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Protesters begin boycott of firms linked to Thaksin

Some Thai anti-government protesters followed the advice of their leader yesterday, boycotting products of firms linked to the family of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and handing back mobile phone SIM cards.

The protesters have blocked main Bangkok intersections with tents, tyres and sandbags, seeking to unseat Ms Yingluck and end the influence of her billionaire brother, ousted and exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

They targeted businesses linked, or once linked, to the Shinawatra family, sending stock prices tumbling, heeding protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban's call to return SIM cards taken from the mobile phone company Advanced Info Service (AIS).

The company sent a text message to clients, saying the Shinawatra family had sold all their shares in it as far back as January 2006 and were no longer connected to it. "AIS is not involved in politics and is not a pipeline for any side," it said.

But Ms Aunjit Wongsampan, 65, lined up in central Bangkok to hand in her SIM card. "I think the signal is poor and I am changing it because the company is too wealthy," she said.

Ms Yingluck's supporters denounced the targeting of business when protests have already taken a toll on the economy and on tourism in particular, with arrivals in Bangkok sharply down.

Earlier in the week, about 500 anti-Thaksin protesters also gathered outside the Bangkok offices of SC Asset Corp, a property developer controlled by the Shinawatra family, waving Thai flags and blowing whistles. Ms Yingluck was executive chairwoman of the company before being swept to power in a landslide election victory in 2011.

SC Asset's share price has lost almost 10 per cent since Wednesday and mobile handset distributor M-Link Asia Corp , which also has links to the family, lost 12 per cent. - Reuters.