Reds drag on

Yesterday was a rather uneventful day, blood splashing at Abhisit’s house went as planned, without any effect on the situation.

Red leaders announced a new plan – to keep the rally going as long as it takes, with people coming and going, taking turns. That might work with Bangkokians but I don’t see how upcountry reds can manage that. Next big show is scheduled for Saturday and is intended to demonstrate red force to as many Bangkokians as possible. Have no idea what that could possibly achieve, especially the effect on the government.

News were dominated by the red split – Surachai of Daeng Siam and Khattiya breaking up with the core red trio of Veera, Jatuporn and Nattawut.

Well, these two joined the red movement to find an audience and boost their own importance, and it worked for a while, but the split is their loss, not the reds. They don’t have any followers on their own who’d leave with them.

That’s not the first time Daeng Siam (Red Siam) has a spat with the red trio, Jakrapob Penkair had a very critical article about them last year, too lazy to Google, but it was about different methods, Daeng Siam don’t believe peaceful protests would achieve anything (and they are right, at the moment).

Surachai is an old communist fighter who always wears a big red star on his mao style hat. He was linked to the killing of the Princess Vibhavadi some thirty years ago when communist fighters shot down a royal helicopter coming to the rescue of two soldiers who stepped on a land mine.

The name “Surachai” appeared in a recent book in Thai language, a collection of short stories from those years, and PAD were quickly link that name with this Surachai, that’s the extent of the allegation.

In another development, the government keeps channels of communication with red leadership open, especially with Veera Musigapong.

Veera is an interesting character, unfortunately not much information about him is available in English. This is what I gathered from bits and pieces I gathered in my memory over the years.

Veera comes from Democrat stronghold in the South and he started his career with Democrats, eventually rising to the Secretary General position in the mid 80s. Prior to that he was involved in a coup attempt and was sentenced to years in prison (the coup leader was sentenced to death). He served only a couple of years, though, as no one else but Prem came to his rescue and appointed him as a minister in his cabinet (early 80s).

It all was going well until Veera gave some anti-monarchy speech and was convicted of LM. He was pardoned after about a month in jail but lost his position with Democrats. He resurfaced under New Aspiration party and later joined TRT, the rest is history, as they say.

PAD accuses him of being ungrateful to Prem, with this new war on ammart, but the government sees him as a man with personal convictions rather than Thaksin’s stooge, and it hopes he could be reasoned and negotiated with. No one knows if it would lead to anything, but, I believe, it’s the thought that counts, the change in attitude.

Gothom Ariya came out with his own peace plan that might just work if both sides are ready to talk. His key points is a time frame and conditions for elections and an agreement to work out tough points later on.

Democrats would probably not mind if reds allow free, unhindered campaign in their strongholds and respect the current constitution – they believe that if reds lose they’d just say they don’t accept the military constitution and the country would go back to square one.

Reds would also have to recognize that some of their demands are impossible to meet “by noon”, as Abhisit said. The government cannot, and doesn’t have a mandate, to touch the Privy Council, for example.

Overall it’s the split between reds and PTP that is most promising – red might realize that they need a party of their own, just like PAD did last year, and join parliamentary process. That would be welcomed by all parties, from PAD to international observers.

Not all hope is lost.

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