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"A penny for your thoughts"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thai Government under siege by protesters

The airport closures that culminated in an eight-day blockade only ended after a court on December 2 dissolved the ruling People Power Party over electoral fraud charges and forced then-premier Somchai Wongsawat from office, creating the opening for the Democrat Party.

See Related Posts: thaksin-goes-on-trial-for-corruption
Thaksin inciting street battles with an arrest warrant







Monday 01 December 2008 - Recent grenade attacks which have killed two protesters and wounded dozens more have lead Thai anti-government protesters Monday to end a three-month sit-in at the prime minister's offices, redeploying to help demonstrators tighten their paralyzing grip on Bangkok's airports. Suriyasai Katasila,a PAD spokesman said the movement hoped to hand over the site to the government on Tuesday morning. Their departure from the premier's offices could ease the risk of clashes with protesters from a rival pro-government group who camped out in Bangkok for a second day just a few kilometres from Government House.

Thaksin and his allies draw huge electoral support from Thailand's largely rural northern poor, while the PAD is backed by the Bangkok business elite and middle classes, along with elements in the military and the palace.

New trouble sparks ahead where Government's supporters threatened a blockade of Thailand's Constitutional Court, which is due Tuesday to wrap up a vote fraud case that could disband the ruling party and bar Somchai from politics. Protesters say they will not disperse from the airports until Somchai steps down.

350,000 travellers stranded are stranded and several nations stepped up emergency flights to evacuate frustrated holidaymakers.




02 November 2008 -Four men from Samut Prakan province south of Bangkok who had not attended the pro-government rally had an argument with PAD guards and when they drove away and crashed with a taxi, a gunfire was heard. One man in his early 20s received a gunshot wound in his right shoulder. They were in the capital for a night out and were returning home in the early hours of Sunday morning when they drove past the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest camp. Ten of the volunteer PAD security guards were injured last week when a grenade was hurled at their protest camp, heightening fears that political tensions in Thailand were again spiralling towards increased violence. A man was also shot dead last week near the PAD protest site, while a grenade was thrown at the home of a judge. Source:CNA
video
Video-Thai man shot after row with anti-govt protesters



22 October 2008-Somchai told reporters that he escaped unscathed from the attack on Wednesday, but a bodyguard was hit by a group of angry anti-government protesters pelted Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat with shoes and bottles. The premier nevertheless insisted he would not step down. The powerful army chief last week appeared on television to say that if he were in Somchai's position, he would step down and dissolve parliament to take responsibility for the street violence. Somchai has been in his post for just over a month, but has been under increasing pressure to resign after bloody street battles between police and protesters in Bangkok on October 7 left two people dead and nearly 500 hurt.


17 October 2008-Thailand's powerful army chief, Anupong , on Thursday said that if he were in the premier's position, he would resign as protests against his rule drag on. Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat later told reporters that he planned to remain as prime minister until he had overseen amendments to the constitution - a plan with no timeline and one of the prime reasons for the protests.

16 October 2008-Members of the National Counter Corruption Commission said Somchai was wrong to suspend a corruption investigation into two senior officials while he was a permanent secretary at the justice ministry in 2000. As it is a civil case which can only refer to the justice minister to administer punishment.

12 Oct 2008 -Director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, Porntip Rojanasunan said police used Chinese tear gas canisters on demonstrators blockading parliament.The Chinese canisters explode when they hit an object before releasing their tear gas.
"The way they shoot at the people, they aim the gun directly at people so there could be serious injury," such injuries do not happen with Australian or US-made tear gas, she added. Porntip was originally called in by the army to investigate PAD claims that the police used bombs, but is now doing so for the independent National Human Rights Commission of Thailand . The bloody clashes that followed saw two people killed and 478 injured with published graphic photos of people lying on the ground with their feet or lower legs blown off, while The Nation reported Sunday that one woman was in a vegetative state after suffering head injuries.

video10 Oct 2008-Thai protest leaders bailed as turmoil looks set to continue


10 October 2008-Leaders of Thai anti-government protests were swiftly granted bail unconditionally on Friday after surrendering to police but have vowed new rallies, raising fears of mounting turmoil days after deadly street clashes.

The Court of Appeals quashed treason charges against the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders on Thursday and freed two already in custody on bail for the lesser offence of inciting unrest, which still carries up to seven years in jail

Chavalit Yongchaiyudh who resigned as deputy prime minister on Tuesday said that The problem can be solved by three institutions -- the monarchy, which remains politically neutral, the military, which appears to be not interested in intervening, and the government, which stays above the problem. And has view the answer is in a putsch.

The Appeals Court on Thursday quashed treason charges against the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders and revoked arrest warrants on the serious charges of insurrection, paving the way for the seven men, including PAD co-founder Sondhi, to give themselves up. Also Thursday, the Criminal Court freed two other PAD leaders, Chamlong Srimuang and Chaiwat Sinsuwong, on bail for the lesser offence of inciting unrest, which still carries up to seven years in jail, in a ruling greeted by jubilant PAD supporters at Government House as a victory.

The original arrest orders for treason were issued on Aug. 27, the day after PAD protesters armed with golf clubs, stakes and machetes stormed a state television station, broke into ministries and overran the prime minister's official compound. Police have denied PAD claims that they fired explosives into the crowd this week, insisting they only used teargas.

Meanwhile Thailand's Attorney General Friday seeks dissolution of ruling party, asked the country's Constitutional Court to rule on whether or not to dissolve the ruling People Power Party (PPP) follows the Supreme Court's conviction of deputy PPP leader Yongyut Tiyapairat, then House Speaker, for electoral fraud in July.
Under Thai law Yongyut's party must take collective responsibility for his wrongdoing. Thanapich Mulpruek, the Attorney General's spokesman referring to all those implicated in the vote-buying scheme seek In the petition to asked the court whether to either dissolve PPP and revoke the political rights of 37 party executives for five years or just revoke the rights of those executives involved in fraud.

Source: ChannelNewsAsia





videoVideo:Thailand protests spark troop deployment - 07 Oct 08

videoRiots in Thailand force Deputy PM to resign - 07 Oct 08

07 October 2008 Anti-government protesters on Tuesday trapped hundreds of Thai lawmakers and senators inside the parliament building, a minister said, forcing the prime minister to scale a fence to escape the mob. Police fired tear gas early Tuesday and were able to clear a road to allow the lawmakers access to the house for the special session but protesters regrouped and blocked parliament exits as the session went on. The gas disperse attempt injured 190 people as months of political turmoil boiled over into clashes. Angry mobs overturned police vehicles and fired guns. One man had his left foot amputated after it was injured in the chaos. A journalist was among the 190 people who received treatment. One female protester was killed during clashes, an official from a Bangkok hospital said, but did not reveal the cause of death. Eight police officers were shot or stabbed in the unrest, police said. A man was killed in a car bombing near the protest site, although police said it was unclear if the blast was linked to the violence.
Attempts by ministers and MPs to negotiate with protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) group were met with jeers from the crowd near the entrance to the building. Somchai was airlifted away by police helicopter and taken to army headquarters, an official inside the parliament building said. One of Thailand's five deputy prime ministers, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, resigned over the crackdown, saying his role as chief negotiator with the protesters had been compromised. Government medical officials said 394 people had been injured, with 49 hospitalised. Army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd told AFP that unarmed troops from the army, navy and air force were being deployed "across Bangkok, not just at the flash points, to maintain law and order". He also said the army was "concerned'' about the violence against unarmed protesters and that any serious injuries should be investigated. The protest alliance claims Thailand's rural majority _ who gave strong election victories to the ruling People's Power Party _ is too poorly educated to responsibly choose their representatives and says they are susceptible to vote buying. Chamlong, an ascetic Buddhist, is one of nine PAD leaders formally accused of inciting unrest and trying to overthrow the government after the PAD broke into various ministries and a state television station on Aug. 26. He was arrested after he left Government House, where he and thousands of anti-government protesters have been barricaded since late August, to vote in an election for the governor of Bangkok. Another PAD leader, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, remains in custody after being arrested on Friday. However, the remaining seven are still defying arrest behind their barricades inside the compound and vowing not to leave Source Channelnewsasia










17 Sep 2008 Somchai Wongsawat, brother-in-law to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, won a majority of votes in parliament Wednesday to become Thailand 's next prime minister, the house speaker said. Somchai won 298 votes in the 480-seat House of Representatives. Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva took 163 votes. Somchai Wongsawat, 61, married to Thaksin's politically powerful sister Yaowapa, called for reconciliation with the protesters who have occupied the prime minister's offices for the last three weeks in a bid to topple the government. The Stock Exchange of Thailand composite index was down 0.77 per cent after Somchai's election. Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva urged Somchai to step out of Thaksin's shadow and hold urgent talks with the anti-government protesters. The PAD protesters accuse the ruling party of acting as a proxy for Thaksin, whom they accuse of widespread corruption. Calling for a parliament where 70 per cent of seats would be appointed whichwould weaken the influence of rural voters still loyal to Thaksin for delivering universal health care and low-interest loans to areas long ignored by Bangkok's elite. Thaksin allies in the PPP are fighting their own separate battles, including a vote fraud case that could result in the disbanding of the party.
Source Channelnewsasia



14 September 2008 Thailand's acting prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat(brother-in-law of Thaksin Shinawatra), lifted the state of emergency in the capital Sunday amid an ongoing political crisis, as the ruling party holds talks to choose a new candidate to become premier. The ruling People Power Party (PPP) and its coalition partners now plan to nominate a new candidate among the 3(Sompong Amornviwat, deputy leader of the PPP, co-deputy PPP leader Somchai Wongsawat and secretary-general Surapong Suebwonglee. ) ahead of a vote in parliament on Wednesday by lawmakers for a prime minister. The demonstrators, representing Thailand's traditional elite, rejects all three (candidates from the PPP), claim that Samak and the three candidates to replace him are proxies for ousted premier, billionaire businessman Thaksin Shinawatra. Despite his exile, Thaksin still casts a long shadow over Thai politics with his supporters winning elections in December last year and the tycoon consulted about Samak's renomination last week for the top job. The activists are also pushing a broader agenda to scale back Thailand's democracy by reducing the influence of poor, rural voters, who gave Thaksin steadfast support for providing universal health care and low-interest loans. VIA


09 September 2008 The Constitutional Court ruled that Samak had violated the charter by receiving money for his "Tasting and Grumbling" and "All Set at 6 am" cooking programmes, ordered Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to resign but the governing coalition said it was ready to vote him back into office. Despite the ruling by the nine judges, Samak is not barred from standing again for prime minister, and his People Power Party (PPP) said its six-party coalition was prepared to elect him back to the premiership. Somsak Kosaisuk, one of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)leaders said the protest will continue the protest in doubt of whether the cabinet will listen to the law. They also want to curtail Thailand's democracy so that only 30 percent of seats in parliament would be elected, which they say would restrict the influence of poor rural voters who have widely supported Samak. VIA




Rationale of PAD wanting only 30 per cent of seats in parliament should be elected, with the rest appointed is to curtail Thailand's democracy so that only 30 per cent of seats in parliament would be elected, which they say would restrict the influence of poor rural voters in places like Udon Thani, who have widely supported Samak. PAD supporters say the change would ensure that Samak's allies cannot return to power.

Most politicians got elected because of votes-buying and return their investments by selling themselves to pass biased resolutions or corrupt budget bills. To win an election, an MP may have to pay about 10 to 30 million bahts for a price of one to five hundred bahts (10-15USD) per head. Unavoidably, military coup returned as vicious cycle. This vicious cycle is a never-ending story. During a relatively more democratic period, middle-class in the cities ignore the poor in the rural areas. Media accept bribes. Corruptions among buraucrats and politicians have been well accomodated in practices of businesses. When it is just over the limit, military would step in. Via

04 Sept. 2008 Thai PM refuses to resign or call elections
02 September 2008 Thailand declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, banning gatherings of more than five people in a bid to clamp down on anti-government protests that erupted into deadly clashes overnight, just hours after street fights broke out between thousands of supporters and opponents of embattled Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who has resisted mounting pressure to step down. One person was killed and dozens injured in the violence near the main government complex occupied for a week by activists who want Samak to resign, claiming he is merely a puppet for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The state of emergency also allows the authorities to detain suspects for seven days and would prohibit people from making illegal entries into government offices. Samak appointed the powerful army commander General Anupong Paojinda to head a special team tasked with enforcing the emergency decree, with the national police chief and Bangkok's regional army commander as his deputies. PAD gathers most of its support from Bangkok's traditional elite and a portion of the middle class. Its leaders openly disparage the merit of votes cast by the nation's rural poor, who have thrown their support behind Thaksin and now Samak.In addition to demanding that Samak resign, PAD wants an overhaul of Thailand's system of government, saying only 30 per cent of seats in parliament should be elected, with the rest appointed.VIA


The opposition forced a no-confidence vote while citing amendment of the Constitution to launder Thaksin[2], a failure to address rising food and gas, and a temple dispute with Cambodia. The street protest & disobedience by the PAD has their objective to block the amendment of constitution which has also been one primary way of Thaksin to launder himself and his TRT members from serious corruption charges. Another of PAD's objectives is to back up the courts and the justice system to justly carry out the judging of Thaksin's cases. While PM Samak has been successful to get the police and civil servants under control, various courts remain independent and have issued several verdicts. Constitution court judged that PPP's second-in-command head Yongyuth Tiyapairat, bought votes which would subject the party for resolving soon. Whereas constitution court and administrative court both ruled that his government seriously violated the constitution and might have affected the national soveriegnty in negotiating Preah Vihear Temple with Cambodia. The case brought a termination of his first foreigm minister, Nopadol Patama. Several other ministers found wrongfully informed the Anticorruption Board or Election Governing Board of important info, were discharged when got caught. PM Samak Sundaravej , through the majority in the house of parliament, has finished the budgeting bills for megaprojects. The deals cost so much that the King of Thailand for the first time spoke out to protect and to thank the head of the national bank of Thailand (under threats from the government) that the country was on the brink of disaster because of too high careless expenditures. PM Samak Sundaravej tried using hands of laws through civil charges, criminal charges and police force with violence to remove PAD from the government office on August 29.
However, PAD managed to get tempory reliefs from courts enabling them to legally continue the seige of the government office. Some more violence and a fatality clash with 40 people wounded occured when red NoPoKo supported by PPP party moved toward PAD at about 3am of September 2 without adequate police intervention. By the second of half of September 2008, PM Samak Sundaravej would be judged by several courts for his past actions. An appeal court verdict upon a several-years-ago criminal charge of slander could jail him. A constitutional court will return verdict upon a conflict of interest of him being a private employee while holding a PM position. Board of Anti-corruption may fire a charge of abuse of power in Preah Vihear case to Constitutional court. These all could instantaneously terminate PM Samak's political role. While fugitive ex-PM Thaksin and Pojaman would also face verdicts from supreme courts.







Thailand Worse than a coup Sep 4th 2008
Source: The Economist
An authoritarian rabble should not be allowed to turf out a deeply flawed but popularly elected government

STANDING up for democracy sometimes entails standing up for some unappealing democrats. Thailand’s pugnacious prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, is an especially hard man to defend. A ferocious rightist, Mr Samak was accused of inciting the policemen and vigilantes who slaughtered dozens of unarmed student protesters in Bangkok in 1976. On becoming prime minister following the election last December
that restored democratic rule after a 2006 coup, Mr Samak chose for his cabinet some of the most unsavoury figures linked to the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister deposed in the coup. But with the army on the streets of Bangkok again, Mr Samak is for once, if not in the right, then at least less wrong than those calling for his head. His government is deeply flawed. But it would be wrong and dangerous if the authoritarian rabble who have seized Government House in Bangkok forced it out of office. After violent clashes between supporters and opponents of the government, Mr Samak this week declared a state of emergency in
Bangkok (see article). The army chief backed his decision, but by mid-week was still ruling out the use of force to clear the squatters out. If the protesters, the woefully misnamed People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), do succeed, democracy in Thailand—not so long ago a beacon, by Asian standards, of pluralistic
politics—will be in grave danger. Some in the crowds at PAD rallies are liberals, appalled both at the abuses of power in Mr Thaksin’s government and the sad signs that Mr Samak’s is no better. The PAD’s leaders, however, are neither liberals nor democrats. A gruesome bunch of reactionary businessmen, generals and aristocrats, they demand not fresh elections, which they would lose, but “new politics”—in fact a return to old-fashioned authoritarian rule, with a mostly appointed parliament and powers for the army to step in when it chooses. They argue that the rural masses who favour Mr Thaksin and Mr Samak are too “ill-educated” to use their votes sensibly. This overlooks an inconvenient electoral truth: the two prime ministers had
genuinely popular policies, such as cheap health care and credit.

The palace and a Burmese road to ruin.
As in the build-up to the 2006 coup, PAD leaders are trying to oust a popular government on the bogus pretext of “saving” Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol from a supposed republican plot. Some of the PAD protesters reportedly believe their sit-in has the crown’s tacit backing. Almost anywhere else, the police would have removed them, forcibly if necessary, by now. But it is whispered that the PAD has protectors “on high”—hardline army generals and possibly figures in the royal palace (though not the king himself).

This may be nonsense; but by preventing the discussion and hence refutation of such royal rumours, Thailand’s harsh, much-abused lèse-majesté law has the ironic effect of helping them spread. In the official version of modern Thai history, the king is the great defender of peace and democracy, who comes to the rescue at moments of crisis. Now would seem to be one such moment: some wise words from the king could do much to defuse tension. Thais like to believe they are good at seeking compromise to avoid conflict. But there has been little sign of compromise in the past three years, and there is now the risk of a bad one. The elected government might be forced out of office to pacify the PAD’s demagogues, it might be made to share power with the undeserving opposition Democrat party, which has shown little leadership while waiting for power to be handed it on a plate, or, as in Bangladesh,
a civilian front might provide a cloak for de facto military rule. It is just possible to imagine a decent compromise in which Mr Samak gives way to a more emollient figure from the ruling coalition—and the PAD and its supporters in the army, the bureaucracy and (if they exist) the royal palace accept the verdict of the people. But the PAD’s leaders may well not stop until they have imposed their own, undemocratic vision of Thailand. In this sense they are even more pernicious than the coupmakers of 2006, who at least promised to restore elected government and,
under popular pressure, did so. Prosperous, modern and open, Thailand has so far inhabited a different era from the dark ages in which its dismal neighbour, Myanmar, languishes under a thuggish, isolationist junta. Thailand’s foreign friends should make clear to the Thai elite that toppling elected governments would be a step backwards. As Myanmar has found, it might also court sanctions. Foreign tourists, seeing the unchecked disorder on their television screens, including blockades of some airports, may soon be imposing a boycott of their own.



Video in reverse Chronological order

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04 Sept. 2008 Thai PM refuses to resign or call elections

video
Unions failed Wednessday,Sept 03, to act on calls for a general strike to cut Bangkok electricity and water supplies, apparently fearing it would do more harm than good in a battle to depose Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. After declaring a state of emergency by Mr Samak, the army refused to act to get protesters out of his office compound. Thitinan Pongsidhirak, political scientist at Chulalongkorn University said Samak may not able to hold his position on much longer.

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02Sept2008 Thailand declares state of emergency in Bangkok. Source: Channel NewsAsia

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No one was injured when a small bomb went off near Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's compound on Monday 01 Sept. Source: france24.com
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Defiant protesters scuffled with riot police in Bangkok on Friday 29thAug. Source: france24.com

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27thAug,2008 Thailand tries to put end to anti-govt protests. Despite government pleas, the threat of arrest, and even the onset of a tropical rain storm, protest leaders refused to budge. Hundreds of protesters briefly formed a human shield around the PAD's most vocal leaders -- media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul and retired general Chamlong Srimuang -- who sat on the ground in t-shirts reading "Fight for the king." Small scuffles broke out between police and protesters early Wednesday, but for most of the day the police deployed to the compound, some armed with batons and shields, kept away from the demonstrators.


video
Thai protesters seize state TV, surround govt buildings Tuesday 26thAug2008

video7th Sept 2008-Students mass protest for Mr.Samak to step down.

Samak Sundaravej,a well-articulated politician, accepted being the proxy head of fugitive Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra, is a life-long right-wing extremist. In 1973, he ran a prominent several-month-long propaganda, accusing democratic students' movements of being communist rebellious traitors and spies. The event ended in a massacre of hundred of students at Thammasat University in October 1973 and a millitary coup whereas he was awarded an interior minister position in the junta.


Thousands of Thai protesters broke through a barricade and spilled into the main government compound on Tuesday in their campaign to force out the prime minister, police and witnesses said. A coalition of anti-government groups claiming allegiance to the revered monarchy brought about 20,000 protesters onto the streets of Bangkok on Tuesday.





The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) claim Samak is running Thailand on behalf of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and is barred from holding office.Samak's People Power Party, which is made up of former allies of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is being investigated for electoral fraud which could see the Constitutional Court dissolve the party.

Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej accused protesters who stormed the seat of government on Tuesday of trying to provoke bloodshed and instigate another military coup. Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej told the nation he would only resign if a court ordered him to.

He reminded people that he was comfortably elected in polls last December which returned democracy to Thailand, and said he will seek arrest warrants for at least five of the key protest leaders.

Police will surround Government House, he said, and allow no one to enter until all the protesters have left.

Deputy national police spokesman Major General Surapol Tuanthong said they had been gathering evidence against five PAD leaders since May 25, and would seek arrest warrants on charges of illegal assembly and inciting unrest.

Since taking office, Samak has faced his own series of setbacks. Court decisions forced three top government officials to resign, while the ongoing PAD protests have helped push the stock market down nearly 18 percent since May.
The Thai stock market has fallen nearly 18 per cent since late May, and official figures released Monday showed economic growth had fallen from 6.1 per cent in the first quarter to 5.3 per cent in the second quarter.
VIA
Related Post: 8/07/08thaksin-goes-on-trial-for-corruption

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1 Comment:

BigCloud said...

The middle class in the cities ignore the poor in the rural areas ever since & claims the rural masses who favour Mr Thaksin and Mr Samak are too “ill-educated” to use their votes sensibly. Mr Thaksin and Mr Samak have genuinely popular policies, such as cheap health care and credit in rural areas.

Then Mr Thaksin seemingly take advantages of the poor vote for his personal wealth gain, notoriously seen on selling telecommunication shares to Temasek, a Singapore investor for about 70,000 million baht without paying tax. Samak & his PPP-leading government are deemed as equally corrupted & cronies of Mr. Thaksin.

Now the PAD consists of middle and upper-class Bangkokians and Southerners, supported by the conservative elite, factions of the Thai Army, and state-enterprise labor unions wants accountability and an end to the PPP-leading government with “new politics”—in fact a return to old-fashioned authoritarian rule, with a mostly appointed parliament and powers for the army to step in when it chooses.

Democracy is certainly not at its best here. Policies to uplift poverty by education & government financed agricultural projects are certainly needed.

The rural poors have obviously no confident in the PAD to take care of them!! They are the real losers at the end of the day with either PAD or PPP in governance!!

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