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Battle of attrition, reds rights, and Ricky Gervais

I’m typing this when everyone around has called it a day, the first day of Songkran, and I have nothing better to do than rant about politics when no one else is listening. You can completely disregard this post, I’m drunk and out of my mind.

Recap of the day – reds got less than welcome reception of their “parade the coffins” day. The government stole the show by blaming the terrorists and playing up the deaths among the troops who were killed by guns and grenades, no doubts about that left.

Reds were hoping they would come out on top, hoping that people would take their side as victims of government violence ala 1992, but now everyone has seen they have been nothing but peaceful and non-violent and they’d have a hard time trying to distance themselves from the “terrorists” in the public opinion. Jatuporn’s indirect admission that the terrorists existed didn’t help at all.

Here’s my take on what will happen – after Songkran Abhisit will come out smelling of roses, with public opinion firmly on his side. Reds will look like invaders who have clearly overstayed their welcome, and generals will begrudgingly accept new orders to cut red protests to a manageable size.

Gen Prayuth is reported as being pissed that his units came under “Ronins” fire and he is looking for revenge. Not a good sign for reds challenging his authority.

“Ronins” are on the run already and, knowing that, the army commanders will come up with more effective crowd control tactics, which should be made easier if they make it clear they won’t shoot only into the air if protesters don’t comply.

Reds just don’t stand a chance. They will have to get back into allowed space (I hope the government doesn’t restrict that) and that will be the end of it.

So, crowds will be a lot thinner, now that it is clear participants should be ready to sacrifice their lives, public opinion is firmly against violent confrontation, and people have a week of Songkran holidays to get over the emotional impact of Saturday’s deaths.

How many reds would come back for more?

I’m not even talking about the possibility of the rumor about “Ronins” killing red protesters themselves registering in the supporters minds. How many would come back for more, knowing they could be killed by their own in the name of the cause?

The government has not played that card so far, but non-red internet community has been very vocal about it. What will happen when that rumor reaches the RED community? We are talking about playing with lives, not politics here.

Overall, reds made two crucial mistakes.

First, they bet on non-reds going along with their line – army shooting people and so on. Things have changed, their audience is a lot more sophisticated than twenty years ago and their cry fell mostly on deaf ears while their core supporters don’t give a fuck about killings – wrong demographics.

Second, they made their move too close to Songkran. If the government didn’t fall before a nine day holiday, there will be no pressure at all after people come back.

Abhisit will have to call for a new round of talks, but the concessions reds will have to make for that to happen would be unacceptable to their leaders, arrest warrants and all.

Now, back to the original title of this post.

I’ve just watched episode 2 of Ricky Gervais show on HBO (downloaded illegally, sorry about that).

The overall theme is unmistakable.

They started off with the news about a single African lion disseminating the whole Cambodian Midget Fighting League in twelve minutes. 28 midgets were killed and 12 have suffered various injuries.

“Was the lion unhurt” screamed the audience. “Yes, the lion seemed to be ok”.

Then they talked about old people and charities for a while, then the same theme came back on again.

There was a news item about of two chimps who broke out of their wild life sanctuary after they subdued the guards by biting their noses and genitals.

“What happened to the chimps?” – “They were shot by authorities”

“How unfair! They should have used tranquilizers or something” – “But they were chewing people’s gonads off!”

And it all ended with “Monkey news” where some chimp insisted on feeling one of the zookeepers’ breasts. She didn’t comply, was fired, and they imagined what kind of an ad the Guardian would run to replace her.

Here it is:

Government wanted...

Replace that for Thai government…


11 Responses

  1. Abhisit may or may not smell like roses, but he’s still going to be the (puppet) captain of a sinking ship – how long do you think they can hold off fundamental change in the Thai ‘system’ ? (or do you expect Burma/Thailand?)

    Just like Thaksin was an accidental democrat, the red’s might be bringing about changes in ways they had no intention of doing – for starters some taboos have already been lifted if reports of last night’s Australian ABC TV’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’ are correct.
    You should try to get a copy StanG:)

  2. Stan an off-topic question: This is a sensitive topic, can’t write clearly. But what’s your take on a theory that a certain important son may be a buddy with Big T and his mother firmly on the other PAD side of things. What’s in store if that’s the case ? Or is there nothing to it?

    • I think there’s a very very limited scope for any kind of personal intervention.

      Thai institutions – parliament, government, civic movement, media, army, red shirts, PAD – are way too big and assertive to be easily manipulated.

      This morning I read about Banharn trying to solve the problems old fashioned way – bring in the “seniors”, Chuan and Banyat, talk to Thaksin, amend the constitution without public participation and so on.

      That’s your ultimate amartya, behind the curtains dealings that completely exclude the current set of legitimate players.

      Abhisit and Suthep are in no mood to give up but what’s it matter to Banharn, he just wants to ease the pain of state capitulation before reds, and thinks that a simple handshake between Chuan and Thaksin will solve everything.

      Don’t discount the strength of the public opposition to red occupation, too.

  3. Abhisit may or may not smell like roses, but he’s still going to be the (puppet) captain of a sinking ship – how long do you think they can hold off fundamental change in the Thai ’system’ ? (or do you expect Burma/Thailand?)

    Just like Thaksin was an accidental democrat, the red’s might be bringing about changes in ways they had no intention of doing – for starters some taboos have already been lifted if reports of last night’s Australian ABC TV’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’ are correct.
    You should try to get a copy StanG:)

  4. @Hobby:

    The amartya will burn Thailand rather than allow true democracy (with all its flaws). This is a part of the Thai psyche.

    Abhisit will not resign until he has no choice, this also is the Thai psyche.

    The disinformation will continue that this is about Thaksin, it isn’t. It’s about what they felt entitled to do about Thaksin. Disinformation and propaganda are the tools of the amrtya and they have served them well.

    We will see more blood-letting, the gods of war are not yet satisfied. Suthep and co were the first to continue hostilities because they (the amart) believe implicitly in their divine right.

    Thailand is already a failed state according to most benchmarks I have seen, it is now ungovernable.

    Before a great building can arise, first the old building has to be demolished. What we are seeing right now is that immutable process. It cannot be avoided if real change is to occur. What will rise from the ashes is either a new Burma or a new democracy, there is no middle ground here.

  5. Agree with you Anonymous – as the eye opening continues it means its only a choice between new democracy or new Burma.
    (there’s no way that genie is going back into the bottle)

  6. Hobby: I think that genie will go back in the bottle when the funding dries up. There is obviously a large array of various Red shirt types, but I think many are of the kind that expects 100,000b when Thaksin returns (as one wide-spread rumor among the maids in Bkk has it). From what I can gather there are just about 5,000 left on the streets of Bkk right now. The much bigger problem is the Black and “People’s”armies.

  7. PMugghc: I prefer Pasuk & Baker’s take over yours – see WSJ today.

    But I agree there’s a long way to go – until coups are delegitimized and coup leaders are punished as traitors, then Thailand will continue to be a political shambles.

    There needs to be much more scrutiny as to how coups have continually been legitimized, and a broad dissemination of information disclosing who is really responsible for that situation persisting.

  8. Sorry StanG- I was logged in under wordpress
    (Nganadeeleg = Hobby)

  9. What we know for sure by now:

    It’s neither a popular movement nor a people power.

    A few thousand people hold the nation hostage. Anyone claiming majority popular support is as propaganda-infested as when the yellows claimed majority support.

    A surprisingly tight red organization can drag the whole saga on and on, but as we all know not in the name of democracy.

    Abhisit? Playing the “ignoring game”? The reds have become predictable, so it’s only logical for him to keep quiet to not add unnecessary oil to the fire.

    Has it become embarrassing to support the provocative struggle of the reds? Yes and no. No because their fight is partially legitimate. Yes because the way they fight doesn’t represent democratic means.

    They only enforce the practice of: Hey, I don’t like it, so I protest until you die or give in!

    Safe to say that many people are longing for more constructive red politics. This drama now has nothing to do with a struggle of and for the poor. It’s banana republic tactics, it’s a dictate of anarchy.

    Abhisit doesn’t look weaker. If he can contain the reds for some time they may keep on threatening and cursing and accusing, but why take them seriously when they spurn so many other people and their rights?

  10. Through my observation, Abhishit is not different from Hun Sen of Cambodia. They have no sincerity to their subjects and respect for the free speech sosiety.

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