Battle in Bangkok
Bangkok, Thailand
By Robert Horn

(FORTUNE Magazine) - The Battle Flags are flying again in Thailand. In late February, barely a year after sweeping to reelection with the largest landslide in Thai history, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, faced with mounting street protests like this one in Bangkok, dissolved Parliament and called a snap election for April 2. The Prime Minister, believing the rural majority will return him to power, chose to seek a fresh mandate in hope of defusing anger in the capital over the recent sale of Shin Corp., his family's telecommunications conglomerate, to Singapore's Temasek Holdings. The $1.9 billion deal, in which Thaksin's family paid no tax and laws were changed to facilitate the sale, was the spark for long-simmering discontent over suspected conflicts of interest and corruption in Thaksin's administration. Opposition parties vowed to boycott the election because the Prime Minister refused to consider constitutional amendments aimed at strengthening checks and balances on his rule. And more than 100,000 people gathered at Bangkok's Royal Field on Feb. 26, chanting "Thaksin, get out!" The protesters said they wouldn't give up until the Prime Minister flies the white flag of surrender. Top of page