Latest “developments”

I can’t bring myself to the same blow by blow following of the current “developments” after the intensity of the red rally.

I just can’t follow the tweets, compare them to the internet coverage and then to the final print versions on subjects as trivial as cabinet reshuffles.

Nevertheless, the latest movements need to be addressed, even if they were just long runs on a stationary fitness machine – lots of sweat but going nowhere.

So, Abhisit reshuffled the cabinet. Big deal. Mostly he just accommodated the greed of those Dem members who were left out of his first cabinet. He promised them ministerial places and he kept his word.

Then there’s a question of dealing with Phua Paendin. I think Abhisit wasn’t really punishing them but was more concerned with keeping his BJT allies happy instead. What does he care about a dozen “abstain” voices anyway?

BJT does, and they made it known, and Abhisit had to placate them.

To add 3D texture to this conflict consider that the BJT minister in question dared to defy Abhisit’s order to halt to the road extension in Khao Yai just a day after Abhisit went out of his way to protect him.

He has a point, btw, and a pertinent one. While environmentalists talk about protecting the forest and the right to enjoy the unspoiled views of Khao Yai on twisted roads, the minister talks of people who make a living there and who can’t stand sitting in traffic for hours everyday.

This is the paradox of wanting the “poor” to have equal opportunities and amenities and having to pay for it by sacrificing the nature. Do these environmentalists have any idea how many trees and canals had to be sacrificed to make their living in Bangkok so easy? Isn’t it hypocritical that when their countryside counterparts want the same convenience, Bangkok environmentalists scream “murder”?

I DO feel for the trees. They should have been either replanted or had a religious ceremony before removing them for good. I know our lives are supremely important, but the trees, the living entities that stood there for decades if not centuries, should be recognized too. They played no small part in forming Thai identity over these years. They ARE , literally, the roots of this nation. Not any less than ghost houses and shrines.

On the other hand, the new, “modern” Thailand, has no place for this kind of superstitious garbage.

Some more 3D texture to the reshuffle – not all Phua Paendin factions rebelled, some stay loyal to the government, and that faction includes former candidate for Prime Minister who lost a vote to Abhisit in 2008.

Here is your “unbreachable” gap – if PTP got its way, we’d have a PM who now vote for Abhisit anyway.

In the latest moves towards reconciliation DSI proposed an amnesty for rank and file red shirts who broke the Emergency Decree. Many questioned the need for such amnesty – do they even feel sorry to be forgiven? Do they feel they did anything wrong?

Someone mentioned that the law is lenient enough to such small time offenders, they have no real chance of facing persecution anyway.

Abhisit is so far quiet on the issue.

In the meantime the red leaders enjoying well deserved holidays in Cha-Am were finally moved to a remand prison in Bangkok. Now that’s unpleasant.

Abhisit appointed Kanit as a head of investigations in April-May violence. Red cheerleaders on the Internet and elsewhere immediately rejected him.

He, as they now say, let Democrats off the hook in land scandal back in the 90s.

Kanit was the Attorney General at that time and Democrats were put through the media trial and forced to resign. When the case reached Kanit he dropped it for the lack of evidence.

Now, these days, if someone, say Thaksin, is convicted by Thai media but the case can’t pass Attorney General’s requirements, how do you think red supporters, the self-appointed warriors against double standards, would react?

Red leader Veera, possibly unaware of politically correct moves outside, expressed full trust in Kanit. I bet some reds think he is an old fool walking into a government trap.

More on reconciliation – Abhisit promised to make a grand announcement one day then ended with a ten minute address saying that he’ll present his gift of “roadmap” in time for Christmas. I thought he was joking but it appears he is at least half serious.

Perhaps it just downed on him what this reconciliation and welfare society would truly mean. For half a century Thailand was pursuing the US development model – as much capitalism as possible, everyone for himself, and a relatively small government. To come up with a plan how to change it into a European model in a couple of months is impossible, not if you take the task seriously.

Off the top of my head – can people agree on some 20% value added tax, for example? Can they agree to pay taxes at all? Very few do and personal income tax is probably the smallest income source for the government. Who will pay for all this welfare? Thailand can’t afford to increase business taxes – it has to compete with the neighbors.

If it pays the workers western style wages – can it export its products?

Personally, I think it’s impossible to restructure the country, they’d have to make do with incremental changes but those changes don’t translate in catchy platform slogans.

Personally, I think Abhisit should spend less time on roadmaps and more time on explaining people how this country really works and what is expected of each particular sector of the society and how each sector can possibly improve and to what extent and who should be the agent of those changes, what sacrifices need to be made and by whom.

Unless there’s a thorough understanding of where the country is now, there’s no chance of getting public support to move in any particular direction, regardless of whether it’s a right move or not.

The problem is that reds (and yellows, for that matter), have subjected themselves to rigorous training in half baked “democracy” and overcoming their fossilized perceptions is going to be very very difficult.

There’s no other way, though, deprogramming is unavoidable if the government, any government, even PTP led one, is going to embark on massive socialist/welfare society building effort.

I think it’s possible to explain how the country works in a way the reds and yellows can agree – from cheap labor to voting to taxes. Everybody knows that already anyway, just no one openly talks about it without political prejudice.

And no, the monarchy and succession have nothing to with it.

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Misdebating in parliament

Just checked on what Chalerm had to say during the debate today, will leave it alone for now, the subject is very juicy indeed.

I don’t know what these debates are supposed to be for. No one has ever been censured, afaik, despite having them every year. In 2003 debate Democrats tried to nail the Finance Minister for Thaksin’s Ratchada deal – nothing came out of it, the coalition voted along party lines and the subject was laid to rest until independent investigators took the case to the court after the coup (independent of Thaksin, mind you).

Still, a good show for either side can certainly make a lot of difference, even though not through the parliamentary means. After 2005 debate that was centered on airport scanner scandal Thaksin had to remove Suriya from Transport Minister post, the public confidence in TRT government was severy shaken, just months after they swept 75% in the elections. Several months later Sondhi started his anti-Thaksin, anti-corruption shows and they quickly attracted thousands of people, and the rest is history, as they say.

Last year PTP brought up 2005 election campaign charges against the Democrats and the matter now is going to the court, even if the parliament didn’t acknowledge the charges, DSI and the EC did.

This year, however, the debate has lost all sense.

It’s more like a discussion board with two sides piling up youtube videos against each other. This is beyond silly, as the presenters give those anonymous, unverified videos a lot more weight than they deserve. A lot of them would simply be inadmissible in the court, I suspect, yet PTP wants to remove the Prime Minister on their strength.

As it always turns out, neither side can possibly claim a victory, they just dig up more suspicious pictures and images.

Quite often the presenters have no clue what was really going on, Phatumwanaram temple is probably the best example.

As I was following the debate on twitter some opposition MP presented a video of soldiers on BTS tracks. Suthep immediately replied that the video was taken a day later, as there was no smoke coming form Siam Paragon (?). The presenter, according to tweet translations, said the smoke was there last time he checked it but now it’s somehow gone. Several minutes later Suthep himself mistakenly attributes something to a different date. Today in the Nation the episode is reported as doubting fires at Central World, not Paragon.

A week ago Suthep claimed that the Italian journalist was killed in a grenade blast, side by side with a soldier. He was clearly wrong, probably confusing the Italian with another reporter, a Canadian.

How can anyone trust anything said by these people?

What qualifications do they have to perform this ridiculous investigation? How are they better equipped than your average Internet user like you or me?

I, for one, would NOT recommend any real world action based on whatever arguments I present here. I would need a real world proof, not some undated, possibly doctored pictures and videos somewhere on the Internet.

I don’t know who shot all those people at the temple, it could have been soldiers, but, if you want to prove it, you need to find what soldiers they were, what unit, under whose command, what was their tactical goal, what were their orders, rules of engagement, when did they move to the area, how long they stayed, what they have been doing all this time, why they were shooting inside the temple and so on.

In other words, you need a real investigation, summoning real witnesses and collecting real evidence, not some half arsed attempt to search the Internet for “truth”.

Same goes for a lot of other “evidence” that the army was shooting innocent people, especially on the first day of Rajprasong blockade when reds on the outside tried to break in trough the army lines by all means possible.

There was this red dude who decided to play with his laser pointer and flash it on the army positions.

WTF!?! You just don’t play this kind of games, pretending to be a spotter for grenade launchers, like on April 10.

He was shot in the head by a sniper right there and then. Was he innocent? Terminally so.

In another case reds commandeered a truck, don’t know what they tried to do, earlier they have tried to ram trucks and buses at army lines. Anyway, soldiers opened fire, shot the tires.

Was is a warning enough for red shirts? One of them got the point and refused to drive the truck any further. Another volunteered, as soon as he got behind the wheel he was shot dead. Was it soldiers’ fault? Really?

Sometime later, in the same area, in front of the same group of soldiers (afaik) reds tried to set up a tire barricade. Didn’t they get the message yet? Did they need any more warnings? What was the barricade there for if not to attack the troops with molotovs, among other things, or what if it was manned by M70 carrying types, with troops well within the firing range?

How did these red expect NOT to get shot there?

I’m not sure MY version of what happened there is correct, far from it. BUT, it could have been so, even more likely than setting up a peaceful protest site for a little bit of flag waiving, and a water truck was needed there to provide showers.

Nevermind the general ignorance of how things actually developed over these days, the underlying premise of the censure debate, that Abhisit and Suthep should be held responsible, is completely beyond me.

They didn’t order troops to shoot, they weren’t there, up until now they still have no idea what happened at the temple, for example.

Why should they be held responsible for some unidentified soldiers breaking their rules of engagement, or even for some commanders ordering their troops to do so? How’s that Abhisit’s fault?

So far there’s not a shred of evidence to suggest the killings at the temple could be traced back to Abhisit, not even a suggestion this connection exist.

Ok, some could say that Abhisit could have expected that engaging the army would result in innocent casualties. But so did Jatuporn and all the other red leaders. I’m referring to Jatuporn’s speech today where he said “How can I hire people to die? Can I hire Suthep for this job?”

Maybe he didn’t hire people to die, but reds’ determination to fight the army and die for the cause is well documented. How can red leaders deny responsibility for setting this mindset among their followers?

Another point that Abhisit mentioned yesterday once but which is generally overlooked – the army didn’t even try to disperse the rally, they set the blockade outside the perimeter and fought off the attacking reds, and, on May 19, they only break through Saladaeng barricade and secured Ratchadamri and Lumpini park only up to Sarasin intersection, well away from the red stage.

It just doesn’t go well with “Abhisit sent the army to kill protesters” accusation.

Ok, back to Chalerm “bomb” – he decided to grill Kasit for suggesting the society needs to talk about taboo subject like monarchy!

“We including Thaksin & his family have never considered les majesty law as an obstacle like Kasit does.”

There you go.

Where is Hobby with his undying support for the red cause AND for reforming LM laws? Where does the entire New Mandala brigade stand on this one?

Were they batting for this Chalerm team all along?

At the start of his speech Chalerm introduced himself as Thaksin’s disciple, btw.

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.

Roadmap week

With a visit to Chumphon I paid only scarce attention to political developments, occasionally checking tweets or flipping TV channels so I my opinion of what has happened since the roadmap was announced could be described as being from a distance, from a week afar.

I might have missed a few very important details that would have added some completely new perspectives, on the other hand, I might have a benefit of looking at a bigger picture, without getting mired in minor details that could sway one’s opinion when you are in the midst of it but don’t matter much when you look at it a week later.

When Abhisit first came up with a roadmap idea my first thought was: “Of course, if he is going to sign off dispersal order he must offer some sort of a last chance first, that’s the rules, it doesn’t mean much in itself.” The idea, however, took a life of its own with just about everybody having a very strong opinion about it.

More importantly, reds didn’t reject it outright, offering everybody a glimpse of hope they would go home. Dispersal orders moved to the bottom of the pile again.

One night I saw some news program with Deputy PM Korbsak answering questions about the roadmap. Twice a skeptical interviewer asked what would happen to the plan if he or any other Democrat MP came under attack in Isan, or if election campaign was mired in violence and grenade attacks. Twice he evaded the question in a worst way possible: “Why are you so negative, you have to think positively.” That turned me off completely.

A few hours later there were fresh explosions and shooting near Silom and two people lost their lives. I wonder how Korbsak feels about his “positive thinking”now? Would he offer this reply to the grieving wife of the young policeman?

Days have passed, however, and that episode of violence has faded from public memory, perhaps it was a test of public goodwill, patience and determination to see a peaceful end to the stand off despite the provocations.

Then there are red shirts who have managed to drag their feet for a whole week. Yesterday they agreed to go home if Suthep surrenders to the police. Suthep immediately agreed but now reds demand he surrendered to the red designated police office only, to which govt supporters reply – you lodged the complaints with DSI, why should Suthep go to CSP instead?

Are they bloody serious?

Their tactics might work on their faithful, but, just as with Chulalongkorn Hospital fiasco, they just annoy the hell out of people. Schools are about to start, they agreed to Nov 15 poll date in principle, and now haggling over which police station Suthep reports himself to.

That’s, I guess, where the reality stepped in. Despite their on-stage proclamations of staying true to the cause and not accepting any kind of amnesty or personal deals, they need their personal freedom first and foremost, and that means facing arrest warrants with zero possibility of bail for many of them.

I’ve long held an opinion that red devotees around the stage are kept there with a single purpose of helping the leaders avoid arrests, all their other, “democratic” demands having lost all chances of being met. They’ve spent weeks at Rajprasong rallying about military crackdown, not house dissolution or income inequality or ammarts or double standards.

One could argue that Abhisit roadmap is not addressing those problems in a meaningful way, but, to be honest, reds themselves have been less than forthcoming with their own ideas how to solve them, too. How could Abhisit possibly accommodate them if they themselves don’t know what they want?

Oh, they want him to dissolve the house, that’s all.

They could have easily negotiated Nov 15 elections if they didn’t leave the talks back in March, sparing the country dozens of lives and hundreds of injuries. Now we paid what, one life per day?

Somehow this grim math makes complete sense to red believers. They think it’s a victory. To be fair they didn’t agree to it at first but their leaders persuaded them that their human sacrifice has been worth it. They only need Suthep to report to CSP to balance it off completely. They also say there are many more where they come from.

Reminds me of the beginning of an old lawyer joke.

What’s two dozen deaths? A good start to rally against murderous Abhisit.

They need a lot more blood to succeed. Then they can move elections by another month.

The whole logic behind it is flawed, btw. These days it’s naive to expect Abhisit, or Samak or Somchai, for that matter, accepting personal responsibility for any deaths during the crackdown and fleeing the country ala 1973 or 1992. It’s more like 1976 when the public was firmly on police/village scouts side, though for completely different reasons.

Lots of people evoke 1976 memories and run around with CRES conspiracy map and Abhisit charges of anti-monarchy movement within red ranks, but, look around – no one paid scarcest attention to those accusations. In fact PAD has just lambasted Abhisit for not taking them seriously himself.

No, these days the public would support red removal because they have lost all democratic legitimacy.

Lots of people accuse government media for manipulating public into believing reds are dangerous terrorists. Duh!

The best way for the government to achieve that goal is to broadcast a few hours of red speeches on the public channels. That would settle public opinion on the matter once and for all.

No amount of government spin can serve as well as calling Abhisit a murderer or a buffalo twenty times in one hour. Instead the public is led to believe that all they talk about is injustice and democracy. That’s mainstream journalists self-censorship at work – they just filter out all the hatred and incitement to war.

At Chumphon resort they had ASTV on the cable, understandably, and I was surprised how mellow and boring it was by contrast with red speeches, and I caught it when all PAD honchos were making their statement on the roadmap.

In fact, their position makes a lot of sense, certainly an opinion Abhisit should not discount when taking a course of action. They warn that giving in to red demands, no matter by how many months, would only encourage them and move the battlefield from Rajprasong to the rest of the country, where they’d run elections in Zimbabwe style.

There’s also a question of real terrorists within red ranks. Those guys would definitely slip away and they definitely won’t go into retirement. Anyone could employ their services from now on and were haven’t seen the end of political killings and explosions yet.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s the price to pay for restoring normalcy now, and if the situation does not improve Abhisit is not obliged to dissolve the House, and there’s little prospect reds would be able to mount a fresh campaign any time soon anyway. Lots of ingredients must come together to bring the country to the brink, where it is now, the priority is to step back to safety. The situation might happen again in the future, it might not.

There’s logic in delaying the payment when you don’t have the means to settle the debt right away.

In the latest episode of Desperate Housewives, S06E22, Sarah and Mike decided to bite the bullet, rent their house out, and move into an apartment when they couldn’t settle their bills. They even refused their friends help, choosing to preserve their dignity instead. Next week we’ll find out how it turned out.

I don’t know how it applies to Abhisit, just as an argument that one must not be stubborn when so many lives are at stake, preserving one’s face is not in the same league as preserving lives. That could be Abhisit’s answer to PAD.

The rank and file of red protesters might look naive, even delusional, even dangerous, but certainly not deserving deaths in crossfire.

Random thoughts

Can’t find enough time to write a full size entry on any particular one, even though they all deserve proper attention.

So here it goes, in no particular order.

Thaksin’s new pix from his facebook:

Montenegro flag

This is Montenegrin flag. Pic dated Monday 26 but uploaded on Wednesday 28. Facebook link

And the latest one:

In Russia

Facebook link.

This is in Russia, judging by cyrillic on the sign. Someone noted that the shade is missing, I’m not convinced, though, not as clear cut case as with temple in Seychelles. If you didn’t see it, here is the thumbnail for “now you see him, now you don’t” trick.

Now you see him, not you don't

Temple in Seychelles

We are talking about officially released photo on Thaksin’s own facebook page.

Gives some weight to the theory that Thaksin is in fact in coma in Brunei. Abhisit thought he could sit it out but, as Thaksin refuses to die, his camp needs to release some pix and videos, delaying breaking the news to his faithful.

A temple in Chiang Mai associated with his family is, reportedly, has been contracted to hold a fake funeral ceremony, the idea being that after a fake funeral the karma would be cleared and there’d be no need to hold a real one. Gosh, makes him more difficult to kill than Lord Valdemort with his seven Horcruxes.

Suppose Thaksin really died, what would the impact be on the current crisis?

Change in ideology and demands is unlikely but the players behind the protest would certainly need to readjust their strategies, preparing for post Thaksin Thailand.

Would they call the dogs off? Possibly, but not guaranteed. It would depend on how secure they feel without the full scale revolution. As for rank and file proxies in politics, they’d need to reassess their ability to get elected on their own and whether backing the revolution would serve them any good. There is probably a hundred of those in parliament now.

That brings me to another thought – has the red movement outgrown Thaksin. Everybody says it is so, even Nation’s Thanong in his blog.

Well, what does it really mean, “outgrown”? Are they able to fight on their own, without his input? Yes, it appears to be so, there are several layers of command between him and the people by the red stage and they’ve got enough battery power left to continue for a while.

On the other hand, he is undeniably has been their main source of inspiration, and don’t forget that reds on the street is only one part of his movement, other parts and especially the leaders have been a lot more connected to Thaksin than the folks on the ground. Who knows what they would do without him.

Right now they are clearly winging it, they had no idea whatsoever that their protest would last this long and degenerate into open calls for civil war. You could say they have been successful so far but at a cost of losing all democratic legitimacy – the only way they can win is total overthrow of the state with arrest warrants against them nullified in the process. They can’t hope for bail anymore – most of them are already on bail for the last Songkran riots, it’s either jail or victory.

Would Abhisit promise them amnesty if they surrender? Possibly for some of them but people like Arisman and Kwanchai can forget about it.

Or would they force Abhisit to resign and have him begging for amnesty? They’d like that but they need a really big massacre for that to happen, and a clear proof that Abhisit gave the order to kill, otherwise it would be viewed as the army or police screw up rather than political responsibility, just as it happened after April 10.

Anyway, back to red rally size – have they outgrown Thaksin in any other sense?

From Thaksin’s point of view they are still doing exactly what he needs. Of course it’s a lot of mayhem and destruction to serve just one man, but, whichever way you look at it, it’s the only way to get him what he wants. Without overthrowing the state he can’t hope to get neither the money nor lost status and prestige nor avoid jail.

All he needs is to make sure reds are not deviating from this course. He can’t allow them to give up and enter the constitutional process. Have they outgrown him if they are still playing to his tune?

Just think about it – civil war is not in their interests at all. Even if they win, at a great cost to themselves and to the country, they’d still have to make a deal with their enemies – generals, ammarts, elites, yellows, multi-color, Democrats, middle classes – they are not going to go away, reds will still have to share the country with them one way or another.

Despite wide held delusions Thailand is not Burma, it’s insane to go through civil war because reds can’t wait a year and a half for the next election campaign which they believe they’d bag easily anyway.

So here they are, still dancing to Thaksin’s tune against their own interests. Have they outgrown him? Or have they fallen prey to a bunch of rabid Maoist revolutionaries instead?

What is Abhisit to do about this misguided bunch? Yellows and some multi-colors want him to get tough and show no mercy. Reds have pissed off a lot of people and arm chair warriors, the anger is out in the open and at times they look as mad as reds.

He has all justification for a crackdown he would ever need.

The other day I posted a comment somewhere about the latest HM the King’s speech about duty and that made me thinking.

I remembered Bhagavat Gita, the book central to most of Hindu religious schools. There are great many interpretations of what it actually mean but one thing stands out in the connection to the current Thai crisis.

Some background on that book – it’s just one chapter in a monumental epic Mahabharata, second only to Ramayana in size and fame. The whole story is about two parts of a family fighting for a throne. The “good” ones were cheated and sent to exile and when they served their time and came back the “bad” ones didn’t want to return them the throne. Eventually the situation escalated to the point when war was inevitable and the whole nation was divided. Cousins against cousins pulled all they could to their respective side. Some sons were faced against their fathers, disciples against their teachers and so on. Everybody belonged to one camp or the other.

So everything was ready for the battle, armies were facing each other in the field, all preparations completed.

That’s when Bhagavat Gita starts. Arjuna, leader of the “good” ones, confides in his closest friend Krishna that he has no guts to fight his relatives. He looks across the field and sees familiar faces he loved from his childhood and he just doesn’t have the stomach for it.

He argues that the war would bring destruction to the whole country and the victory won’t be worth the price, he doesn’t want the sin of killing people on his hands and therefore he offered to resign and spend the rest of his life as a monk.

Krishna didn’t buy any of it. He said that as a warrior it was Arjuna’s duty to go and fight to the best of his abilities to return what was taken to their rightful owners. Abandoning his duty would be a bigger sin, and, as for poor victims, they are already dead, so to speak, Arjuna just doesn’t know it yet. It’s not Arjuna’s worry to think who deserved to die and who doesn’t, as long as he sticks to doing the “right thing”.

Then Krishna explains the logic behind his argument and reveals that he is actually God himself and it’s him who kills people and administers their karma, not Arjuna or anybody else.

This part of the book is where all philosophy is and everybody understands it differently but the first, introductory chapter is rather clear, despite various allegories associated with it.

So, would it mean that Abhisit has to go out and kill those reds left and right and “let God sort them out”, as they say in the movies?

Not at all. Bhagavat Gita was Gandhi’s bible, too, and he clearly didn’t think violence was the answer. The key is understanding what the duty actually is. Arjuna was a warrior, Abhisit is a politician, Gandhi was Gandhi.

In yesterday’s interview with CNN and BBC HardTalk Abhisit expressed his duty as “to find a political solution in tandem with solving problem of law enforcement”. He is tempted by yellows to go and fight but that won’t bring a political solution so he has to stay put and test his resolve to find a way where there’s apparently none.

Will he be victorious? Arjuna, after all, took Krishna’s advice about duties, went out, killed those who needed to be killed, and ruled the country with his brothers happily ever after. Shouldn’t Abhisit be rewarded, too?

Not at all. I bet there were thousands of people on that day praying for divine advice, getting the same “do what you have to do” answer, but they got killed anyway!

That’s another trick – the rewards for doing your duty are not of earthly order but of spiritual. Earthly results might or might not come, one shouldn’t be thinking of results when doing his job to spare disappointment, or develop attachments, which are root of all misery even by Buddhist standards.

So, Abhisit should think carefully what his duty is, so far it looks reasonable even though improbable, and he should follow all the developments closely, resorting to the use of force only when there’s no other choice. Sometimes his supporters might feel the waiting is unbearable but he should be firm and keep emotions out of this one.

Reds are hell bent on starting a civil war, he should try to avoid that at all costs while maintaining the integrity of the Thai state and honor of his office.

Thaksin death could be a “deal breaker” here but the rumors of his demise are probably greatly exaggerated. Either way, it doesn’t look as quick a solution as it appeared last week.

People are getting used to red rally at Rajprasong, btw. It’s not a news anymore, reds need another escalation but so far haven’t found any working to their advantage.

That’s gone for too long and I’m hungry now, forget proofreading, maybe tomorrow.

Cheers

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…

Final Throes

The conflict is coming to an end, it just can’t go on like this for much longer. The question is – whose final throes?

News were coming fast and hard in the past couple of days with sentiment swinging wildly from one side to another in a matter of hours, and then the hell broke lose.

Reds have abandoned all pretense of civility and resorted to raw force, openly defying and confronting security forces. The city is entirely at their mercy and they abide no laws and show no respect to anybody.

On Monday they broke into EC building, I was in a taxi at the time and heard Arisaman inciting the crowds on the radio, calling on EC Chairman, Apichart, to come and meet them in person or they would go to his house themselves. Tulsathit tweeted another of his lines: “If you don’t dissolve Democrats, we’ll dissolve your lives”.

How on earth is it possible to run free elections when the EC is under such attack from a side that thinks it’s entitled to win?

Then reds marched to Democrat’s HQ and shortly after a grenade explosion injured two people.

Who in his right mind believes reds would allow Democrats run a free, unhindered campaign?

Then reds broke into the parliament compound, forcing MPs to flee over the fence in the back, with Suthep airlifted by a helicopter.

One red leader demanded House dissolution immediately.

At this point this movement needs to be dispersed and forced to abide by the rule of law, it’s beyond talks and negotiations, only, perhaps, on the terms of their dismantling.

In reality, however, Abhisit might not have the resources to enforce the laws. Anupong is against it, at least for now, and it’s currently Bangkok Post’s lead story on their website. Thanong goes even further, claiming that Anupong issued an ultimatum to Abhisit – 48 hours or we’ll announce a new governing coalition.

The problem with this plan is that Abhisit can dissolve the House anytime he wants regardless of generals plan. The only thing that can stop him is a no-confidence motion which would be impossible to start under red assault.

The other problem is that public opinion among the non-reds is quickly shifting towards crackdown rather than capitulation.

Tulsathit ran a tweet poll on this and, among govt supporters, crackdown is leading by 3 to 1 margin. There were only 500+ votes but all other pro-government posted opinions at the Nation are shaping in exactly the same way.

At this point it’s difficult to say what’s holding Abhisit back. Perhaps it’s Anupong’s refusal, perhaps it’s the fact that they started their operations at 9AM on public holiday when reds can mobilize tens of thousands of people in half an hour.

Shutting down this rally, which is now constantly on the move, is a huge challenge for either police or the army, even if Abhisit makes up his mind he’d still need to wait for a working plan and an opportunity.

In the meantime, Banharn is going on TV in a couple of hours, and if he capitulates we can start looking at a quite gloomy prospect of Zimbabwe style elections, run by reds with total impunity in many areas of the country, according to the law of the jungle, and against the wishes of the majority.

Post elections politics will be extremely vicious and, should Democrats form a new coalition, we’ll see return of the reds, and should reds win and try to push pro-Thaksin agenda, return of the yellows and pinks.

Or Abhisit could persevere, get police and the army on board, subdue the reds, and keep on running the country until the reds regroup and start their protests again. The difference would be that the scheduled elections will be already close and reds would be forced to actually campaign for something rather than against everything.