History: Tracing Thailand’s current explosive political situation; now back to origin

English: Democracy Monument in Bangkok Thailand

English: Democracy Monument in Bangkok Thailand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Introduction:

The Thai political mess has heated to the boiling point again, with Abhisit‘s Dems leading about 15,000 to 25,000 protesters at the Democracy Moniment, where years earlier, Abhisit’s dems went killing many protesters there. Abhisit’s Dems of course, serves the anti Democracy Thai elite establishment. The Abhisit’s Dems gathering at the Democracy Monument, in historical terms, is an insult to all those that have been killed by the elite establishment in the past, in their struggle to bring Democracy to Thailand. At the Abhisit’s Dems protest, the latest is that a number of police were attacked and hospitalized.

I a few days, the Thai Red Shirts are gathering at the National Stadium. Last time that happened, the seats was a maximum capacity, and the sports field below was also filed to maximum capacity. Outside the stadium, was also packed. No numbers were given, but some estimate the gathering drew about 80,000 to 120,000 Thai Red Shirts.

1)

Violent Rubber Farmers Enter Scene

Several local press reports the violent rubber farmers have joined the Abhisit‘s Dems, Suthep lead, protest at the Democracy monument. Local pictures show the violent rubber farmers being bused into Bangkok and appearing on the stage at the Democracy Monument. Earlier, in Southern Thailand, the rubber farmers were seen is several violent act, such as stealing massive large trucks filled with gas, and used the trucks to to block roads. The violent also included the rubber farmers attacking police with acid bags, injuring some 20 to 30 police officers. The violence also included burning down about 10 police cars and trucks. About 15,000 to 25,000 protester are at the Democracy Monument, depending on the time. The protest started out as a protest against the Amnesty Bill, but many neutral observer said the protest was targeting to topple Yingluck, using the Amnesty Bill, only as an excuse. The Thai intelligence apparatus have warned of the 3rd hand, taking advantage of the situation, in causing violence to blame the government. But with the addition of the violent rubber farmers to the protest, the situation is now highly explosive. The rubber farmers come from mostly Southern Thailand, a Abhisit’s Dems strong voter based. More and more under-cover police observing at protest, have been identified, and beaten up by the crowd.

2)

Judicialization of Thailand & Civil War Potential

Deep division between the Red Shirts and Yingluck‘s Pheu Thai Party was put aside for now, as Sondhi of the Yellow Shirts, called on preparation to ask the Thai King, to grant Thailand a government. That Sondhi call, where Sondhi is considered the key strategist of the elite establishment, comes as the Thai Constitutional Court, in the midst of the anti Amnesty Bill political up-heaval last week, made a statement that it will decide if Parliament amending the constitution to require Senators to be elected, if it is against the constitution. If the constitutional court rule that it is not legal, one possible outcome is the kicking out of office most MPs and Senators in Parliament. The Thai Constitutional Court is controlled by the elite. According to the theory going around, that emptying Parliament of MPs and Senators, will leave a political vacuum. That political vacuum, argues many, is where Sondhi’s request to the Thai King will come in. Most neutral observer, says the Red Shirts will not sit aside, as Democracy and the Yinghluck government is torn down. That will in effect leave the Red Shirts and the Abhisit’s Dems voter base, still charged up over the Amnesty Bill by Abhisit Dems, to confront each other, along with remnants of the fascist in Thailand that will assist Abhisit’s Dems voter base. One intelligence agency estimate put the death, in event of a civil war, at about 5,000 to 10,000 Thais. The Red Shirts have gathered in different parts of Thailand, with the numbers being about 50,000 to 100,000.

3)

Civil Disobedient Rejected

Several local press reports, Suthep, leading the protest to topple Yingluck, have called on the Thais to pay no tax and for state enterprise unions to cut utilities to the government, in a move of civil disobedience. However, is the call legitimate civil disobedience or just plain insanity. One answer, is that the Thai chambers of commerce, have said that paying tax is the duty of the Thai people and the chamber opposes the Suthep call. And on state enterprise union cutting utilities to government agencies, the government have came out and say in response that the unions should not hurt the reputation of their respected state enterprise. The Thai state enterprise unions have been infiltrated by the Fascist. Suthep also called on the Thais to stop working. It is un-clear which century is Suthep planning to take Thailand back to. But perhaps real estate companies, should start looking at caves.

4)

New York Times and Asian Correspondent Looks at the Abhisit’s Dems Protest

As Thai Intel have said before, the anti Amnesty Bill, is just a tool being used by Abhisit’s Dems, to topple the Yingluck’s government:

  • The following is from the New York Times

With thousands of antigovernment protesters in the streets of Bangkok on Monday, Thailand’s opposition announced a campaign of civil disobedience, including a three-day general strike later this week and a call for businesses to delay paying their taxes.

The protests against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra signaled a return to the fractious and volatile politics that destabilized Thailand several years ago. At least four large demonstrations were held simultaneously across Bangkok on Monday, closing schools and stoking fears of clashes between rival groups.

“I would like to urge all Thais to fight with the people so that a great, absolute and sustainable victory belongs to Thailand,” Suthep Thaugsuban, a protest leader and senior member of the opposition Democrat Party, told a crowd of thousands on Monday.

It was not yet clear late on Monday evening whether his call for a general strike Wednesday through Friday would be widely heeded.

The initial spark for the protests, which began a week ago, was an amnesty bill proposed by the government that would have eased the return of Thaksin Shinawatra, a polarizing figure who was ousted as prime minister in a 2006 military coup. The lower house of Parliament passed the bill earlier this month, but the Senate decisively rejected it on Monday.

“The opposition to the amnesty bill has been deep and wide,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “It has now escalated into an effort to overthrow the government.”

The protests have rattled the government of Ms. Yingluck, Mr. Thaksin’s sister. The prime minister has said repeatedly that if the amnesty bill is defeated, it will not be considered in Parliament again, and she has pleaded with protesters to stop their demonstrations.

The bill initially angered many of the governing party’s supporters, known as the red shirts, because along with pardoning Mr. Thaksin in the corruption cases he faces, it would have offered amnesty to those responsible for the bloody crackdown on his followers in 2010. But the majority of red shirts appeared to have swung back to the government’s side, and they staged their own rally with tens of thousands of people on Sunday and another in northeastern Thailand on Monday.

Thai politics, which until recently had enjoyed relative calm under Ms. Yingluck’s more than two years in office, appear to have returned to the polarized and unpredictable deadlock between opponents and supporters of Mr. Thaksin.

One of Mr. Thaksin’s main rivals, Sondhi Limthongkul, described the political conflict on Monday as a battle of good and evil. In a measure of the frustration with Thailand’s political problems, he repeated a call to return political power to Thailand’s king. “I think Thailand must suspend the role of politicians for at least two to three years,” he said. He asserted that Mr. Thaksin was exercising power from abroad, including deciding who got major appointments in the government.

Mr. Thaksin, the de facto leader of the governing party, Pheu Thai, has been weakened by the amnesty controversy, Mr. Thitinan said. But Pheu Thai retained strong support, especially in northeastern Thailand, where a third of the electorate lives, Mr. Thitinan said.

Mr. Thaksin is “farther away than ever from coming home,” Mr. Thitinan said. “But the avenues to his return are not totally closed.”

  • The following is in part, from Asian Correspondent: (Source)

By Kaewmala;

There is not much to be exposed for the opposition party, the Democrats, for they have made it clear what they want—to get rid of the government by any means necessary, including extra-parliamentary and undemocratic means. But some things that the Democrat leaders have said in the past few days confirm that truth and reconciliation is just a concept with no practical use.

No more pretense for the rule of law, Suthep told his supporters it was up to them to judge what to do with the tyrants—Thaksin and Yingluck. Suthep’s announced plan for a “people’s court” to be set up on the street today shows the disdain for constitutional provisions establishing the Thai legal system. Given the high level of emotions that is a minor detail. To heighten the frenzy of distrust and hatred further Suthep has also said (without providing sources or evidence to back the claim) the government is plotting to use snipers on him and the Democrat protesters. And perhaps in response to many chuckles at him leading a protest against corruption, he has ensured his party’s supporters that he “never cheated” in his political life. (Surely he has never lied either.)

The words of the Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva spoken on the rally stage last night show that he exists in an alternate reality. “If there is even one dead protester, don’t even hope to continue living in this land, the whole [Shinawatra] clan!,” shouted the former prime minister who presided over and refused to take any responsibility for the protest crackdowns that left over 90 people dead in 2010. Perhaps Abhisit believed Suthep’s tale that the protesters “ran into bullets,” despite court findings of at least some deaths at the hand of security forces.

 The beautifully organized whistle-blowing flash mobs started out with a “No to Blanket Amnesty” slogan but the loud shouts quickly turned into “Get out.” It’s transparent behind the kill-bill whistles and lunch-time photo-ops lies more hatred for one man than a care for democracy and justice for all. The anti-amnesty whistle-blowers are photogenic, but listening more closely their words one realizes appearances of intelligence and education can be deceptive. Inside the elevated mood of the street demonstrators festers an elevated sense of self-righteousness, shallow slogans, and nauseating narcissism.

The whistle blowing protesters have been telling each other and anyone who would listen that theirs is a protest by “good people,” “not brutes.” “We are rich and educated,” they said, not tools of corrupt politicians (like the poor, uneducated, not-good, uncouth people on the other side). Some put their thoughts onto personal placards to make sure the world knows: “I am not hired because my salary is big,” “my family is rich,” etc. As though being rich, privileged, well-groomed and well-dressed with a monthly salary were requirements for justice and democracy.

Scratch the surface of this inflated self-image and find the contempt for the opposite of “us.” Parallel to the pathological obsession with Thaksin’s evils is the glaring omission of the evils of those on their side, and the loss—deaths and suffering—of the fellow women and men on the other side. Within their black and white, self-absorbed world, there is no room for empathy.

“Chulalongkorn students holding a protest banner: “[The ones who cheated, who killed, who burned, gave themselves an amnesty.”

The so-called guardians of democracy have shown their true colors too in bright neon especially on Sunday, when the group of appointed Senators boycotted the senate meeting to deliberate the bill, although doing so would help solve the problem according to the rules of parliamentary democracy and calm down the situation. But that apparently was not their role.

Rosana Tositrakul, a key member the Group of 40 Senators, said the group refused to attend the meeting because the amnesty bill was “the government’s problem,” not the Senate’s “burden.” Shortly after she told the press that the situation has already “gone beyond amnesty bill”, calling the government to dissolve parliament, echoing calls by some supporters of the opposition. This foot dragging coincided with Suthep’s plan to keep the anti-government/amnesty protests going strong until Monday evening for the much awaited ruling on Preah Vihear by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on late Monday, which is expected or hoped to be add more fuel to the anti-government fire.

Many institutional anti-amnesty groups’ swift and loud condemnation of Pheu Thai’s ill-conceived amnesty bill is a stark contrast to their deafening silence when the coup makers gave themselves a complete amnesty written in the Constitution (Article 309). In fact, some behind their institutions’ stance against the amnesty were drafting committee of the post-coup Constitution. The fact that Thammasat University students were holding a protest banner calling for military cadets to join them in protest suggests that a course on irony ought to be required at the university.

Thammasat University students holding a protest banner: “Yellow-Red (Thammasat) are here. Where are Red-Yellow (Military Cadet Academy)? (The colors here refer to institutional colors, not political colors.)

Youthful ignorance and bias can be easily forgiven, but in esteemed adults the ignorance and bias injures credibility. That 63 judges actually signed a public petition against a proposed law pending in the legislature was staggering. It shows just how Thai judiciary still has a long way to go before it can expect judicial impartiality. And what with the former foreign minister and ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan comparing the Pheu Thai government to the Hitler dictatorship? One would have thought a person of his experience and stature would know better than that.

5)

Bangkokians Accepts the Economic Cost

A few years back, when the Red Shirts occupied the shopping area of Rajprasong, the majority of the people of Bangkok were out-raged at the Red Shirts protesters, saying the protest was hurting the economy. During that protest, many Red Shirts noted, that the people of Bangkok, years earlier, mostly supported the Yellow Shirts occupation of the airport, and brush aside the US$ billions of damage to the Thai economy. Some Red Shirts are noting the same again, as the Thai central bank chief, said a few days ago, that Thai economy is starting to get hurt from the protest, yet silence from the Bangkokians on the negative impact of their protest on the economy. It must also be noted, that one of the major rationale on the call by the majority of Bangkok people, to stop the Red Shirts protest at Rajprasong, was because of the damage to the economy. That crack-down, saw about 100 protesters killed.

6)

Red Shirts Gather to Beef-Up Yingluck’s Government

About 80,000 to 100,000 Red Shirts Thais have rallied at Muang Thong Thani Sunday evening in support of the government. After they rallied at Ratchaprasong in the morning, the red shirts move to demonstrate at the purpose ground of Muang Thong Thani. They said the rally was held to protect democracy. The rally was held after many groups of people, namely the anti Thaksin and anti Yingluck‘s Abhisit’s Dems voter base in Bangkok, came out on streets to protest against the amnesty bill. Many neutral observer says the protest against the Amnesty bill, is just an excuse by Abhisit Dems to topple the government, however, the amnesty bill had to a certain extent alienated the Red Shirts from its ally to the government, as most Red Shirts is oppose to Abhisit being granted amnesty, from his government killing of the Red Shirts protesters. There are several protest in Bangkok currently, one at the Democracy Monument, by Abhisit’s Dems and the Fascist near the center of Thailand’s governing center, and today’s Red Shirts. All the protest comes ahead of the potentially divisive and explosive ruling by the World Court tomorrow on the Thai Cambodia ruling. The Thai elite establishment, and its various independent units is waiting for the best time, if it occur, to kick Yingluck out of office. A group of Fascist has set up a protest near the Cambodia border.

(Up-Date 1) About 50K to 80K Red Shirts Thais in the Issan region city of Kon Keng have gathered to support the Yingluck government. (Up-Date 2) About 40K to 60K Red Shirts Thais in Northern Thailand have gathered to support Yingluck’s government. (Up-Date 3) About 30K to 50K Red Shirts Thais gathered at Samut Prakarn last night. (Up-Date 4) About 10K to 20K Red Shirts gathered at Chonburi, near Pattaya lest night)

7)

2006 Coup head Calls for Forgiveness & Reconciliation

Well, you really can not blame people and attach them to their past forever, no matter what they did. Sooner or later, one just got to “Forgive and Reconcile” otherwise, there is just no chance for development. Several local press reports, the man who staged the 2006 coup against Thaksin, Sondhi, in responding to the current situation, said he wish Thais would forgive each other, and reconcile their differences. While everyone is focusing on the amnesty bill being about Thaksin, of course, few are talking about how the military, wrote into the military constitution, that their coup action, past or future, is all not against the law, and thus basically gave themselves “Blanket Forgiveness.” And yet, beside all the legal and political issues, sides and shape, fundamentally how are we to view, the military, helping the Abhisit kill the Red Shirts protesters? Can we ever forgive them?

Fundamentally, if the military have learn a lesson, from the killing of the protesters, recently and in the past, and not to do it again, then perhaps, we should forgive them. It might be difficult to understand, if you have little understanding of the military, but fundamentally, what many said, is that the military, should have not bring “Hard core, jungle soldier” to be involved in controlling protest, as the clash of differences is just way too much, and violence is almost certain. Hard core jungle soldiers, are trained to be at the forefront of battle grounds, ready to sacrifice their lives for the country, in defense of the country. When one brings such soldiers to the middle of Bangkok, confronting a protesting people, and like the Abhisit’s government did, painting the protesters as enemy of the country, that is the worse situation that can occur.

How do we judge, if the military have learned a lesson or not? Well, it is difficult but inside the military, there are those calling for democratic governance inside the military. Unfortunately, those voice, is being silence, by Prayuth, the current army chief. And Prayuth, have elevated, for a variety of reasons, the soldiers who were active in the killing of the Red Shirts protesters. And thus, overall, while I agree with Sondhi, about “Forgiveness and Reconciliation” to forgive Prayuth, it will require, some solid proof, that the Thai military, is moving towards some “Democratic Governance.”

8)

Old Theory! Provincial Thais select government, Bangkok Thais destroy Government

Well, if you know Thailand, there has always been the theory about how people outside of Bangkok, in Thailand, are the ones to create the government, and the people of Bangkok, are the ones that destroys the government. So here we go again, as the government that won the last election from most of the people, outside of Bangkok, delivered a government to Bangkok, the Bangkok people are busy tearing down the government. The roots of it all is of course, that before Thaksin, the Bangkok people basically cornered all the power. But after Thaksin, power was shared and the Bangkok elite, which of course control most of the Bangkok people, was not happy to share the power. The current protest in Bangkok, if you were to look beyond the head-line, are about 80% to 90% being the old gangs and old people, that have always been anti Thaksin and anti Yingluck, from the universities, to the Silom crowd and of course, to the Abhisit’s Dems voter based at the Democracy Monument. Other, are of course, splinters of the elite, like the independent units and justice system, along with the various shades of the Fascist.

9)

Artist and Doctors Ballistics on Politics

Well, globally, in most democracies, most artist and doctors, are all for the liberal type of thinking, cutting-edge, about reconciling and forgiveness on a host of subjects they touch. But in Thailand, the Thai artists association and the doctors are all for condemning people to their past, and so one can forget about ever being forgiven. No amnesty for anyone, like probably never even heard of Amnesty International.

Actually, with this type of thinking, is probably why, Thailand still has death penalty and  lese majeste. And of course, how can anyone forget, how some hospitals, like Chula, say they will not treat people, hurt in the Abhisit‘s crack-down on the Red Shirts, and now at the same hospital, say they will not treat police, if injured from the various topple Yingluck protest.

10)

Opportunist Court and Anti Corruption Body

The elite’s control Thai court system and the elite’s control anti corruption unit are both making moves, to take advantage of the movement against the amnesty bill, to come out accepted and popular. Local press reports the Thai court system spokesman, has OK, for judges, to participate in the protest against the amnesty bill. The press also reports the anti corruption unit, is to petition to the UN’s that the Thai amnesty bill is against Thailand’s agreement with international convention, on anti corruption. It is quite remarkable, how any justice system in the world, can allow its judges to go on protest, against a legislature by Parliament. And it quite remarkable, how Thailand’s anti corruption unit, long known for working for the elite establishment, is inciting corruption, to the United Nations.

11)

Yingluck’s Bold Goals

Many local and global press talks about how Yingluck, with little experience in politics, was able to swept the last general election, by a land-slide, saying she bought votes with populous policy. Other, with cutting-edge analytical skill, said however, Yingluck is a sharp and cunning political operative, with her three main campaign message, being to bring Democracy, Reconciliation and Populous Policy to Thailand, struck by massive acceptance, with the main life blood of wishes, by the Thai people.

The problem for Yingluck, since coming to power about two years ago, is how to deliver those goals, that the majority of the Thai people want, against a torrent of nasty history, from an an anti democracy elite establishment and a Thai people, many clinging on to the past and not letting go. Then there is the populous policy, increasingly, unsustainable. Some argue, those three policy promised by Yingluck, are the building block for a better Thai future, offering synergy among the policies.

The saying that most successful people will tell you, when goals are challenged and the road to success looks dim, is that success, is not letting failure stop one’s mission, but success, is marching on, despite all the bad odds. Are Yingluck’s campaign promises, again, to bring Democracy, Reconciliation and Populous Policy, way too much to hope for in Thailand? It has been about 10 years now, since the Thai political crisis had started, and like it or not, those 10 years has been Thailand’s lost years, damaging Thailand, to put it in numbers, many trillions upon trillions of US$, as Thailand at best, for that past 10 years, just stood frozen in place, with little development. And again, that ugly cycle of killing people by the elite establishment.

What strikes me, as I look at the current political mess in Thailand, believe it or not, it looks increasingly similar, to the beginning of that 10 years crisis, all over again. Whatever you want to call it, protest against amnesty or whatever, basically, for everyone, Red or Yellow, and all political shades, it has again boiled down and erupted, all about the Thaksin problem.

To the establishment, as always, hate Thaksin keeps them alive with hope of not loosing Thailand to Democracy, Liberty and Justice. And to those who cherish Democracy, Liberty and Justice, as always, Thaksin is too controversial and damaging to be offered those values.  To all sides, Thaksin is basically a sacrificial lamb, and in a Christian context, Thaksin, is basically offered to to Gods, in hope, of keeping everyone happy dreaming about their goals, and to be in God‘s good light.

The problem is when will Thailand get over, its obsession with Thaksin, and move towards Democracy, Reconciliation and with some adjustments, a sustainable populous policy? Two years ago, that was the wishes of the majority of the Thai people. Will Yingluck fail the Thai people? Is she capable of maneuvering, pass the dark gathering clouds and deliver the Thai people, to better days, and not just a repeat of yesterdays?

12)

Intelligence says All Protest Group Linked in Trying to Topple Yingluck

Several Thai press report Thailand’s National Security head, Paradon, saying that all protester groups are linked in trying to topple Yingluck. Currently, there are about 2,000 protesters at the Urapong intersection, backed by Abhisit’s Bangkok Governor, Sukhumphan top advisers. Then there are the Southern rubber protesters, backed by several of Abhisit Dems Southern MPs, blocking roads, with about 1,000 people active, in the Southern Region that supports Abhisit’s Dems. Then there was about 8,000 to 10,000 protesters last night, at Samsen train station directly organized by Abhisit’s Dems, where several Dems MPs resigned from the party’s ruling committee, to take active role in the protest, to circumvent legal entanglement that can hurt the party. About the only group of protesters, where the link to Abhisit’s Dems is less pronounced, is the White Mask, numbering about 5,000, that is linked to Sukhumphan, only in that the protester leaders have used cars belonging to the city of Bangkok to lead the protest. Then there is the Lumpini Park Fascist protesters, numbering about 500, but can get fresh support from th normally violent vocational students that are ultra nationalist. Sukhumphan has laid out a welcoming mat for all protesters, for example, in providing electricity generators and other services to all protesters. While, each of these protesting group, cite various reasons for their protest, as Paradon has mentioned, all of them are targeting to topple Yingluck’s government. At Samsen train station, for example, Abhisit’s seurity chief last night at the protest, said people should come to the protest because, quote, “The music is great and the food is great.” Those words echo, earlier words, by Kasit, a Yellow Shirts, who said when the Yellow Shirts went to occupy the Thai airport that quote: “The music is great and the food is great.” Kasi is a Abhisit’s Dems MP, with strong links to the Fascist. That occupation destabilized a government close to Thaksin and eventually toppled that government. Abhisit’s Dems are trying to bank the fall of Yingluck on the Amnesty Bill and on the near future ruling on the disputed Thai Cambodia, Phra Vihear relics. Thailand’s independent units are also looking for the best time, if it occurs, to kick Yingluck out of office.

13)

Abhisit and Suthep Indicted for Murder

Several local press reports, former Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his deputy, Mr. Suthep Thuegsuban, were indicted to face charges for authorising the military crackdown to calm the unrest in Bangkok in 2010. Mr. Nantasak Poonsuk, Spokesperson for the Office of Attorney General (OAG) said that the OAG agreed with the proposal made by the Division of Special investigation (DSI) that Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep, who are currently serving as Democrat MPs, are guilty for the decision, which resulted in the death of 92 people. Presented evidence and witnesses indicated that Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep’s decision to allow the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation to launch the military crackdown and the use of live ammunition are considered as an ′overreaction′operate military crackdown and the use of real weapons was casted as ‘overreaction’ and had led to several deaths and injuries, said the OAG spokesperson.

AP Reports; Prosecutors in Thailand have indicted a former prime minister for his alleged role in the deaths of demonstrators during a 2010 crackdown on anti-government protests. Attorney-General’s Office spokesman Nanthasak Poolsuk said on Monday that Abhisit Vejjajiva was charged with “causing others to commit murders” through orders he issued to end a nine-week occupation of downtown Bangkok by anti-government protesters. More than 90 people were killed during the protests, many of them when security forces swept demonstrators from the streets. Mr Nanthasak says former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban was also indicted on the same charges on Monday. Suthep was in charge of the ad hoc government-run security agency at the time.(Source)

14)

Support from Terrorist

As Thai Intel have said over and over, the elite establishment, in its hatred of Thaksin and Yingluck and going after them, have under-gone a transformation. That transformation, apart from other, have seen them turned into crazy lunatics. Khao Sod English reports: A banner proclaiming allegiance to international terror network Al Qaeda has appeared in the anti-government protests encampment at Uruphong Intersection. The banner reads: “Underground Al Qaeda is here!“. It is hanging on the western side of the protest site, between two banners saying “Flowers for those who are brave and love justice” and “Bangkok people with more than 100[%] in their hearts are here!”. The context of the banner is unclear, as there is no immediate information how the protesters, who are demanding for resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, might be related to the terrorist organisation. However, in July anti-government social network sites had widely shared a videowhich claimed to show Al Qaeda operatives threatening to assassinate former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of Ms. Yingluck. Security officials quickly dismissed the video as a forgery, but many anti-government netizens nevertheless cheered the alleged Al Qaeda agents for standing up against Mr. Thaksin, whom they perceived to be a corrupt dictator. (Source)

15)

Amnesty in Thailand? Shinawatra & Red Shirts

The Amnesty Bill, which currently targets a blanket “Top to Bottom” amnesty, for all those involved in the Thai political divide that had erupted since the 2006 coup, have cause wide-spread debate in Thailand, about the relationship between the Shinawatra Family and the Red Shirts, as with the amnesty, Thaksin could walk free and return to Thailand, but also sees those responsible for the killing of about 100 Red Shirts protesters, also let go from facing justice. Thaksin wants freedom to return to Thailand and the “Re-Set” Thailand to re-start the country again, with the slate wiped clean for everyone, and the Red Shirts wants accountability to the killing. The debate had raised the question, also, about a democracy vs dictatorship cycle, as in the past, mostly, there has always been an amnesty for all, and thus many argue, promotes a cycle.

Here is the fact sheet:

Fact 1) Before Thaksin came to power in Thiland, the grass-roots were maginalized, meaning little representation into the Thai political process, ignored by the elite establishment of Bangkok, who shared political power, as a limited competing oligopoly. But since Thaksin came to power, with his various populous policies that targeted the majority of the Thai people, the people became involved and linked to politics, with many especially in the Issan Region and Northern Thailand, with also many in the Central Plains, seeing Thaksin as a hero.

Fact 2) The 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin, angered many who saw Thaksin as a hero, and saw a small movement of various group of people, began activity against the coup. One such group, the Red Shirts, began to emerge and incorporated other groups under its umbrella, and with Thaksin, fresh in the minds of most of the Thais as a hero, the Red Shirts, fighting against the coup, the Red Shirts and Thaksin, became close ally, in struggling against the forces of the 2006 coup, and its various entrenchment into the Thai society, structurally. Unconfirmed reports say Thaksin created the Red Shirts, as a tool for his fight against the establishment. But on this, there has never been actual proof, mostly just a belief, often citing circumstantial evidence.

Fact 3) From a mission of fighting against the 2006 coup, the Red Shirts began to a process of developing a self-identity, as a force, to promote Democracy, Liberty and Justice in Thailand, starting first with liberty, for freedom against being control and under the establishment, to justice, for demanding the end to the wide-spread “Double Standard” application of justice in Thailand, prejudice against the people, privilege to the elite. Then the movement began to stress democracy, namely the concept of by the people, of the people and for the people. This transformation, began and took roots, for years, through the struggle with the elite establishmt. Thaksin, throughout the process, was seen as an important ally and driving force.

Fact 4) The time, that strongly united Thaksin and the Red Shirts together, but perhaps some conflict as well, was during the protest of the Abhisit government, at the Rajprasong intersection, where Thaksin was greatly involved in the Red Shirts protest there, making repeated video link into the protest, giving encouragement, to keep up the protest and to struggle on. The Red Shirts leadership, meanwhile, split, into hawks and doves, with those wanting to negotiate with Abhisit, for an election, some time down the road, and those who wants to keep up the struggle, in pressing for Abhisit to call election, in the near term. Thaksin favored struggle on for a quick election, and urged the Red Shirts to struggle on.

Fact 5) That perhaps Thaksin and Red Shirts conflict, could have be confirmed, by reports that says Seh Daeng, a Thai army general, went to see Thaksin in the Middle East, and gain Thaksin support, for Seh Dang, to take care of the Red Shirts security. Seh Dang and the Red Shirts leader, often have differing strategy, with Seh Daeng, a hawk on security, highly focused on defense for the Red Shirts, where the Red Shirts were struggling to shake off accusation, from the elite establishment, that the Red Shirts movement was aggressive. In one such instant, on the gate of the Chula Hospital, conflict broke out between Seh Daeng and the Red Shirts, with Seh Daeng, saying allowing the gate to be open was a security risk, but a Red Shirts leader, disagreed, and went to the gate and opened the gate. The situation was complicate, because Seh Daeng was close to Thaksin, and the red Shirts leaders were also close to Thaksin.

Fact 6) Seh Daeng was eventually assassinated by the elite establishment, before it made a move to dispel the Red Shirts from Rajprasong. In that break-up of the Red Shirts protest, about 100 Red Shirts protesters were killed by the Abhisit government, and the killing, went deep into the psyche of the Red Shirts, as proof of the brutality and murderous ways of the elite establishment, and everything that is wrong about Thailand. The killing, also raised the Red Shirts, to go down in history, as a people’s movement, that had suffered the most number of killed, by the elite establishment. At this point, the Red Shirts and also most neutral observer, says Abhisit’s government, and the elite establishment that supports him, had lost all legitimacy, to be involved in Thailand’s politics.

Fact 7) Abhisit stay in power, however, and called for a general election, and went twisting everything, from amending the constitution to weaken Thaksin’s chances of winning, to allocating billions of baht worth of budget to buy political allegiances. Many Red Shirts and others were alarmed, as Abhisit manipulated the odds against Thaksin, and were calling for and boycott of the election, and also re-news protest, such as Rajprasong again, as while the crack-down on Rajprasong had dispersed the Red Shirts, but within months, even with all its leaders in jail, massive gathering of the Red Shirts occurred, again drawing 10s of 1,000s to Rajprasong again, for one day gathering event. It was a show of staying power of the Red Shirts. In these gathering, Thaksin was not involved in any way, but mostly spontaneously occurred.

Fact 8) Leading up to the election, with Yingluck, she campaigned on Democracy, Reconciliation and Populous Policy, and while Yingluck’s call for Reconciliation, was questioned by some Red Shirts, as to what it meant, by and large, it was ignored, and the Red Shirts, threw its weight in support of the Yingluck campaign. She won the election, by a land-slide, and noted by many Red Shirts, is that there were little Red Shirts leader represented in her government. Yingluck, true to her election campaign, after the flood crisis, began to focus on Democracy, Reconciliation and Populous. The Red Shirts continued their gathering, on important dates, and Thaksin would video link into the gathering, but the distance between Thaksin and the Red Shirts emerge, with Thaksin taking about reconciliation, with Thaksin words in those video link, greatly criticized by Red Shirts.

Fact 9) Yingluck, originally and early on, compromised with the Red Shirts, and went for a water-down reconciliation, involving just the rank and files. But the latest development, is a wide “Top To Bottom” amnesty, that would grant amnesty to all, where the Red Shirts head leader, Thida, says she can not betray the people and allow those who did the killing to walk free. This bought up, also speculation, of a deal between Thaksin and the elite establishment, to allow him back to Thailand when the time is right as a free person, and for the Thai military to be off the hook of the killing. Thaksin favors a “Blanket top down amnesty” but Thaksin and Yingluck relationship overall, is at times compromise, at times Yingluck gets her way and at times, Thaksin gets his way.

Fact 10) Yingluck’s government, increasingly, as having survive several challenges by the elite establishment, also without a great deal of active help from the Red Shirts, but with the Red Shirts, acting like a powerful reserves, was getting stronger and stronger as time pass. Her populous policies, like Thaksin, such as rice and infrastructure, is winning her government incredible allies, across Thailand, even many from the elite establishment. The Red Shirts meanwhile, show no signs that its popularity is abating, and its commitment to Democracy, Liberty and Justice, has never been more pronounced and accepted as a fundamental fact about the nature of the Red Shirts.

Fact 11) Many in the Red Shirts movement, wants the Red Shirts, to transform itself into a political party. In the Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party, there is a Red Shirts caucus. If a recent poll of the Issan is an indicator, Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party remains popular, dropping a bit, but most said they will not vote for Abhisit’s Dems, no matter what. An election is about two years away. The Shinawatra Family is very popular in Northern Thailand. The Red Shirts, apart from Issan, is also strong with the lower middle income downward, in the cities and town across Thailand. In Issan, most Red Shirts are both pro Red Shirts and Thaksin. Abhiit’s Dems, have cornered the Southern Thais. The Central Plains is a major battle ground for all, except Abhisit’s Dems.

Fact 12) Thailand continues to be hit with a “Judicialization” by activist justice system and independent units, that leans towards the elite establishment, represented by Abhisit Dems. The court and independent units, since the 2006 coup and a little before that, is a constant threat to the survival of anything related to Thaksin.

16)

Understanding why Abhisit is the way he is

Abhisit‘s origins lie in a Thai-Chinese family which has cultivated close ties to Thailand’s ruling elite for generations. Abhisit, known as Mark to his British friends, was educated at Eton then Oxford, where he won a first in PPE later returning to take a master’s degree in economics. This exotic background set him apart in a Thai political scene. But perhaps his “foreignness”, some say Abhisit has struggled to connect with Thai voters.”He’s not a grassroots guy,” said Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak of Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. His government, of course, is responsible for the killing of about 100 Red Shirts protesters.

  • The following is from New Statesman

The Eton Scholarship Question: this is how the British elite are trained to think (Source)

As one of the school’s scholarship exam questions shows, young boys are encouraged to think that humanity, compassion, even sense are secondary to winning. This is how we’ve ended up with politicians who will enact any policy, no matter the human cost, just so their party will win.

By Laurie Penny Published 24 May 2013 15:52

How will you defend the murder of civilians when you’re Prime Minister? Pupils competing for a scholarship to Eton have been asked just that, in the following question from a 2011 exam which seemed to draw its inspiration from recent events in London:

The headmaster of Eton, responding to the furore on Twitter, claimed that this was an intellectual exercise, based on Machiavelli’s The Prince, and was taken out of context. It was nothing of the kind. In fact, questions like this – topics for debate designed to reward pupils for defending the morally indefensible in the name of maintaining “order” – crop up throughout the British elite education system, from prep schools to public schools like Eton to public speaking competitions right up to debating societies like the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, which are modelled on parliament for a reason.

This is how you’re meant to argue when you’re eventually in charge. You’re trained for it, and part of that training is regularly being presented with morally indefensible positions to defend anyway or risk losing whatever competition you’re engaged with. I have seen perfectly decent young men get carried away defending genocide and torture because that’s the only way to win. Those who are unable to do so are taught that they have no business having political opinions. The people assumed to be the future elite are not rewarded for getting the answer which is most correct, most compassionate or humane or even sensible – they’re rewarded for smashing the opposition. And that’s how you get politicians who will argue anything they’re told to, enact any policy they’re told to no matter how many how many people will get hurt, just so that their team can win.

Moreover, this isn’t just a standard homework question. It appears on a scholarship entrance exam, a test designed to be sat by young men seeking to join the ranks of the rich and powerful by virtue of merit and smarts rather than family money. Most fee-paying schools have such a system in place, especially the really elite ones which need to maintain a veneer of public conscience to bolster their tax-exempt charity status (yes, Eton is technically a charity) and boost exam results by scattering some middle-class nerds amongst the rich twits. I sat an entrance exam just like this thirteen years ago, because my parents wanted me to have a private education and they couldn’t afford the fees. Of the hundreds of exams I’ve sat since, none has had quite such a material effect on my future.

Had a question like this appeared on that test, I know I’d have been torn. I wouldn’t be torn now, of course, I’d write ‘go fuck yourself’ across the paper in my sparkliest pens, but right now I’m an adult with a job, not a scared thirteen-year-old who wants to make her mum proud. The obvious answer- that any Prime Minister who attempts to justify the murder of protesters after the rule of law has disintegrated is not fit to rule and should step down immediately – is not one that appears on the test. And that’s the point of tests like these.

It’s not enough to be clever. What this test says is: if you want to be part of the ruling elite, you have to share our values, and one of those values is maintaining power at any cost, even if it involves defending the indefensible. Having a moral compass that doesn’t spin wildly at the promise of power is an active impediment. The significant line in that extended question is ‘You are the Prime Minister.’ As if you’d be anything else.

Eton trains rich young men for power. The all-boys school has produced nineteen Prime Ministers, including the current one. The Mayor of London and a significant chunk of the cabinet also attended the school. Nearly all of our most powerful politicians, in short, went to Eton, and were trained in its values. Values that include responding to a question about shooting protesters dead with clever rhetoric rather than a long, hard look at your own conscience, as well as reading Machiavelli as an instruction manual rather than a satire. Whoever set this exam question, one that obliges thirteen-year-old boys to defend the murder of protesters as Prime Minister, knew of the likelihood that one of those boys might well actually be Prime Minister one day, and be in the position to order protesters killed for real. How many marks do you get for that?

In most elite clubs and societies, there are questions you’re not allowed to ask. For a certain breed of flush-cheeked young British aristocrats, this is the question that will never, ever appear on an exam paper:

Is there any particular reason why we should be in charge?

17)

Amnesty in a Historical Context

There is a great number of Thais that are in jail or will be in jail in the future, for political activities since the 2006 Coup. Traditionally in Thailand, things comes and goes in cycle, and Thailand had gone through something like the 2006 coup before. In all of the past dictatorship vs democracy torrents of cycle, those involved have mostly been granted amnesty, it is only the question of proper time. The Yingluck government has proposed an Amnesty Bill, and at Parliament, it went into the various vetting and reading and voting, as a watered down version of amnesty, involving just the people involved, not the top people that are involved. Somehow, at Parliament a “Entire Top to Bottom” Amnesty was considered in one of the steps, that will go to the final voting by Parliament. That has stirred a hornet’s nest of hate Thaksin and hate Yingluck people, but of course, these are mostly the old gangs and old people.

The following is a Fact Sheet:

Fact 1) Thailand is ranked 4th globally for coups and after every dictatorship vs democracy torrent cycle, eventually there is an amnesty, that have even also included lifting and return of assets seized by the coup makers from politicians, that the coup makers went after for corruption. Thaksin, with his assets seized is both unique and not unique. He is not unique, in that people in his place have been granted amnesty before and assets returned, but he is unique, in that the elite establishment is using hate Thaksin, to keep alive their philosophy in Thailand. Meaning in other upheaval in Thailand, events return to normal, but with Thaksin, the elite establishment will not accept and allow normalcy.

Fact 2) In past upheaval in Thailand, like the Red Shirts who were killed by the Abhisit‘s government, Thai citizens were also killed before. However, those who did the killing in the past, like military generals, have escaped all prosecution and the killing is much forgotten by the Thai people, and the generals who is responsible for the killing, went on living normal lives. However, with the Abhisit government killing, the victim, being the Red Shirts is a powerful grassroots movement with millions of membership and followers and they refuse to forget and let-go, but want those responsible for the killing to be punished.

Fact 3) There is great speculation on what happened and who ordered, for the current “Tamed” amnesty bill, to be tentatively transform into a “Broad Top Down” amnesty bill, that could see Thaksin also being granted amnesty, along with Abhisit and the military, for the killings. At this point no one can confirm what occurred, except that on the committee vetting the amnesty bill, sits large numbers of Yingluck Pheu Thai Party members. Abhisit could benefit from the top-down amnesty bill, as he is getting closer and closer to being charged with murder and cases in court so far has went mostly against him. However, Thaksin Twittered that Abhisit is not afraid of the courts, because the Thai courts, part of the elite establishment, will likely protect Abhisit, in the final analysis and judgement.

Fact 4) Most in jail right now for political activity associated with the pro-longed Thai political crisis, are the Red Shirts and supporter of Thaksin. Others, such as the Yellow Shirts and their leaders, have mostly been granted bail. The Red Shirts wants their rank and files out of jail and supports the water-down amnesty bill that would grant amnesty to the ranks and files, but oppose the “Wide Top Down” amnesty bill. Abhisit oppose all amnesty bill, citing that the Red Shirts are terrorists who broke the law, went killing themselves and burned down Bangkok. This message is important for Abhisit to keep alive as it helps the party gain votes with the hate Thaksin, hate Yingluck and hate red Shirts crowd in Thailand. He of course, going crazy just from hearing about a “Wide Top Down” amnesty that could see Thaksin walking free in Thailand.

Fact 5) Thaksin have said he is not in a hurry to return to Thailand and had offered to stop his involvement in Thai politics, if his opponents did the same. In response to that offer, Abhisit’s Dems, went crazy, and attacked Thaksin, in its regular meet their voter base, about 100 times more fiercely. And Thaksin continued his involvement in Thai politics. Yingluck says Thaksin is her advisor but she makes the final decision. There are lots of mostly propaganda that this is not true, that Yingluck is a Thaksin Pupet or Clone, but Thai press is filled with news, hinting that there are much disagreement between Thaksin and Yingluck, and at times they compromise, at times Yingluck gets her way and at times, Thaksin gets his way. Yingluck, of course, wants to help her brother Thaksin, but is also faced with the reality that Thaksin is the most effective tool, being used by the elite establishment, to cling to their philosophy and as a tool to topple her from power. So, overall, Yingluck, perhaps, favor the water-down amnesty bill.

Fact 6) Concerning how the Thai people feel as a whole, there have been many polls, but most of the polls point to a fear that the amnesty bill issue will get out of hand, and cause re-newed political crisis in Thailand.

Fact 7) Globally, amnesty and reconciliation are concepts that have worked together hand in hand, however, it works under the condition that the society at large is ready to both remember the past and forgive what occurred in the past, and move forward with a shared vision. The problem for Thailand, is that the elite establishment are no willing to do that as it will mean, accepting democracy, liberty and justice and leave their Bangkok Liberal Philosophy behind. That Bangkok Liberal philosophy namely says democracy must be tamed and control, to give the so called “Good People” meaning the elite establishment, the ability to counter-balance, the so called “Bad People” being all things Thaksin and the Red Shirts. Most neutral observer says all of that is a propaganda lie adults tells the young kids, as all it is about is that the elite establishment does not want to loose its special status and power, over Thailand.

Fact 8) Thailand is a country that have been hit with “Judicialization” by an elite leaning activist court and the courts, such as the Constitutional Court, may take action that supports the elite establishment such as killing the amnesty bill, in any shape of form.

Fact 9) Abhisit’s Dems representing the elite establishment have lost every general election in about 20 years, signaling deep rootes re-jection of the elite establishment by the majority of the Thais. Also, in polls after polls, about 70% to 80% of the Thais want democracy and about 20% to 30% wants some form of dictatorship, meaning the elite establishment to be in power.

Fact 10) Emotions is running wild on all sides, on the amnesty bill, but Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party is assessing the situation and taking a wait and see attitude. It is yet to be seen if the issue will settle down or will it gyrate out of control, as the elite establishment is depending on, hoping for the issue to help generate people to its various protest to topple Yingluck and it is busy and tying to fan it into a “Wild-Fire” issue.

Fact 11) Just to mention briefly, because of lese majeste, but Thailand is a Constitutional Menarche, and what that means in itself and to Thailand is a subject that impacts Thai politics, and both directly and in-directly, impacts Thailand as it is and what it will become, and thus, impacts both amnesty and reconciliation in Thailand. Thai Intel can not provide more on this publicly because of lese majeste.

18)

Abhisit’s Dems Grand Plan

When one of Abhisit’s MP, said the Democrat Party, may become active in leading the protest against Thaksin and Yingluck, are we supposed to be surprise or laugh? For example, already well known, is that Abhisit’s Bangkok governor people are directly involved in leading the Urupong protest and is providing every necessity protest support infrastructure. And local press reports the Urupong protesters number, have grown from in the 100s to about a 1,000 in the past few days, and many are wondering what is going on. So what is going on?

Many foreigners are always amazed at the Thai press, all of them, from the pro élite Bangkok Post to other, like when while most knows the topple Yingluck protest at Urupong intersection, is mostly a creation of Abhisit’s “Set-Up” still, perhaps because of fear of a libel suit, the press report the news as if this Urupong protesters, are genuine Thai people reaction with a non-political cause, and not a “Set-Up” politicized tool of Abhisit.

The problem of perhaps that fear, is that what analysis there is are skewed and what analysis of the future are mostly wrong and blocked. So is there any wonder, with all that skewed and wrong analysis, the Thai society at large, has always been held hostage by a sense of “brinkmanship” in the working, because many do not know the “Reality” of the situation. Fore example, can Abhisit muster the Thai society at large, not just its voter base, to the Urupong protest? And if the protest are just Abhisit’s people, how legitimate can the protest become with the wider society? All we get from the press, is angry people against Yingluck and Thaksin, protesting that could take Thailand to the brink.

So if we are free, to analyze the Urupong protesters, as to what it truly is, not skewed or blocked, what can we say about it?

The simple fact is, Abhisit Dems, for the past 20 years, have used “maneuvering” to come to power, because it can not win elections from an inability to be flexible to change with the changing times and mood of the Thai people. And thus, there is a Thai expression, that the Dems, particularly Abhisit, have always been waiting and setting up the situation for the “Orange to Fall into the Party’s Lap.” That means, for power of the Premiership of Thailand, to fall into its lap. One strategy to see that happen, has for years now, been to destabilize Thailand, or “Shaking the Tree” so that the orange will fall into its lap. And as for about 10 years now, that “Shaking of the Tree” by Abhisit’s Dems, has been to suppy its people to the various protest to topple Thaksin or Yingluck, disguised as legitimate Thai people un-happiness.

Many foreigners in Thailand also often wonder, like with most people realizing that as a fact of the situation with the Urupong protest, why is there still in all the press, some type of “Twisted Propaganda Lie” about what is going on. Like why not just call the Urupong protest to what it is, being Abhisit creation. Foreign press are not any better, but they also “Lie Point Black” about every protest in Thailand. For example, a year earlier, when Seh Aei held a mass protest against Yingluck, not a single one of the global press, from Reuters, to Bloomberg, to AFP, to AP, to DPA, to UPI and others, mentioned a simple fact, and that is Seh Ai, in his protest to topple Yingluck, was calling for the Thai military to stage a coup and to freeze Thailand for internal cleansing. But all of them, went reporting as if the Seh Ai protest, had some legitimate cause, playing up brinkmanship.

What is the current Urupong protest all about again, is simple.

The Urupong protest is about “Waiting for the Orange” to fall in their lap, and with the orange in their lap, if it happens, and like in a pool table, to be the edge of the table, for the ball to bounce, and become an orange in Abhisit lap. What are the things that could “Shake the Tree” and force the orange into the Urupong lap, and ending up an orange in Abhisit’s lap, are several factors that could ignite the Thai people in theory, like the Cambodian and amnesty situation. But on the other side, a new breed Red Shirts leader, Nuling, told the New York Times, that the Thai people after so many years of political problems, fundamentally, are not in a “Shake the Tree” for the orange to fall mood.

19)

Thaksin vs Abhisit

Abhisit and the Democrat Party have lost every general election in about 20 years, long before Thaksin entered the scene. With that reality, the party has used maneuvering to become the government, with those maneuvering, taking all shape and form. Thaksin, meanwhile, have won every Thai general election has has been involved with.

The following is a transcript of the section on Thailand in Lee Kuan Yew‘s newly released book One Man’s View of the World:

THAILAND

AN UNDERCLASS STIRS

The arrival of Thaksin Shinawatra permanently changed Thai politics. Before he came onto the scene, the Bangkok establishment dominated all sides of the political competition and governed largely to the benefit of the nation’s capital. If there had been disagreements among the Bangkok elite, none were quite as ferocious as the ones to come. Nor were any of the quarrels as divisive as those that arose during and after Thaksin’s term. What Thaksin did was to upset the apple cart of the Thai political status quo by diverting to the poorer parts of the country resources that had previously been hogged by Bangkok and its middle and upper-class residents. Thaksin’s was a more inclusive brand of politics that allowed the peasants from the north and the northeast to share in the country’s economic growth. A gulf had already existed before his arrival, created by the Bangkok-centric policies of his predecessors. All he did was to awaken the people to the gulf — and the unfairness of it — and to offer policy solutions to bridge it. If he had not done so, I am convinced that somebody else would have come along to do the same.

When he took over the premiership in 2001, Thaksin was already a successful businessman and a billionaire. But if rich Thais were counting on him to show class solidarity, they would soon be sorely disappointed. He implemented policies that favoured the rural poor to an unprecedented extent. He extended loans to farmers, overseas scholarships to students from rural families and government —subsidised housing to the urban poor, many of whom had migrated to the cities in search of jobs and could only afford to live in slums. His healthcare plan targeted at those who could not pay for their own medical insurance provided coverage at just 30 baht (about US$1) per hospital visit.

To Thaksin’s opponents, he was turning the country upside down. They were not about to let him get away with it. They called him a populist and claimed his policies would bankrupt the state. (Remarkably, this did not stop them from continuing many of these policies and coming up with other similar ones when they held power from December 2008 to August 2011.) They accused him of corruption and favouring his family businesses, charges he denied. They were also unhappy with his firm — some say dictatorial — handling of the media and his controversial war on drugs in the south of the country, during which due process and human rights may sometimes have been overlooked. Nevertheless, the peasants, overwhelming in numbers, ignored the criticisms and re-elected him in 2005. The Bangkok elite ultimately could not tolerate the man. He was overthrown in a military coup in 2006.

Thailand’s capital has since experienced great upheaval. Scenes of chaos have broken out repeatedly on the streets of Bangkok since 2008, with mass protests involving either the Yellow Shirts, who oppose Thaksin and do so in the name of defending the monarchy, or the Red Shirts, made up of Thaksin’s ardent supporters. But the latest general election, held in 2011, which handed Thaksin’s sister Yingluck the premiership, was a clear vindication by the Thai electorate of the new path that Thaksin had chosen for Thailand. The peasants of the north and the northeast of the country, having tasted what it was like to have access to capital, were not going to give that up. Thaksin and his allies have now won five general elections in a row, in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011. For Thaksin’s opponents to try to hold back the tide is futile.

Despite the recent ferment in Thai society, there is cause for optimism in the long run. The Red Shirts will continue to outnumber the Yellow Shirts for a long time because the latter group draws from a shrinking constituency. The younger generation already holds a less reverent view ofthe royal family. Furthermore, even though King Bhumibol Adulyadej is a well-respected figure, much of the prestige and magic associated with him will go when he passes on.

The army has always played a central role in Thai politics. It has made sure that no movement against the monarchy, from which it derives its strength, is allowed to raise its head. It too, however, will have no choice but to accept and to adapt to the changed situation. It is after all untenable to resist the will of the electorate for a protracted period. Given time, its ranks will also be filled by soldiers from a younger generation, less enamoured with the monarchy. The military leaders will continue to insist on privileges and will not be content with being reduced to an ordinary army. But they will also learn to live with a government made up of Thaksin’s allies. It may even be possible for the army to accept Thaksin’s eventual return to Thailand, if he can promise to get along with them and not pursue any vendettas.

There can be no reverting to Thailand’s old politics, to the pre-Thaksin era when the Bangkok elite had a monopoly on power. Thailand will continue moving along the path that Thaksin first steered the country onto. The gap in living standards across the country will narrow. Many peasants will be lifted into the middle class and will help drive the country’s domestic consumption. Thailand will do well.

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