Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The anti-coup and anti-Prem protests

I'm back! A few days ago my blog was locked by 'spambots' who somehow decided my blog was spam!!!

The shocking rumour

Towards the end of this week, an alarming and shocking piece of false news spread throughout my area via SMS. The topic was so sensitive that I don't want to detail it here.

About the same time, The Nation ran a headline that did not mention the rumour but gave clear information to show the rumour was false. I wonder if TN got wind of the gossip but didn't want to refer to it directly
due to the sensitive subject matter.

Did anyone else here this rumour? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please don't worry.

DAAD vs The Junta
Photo from The Nation

"Pa Prem" is still widely admired and held in great affection by many Thais, to see violent demonstrations outside his residence is cause for alarm...... (This interview is a giveaway of Prem's aged outlook on the world)

On the surface, we see a group calling for one man to protest. Under the skin, we see a whole lot of power plays and various interests colliding, resulting in friction.

As discussed in my "Matroskya" blog, Thailand - like all nations - engages politics on several levels. Some visible to the public, some hidden and protected. A prevalent example of this is the protest and subsequent key members arrest of the DAAD (Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship).

The DAAD are ostensibly a group of civilians against the coup and the coup leaders. They bear a striking similarity in appearance (colours, headbands, etc) and behaviour to the PAD (People's Alliance for Democracy) a group that staged frequent street marches against Thaksin when he was PM and widely credited as being instrumental in his downfall.

The DAAD however, are on the other side of the spectrum. They have strong ties to various elements of the now dissolved TRT party. One of the main speakers of the DAAD is Chakrapob Penkair. His recent interview in The Nation was passionate and shockingly open. Chakrapob spoke undauntedly about who he held responsible for the coup, and suggested Prem "is destroying democracy."

But of course, General Prem is the privy councillor in a country that reveres its king. Prem is widely considered to be a highly trusted aide of His Majesty the King , some even consider the views aired by Prem to reflect those of the palace. It's a tenuous, sensitive issue that has caused charges of lese majeste in the past.

During the build up to the coup of last year, Prem publicly made several comments apparently aimed at Thaksin, who responded by suggesting a "charismatic figure outside the constitution" was conspiring against him.

So when - after the coup - the people's groups against the junta began protesting against General Prem a
nd calling for him to reign his post, concerns were raised. The "mobs" have suggested that Prem engineered the coup and he must take responsibility.

It's hardly difficult to see the sensitivities of this issue. A group claiming that the octogenarian privy councillor engineered the coup alone is precarious. It sets a precedent for unrest between pro and ant
i Thaksin groups, aristocracy and working class, and tradition and progressive democracy.

A small portion of the demonstrators threw rocks and other objects, attacked vehicles and violently assaulted police. The face charges, as do the leaders of the group.

So what will the long term effect be on the country? Certainly the junta face more pressure, the demonstrations are gaining in frequency and attention, despite the junta's best attempts to play the "They are small in number and paid for by Thaksin the devil" card. What's more, the junta are taking a gamble by charging the group leaders, it can be perceived as suppression of freedom by many and simply increase sympathy for the group

Photo from The Nation Thailand

The junta have achieved little except to show they have no capacity or tolerance of protests, Prem is untouchable and they will deal with civilian protests not by arresting the few who cause violence, but by arresting the leaders such as the highly articulate Chakrapob to silence them.

My family has PAD connections. I am no fan of Thaksin, but as the military insult the intelligence of Thais by telling them every democracy group is "paid for by Thaksin", by dealing with every disturbance with intimidation, and by letting us know that Prem can behave as he likes without being held accountable, the tensions and disturbances can only increase.


Anonymous said...

What about this rumour? I find it highly frustrating that you mention it but don't give any details.

Please let everyone in on the secret or don't mention it at all.

Red and White said...

Hey, I find it frustrating when people comment anonymously but I let it ride :-)

I understand the frustration and I wouldn't normally do this but believe me, if you knew the rumour you'd understand why I can't broadcast it. Please trust me on that.