BANGKOK, Mar 08, (AFP): Thai protesters threatened Wednesday to boycott nearly 100 companies and products linked to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, racheting up the pressure for him to resign.
The boycott list includes several top international brands, such as Toyota, Heineken, Nescafe and Seven-Eleven convenience stores.
"We will see to it that Thai people don't drink Nescafe coffee or buy goods at Seven-Eleven convenience stores," said Parnthep Puurpongpan, a spokesman for the anti-Thaksin coalition that has led weekly protests in Bangkok.
The list includes dozens of companies with links to Thaksin's business empire and to his party.
The boycott would begin Thursday if the Singapore investment firm Temasek completes its purchase of Shin Corp, the telecom giant founded by Thaksin, Parnthep said.
Thaksin's family sold its nearly 50 percent stake in Shin Corp to Temasek in late January, making 1.9 billion dollars in the tax-free deal. Public anger at the deal snowballed into weekly protests and plunged Thailand into political turmoil.
"A boycott is the general right of the Thai public to protest against Shin Corp's sale to Temasek," Parnthep said.
The People's Alliance for Democracy released a list of nearly 100 boycott targets, including Thailand's largest mobile phone operator, three international airlines and two banks.
Among Shin Corp's companies are Thailand's biggest mobile phone operator Advance Info Service (AIS), discount carrier Air Asia, Internet provider CS Loz Info, and iTV television station.
Temasek's varied interests include banks DBS, Thai Danu Bank and UOB, the Hard Rock Cafe franchise, Tiger Beer and Heineken, as well as Singapore and Cathay Pacific airlines.
Billionaire Thaksin counts many top businessmen among his party's members and supporters, including people with ties to Toyota, Nescafe and Seven-Eleven -- putting all those firms on the protesters' list as well.
The latest threat from the protesters came as they ready for their next major rally Monday night, to be followed early Tuesday by a march on Government House during Thaksin's cabinet meeting.
The protesters got a major boost this week when the nation's biggest union vowed to mobilize 100,000 workers to join them.
Unions representing Thailand's 42 state enterprises are set to meet Thursday on whether to join the protest, but divisions have begun to emerge among the workers.
A delegation of railway workers delivered a statement to Thaksin's office, saying they wanted to remain neutral in the political crisis.
"The union members want to explain that we are not all involved with those calling for a strike and joining the protest to oust the government," the statement said.
Adding to the pressure on Thaksin, the army chief warned Wednesday that the ongoing political upheaval could unsettle revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
"The king may be upset because he knows that we are having these problems in the country," General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said.
"It's time for (all Thais) to help each other to end this situation."
Scores of prominent politicians and academics have petitioned the 78-year-old king -- who this year celebrates the 60th anniversary of his coronation -- to appoint an interim prime minister as a way out of the crisis.
Thaksin has dissolved parliament and called snap elections for April 2 in hopes of ending the crisis, but opposition parties are boycotting the polls, casting doubt on the vote's legitimacy.
The premier spent Wednesday campaigning in eastern Thailand, pushing his populist policies and urging voters to cast ballots despite the boycott.