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Who is missing in this chaos

The red shirts, that’s who.

Ever since they’ve been told not to wear red at Rajprasong so that soldiers wouldn’t know who to shoot, they’ve been wearing anything but red even outside their camp.

Methinks the real reason was the emergence of anti-red/multi-color movement. It was an awakening for reds who previously thought the population was firmly behind them.

In late March lots of people were driving around with “Dissolve the House” stickers and red ribbons on their antennas. Don’t tell me they took them off because they were afraid the army would shoot them.

Reds went “underground” the moment they gave up on their symbols in public. They fully, even if unconsciously realized that they were no longer welcome in the society.

I say unconsciously because they never admitted this change. Not to the degree that it was acknowledged through their usual communications channels. If it was filtered out intentionally from the red stage or red media that were supposed to reflect the general red feelings, no one protested and no one demanded the truth. If the thought ever occurred to them, they just let it go, keeping it tormenting them from inside. They knew they were wrong, they just didn’t want to admit it.

And so pent up fury and rage had blown off the lid in the past week’s anarchy. Very few of the protesters could be identified as reds. Interestingly, it appears that only hard core, armed protesters wore any signs of distinction, not paying much attention to what others think of them. The majority, the innocent/harmless/unarmed ones didn’t want to flaunt their affiliation anymore.

I bet the trend will continue with everybody and his dog denying flat out any connection to yesterday’s burning of Bangkok or tire burning of the days before. No one would admit any responsibility.

“I WAS red but not this kind of red”, they’d say.

Who will represent the political aspirations of this movement, I wonder? If PTP has never been trusted as pursuing people’s interests before it would be even less so now, when they disown the movement. Ideally PTP politicians should go through some serious soul-searching and accept both the burden of yesterday’s violence AND the burden of responsibility to carry on with the people’s agenda, but, seriously, they don’t do soul-searching, waste of time to speculate what they’d say if they did.

Practically it means that the grassroots red shirts will be left out, again, betrayed by their leaders and political representatives.

What’s more – they don’t seem to realize that yesterday marked the beginning of their election campaign and no one, no one would vote for them anymore.

Their slogan seems to be “Other parties promise to build. We promise to BURN, and we deliver”

In the end, only Abhisit is left to address their real needs and grievances. He is the only one ready to overlook the hostility from the red side and ignore pleas from his own supporters to erase them from the face of the Earth.

If he doesn’t look after the red ramp, no one else will.


28 Responses

  1. I do not understand the structure of how the red leaders are being elected. Are they pick for their talent as a public speaker or being a coward. Who is the Chief of the leaders.

    The red leaders don’t seems to have unity among themselves. the verdict, is there is no Kapitan / Chief among them.

    In which country or continent there isn’t a President or Prime Minister . There they are insisting abishit to step down and the leaders themselves are not well organized. There is no spokesman for the reds.

    Anyway, the red leaders deserved to be bash up by the protester . They have done this on both occasions . Only to surrender when they feel enough of innocence life is lost in the struggle.

    The government on the other hand is united and firmed. I have to take my hats off to the old and experienced general behind abishit. He is mean and he got the power even at his age.

    I believe , one man cant fight the whole Nation. Here you are red protester. You are on your very own with little choice left. Do not make a third mistake by following the blind and scarecrow.

    All the reds have come this far, they have lost their dear friends, relatives, loves one . To those who died bravely against the bullets of neighboring armies .

    They must die with a cause and justice. Reds must go on till they find justice to those innocence who has sacrifice for the future Generation.


    • Their undisputed leader is Thaksin, without him there’s no clear leadership – speakers on stage are just for show, PTP is a political wing, there’s also a military wing, there are also strategists and policy makers behind the scenes and they are all united only by their loyalty to Thaksin who oversees and coordinates their actions.

      Like I said, if reds really want to solve their problems they should turn to Abhisit. I know they’d prefer Thaksin but he is not running and his proxies offer no hope.

  2. It’s really astonishing how little attention all the analysts and media has given the non-Reds. We’ve seen all kinds of interview of reds on CNN, BBC etc (with the usual BS “no, we’re not armed, no we’re not paid, we’re just fighting for democracy” bla bla!), but almost nothing about ordinary people in Bangkok and around the country. How do they feel about this red menace ? How will this affect the PTP in the coming election ?

    • Don’t expect any in depth coverage from big name international media, they are simply not designed for that purpose, and it’s too far from home to care.

      Remember the infamous Afghanistan “mind map”? Americans have been fighting there for ten years and the public still has no idea how complex situation really is.

      Today there was a woman on CNN analyzing Thai situation who had no idea how to pronounce the name of the HM The King, yet her point was that the King is a crucial center piece.

      A couple of days ago another CNN “analyst” was saying with supreme confidence that Thai army is a blunt instrument without any experience in crowd control. Obviously he wasn’t covering last year riots. Even this year, the assault on the red fortress itself resulted only in two deaths.

    • They should interview her. She’s complaining that she has parents and family to feed but now her shop in Center One destroyed by fire and saying how come Thaksin doesn’t care about all those shopkeepers who have absolutely nothing to do with the conflict and have families to feed.

      But i guess int’l media not that interested about non-red low income owners, so is it the poor or Thaksin that they defend?

  3. Somtow Sucharitkul (a composer, author and media personality) made these observations:


    – The only people who do not seem to care about the reds’ actual grievances are their own leaders, who are basically making everyone risk their lives to see if they can get bail.

    – Abhisit, with his thoroughly Western and somewhat liberal background, shares the values of the West and is in fact more likely to bring about the social revolution needed by Thailand’s agrarian poor than any previous leader. He is, in fact, pretty red, while Thaksin, in his autocratic style of leadership, is in a way pretty yellow. Simplistic portrayals do not help anyone to understand anything.

    • I think that’s a very interesting observation! Thaksin just used the poor people as a tool to gain power, it was a cheap price for him. But Abhisit is probably the most honest and caring PM Thailand has had in quite a while. But the Democrats must improve their campaign skills, how to get the message out. Obviously all of Thailand needs to be accessible for the election too, without mobs stopping you at the airport, searching vehicles etc.

      • I don’t think Abhisit should pay much attention to elections in Isan/North and concentrate on governing the country and doing something instead.

        It’s not too difficult to maintain his coalition even if Dems get less votes than PTP

    • I admit Somtow’s ideas influenced mine though I didn’t think about him specifically when I wrote my blog

      • at least one foreign media (The Guardian, UK) has started to wake up:

        “….Many in the capital who had been partially sympathetic to the red cause were shocked by the apocalyptic turn of the endgame…..The anarchy of the past days has driven many previously non-committed Thais firmly into the anti-Thaksin camp.”

  4. I’m still weening myself off Bangkok Dan’s site, but cannot resist checking it occasionally.
    (though I will not bother to comment there anymore because, in addition to adopting the ThaiVisa censorship model, Dan outright blocks comment that challenge his opinion – I’m not wasting effort in those circumstances)

    Anyway I saw your latest comment over ther,e where you mentioned Abhisit has talked about reconciliation – can you provide any evidence of him actually doing anything towards the reconciliation route other than talk ?
    (such talk which is routinely contrdicted by the actual actions of his government)

    Also do you think his playing the (1976 style) royalty card was action befitting a PM or statesman?
    (particularly when one considers the Thai propensity to brutality – I could link to the 1976 videos again if you dont believe it exists)

  5. Welfare state/society term has actually come from one of the state run development boards, I don’t know if the study was commissioned by the government itself but Abhisit was happy to accept the concept as his own.

    I expect it to be an integrated effort demanding a broad range of legislative proposals, I won’t expect Abhisit to put some real meat on it yet.

    Most of the time the govt was concerned with Thai Khaem Keng project, it’s big enough to keep them busy and wait for concrete proposals on how to move with the “welfare society” project.

    Even in Thai Khaem Keng there are plenty of plans that should address the fundamental problems reds publicly present as reasons for their fight.

    Off the top of my head govt moved on debt problem, rice subsidies, education and taxation already. It’s not much but for one year in office marred by two massive, paralyzing protests it’s not that little either.

    Honestly, despite all the flaws of govt machinery, I don’t understand why you claim Abhisit hasn’t done anything on that set of issues. However little, it hasn’t been doing anything else either, apart from dealing with protests.

    Don’t forget that lots of key ministries are outside of Democrat control, too, and even if they were – Democrats alone will never be able to affect any significant changes, one party would never have enough resources, it would always have to be the work of the coalition.

  6. IMO, the bigger grievance of the red’s is their political disenfranchisement and the clear double standards – what has Abhisit done to address that?

    See this old article which I think articulates well what the red movement is really about.
    Is it any coincidence that it was written by someone with the surname Yimprasert?
    (presumably you are aware that a Chula Uni Professor by that surname is currentlly being held in detention – what do you think of such actions by the Thai govt/junta?)

    • Moving goalposts again.

      Unlike the wealth and development gaps, political disenfranchisement is a complete fiction.

      Which of the red shirts doesn’t have an MP representing him?

      On Monday those representatives will grill the government in censure debate and they all vote for or against.

      That’s how representative system works.

  7. Are you seriously defending the coup, constitution tearing up, judicial interventions & military actions/inactions?

    You must be completely blind if you don’t see the double standards in Thailand – they are throughout the whole structure – it’s a rotten system (Kasian calls it royal hegemony)

    Guys like Thaksin & Chalerm are symptoms of the rotten system, not the causes. Whilst he benefitted in the past from the double standards, Thaksin in learning valuable lessons now on what it’s like for most Thai’s when they go beyond their station.

    btw, regarding red shirts having an MP to represent them – what happened to their PM, and over hundred other MP’s of theirs?

    I saw a good post somewhere today (might be Pundit’s site) along the line that the A team (TRT) was undefeated, and got taken out by the ref, then the B team (PPP) managed to win and again got taken out. Now the C team (PT) is at the gate and still looks like winning, so the ref cannot risk another election till he’s got all the right linesmen & scorers in place.

    Can you explain why the airport invaders are still free, and one is even foreign minister, and insulting countries near and far?

    Why is faulty tear gas cannisters killing 2 protesters (or a building burning down) considered more serious than dozens getting shot by govt ordered military snipers?

  8. btw, please feel free to answer the questions I asked you in the last two posts (that’s why I put a ? after the sentences 🙂

  9. Sorry about the different names, but you know the drill (Hobby = Nganadeeleg = Me:)

  10. btw, are you on Twitter?

  11. Hobby, don’t worry about names, I know who you are.

    Protesting against the way Dems came to power was a valid reason a year ago, not half way through their term.

    You, and many others, have mentioned that back in 2008 Abhisit was citing an example of Korea where mass demonstration against beef deal led to govt resignation (or was it one minister?) The key difference is that protesters there took to the streets in just three days, not a year and four months.

    Even reds themselves are not arguing that coalition partners are held hostages to the military and so are staying with Democrats against their will.

    That train has sailed.

    As for double standards – no red has been prosecuted for last year riots, in fact they were given a completely free pass to organize another round or mayhem and anarchy so their cries that they have been singled out are just lame.

    The argument about 111 team A and another 38 (not a hundred) team B is worth considering but even reds are not confining themselves to the fight for the rights of those politicians.

    As for the trigger for the protest again – verdict against Thaksin two weeks earlier or a military sponsored deal a year and a half ago – not a very difficult choice.

  12. I’m on twitter but I rarely tweet myself, I’m not the source of any kind of news.

    You can check out my lists if you want


    I’ve sorted them out only after the protests have ended, during rush time it was all in one.

    If you want my opinion – I’m severely disappointed in Federico and Bangkok Pundit’s tweets during the siege. Federico has gone complete nuts while BP has probably gave in to the pressure and let his personal feelings to break through his self imposed barrier of impartiality.

    I’m actually developing some serious questions about the whole nature of BP’s blog, afterall he is ‘stealing’ the news produced by others, and he normally limits his own input, and he gets paid for all of that!

    While The Nation pays good money to their reporters, pay for their equipment, flak wests, crews and vehicles and what not, BP just copies their work and takes a piss at their coverage? It just doesn’t compute.

    It’s not black and white, mind you, as his translations of Thai newspapers are unique, but then again, he goes for pro-red/anti-yellow Matichon for the staple and for Kom Chad Luek, part of the Nation group, when he wants to deride the govt for something, as if no other Thai paper ever prints anything ridiculous.

    I can’t made my mind about it right away.

    This is one reason I haven’t posted any new entries recently – I’m in the process of reassessing so many things after the riots I don’t know what I want to say first.

    I’m also taking a break from nitty-gritty details and that makes me feel I have missed something important as “events – twitter – next day news” connection puts a considerable strain on my trust in what I see in the paper – I need tweets to back it up now. On the other hand, tweets are reliable only as long as you have numbers and diversity, and those are not available in “peace” time.

    I’m pretty sure I would have worded all of the above differently if I was sober, but that’s not the case on this Saturday night (as if it ever was, duh!)

  13. I think history shows that the ‘tran doesn’t sail’ until the wrong has been undone (or at least decent, fair attempts have been made to do so) – that’s something those with their hand up Abhisit’s back just don’t seem to understand.

    I’ll check out the twitter stuff.

    How’s the head this morning? – wish I could post sounds, as I’d send you a big BOOM (just for fun:)

  14. Regarding Pundit’s excellent site and the Nation’s rot, there’s simply no comparison.

    Here’s a challenge for you, try to do a ‘Not the Pundit’ post and do to Pundit what ‘Not the Nation’ does to The Nation – that may change your mind about the relative worth of each, or it might enable you to match Pundit’s vast income:)

    Even though he’s a cynic, Federico also has a heart (unlike those calling for blood during the protest – if I had the time & inclination I should go and save the tweets of the bloodthirsty so they can de discredited forever after, but I’m just too lazy.:)

    I think Federico’s take on things is refreshing and a valuable contribution to the debate. He, like most of the good Thai academics, still have to self censor, but at least he’s cutting through to the core problems, not trying to cover them up like the Somtow, Anand, Prawase, Cunningham types.

    I still reckon the single best initiative to start the improvement of Thailand is the detoothing of the LM laws and Computer Crimes Act – The propaganda can then be seen for what it is, the education system improves, people learn to think, and you never know they may even elect someone like an Abhisit (pre his becoming the Butcher of Bangkok of course, only the uneducated, inhumane would elect the current Abhisit)
    If you really care about Thailand and it’s people that’s what you should be campaigning for.

    btw, lets hear your (not Trep’s) thoughts on the detention of the Chula history professor, and the way Abhisit played the 1976 style royalty card.

  15. So what’s the story about Bkk Pundits paymaster, is it Thaksin ? He has denied that in the past.

    Re reporters: I think Philip Cunninghams articles in the IHT have been the best from foreign reporters.

  16. Federico Ferrara unfortunately lost all credibility as an academic. Follow his tweets? That’s tough stuff, sweet hatred. Pity any university employing such a hothead.

    Pundit has a way of saying things tongue-in-cheek making politics a highly pleasant experience. He’s not beaten by anyone and made clear several times he’s not really happy with the way things are going.

    And people naming others Butcher of Bangkok, well, what do you waste your time listening to such sublime analysis.

  17. “I think Philip Cunninghams articles in the IHT have been the best from foreign reporters”

  18. Hobby/nganadeeleg, I’m glad I made you happy!

  19. Protesting against the way Dems came to power was a valid reason a year ago, not half way through their term.
    You, and many others, have mentioned that back in 2008 Abhisit was citing an example of Korea where mass demonstration against beef deal led to govt resignation (or was it one minister?) The key difference is that protesters there took to the streets in just three days, not a year and four months.
    Even reds themselves are not arguing that coalition partners are held hostages to the military and so are staying with Democrats against their will.
    That train has sailed.

    I don’t quite get you. Why would that be any less valid a reason for holding protests today than it was last year? What was wrong back then remains wrong today imho.

    • Massive grass roots protests are always highly emotional responses to some trigger event.

      Valid reason or not, but Abhisit election is past its emotional expiry date, as if you tried to bring up some year old incident to start a new fight with your gf/wife, and it’s not like you’ve never mentioned it before.

      As for the initial argument itself – by now, almost a year and half later, it’s silly to claim that coalition MPs are being forced to support the govt against their will, and as long as they willfully support Abhisit – he is the legitimate PM.

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