More than 20,000 supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra surrounded the Thai prime minister's office today to demand the resignation of the government and new elections. The latest mass protest in Bangkok began shortly after the government of PM Abhisit Vejjajiva began doling out $55 checks to millions of Thais to stimulate an economy battered by the global financial crisis, a move the red-shirted protesters called a buy-off.
"We will protest until this illegitimate government is gone," said one of the protesters, whose demonstration is expected to last 3 days. Stores and shopping complexes have been quick to capitalize on the so-called "Help the Nation" scheme. Stores have created baskets of products for the value of the checks, and Kentucky Fried Chicken will swap a check for store coupons—and 20 pieces of chicken.