a
key factor who could change the for- MORE REPORTS, PAGE 6 He will be undergoing two heart tomorrow.
tunes of either of the big parties. EDITORIAL: UNITY GOVT IS BEST FOR
But no party leader can afford to THAIS, PAGE 20