Saturday, October 23, 2010

History Repeating? (no more please)

At a time of fear, when the military is effectively a member of the government coalition, and the new army chief is saying things like "everyone is obligated, in an act of loyalty, to root out certain individuals", it's worth remembering the past, and hope that lessons have been learnt.

We all know about Thaksin's popular "drug war", and the October 1973 and 1976 massacres, but less is known of the horrific efforts to suppress communist suspects in the south in the early 1970's:

Policy of government to "decisively flush out"
"merely followed orders"

Arrested and most underwent "re-education"

They bore no grudges.

"Each side claimed to fight for a better ruling system"

"Danger lurked in every corner"

(h/t to James)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Something Constructive

A nice blog here on some excellent proposals by a group of law professors at Thammasart University, led by Dr Worajet Pakirat.

Lets hope Thai politicians, and the Thai people get behind this very sensible (and much needed) proposal.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Red's fatal mistakes


I stumbled across the above video, which reminded me of my watching the final moments of the Redshirts protest on 19th May (with one eye on the PTV online broadcast, and the other eye on Twitter updates).

Unbelievably, we still see claims that the redshirt leaders were cowards and hid behind their followers (see comment #20 here for example).
Watch the video above, and also take note who suffered the vast majority of deaths and injury - surely that tells any rational observer which side was at most risk during the protest period, and also remember that the red leaders went on stage every day, even after Seh Daeng was so blatantly gunned down in the vicinity of foreign journalsist interviewing him.
What's really perverse is that those ridiculous cowardice claims most often come from staunch supporters of Abhisit, the PM who
hid out at a military barracks for over a month, and from the types who were openly calling for a brutal crackdown.
(Note to students: It might be a good project for a thesis to trace some of those such comments on twitter - if anyone is so inclined, the Google 'updates' search function should be useful)

Looking back on the protest it becomes very clear that the redshirt leaders made two big mistakes:

Firstly they should have more clearly distanced themselves from the armed MIB. An overblown military with their fingers in every pie, is one of the major problems in Thailand, so while accepting help (or turning a blind eye to help) from one military faction against another might seem a good strategy for 'victory', that sort of victory would make them no better than the cabal they are trying to remove.

The second major mistake was that the leaders, and the followers,
underestimated the double standard that they so often railed against. Having watched the antics of the yellow PAD have considerable success, with no punishment (even reward in the case of Foreign Minister Kasit), the reds foolishly thought all that was required to bring down a government was to maintain a protest long enough to force the government to call an election, or for a coalition partner to jump ship under the pressure.
What's clear now is that strategy only works if you are wearing the 'right' colour, and have the 'right' people backing you.

Here's a selection of tweets I extracted from the closing moments of the protest:

terryfrd: nattawud. Please listen to me,he tells protesting crowd. Today is one more time that we have had to make a difficult decision.

RichardBarrow: Nattawud telling the red shirt protesters at Rathchaprasong that they will surrender. Crowd disagrees.

terryfrd: We will have to wait for another chance. I declare we are ending the rally at this site, but not our struggle. Nattawud announces.

georgebkk: Nattawud: our fight will proceed according to democracy; I know you don't want to hear this but we cannot hold off the situation.

Nikky_Bangkok: Nattawud: We (the leaders) are willing to sacrifice our freedom to save lives. Please listen to me one more time. Please listen to me.

terryfrd: nattawud: This has not turned out the way we expected, but we have done our best. We will exchange our freedom for you.

sutatip_b: We have to wait for another chance. I declare we are ending the rally at this site, but not our struggle Nattawud announces

terryfrd: Nattawud: we have tried our best for the sake of the country, but when we see so much death, it has to stop. (Shouts of protest)

terryfrd: We are ending our rally here so that we can continue our struggle for democracy, nattawud says. I appeal to you, (explosions)

georgebkk: Nattawud: I know you can't accept, but we have assessed the situation thoroughly (Police entering area in force with shields)

RichardBarrow: Everyone jumpy as gunshots heard - Nattawud still talking but surrounded by team now - everyone jittery

s_narut: Another gunshot, UDD guard surround Nattawud, afraid of assignation attempt.

terryfrd: Leaders on stage are very uneasy looking around.Nattawud abruptly ends his announcement.Comes back and says for crowd to go to Nat'l stadium

RichardBarrow: Nattawud making an announcement on the PA system that they are turning themselves in. Don't worry about us. It will be done by the law

RichardBarrow: Nattawud: Don't worry. We won't lose our freedom for a long time. Everyone go home safely.

(Hobby: Still underestimating the double standard, right till the end)

s_narut: Nattawud still asking protestors to go home from inside of police HQ

terryfrd: Nattawud makes annoucnement. Don't worry about us,he tells supporters. We are safe and will enter legal process.

Nikky_Bangkok: Nattawud speaking live from Natl Police HQ. Tells protesters not to worry, all UDD leaders safely in custody.

RichardBarrow: Nattawud: We chose to fight bravely. Thank you everyone.

terryfrd: Today is not our day, says nattawud. many have been killed and injured.After this is over, if you still have trust in us, ...

terryfrd: If you no longer have faith in our leadership, we will become ordinary red-shirt members, nattawud says.

terryfrd: Under SOE, the charges against us arean't all that serious, he says, so go home, nattawud tells upset supporters. Go Nat'l stadium

RichardBarrow: Nattawud: THe police will look after you. Please go to the national stadium and the police will look after you

(Hobby: but those soldiers on the Skytrain line wont)

haroldrolloos: Leaders of the red shirts - Nattawud and Jattuporn - in #Bangkok are arrested, but the reds don't give up.

terryfrd: Nattawud, says that after the senators accepted role as mediators, govt closed the door and began crackdown.

terryfrd: Arson attempts, riots, grenades, etc. may wipe Nattawud & Jatuporn surrender speeches off front pages. Not good for reds or Puea Thai. (Hobby: For once I agree with Terry:)

I don't condone any of the violence that took place during the protest, or the burning afterwards, but I can certainly understand the anger and frustration of redshirts at how one colour has been so protected and encouraged, yet the redshirts end up being killed just for asking for an election (the main purpose of which was to try to undo an illegal military coup).

btw, for anyone who thinks the coup was legal and there was no choice but to endorse it, please see this and this.

This is probably just a one-off blog post, however comments are still welcome.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bye Bye Thailand

My conclusion is that there is no hope of any real improvement until the LM laws are made toothless.

The LM laws are the glue that binds everything that keeps the status quo.

All debate on the systemic problems is stifled by the 15 year jail sentence hanging over the heads of anyone who steps too far in talking about (or even seeking) the truth - those that the brainwashing has not affected, then either play along to reap the rewards (vested interest) or opt for self censorship (understandable self interest).

The list of names in my previous blog shows what happens to those who push a little further.

It's a brilliant setup, the trap is now complete - after decades of one sided propaganda, no political party can touch on the subject of detoothing LM without committing political suicide.

Parliamentary debates are worthless when all any ambitious arsehole has to do is invoke the monarchy's name and stage a coup (or suppress a protest that merely seeks an election)

Sorry to call a spade a spade, but there is no hope of any change until nature takes it's course, and even then I think there's a certain person who's reputation is such that the charade will be allowed to carry on for a few more decades until the next semi-divine character is groomed.

Jakrapob has seen how things work from the inside, and he tried to explain it in his talk at the the FCCT a few years ago, and also with his "a State within a State' article.

I just want to see the society be allowed to see all sides of the 'truth', have open and rational debate, fix the systemic problems that are stopping the country from moving on to a fairer, more just society, instead of the endless cycle of repression, protest, killing, coup etc continuously repeating like a broken record.

How can that happen when the LM law creates a climate of fear, and perpetuates the status quo?


Monday, May 31, 2010

Knowledge is Power

Why are these very well educated, articulate, seemingly reasonable and 'harmless' Thai people in detention, jailed or exiled?

- Suthachai Yimpresert - several days detention at army base, finally released after going on a hunger strike

- Jakrapob Penkair - charged with LM, in exile

- Giles Ji Ungpakorn - charged with LM, in exile

- Darunee Charnchoensilpakul (also known as Da Torpedo) - 18 years jail after a closed trial

What have they said or done that necessitates such draconian government measures against them?


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Days that we Die


by Loudon Wainwright III

Dedicated to anyone who's listening (and especially to those who should be:)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hiatus ended

I think it's clear now which way the current junta is going to proceed, so I'm re-opening my blog.

Might not blog for a little while as right now the situation seems so hopeless that I cannot come up with anything constructive.

Please check out the links listed on the left - those bloggers are doing a great job.

My feeling that the situation is hopeless stems from watching the 'reconciliation' actions of the current 'government' since they came to power.
Reading the various comments from many in the so called 'educated' class over the last few weeks, and observing the massive propaganda campaign currently underway within (and outside) Thailand has only reinforced my view that the end of the turmoil is nowhere in sight.

The brainwashed, and those with vested interests, have an unfair advantage over the rational & liberal voices in Thailand due to the LM laws and the Computer Crimes Act.
Such laws have forced some otherwise reasonable people to go 'underground' instead of being accepted into the system so that their talents can be utilized to help remake the Thai' system' of double standards into a fair, just and democratic society.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Checkmate or Stalemate?

Unfortunately PAD/yellows set the precedent of how to overthrow a government (aided & abetted by the usual players, and you know who)

Compare how Thaksin (a legitimately elected PM) dealt with protests against his premiership, to the way Abhisit is KILLING just to AVOID an election.

It's a stalemate:
Reds won't go home till Abhisit sets an early election, and Abhisit won't even talk until red's go home.

The two choices are:

1. Red's go home --> but they have no guarantee from Abhisit (and unfortunately his word cannot be trusted anyway - just look at what he said and did as opposition leader, how he became PM, and how he talked of reconciliation but did the exact opposite)


2. Abhisit dissolves parliament --> the red's go home immediately - no if's or but's.

The solution to ending the violence seems clear.
(violence which, by the way, seems very one-sided - why is that?)

Unfortunately Abhisit's killing spree has made things so much worse, which probably suits those backing him, as they don't much like elections anyway.
(free & fair elections especially are the thing they must avoid at all costs, being the only weak point in their hegemony of Thailand)

A few extra questions:

- What is the 'glue' that holds the current coalition in place?
(when previous stronger looking coalition governments have collapsed under much less pressure than this latest killing spree of redshirts)
What powerful figures are keeping things together, and how?

- What has Newin Chidchob been up to lately?
(remember the 'blue shirts' involvement during the April 2009 uprising?)

- Is the 'revered' institution happy to stand aside and see so many Thai get killed?
(possibly they have been influenced by Prem's strong recommendation for all to read a certain article by Chirmsak Pinthong last December?)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What's changed (except the body count)?

Avoiding Civil War - It's not Rocket Science
(originally posted 22/4/2010)

Neither side is innocent, each thinks it’s defending against attacks by the other, but bottom line is one side wants democracy and the other side wants to limit it (or sometimes ‘allow’ it, but only to the extent it doesn’t upset their applecart). NO CHANGE

There can be no doubt now that the supposedly more ‘educated’ are actually just as brainwashed as the ‘kwai’, and if not brainwashed then they are ‘jai dum’, which IMO is much worse. NO CHANGE

So the solution is still what it has always been - just trust the population as a whole, and allow democracy, without the interference! NO CHANGE

There can be no justification for (another) crackdown when there is a clear and simple solution. NO CHANGE

Forget about Thaksin – he’s history – it’s much bigger than him now, and the people won't allow his style of democracy any more than they will allow the old 'thai style democracy'.

Not one more drop of blood need be shed, and if it is, then the blame will clearly be with those who refuse to let the people have an immediate say on what they think of all the events that have happened since the 2006 military coup.
(That say needs to be at the ballot box - an election is the only poll that counts!) NO CHANGE, EXCEPT MORE BLOOD HAS ALREADY BEEN NEEDLESSLY SHED

Today, Abhisit needs to announce an immediate house dissolution, and an immediate cessation of the state of emergency.
Protesters of all sides must then go home, and the ballot box is the place for their voice to be heard. NO CHANGE

In the lead up to the elections, all the leaders should promote tolerance of opposing views, and present their case against those views in a civil manner. They should also ask their supporters to respect fully the electoral decision of the country as a whole, and not seek to interfere with or obstruct the new government. NO CHANGE, EXCEPT SONDHI L HAS RE-ENTERED THE FRAY, AND SURPRISE, SURPRISE, HE STILL HAS FASCIST TENDENCIES:
"does not believe in the majoritarian system because Parliament is a place of evil. He will fight against the one-man-one-vote system because he wants a ‘Dharma-ocracy’ instead. If Mr Abhisit cannot achieve it, there should be a military coup. He adds that no one is bloodthirsty but is just doing their duties"

As for what to do with all the pending cases & investigations, we all know that there will not be equal justice for all the wrongdoers, so (sadly) the only way to get fair closure is to draw a line in the sand AS OF TODAY - amnesty for all, including any banned politicians no matter what colour, for the events up to today, however after today each and every illegal act to be prosecuted fairly, without discrimination or favor - it's the only way the country can move forward. THE ONLY THING I'D CHANGE HERE IS MOVE THE LINE BACK TO 9th APRIL 2010, AS WAY TOO MANY LIVES HAVE BEEN LOST AND THEIR DEATHS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO BE SWEPT UNDER THE CARPET LIKE HAS HAPPENED SO REGULARLY IN THAILAND'S PAST.


Please do it, Abhisit - for the sake of your country and for your own redemption.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Loyalty & Sympathy

As previously blogged, Abhisit & his minders are playing hardball with the old royalty card trick - it's worked before, so they are trying it again.

As far as I know all red leaders, and Thaksin, have continiously expressed loyalty and admiration for the King, and have never expressed any desire to remove the monarchy.
Likewise the red rank and file express their love for the king.

The $64,000 question is whether the love is genuine, or enforced?
A sub question might be: Would the love be genuine if all sides to the story were allowed to be aired?

The only way to know the answer would be to remove to LM law.
(Did I just explain why the LM law hasn't been removed? :)

Anyway, here's some interesting quotes from a great essay and comments on New Mandala:

Thongchai Winichakul: "The mass base of the Reds is people who remain deeply religious, nationalistic, and royalist, although with some disappointment at the royals. The leaders of the UDD reflect the politics of their people. They have not shown any signs of anti-monarchy but to the contrary. The strongest comment is disappointment and they beg for some royal sympathy"

Aladdin: "I believe that the lese majeste law and the incessant propaganda about the monarchy may be leading to an underestimation of the real extent of “anti-monarchy” feeling in Thailand. This is very dangerous for the future of the monarchy.
The sooner that the problem of the monarchy can be talked about openly, and proposals discussed to reform it, the safer its future

Food for thought :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lese Majeste report?

A few days ago I received the following twitter message:

jazzinchiangmaiRT@Nganadeeleg "pearls of wisdm frm X who failed 2 mention the pol. crisis, the gov, the milit or the killings" http://LMLINK Lese M Much?

I didn't pay much intention, but it has since been brought to my attention that it could be a threat to report me for LM.

If it was indeed a threat, or even an actual report to the LM police, I would like to bring the investigators attention to this thread on New Mandala where Nganadeeleg (= Hobby = Me) features more than a few times.
I recommend the investigators make that thread the starting point of your investigations against me, then work your way through this blog chronologically.
(blog archive is shown at the lower left portion of the front page)

Hope you find it amusing & like the music (and you might even learn some latin from the NM thread:)

I also recommend you read Giles latest post "It's about Democracy, stupid"

This blog (and I) remain open to alternative viewpoints - if anyone has differing conclusions to the ones I have so far reached, please post your comments which I am happy to take on board, based on the strength of your argument (as judged by ..... me:)

However, any argument that ignores or dismisses the military coup, and the obvious interference and double standard in Thailand, is unlikely to persuade me.
Likewise, an argument along the line that conditions are not right for elections within 3 months (for whatever reasons) is unlikely to be considered by me to have much merit, as I foresee the consequences of any alternatives as much worse - with the possible exception of a (fully inclusive) national unity government.

Bring it on! (where's Nick Cave & Chris Bailey when you need them?)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Abhisit is not fit to lead!

More proof that Abhisit offers nothing towards a better Thailand - he's reaching into an empty well when all he can come up with is the same old 'reds under the bed' type scaremongering.

Abhisit had a choice - he could really have tried to make Thailand a more inclusive society, worked towards more equality, fairness and justice, but he chose the exact opposite route - find scapegoats, jail dissidents, limit the free flow of information, propagandise and scare the rest into compliance.

If he really was about reconciliation and helping move Thailand forward, instead of giving credence to plots created in the imagination of ASTV/The Manager fiction writers and using repression to cow the populace into submission, wouldn't he be pushing for an opening up of opportunities for discussion and analysis of the thai political system, including the role of the monarchy, and trying to have the LM laws relaxed so that free and open discussion can take place?

It's becoming much clearer that people like Abhisit, Sansern, Prayuth (and others who shall remain unnamed) are the real terrorists in Thailand.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Avoiding Civil War - It's not Rocket Science

Neither side is innocent, each thinks it’s defending against attacks by the other, but bottom line is one side wants democracy and the other side wants to limit it (or sometimes ‘allow’ it, but only to the extent it doesn’t upset their applecart).

There can be no doubt now that the supposedly more ‘educated’ are actually just as brainwashed as the ‘kwai’, and if not brainwashed then they are ‘jai dum’, which IMO is much worse.

So the solution is still what it has always been - just trust the population as a whole, and allow democracy, without the interference!

There can be no justification for (another) crackdown when there is a clear and simple solution.

Forget about Thaksin – he’s history – it’s much bigger than him now, and the people won't allow his style of democracy any more than they will allow the old 'thai style democracy'.

Not one more drop of blood need be shed, and if it is, then the blame will clearly be with those who refuse to let the people have an immediate say on what they think of all the events that have happened since the 2006 military coup.
(That say needs to be at the ballot box - an election is the only poll that counts!)

Today, Abhisit needs to announce an immediate house dissolution, and an immediate cessation of the state of emergency.
Protesters of all sides must then go home, and the ballot box is the place for their voice to be heard.

In the lead up to the elections, all the leaders should promote tolerance of opposing views, and present their case against those views in a civil manner. They should also ask their supporters to respect fully the electoral decision of the country as a whole, and not seek to interfere with or obstruct the new government.

As for what to do with all the pending cases & investigations, we all know that there will not be equal justice for all the wrongdoers, so (sadly) the only way to get fair closure is to draw a line in the sand AS OF TODAY - amnesty for all, including any banned politicians no matter what colour, for the events up to today, however after today each and every illegal act to be prosecuted fairly, without discrimination or favor - it's the only way the country can move forward.

Please do it, Abhisit - for the sake of your country and for your own redemption.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thailand's Trouble's

A great blog I've only just come across is Thailand's Troubles, which has a nice summary of the current situation.

Of course, the elephant in the room is still skirted around (for obvious reason) which unfortunately means the real systematic problems that are stopping Thailand from progressing are not being addressed.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

No Justification to crush Pro-Democray protests

Update 2: This Bangkok Post report gives details of the equipment the government lost in their 'non-violent' dispersal attempt on that Saturday:
"Among the firearms and other equipment claimed to have been lost during the clash were nine M16 rifles, 25 Tavor rifles, six anti-aircraft guns, 116 shields, 105 batons and 80 body armour suits.
The army also lost control of six personnel carriers and three high-mobility multi-purpose vehicles when troops abandoned them in the face of angry red shirts.
Ammunition also went missing, including 580 rubber bullet rounds, 600 anti-aircraft rounds and 8,182 M16 rifle rounds"

Any conclusions other than:
(a) government had violent 'intentions', and was incompetent?
(b) the equipment was left behind by watermelon soldiers to help in subsequent battles?

Update 1
: This post was originally posted before the crackdown as a plea for it to not happen - after the actual crackdown, and especially after Abhisit's late night tv speech, all I can say is that I've completely given up on him. It's hard for me to believe he is even human, he's certainly no better than Thaksin, and probably much worse. Thaksin's drug war killings at least had a noble intention - there is nothing noble about Abhisit's killing to avoid going to an election!

How long can things go on like this, without one side going for broke and the shit hitting the fan?

Abhisit is the new face on an old playbook - the old style crackdowns are no longer viable, so it needs a respectable face to try to spin it as though there was no alternative but to crackdown.

I hope the red leaders are fully switched on to that aspect of what Abhisit is doing, because even though the pro-democracy side of this conflict has right on their side, they must also be seen to be reasonable.
(To spell it out: Abhisit wants to appear reasonable, and make other side appear unreasonable - the emphasis is on 'appear' in both cases)

Abhisit knows very well this aspect of the political game. He came to power promising reconciliation, he appeared very reasonable, but his real actions have not been about reconciliation at all:
- How does appointing, then keeping Kasit as FM, help reconcilation?
- How does stonewalling on the constitutional reform help reconcilation?
- How does closing PTV help reconcilation (when ASTV & NBT are still on air)?
- How does blocking Prachatai (and hassling the webmaster with lengthy jail terms) help reconciliation?
- How does stalling on bringing PAD international airport invaders to justice help reconcilation?
- Now that the boot is on the other foot, how does a complete about-face shown on statements he made regarding protesters rights, and PM's resigning, help bring about reconciliation ?
(for more examples see this revealing piece by one of Thailand's best journalists)

He is doing it again - appearing reasonable, but the reality is very different:- He offers to talk with red leaders, but creates excuses why elections cannot be held till at least 9 months have passed.
Forget about 9 months! How can the red masses, who have had their votes usurped so blatantly, be forced to endure another month, week, or even a day of living under a military/judiciary coup installed puppet PM who talks reconciliation, but in reality does everything he can to keep those masses disenfranchised?

PM Abhisit has also appeared very reasonable in dealing with protestors over the last few weeks, but if you look at all the other times he appeared reasonable, the reality was much different - you get my drift ?- the stakes have been upped in recent days - quite scary don't you think?
The world must not let him, or his minders, get away with thinking that a crackdown against pro-democracy protesters can ever be acceptable - especially when an easy solution is readily available.

I have focussed on Abhisit because he is the face of the current military/royalist overlords - we know he is expendable, but right now he's the man in the box seat, so he still has a chance to gain real legitimacy with the people. If he acted with integrity, you never know, the Thai people might warm to him, and he could one day even become a legitimate elected PM.

His first step on that road to legitimacy should be to offer dissloution/election within 3 months (Dr Weng has already said reds would accept that).

The people will never be more informed than they already are. The air would then be cleared, and the new parliament could then embark on the genuine constitutional reform process so the country can start moving forwards again.

That is the obvious solution, it is also the right thing to do given the considerable doubts as to his legitimacy arising from military & judicial interventions over the last 4 years.

No amount of smooth talking spin will ever justify a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters when there is a viable solution readily available.
Remember, no redshirt has ever said they will not accept the results of a fair election, so it should be abundantly clear they are not the real problem in Thailand.

The real problem is that there is no culture of democracy. Such a culture can only begin to develop when all sides accept election results and reject military coups or other forms of higher authority interference.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Great Thailand Eye Opening

The current red protests are proving to be a good eye opening to the Thai people, and the world, to the charade that is Thai 'democracy'.

The 2006 royalist endorsed military coup, the actions of 'non political' players in events leading up to the coup, and since, have put further pieces in the jigsaw that is 'thai style democracy'.

Whilst most tourists to Thailand don't care about Thai politics as long as they can keep getting what they crave (be it cheap, depraved or exotic), and expat businessmen similarly are only really interested in their bottom line, slowly but surely more light is being shone on matters that the 'natural' order of things in Thailand mean are supposed to be taboo.

All manner of discussions are taking place in print, film, radio, Internet and in private, in Thai, English and no doubt many other languages.

There is still considerable risk, particularly if one is a Thai in Thailand, as evidenced by the continued use of the draconian LM laws and Computer Crimes Act, against people who try to seek the truth and allow open discussion.
Tantawut Taweewarodomkul and Prachatai webmaster, Chiranuch Premchaiporn are the latest victims, and add to a growing list of pending cases and convictions.

It seems Thailand is being analysed within and without, and the analysis is not just limited to obscure papers and academic journals.

Whilst the cut and thrust of the day to day colour coded politics is boring to me and I abhor Thaksin as much as I abhor Abhisit (or John Howard, George Bush, and lately Kevin Rudd etc etc), I find the bigger picture issues related to the thai system/structure quite fascinating.

I hope I'm wrong, but my gut feeling tells me continued injustice over a long period of time will inevitably breed terrorism in one form or other.

Thai style democracy is built on a noble lie, and once enough people question that lie, it has to either collapse, or be enforced - the old system can no longer function in the same way because it's foundation brick (the noble lie) has been removed.

IMO, to enforce the noble lie leads ultimately to a North Korea or Burma style future for Thailand, or more likely the southern insurgency being replicated in the north east and the north, however such insurgencies would unlikely be so 'polite' as to stay away from the capital.

The alternative to enforcement of the noble lie is to allow democracy (or 'mob rule' as Plato thought of it:)

That's the battle as I see it, and whilst I had sympathy for the original PAD protests against Thaksin's excesses, if its a choice between yellow and red, (or even red and non red, or yellow and non yellow) I now believe the non yellow or red side is the only side which offers a positive future for Thailand.
(Note: These are my views only, and do not imply that the red shirt protesters or leaders agree with my outlook - rather it means I side with the reds in the current battle because they are the only side offering anything that looks like real democracy - if another group offers democracy I will also likely side with them too)

And looking on the bright side, the elite backed military & judiciary coups, which sporned the red movement and increasing analysis of 'thai style democracy', has also contributed greatly to the democratic knowledge of the Thai people (and one Thaksin Shinawatra) - so that can only be good for the next time a popular leader is elected.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abhisit offers a solution???

I may have been a bit harsh on Abhisit - he appears to have offered an alternative solution (not the 9 months delay) and the Red leaders either missed, or ignored that offer.

Get the tapes out - Did Abhisit offer a referendum on dissolution?

If Abhisit did make the offer, Day 3 talks should centre on pinning him down on a quick timetable for a
combined referendum/election.

The process is simple - Thanks to the following comment by The truth is out there on Bangkok Pundit's excellent site.

"Two things come to my mind.

“make a decision based on a consensus from the entire country”

It reminds me about recall election in California. The process is quite straight forward and efficient. There are two question.
1. Do you want to recall a Governor (Do you want a new election?)
2. If majority vote for recall, who do you want to vote for?

So basically, you start by ask people if they want a new election. So problem of "hearing the the consensus of entire country is answered". If the answer is no, the second question is moot.

The nice thing is that if the answer is yes, you don't need to spend extra money for election.

Every body seem to miss one point that new election does not guarantee PT to win sufficient majority. Most likely, they will win big but probably not big enough to form government by themselves. IMO, the foot print of PT after election will be fairly similar to what it is now. It is highly possible that Dem and current coalition can win sufficient majority to form a stable government. And it will be very legit one.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 2 roundup: Is he afraid or is he under orders?

Red's say 15 days, Abhisit says 9 months

Some will think the reds are unreasonable for not accepting Abhisit's timetable, but would you be so patient in their circumstances?

For all the talk, accusations, bluster & delaying, doesn't it all come down to one question:

Do you believe in democracy or not?

Democracy is not perfect, but is anyone aware of a better system?

Like it or not, Abhisit's legitimacy
IS in doubt - does anyone seriously dispute that?

No amount of smooth talking can get away from the fact that PM Abhisit is the illegitimate child of a military & judicial coup, but, there is a clear way for him to gain legitimacy, and remove once and for all any doubts.

To resolve the obvious doubt on his legitimacy, all he need do is ask the people decide, and he needs to do it as soon as possible for the sake of the country.

The current government has been in place since Dec08, another 15 days will make it nearly
500 days too many for anyone who truly believes in democracy - does Abhisit seriously expect those who have had their votes stolen to wait patiently for another 300 days?
How insensitive can he be to the spirit of democracy?

All his excuses about needing to manage the economy, amend the constitution etc, are just that:

Is more, or less, economic damage likely if things are left to continue to fester?

Minor coalition parties concerns about the constitution seem insignificant when the country is in such an stalemate, and anyway, it's the Reds parties that have been punished most under the current military imposed constitution, yet they appear to be prepared to go to an election EVEN with the current rules stacked against them!

We need to ask ourselves, why doesn't Abhisit want to prove his legitimacy?
Does he believe in democracy ot not?
Is he afraid, or is he under orders?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Change without change


I've slept on it, read some more reports of the 'reconciliation talks' and offer the following additional thoughts (based on a comment response I made over at Bkk Dan's site):

I’d love to believe Abhisit and his backers were genuine, but I just cannot drink their Kool-Aid – cannot see their ‘concession to talk’ as anything more than trasformismo (change without change).

The people of Thailand are more informed now than ever – yesterday’s live tv talks were better than most leaders debates I’ve seen leading up to elections in western democracies.

Come on Abhisit, do the right thing for once – stop your delaying tactics, just dissolve the house, let the people decide who they want to govern the country, and who they want to be in control of its political reform process.

If you don’t do it, the only conclusions I can reach are that you are afraid of elections, afraid of democracy, afraid of the people, and afraid of your military/elite backers (or you are not the upstanding ‘Democrat’ you make youself out to be, and are only in it for your ego, and the vested interests of your backers)

The proof will be in the pudding:
Believing Abhisit is genuine in these ‘reconciliation talks’ is the ultimate in naivety IMO (as is believing he has any legitimacy with anywhere near the
majority of the Thai population – even Abhisit knows it, and thats why he will do whatever he can to delay & avoid elections – if he & his backers thought they could win an election they would jump at it, never mind the constitution & political reform

Style v's Substance (Smoke & Mirrors)

My quick thoughts on the talks between government (Abhisit) and Red Shirt leaders.

- Wow! I was out all day and got quite a shock to see the talks already happening when I got home.

- Initially I was hopeful, but seeing Abhisit in action I got that same old feeling
(he's trying to smooth things over with talk, but all the while having no intention of really following through!)

- Abhisit is clearly about 'appearing' reasonable, but delaying at all costs.
(hopefully the viewing public can see through his smoke & mirrors)

- For Abhisit and his backers this latest 'concession' is 'trasformismo' (change without change)

- Abhisit has the style, but Dr Weng & Veera have the substance
(that's my take, as a farang, but I expect various Thai groups will see it differently)

- Dr Weng scored the most points, but his lengthy speaking style is a handicap on public tv
(that said, only the most partisan would miss that he's clearly intelligent, knowledgeable, passionate and sincere)

What do I expect tomorrow?

Well, Thai politics is like a magic world to me, unfathomable! - so the only prediction I will make is that Abhisit will continue delaying, and any timetable he proposes will make sure the army reshuffle is bedded down before the ammart control is (seen to be) relinquished.

What comes first: Dissolution or Constitution changes?

Why not do both in the one stroke?
At the election, give the people a chance to choose between the 1997 or 2007 constitutions.
(whichever is chosen can be amended later anyway, through the parliamentary process)
I'm a lazy philistine when it comes to legal procedures, but am wondering why couldn't the negotiations agree that Parliament propose the 1997 constitution as the amendments to the current constitution, and seek a referendum to ratify it?
Update: Yes, I know thats unrealistic, so how about we just make the main theme of the election: 'Which political parties do the people want to be in control of leading the political reform process?' - basically let the people choose the make up of the parliament as the country embarks on another political reform process - seems fair, reasonable, sensible & logical to me (unfortunately none of those things are usually seen as desirable qualities when it comes to the Thai political system, especially on the non-red side:)

What's the minimum reds should accept before ending protests?

I'd say their bottom line should be a firm commitment that parliament will be dissolved within 2 weeks, and an election within 3 months.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bloody Thailand - Exit Strategy/Tactical Retreat

Message to red protestors:

To continue now means adopting PAD type escalation tactics aimed to provoke, but you do not have the 'protection' from above that your yellow counterparts have.
Their treatment was an aberration in Thailand, you will not be treated so kindly, and you can expect the typical iron fist, not the kid gloves with which they were dealt - please save your blood for another day.

It's time to go home - you have already proven Abhisit is still afraid of elections, and prefers your blood over going to the people to test if he can truly be a legitimate PM.

Continue raising issues of double standard in the country, don't put all your faith in any leader, and try to to listen to, and understand the concerns of those who see things differently than you do.


I'm pleased they didn't go home before Saturday's wonderful convoy through the streets of Bangkok - and I admit I'm a poor tactician:)


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Less violent, but otherwise it's the same old story

I'm pleased that there has been no real violence to date, and it seems both the government and protesters have learned from the past.
(also more people have camera's at hand now so hopefully any actions by agent provocateur's will quickly be able to be seen as such).

My biggest complaint regarding the media coverage (including many bloggers) is that most are taking a very short term view and cannot see the wood for the trees.
Concentrating on one red herring after another misses the big picture, and plays right into the hands of those who comprise the real power in Thailand.

Most overlook how the current government came into power – no amount of spin can get away from the fact that this government is only in power because of a military & judicial coup.
The lead coalition partner, Abhisit’s (not so) Democrats, refused to participate in elections before the coup, and even after having things rigged in its favour and competitors removed, its still afraid to face the people in an election.

They also fail to look at the history of miltary coups in Thailand, where its always some military General or other deciding a group of ‘corrupt’ politicians need to be removed – the first act of those generals is always to change the constitution to exonerate themselves, and then they move on to enriching themselves and whichever network they are aligned with.
A push then comes for democracy from the people, sometimes elections are held, and sometimes another coup occurs, or even a ’self coup’.

The people are never given the chance to remove governments – The old saying: ‘The rural masses elect the governments and the Bangkok elite removes them’ is a cycle being repeated endlessly.
Like it or not Thaksin's TRT was the only government to win consecutive elections – it should have been left to the people to decide when they want to remove that government.

No lasting good will ever come from a military coup, because two wrongs will never make a right.

If anyone is interested in the background of HOW its been possible for the masses to be continually disenfranchised, they could start with books by Paul Handley & Federico Ferrara.


In some private contacts it's become apparent that the point I'm trying to make above has again been missed.

For clarification: My point is that democracy has never been ALLOWED to develop in Thailand - since the change from absolute monarchy in 1932, individual players have come and gone (although some have stuck around longer than others:)

Whilst prominent individual politicians have many flaws, the real issue is the system and how military coups have not been delegitimized - ask yourself why is that so? (if you answer that it's because of corrupt politicians, then you are missing the point again:)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why protest?

For those who, like me, have an aversion to Facebook, I'm posting this here as a quick reference of the Red/UDD aims.
(I found it on and it apparently comes from Sean Boonpracong/UDD's facebook site)


Thailand has existed as a democracy in name but not substance for too long. We have stood by as our elected governments were brought down by the might of vested interests. We have endured the hijacking of our media and our judicial system. We have remained silent as those who would lead us failed time and time again to address our legitimate concerns. But a turning point is about to be reached in Thai history.

We, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) are determined to see Thailand become a nation where the principles of democracy, human rights, and equal justice are not only espoused but upheld. As such, we stand opposed to the illegitimate government of Abhisit Vejjajiva and the aristocracy that backs him. In the coming months, we will launch a campaign aimed at uniting the Thai people in opposition to this junta and bringing about free and fair elections. This campaign is based upon 6 principles:

1) Achieving the goal of establishing a genuine democracy that has the King as our Head of State, with political power belonging exclusively to the people. We reject any attempt, past or future, at using the monarchy to silence dissent or advance a particular agenda.

2) Dissolving the 2007 Constitution and restoring the 1997 Constitution, which may then be amended through a transparent, consultative and democratic process.

3) Bringing Thais together in an effort to solve our political and socio-economic problems, recognizing that such efforts must stem from the power of the people.

4) Implementing the rule of law, due process and a system of equal justice for all, free of any obstructions or double-standards.

5) Uniting all Thais who love democracy, equality, and equal justice within all facets of society, in an effort to deconstruct and move beyond the Amartyatippatai (Aristocracy) system.

6 ) Using exclusively non-violent means to achieve these objectives. We are a peaceful movement, whereas the aristocracy maintains its power through the barrel of a gun. We know that the coming struggle will be as long as it is painful. But our cause is virtuous, just as the status quo is unacceptable. In the coming months, the establishment will use every means at its disposal in its efforts to counter us, including lies and propaganda, legal wrangling, intimidation and violence. This is an opponent that supported the hijacking of our airports and the use of military force to bring down an elected government and suppress the dissenting public. But whatever they throw at us, we will endure it, and we will succeed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Court rules Thaksin inept

The Supreme Court verdict spells it out clearly - Thaksin was inept at enriching himself and family, and he failed to learn the proper lessons from older, wiser, predecessors:

Shin shares gained 121 percent from when Thaksin took office on Feb. 9, 2001, to when his family sold the company on Jan. 23, 2006, compared with a 128 percent gain in the benchmark SET index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Siam Cement Pcl, Thailand’s fourth-biggest company, which is controlled by the monarchy’s investment arm, gained 717 percent in that time.

“Whether Thaksin used his influence to benefit his companies is for the courts to decide,” said Vikas Kawatra, head of institutional broking at Kim Eng Securities (Thailand) Pcl, the nation’s biggest brokerage by trading volume. “We analyze the stocks on fundamentals and price movements and based on past performance versus the SET it appears his companies performed no better than others in the benchmark.”

Apart from the courts attempt to legitimize the coup, I am basically happy with the financial aspects of the verdict as it (purportedly) returns to the Thaksin clan an amount that in my view, considering the totality of their business lives, they 'might' have 'earned' legitimately.

The other good aspect to the verdict is that it spells out that holders of public office need to clearly separate their business affairs, or, in the absence of the double standard, they will run the risk of being caught for policy corruption.

In my dream world, the verdict will encourage investigative research by journalists, and activists, into all the business dealings of public office holders, not only politicians, but police, military, bureaucrats and other office holders (both elected, and appointed:)

Update: Or I should say I would be happy with the verdict if I knew the precedents would be consistently applied to all.

There also seems to be considerable doubt about whether anything will actually be returned to the clan, and perhaps this verdict was just a stalling measure to provide a gloss of 'fairness' when he real intention is to grab the remainder with other court actions over time.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hidden news?

A post on Thai Visa Chiang Mai forum:

"I live in Lamphun 3 klicks from Big C
A large truck was travelling south from Chiang Mai on highway 11 at 6.30pm on Sat 13th Feb, it ran through a set of red lights 4 kiicks before the Big C junction, in so doing it crashed into a number of motorbikes turning onto the highway 11 on green lights, 4 people were killed.

The driver who lives 500 metres from me tried to escape the scene, but was chased by police.

The junction at Big C has an overpass to avoid local traffic mostly motorbikes coming & going to work on the nearby industrial estates, these people use the old road under the overpass.
The driver of the truck veered off highway 11 and took the slip road leading to the busy junction underneath the overpass, the road was very busy with workers returning home, the truck driver again went against the red lights and ploughed into the motorbikes crossing the road on green lights, a further 12 people died, two of those was in a Vigo truck which then brought the runaway to a holt.

The police caught the driver, and according to local opinion he was pretty badly beaten up by them.
A further 3 people have died in hospital making the carnage 19"

I cannot find any reference to this horrific event in any English language papers, but presumably it's true?
Very sad - my condolences to all victims & families.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Questions on Tactics & Civil War

I'm pondering the tactics of each side in the ongoing battle for political control of Thailand.

In the one corner we have Yellow (plus some Blue & Green available for assitance as and when required)
To me, the tactics of the Prem led royalist elite side are fairly predictable - now that they have engineered their team into power they will continue to use the military & judiciary tools at their disposal, combined with royalist symbolism to maintain control.
They will keep trying to paint the reds as anti-monarchy, anti-stabilty, anti-business, anti-nation, unthai etc, and have been laying the groundwork for (and acceptance of) a crushing of the reds should they attempt to make the final push that they keep threatening.
Prem's reference to Senator Chimsak Pinthong's 'important' 'must read' article make things very clear that the old guard are preparing to resort to the same old tricks one again.
(thanks to New Mandala, Political Prisoners Thailand, Bangkok Pundit and others for highlighting that significant development)

The PAD/NPP can be seen a a subset of this side, however rather than being about seeking or maintaining power and control for themselves, their main aim seems to basically be about bringing Thaksin down, now preventing any Thaksin aligned forces from getting into power (and if a Thaksin group ever did get back into power they would revert to the old undermining mode).
If the yellow side is ultimately victorious, expect the PAD/NPP to push for more specific, perhaps moralistic type goals, and its likely they may one day even end up an opposition force to the Democrat Party.

In the other corner we have Red.
The tactics on this side of the battle are much harder for me to read. This side is mainly comprised of Thaksin loyalists, but it also includes those who see Thaksin as the lesser of two evils.
At first glance one would think this side can just sit back and wait for the next election as it is unlikely that their electoral majority has diminished by much, if at all since the last election.
Apart from Abhisit & Korn, the current coalition government is the usual mix of ugly, corrupt and incompetent. One would think the corruption scandals will keep coming, and with the likes of Kasit as Foreign Minister, and Pornthiva as Commerce Minister, there are sure to be more embarrassments.
So one possible course of action for the reds is to just sit back, highlight the mistakes & problems of the coalition government and watch it eventually collapse.
But what then do we make of the regular calls for the final battle by the likes of Jatuporn?
Why the rush?
Is it only because the Shin asset seizure case is looming and Thaksin loyalists are in control of, and are the great majority of the protagonists, on the red side of the fence, or are there other reasons why the reds cannot sit back and wait for elections?

Rather than an inevitable collapse, is the current government consolidating power in a way that will make it difficult for the red side to gain power? (My guess is NO, and judging by his performance so far, the longer Abhisit stays in power the more ordinary Thai's will come to despise him)

By making a final push, would the red leaders be falling into Prem/Chimsak's trap, or is it possible they have some other plan to overcome it?

Prem has proven to be a good tactician over the years (IMO), but has he overstepped the mark and made it more difficult for his successor?
( like what some have argued one other highly influental and aging person on the Thai scene has done?)
The reds may not have completely discredited Surayud, but they certainly have taken the shine off him as Prem's successor, and their tactic of highlighting the double standards is a good one that hopefully they will continue even if Thaksin aligned forces regain power.

Has Thaksin's leadership role in the reds been maintained, or is there a chance that others can step up and inspire the Thaksin loyalist rump that this fight should be about much more than getting Thaksin back to power (or getting his money back)?

It's obvious that whoever controls the guns, controls Thailand
Thaksin, Samak and Somchai could not get the army under government control. So far, Abhisit has not had to face such problems, and despite looking like being in considerable trouble during the April 2009 riots, he came through that with flying colours (no doubt with a little help from those who know who owns the horses, and who are just jockeys)
Have things changed since then? Just how split is the military, and what can be made of the recent (unsubstantiated?) grenade attack at army headquarters?

Sorry, lots of questions - does anyone have the answers????

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Double Standards Thailand

Why is it that Thaksin's wealth & financial affairs have been thoroughly investigated, studied, even had books written about, yet the question of how various Generals (including Privy Councillors like Surayud) obtained their wealth is just swept under the carpet?

In fact, Thaksin's financial dealings have been so thoroughly investigated that the only way his enemies can get him is by spurious or overly technical nitpicking type legal arguments.

It astounds me that a prima facie case can clearly be made against the Generals just by a simple calculation of their wealth compared to their salaries, yet they are left alone - a protected species!

On the other hand we have Thaksin: How he got his wealth is well documented (including a little help from a certain General:)
He was already fabulously wealthy before he became PM, and does not appear to have increased that wealth during his term in office by any more than similarly wealthy peoples fortunes increased during the same time.

If there really was a benefit gained from policy corruption under Thaksin, then the prosecutors need to show not just a loss to the state, but they need to show where the money has gone.
To my mind, something just doesn't add up between Thaksins assets from before becoming PM to after he was ousted. The only conclusions I can draw are either that there was no actual benefit from the policy corruption, or a lot of his wealth had already been squirreled away before he was ousted.

Prima facie there seems to be no case against Thaksin, and a clear case against the wealthy Generals - thats a double standard in my book!

Other clear examples of double standards are:

- TRT & PPP get dissolved, while The Democrats evade punishment for what appear to be much worse corruption deals, and they even got all manner of outside help to form a government!

- PAD/yellows invade/occupy an international airport and the leaders are still roaming free after refusing to acknowledge any charges against them, and have even formed a political party (yet when the UDD/reds merely mention they will hold a rally, the Internal Seturity Act gets invoked, or threatened to be invoked)

- Sondhi Limthongkul and other PAD/yellow leaders are free (encouraged even) to make hateful speeches, drag the monarchy into politics, and almost start a war with a neighbouring country, yet others like Darunee Charnchoensilpakul, Suwicha Thakor & Boonyuen Prasertying are locked up for years, and they and their families forced to endure great hardships all because they spoke their minds, wanting a free & fair country for all Thai's.

- The 2003 'war on drugs' resulted in many extra-judicial killings, and Thaksin was heavily involved in its implementation. Like Thaksin and others, I hate drugs, but I could never set myself up as judge, jury & executioner. The fact that nothing has come from any of the investigations into the war on drugs is another double standard, although this time Thaksin is also a protected species!

Rant over

Friday, January 1, 2010


New Years Eve with the Reds in Chiang Mai.

It was a well organized event at the 700 year Stadium on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city.

Despite competing with numerous other New Years Eve events, like the Thepae Gate public celebrations and a large Fair less than a kilometre away, there was still quite a crowd of well behaved red shirt faithful.

Many had made the trip from the villages and had set up tents outside the stadium to stay over for the night.
I'm hopeless at estimating crowds, so all I could say is that there were several thousand there (definitely more than 8,000 but less than 20,000 IMO - the ground area of the stadium and the grandstand seating areas were 2/3 to 3/4 full in my estimation)
There were also several hundred people outside the stadium area where there were the usual food and red merchandise stalls.

The crowd numbers were even more respectable when you consider it was NOT a free event - the cost of a ticket to enter inside the stadium was 100 baht, which included a red t-shirt with Thaksin image, and a red glow stick.

Much of the crowd were families enjoying the entertainment, and there were no visible signs of alcohol intake (something I found most unusual compared to other New Years Eve events I have attended over the years, but it was also a very pleasant surprise) .

The entertainment was in the form of a concert featuring various politicians and entertainers singing & dancing, including at least one comedy skit where Abhisit was mocked.
The main themes were Democracy and 'we miss Thaksin' or 'we want Thaksin back', and rather than pure entertainment, most of the proceedings related to these underlying themes.

I'm not familiar with all the entertainers/politicians/activists presented on stage, but some of the names I think were involved were Adisorn, Wisa, Paijit and maybe Chuwit (someone more knowledgeable than me may recognise some of the faces in the photo's, and let me know who they are?)

As I need my beauty sleep and wanted to avoid the inevitable traffic jams, I left early and before the planned midnight phone-in from the man himself (who was apparently watching the proceedings from wherever he was).

On the way out, I noticed that the stall with the biggest line up was the sign-up area for new Reds members - this red movement is not going away, and I sincerely hope that, if Thaksin ever does return to power, he has enough humility and good sense, to repay the love and faith that has been invested in him.

Seasons Greetings to all

(Click on photo's for larger image)