Friday, April 17, 2009

The latest postmortem

"In war there are no winners, only losers" is how the old saying goes, but I've never believed this to be true. There are winners, usually the rich,powerful leaders who can be sure they have lost no loved ones in the horror that preceded the victory.

But if the ongoing conflict in Thailand can be called a war, then it is truly perplexing to anyone searching for a victor.

Thaksin is certainly no better off after the week of violence. His appearance on Sky News was bizarre, reports state the ex-PM seemed rambling and disoriented, most likely due to a lack of sleep. The "revolution" called for by Thaksin has not materialised. In its place is a self-imposed exile without a passport. Thaksin may be able to get by with a passport from another country or simply by relying on his fortune to "solve" problems at the border but its a risky ploy. Any country seen to assist Thaksin too much will create a lot of problems with equally powerful people Thailand and not every immigration border is corrupt.One can only wonder how Thaksin's family feel about being forced to flee the motherland, too.

Aphisit has fared little better. From the start, international media have question just how in control the young leader has been, and the decisive action demanded by non-reds was slow in coming, so slow that the forced cancellation of ASEAN was a massive loss of face for the leadership, regardless of the sympathetic noises made by other national leaders. Equally damaging was the sudden appearance of 'blue shirt' thugs, that just happened to materialise around eh same time Newin Chidchob appeared in Pattaya.

The red-shirts themselves failed to achieve their objective and feel victim to public disapproval as cameras caught what can only be described as terrorist figures torching stolen buses.

The Thai police, yet again, seemed to stand around, equipped with expensive looking riot gear and police vans, looking utterly useless.

The PAD made angry noises yet stayed on the sidelines, quite possibly after some pleading by other players in the gate.

The Thai courts took remarkably decisive action against UDD leaders hats served only to highlight their lack of similar action against those who sieged Bangkok Airport for days.

Yet perhaps the greatest irony of all is that the only unit to emerge with any credit or public appreciation is the military. After bungled operations elsewhere, the clearance of Bangkok was handled reasonably well and came with thanks from any members of the public.

One can only imagine how people would feel about the military if they had not staged the coup that triggered this whole domino sequence in the first place.


The popular attitude towards the DAAD and PAD amongst the Thai public seems to be "They're as bad as each other" which I find to be a somewhat lazy supposition. The DAAD have generally not resorted to the violence adopted by the PAD. The torching of buses was clearly the action by a renegade few and the inconvenience to the public actually came with an apology and a clear - and viable explanation - that it was short term suffering for a brighter future.

And some may feel this is true. Those with Thai children can make a simple analysis - imagine the PAD win the struggle; how will Thailand be in thirty year's time? Will your children be better off? Now imagine if the DAAD win their objectives; would Thailand be ore democratically stable twenty years down the line? I believe it would.

Anyone who thinks I support or like Thaksin clearly has not read much of my previous work. Thaksin is interested only in his frozen assets and would be a dangerous man to have as PM, this is why it is crucial the red shirt faction grow to something bigger and more visionary than the return of Thaksin. They must expand to a true movement of people who wan a c lean democracy without interference, they must achieve this by weight of numbers and not weight of violence or burned buses. No other method can achieve a better future.


hobby said...

Disagree that UDD is less violent - here are a few examples:
- Arisamun inciting reds to find Abhisit at the ASEAN summit and 'do what you want with him'
- Attacking PM's car at interior ministry
- Incitement from leaders on stage and via video link

Both have a propensity to violence, although the yellow leaders were arguably more in control, and much of their violence can be attributed to self defence/paranoia after being attacked by reds previously.

btw, I'm trying not to take sides, but frankly your statement astounded me.

Anonymous said...

You say: "The UDD have generally not resorted to the violence adopted by the PAD"

That seems to be a rather lazy supposition by yourself, no?

excerpt from HRW:

"On April 12, about 50 UDD members protesting the state of emergency and the arrest of one of their leaders, Arisman Pongruangrong, forced their way into the Interior Ministry in Bangkok, where Abhisit was meeting with senior government officials. They attacked the prime minister's motorcade as he tried to leave the compound. Live news coverage showed protesters smashing the windshields with concrete blocks and flagpoles. The protesters dragged passengers out of cars and beat them, and injured and briefly detained a number of officials, including the prime minister's secretary-general, Niphon Prompan.

Human Rights Watch investigations have found that street fighting began in Bangkok on April 13 at about 4:30 a.m. when protesters, who had been blocking main intersections in the Din Daeng area with buses and taxis, attacked approaching soldiers with guns, Molotov bombs, improvised grenades, slingshots, and rocks. Soldiers used teargas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters and clear the blockades. News footage and accounts by witnesses show that while most of the guns were fired into the air, some soldiers fired their assault rifles directly at the protesters.

The protesters seized more than 50 passenger buses and tried to run over soldiers. Some buses were burned and used as barricades. The protesters also threatened to blow up trucks with liquefied petroleum gas near residential areas and hospitals. Clashes spilled into other parts of Bangkok through the next morning. The tactics used by the protesters enraged many Bangkok residents, who then formed neighborhood watch groups and sided with the soldiers.

On April 14, hundreds of heavily armed soldiers moved in on the UDD stronghold in front of Government House. Just before 11 a.m. the protest leaders, saying they were concerned for the safety of the protesters, announced an end to the protests and told their members to disperse. Veera Musikhapong and other UDD leaders then surrendered to the police.

"Whatever its legitimate grievances, the UDD under Thaksin's leadership tried for weeks to provoke a violent government response to advance its political goals," said Adams. "The UDD should understand that it can't both commit violent attacks and claim to be a peaceful political movement.""


The red shirt violent history is a long one... remember the breaking up of gay parade? the murder of the father of a PAD allied community radio operator? the raiding of a Santi Asoke temple? the Udon incident?

please also see another summary of red shirt violence here: