Journalism: Nation newspaper journalist asks “Will Election Solve Thailand’s Problems?

By Ranger, Thai Intel’s political journalist

Yesterday, I ran into a Red Shirts who leads a group of very dedicated Red Shirts protesters. “How was the Bonanza Concert?” I asked of a big concert the Red Shirts just held.

“We protested one of the leaders who caved in to the military before the crackdown,” she said.

I was shocked, the news that came out on all the Red Shirts controlled media is that the leaders were united again. But the fact is, as she showed me her video clip of the Bonanza concert, indeed there was a lot of booing of a Red Shirts leader-who disappeared before the crackdown-when he took the stage.

“We stopped booing when the other leaders took the stage,” she said.

There is this “Quiet Self-Assurance and Confidence” with the Amart (royalist, elite and military rulers of Thailand) that the Red Shirts have some-how been tamed and that the event of last year-like the pro-longed protest will not happen again.

In fact, this next very much “Fixed” election-is very much not respected by the Red Shirts-who in fact, again, wants to boycott it.

It is really three things only, why the Red Shirts are going along-and that is because the Red Shirts leaders are going along with the election, then Taksin wants the election and also the Pheu Thai Party wants the election.

But the fact is, the rank and files does not want an election-but accountability of the about 100 dead Red Shirts.

Will the election solve anything in Thailand?

That girl who shocked me with her video of the Bonanza concert, told me, quote:

“There is going to be a massive prolonged protest in the middle of Bangkok coming up soon to demand for accountability for the killing of the Red Shirts protesters.”

If that is true, Thai Intel’s bottom line analysis, is that this is just the “Resting Period” in Thai politics-and just the “Eye of the Storm.”

The following is from the Nation:

After they parted some years ago when his trusted sidekick left his Chart Thai Party for the much more attractive Thai Rak Thai Party, Banharn Silpa-acha said his ties with Newin Chidchob were over and done with.

That was just over a decade ago. But over a recent dinner between the Bhumjai Thai and Chart Thai Pattana parties, the two political veterans basically kissed and made up as their henchmen shook hands. So much for Thai gutter politics, where there is no such thing as a true enemy or true friend.
They say nothing lasts forever, and this is so true in Thai politics. This is because none of our politicians or political parties operate on principles. Vested interests are the only mode of operation for most, if not all.

But this doesn’t mean the public should give up completely on national politics and not turn up at the polling stations when the next general election comes around in June or July.

The incumbent Democrat Party, the leader of the coalition, will go up against the opposition Pheu Thai Party in what is expected to be a fierce fight in which both sides play for keeps. Afraid of being sidelined when the dust finally settles, Banharn and Newin have apparently decided to bury the hatchet and form an alliance. The partnership is said to go under the slogan, “United We Go.” But how far the two sides are actually willing to “go” remains to be seen.

But the upcoming poll is about much more than politics as usual. So much hope is pinned on this next election ― the hope that it will put to rest the bloodless 2006 coup and the political bloodshed that ensued last year.

So many lives have been lost and so much property destroyed because of the political standoff between various political factions and cliques. It has spilled over into the public realm and triggered social movements that have risen up to demand an end to business as usual.

The two leading forces ― the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) yellow shirts, and the red shirts ― both behave as if they are on a mission from God.

The tactical alliance between the Democrats and the nationalist elements in the yellow movement didn’t last, as the latter faction has turned against them over the government’s handling of the Cambodian border dispute.

The red shirts, on the other hand, rally behind Thaksin Shinawatra, possibly Thailand’s most controversial politician ever. The telecommunications tycoon has become Thailand’s most notorious fugitive, but he still continues to tap into the red shirts’ grievances.

The grassroots red shirts are referred to as “prai”, or peasants, but all their so-called leaders are all wealthy politicians doubling as Thaksin’s cronies. These men and women take orders from the fugitive billionaire, who has been permitted to bring Thailand to its knees in his relentless attempt to clear his name of corruption charges and get back his confiscated money.

It is not that the red shirts are unable to see through this hypocritical arrangement. It is just a matter of political convenience that such a union has to take place. And like the yellow-shirt-Democrat Party alliance, the Pheu Thai-red shirt pact will eventually crumble after the alliance has outlived its usefulness.

It is hoped that the red shirts will be able to make a positive impact on the necessary political and social changes this country must go through, without causing any more bloodshed. Thailand is an extremely unequal society in many respects and the red-shirt movement is a consequence of that. But change doesn’t come easy, and jumping into bed with Thaksin’s cronies will not help the red shirts. If anything, it undermines their cause.

In addition, it is hoped that the military will not use questionable force to crush any further outbreaks of disorder, and learn that their place is in the barracks, not in the political realm. Finally, it is hoped that, difficult as it may be, justice will prevail for all sides.


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