I would like to say thanks to:
An Army of Entertainers:
Last night the Reds tipped its petition drive to pardon Taksin with an announcement that about 5.4 million Thais have signed the petition. While that is a great many Thai, that should have humbled anyone and install some realism into their behavior, the Thai government apparently did not get the message.
Instead, today, on many government controlled TV channels-there were long advertisements for a series of entertainment events that will be stacked high to the sky with movie stars, singers and comedians.
And believe it or not, the words “Concert to Protect Thailand’s Highest Institution” was said several times.
Well, you can’t blame the government. Because all else had failed-like getting every village headmen in Thailand to talk to all the Thai villagers, or even video taping those that signed the petitions and following the important people back to their homes, or a practically 24 hour a day TV spots against the petition drive, and on and on and on……
But for a realistic picture of the reaction to the government attempt to scuttle Taksin’s petition drive, I would like to borrow the words of a few very popular bloggers in Thailand.
Who is Manipulating Who?
Thailand Political Prisoner, one of Thailand’s most popular blog, said: “Then Abhisit makes the startling claim that the highly publicized red shirt campaign is “manipulating innocent people.”
Abhisit adds, “We have to be cautious because these masterminds have complicated matters and people could fall victim to their provocations…”.
This seems a replay of the claim that Thaksin managed to manipulate or hoodwink people into voting for him and his supporters again, and again, and again. It seems Abhisit has learned little about on-the-ground politics.”
Blogger Ngan Says:
- Naganadeeleg, a popular neutral blogger who trashes both Taksin and Abhsit, has the following to say about the petition drive:
“The whole situation is surreal to me………..I have not seen the petition, but understand that a pardon is requested, yet that seems legally impossible because Thaksin has not served any time and fled the country to avoid jail……….The Government is now going gangbusters employing television, military, police & government resources to criticize the petition………..and they have the gall to accuse the reds of being divisive!”
BANGKOK (Reuters) – “Red-shirt” supporters of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra ended a rally in Bangkok on Saturday, claiming more than 5 million signatures for a petition seeking royal clemency for the fugitive billionaire.
Demonstrators from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) rallied overnight near Bangkok’s Grand Palace to support an appeal to King Bhumibol Adulyadej to allow Thaksin to return from exile a free man.
Nattawut Saikeu, a UDD leader, told supporters that 5,411,928 people had signed the petition by the time it closed at midnight on July 31.
“This is the fight to bring back democracy to the people and we will win in the end … We do not care if we are to die or be put in jail,” he told the crowd.
Thaksin won landslide election victories in 2001 and 2005 but was overthrown by the military in a 2006 coup. He was found guilty of corruption last October and sentenced in absentia to two years in prison.
He denies the charges and still commands a loyal following, especially among the rural poor.
Thaksin called in to the rally late on Friday and thanked all those who had signed the petition.
“I hope I can be among you soon. I am 60 this year and it is my hope that I can return home when I turn 61,” Thaksin told the cheering crowd estimated at about 30,000.
The petition, which may be submitted next week, calls on the 81-year-old king to pardon Thaksin to help pave the way for his political return.
The campaign has caused outrage among royalists and political opponents, who accuse Thaksin and his backers of insulting the revered monarch by trying to drag him into a political dispute.
King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, is officially above politics but has intervened at times of crisis.
The UDD has staged frequent rallies around the country demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resign and calling for new elections, which analysts say the Thaksin-backed Puea Thai party would be favourites to win.
Demonstrations by the “red shirts” turned violent in April and prompted Abhisit to declare a state of emergency in Bangkok in response to the country’s worst street clashes in 15 years.
The UDD says Abhisit is an illegitimate army stooge who came to power only with the help of military-orchestrated parliamentary defections from Thaksin’s side last year.
Blogger Nation State Says:
- Another blogger, The Nation State, has the following to say:
The Red Shirt’s royal petition to pardon former PM Thaksin certainly seems to have the Establishment running scared.
The government has responded in Orwellian fashion and will host a TV program on NBT to “improve public understanding of the issue of a royal pardon for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra” with the goal of informing people who “already signed in support of the petition could always withdraw their names once they have a better understanding“.
While the government’s awkward and fumbling efforts are reminiscent of recent moral panic campaigns aimed at karaoke bars and internet cafes or the simply bizarre MOSO campaign by the Internal Security Operations Command, the real problem is that it highlights the hypocrisy so ingrained in this Red vs. Yellow conflict.
Those who disingenuously preach that the king is above politics are the same people who draw power and use the throne to advance their own interests.
Aptly put by the Bangkok Pundit: “Needless to say the same people outraged today are the same ones who petitioned HM the King under Article 7 in 2006 to remove Thaksin. But of course that was a “good” petition unlike this one is “evil””
If some people can create a royal petition while others can not, one might ask; who does the palace really represent?
While it might be best to leave that as a rhetorical question to avoid running afoul of lese majeste laws, the Red’s petition certainly does expose the fundamental hypocrisy that is a core problem in this conflict.
Blogger Thailand Jumped the Shark Says:
- And Thailand Jumped the Shark, another popular blogger, says the following:
Remember, this is the same Democrat Party before the 2006 that was calling for the HMTK to dump Thaksin and install a royally appointed prime minister.
Remember, this is the same Democrat Party before the 2006 coup that was on stage with the PAD/Yellow shirts(an act of saying that God is on our side) saying that Thaksin was an enemy of the monarchy.
Remember, this is the same Democrat Party that has closed down 20,000 websites of its political enemies in the name of protecting the monarchy.
Remember, this is the same Democrat Party that uses state money to link itself to the King’s philosophies for political purposes.
Remember, this is the same Democrat Party that was championing the Finland Plot Conspiracy theory.
Remember, the Democrat Party was traditionally set up to act as the voice of conservative royalists in Thai politics.
Interestingly, if the petition drive is an affront to the monarchy, charge the leaders of the petition drive with lese majeste and chuck them in jail.
The fact is that there is a long tradition of Thai people petitioning the king. Who are the Democrats to say that a free people can’t petition their own king on any matter that they choose?
The king can always say no. He can stay quiet and say or do nothing.