Democrat dissolution case court verdict

A lot have been said about the recent decision to drop the case against Democrats in 29 mil fund case. The details are confusing, I don’t see any hope in trying to reconstruct the whole case as it happened, and it won’t matter anyway as people have already made their minds regardless of the “truth”. Many have made their minds long before the verdict.

What is missing in the ongoing public debate, however, is a look at the big picture.

First of all, the court is made of people, and people are social entities, they cannot be absolutely impartial and they cannot totally ignore attempts at pressuring them.

Ten years ago, in Thaksin hidden funds case, hardly anyone was surprised at the court decision. Many were disappointed that the court didn’t show as much heroism as they expected but anyone who has ever lived here knows very well that everyone has his limits, and I don’t know anyone who is ready to be a hero to the end, despite threats and/or enticements. Everyone bends to pressure. Fact of life.

What happened in Democrat case was a backlash against an attempt to bend the court again. After a barrage of video clips implicating court members in some nefarious activities, the court just snapped. People who tried to manipulate the court this way, or cheered the release of each new video, shouldn’t be surprised that judges didn’t interpret technicalities in their favor and they’ve lost the moral right to complain of prejudice, double standards etc.

The case itself was ridiculous from the start, nothing but a fertile ground for propaganda warriors. Ask anyone – what exactly have Democrats done wrong? All you get is vague references to “corruption”.

A couple of days before the verdict The Nation printed a graphic with details of prosecution charges. The ones that made most sense were “Dems printed their posters one inch shorter than specified”, “Dems used posters for local candidates campaign instead of advertising their party policies” and “Dems spent money in 2004 for 2005 elections”. Yeah, right, “2005” elections means third week in January and the campaign officially started months before that – prosecution was just being anal. And that’s basically all Democrats were accused of.

This ugly case had met its ugly end and that’s all there is to it.

It wasn’t the courts most memorable moment, true, and months have been wasted on questioning the witnesses, but, perhaps, the decision to end it fast was made only recently, when youtube clips started leaking out and when the prosecution hand was fully revealed – they were never out seeking justice, it was a dirty political war.

Technically it was the EC that filed the charge but everyone knows PTP was the one on the attack there.

As for the EC itself – they’ve made quite a mess out of it, but why waste time picking on the details without taking into consideration red mob that broke into EC premises and threatened the lives of the commissioners? That “little detail” is hardly ever mentioned nowadays.

Did the EC try to dupe the reds to get off their backs, in full knowledge that the case won’t go anywhere? Did they, or Apichart, know about 15 day deadline that had long passed?

Doesn’t matter anymore. Reds tried to get their way by force and it didn’t work. Now let EC sort it out itself – no one else was in their meetings, we are in no position to guess the internal dynamics of their decision making processes at that time.

In the end both the Constitution Court and the EC have “compromised” themselves, as one side put it, or proved themselves human, as I, personally, believe.

I also believe that the popular “destroying institutions” crusade is juvenile at best. Grow up, will you? People need to trust something or someone. You destroy one thing and it will be replaced with another in no time. Such is the nature of human society.

And for the rest of us the lesson is – be careful with pressuring courts, the EC, the military etc. Public institutions do not perform well under pressure, and it won’t even matter if you succeed and for the righteous cause or not, there will always be a bitter taste of manipulation left in someone’s mouth, and if you destroy them you get nothing at all, just ruins.

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Rectification of names

Rectification of names is an ancient Confucian doctrine that, in essence, is calling a spade a spade, only applied to societies. Confucius believed that people masquerading as something else would eventually lead to social disharmony, and, in order for society to succeed, people declaring themselves as such and such should behave accordingly. No bullshitting, so to speak.

It’s what keeps red shirts together here – they know who Thaksin is, for example, who are his favourites, who represents him or anyone else and so on. Politicians can call themselves this and that but, ultimately, people know where their power comes from, what family they belong and whether they have their clan support or not. Samak declaring himself Thaksin’s proxy was a bold move on the surface but in reality he was just practicing “rectification of names”, and everybody knew what the deal was anyway.

Lately there has been a parade of Thaksin proxy wannabes and PTP found itself in turmoil because no one knew who the real proxy was. Finally Thaksin himself had to step in and tell everyone to wait for his decision and so PTP members shouldn’t believe anyone pretending to have any special powers. Rectification of names again.

Well, the world has progressed since Confucius times, he was talking about father and son, the rules and servants. Life wasn’t so complicated in those days. Now we have a whole bunch of new phenomena that requires careful consideration.

So, I have given it a long thought and finally I gave up on things like “benefit of doubt” and possibilities that there is something more than meets the eye. Let’s call a spade a spade.

The problem is that I still don’t know what a proper name should be, for example, for a popular movement that genuinely believes that the cream of the society is rotten and it needs change, that the elites have abused their positions for too long and they must answer to the public, that power and wealth should be returned to people.

What label to put on this movement, which is at the same time bankrolled by the richest segment of the population and led by exactly the same people the movement is rallying against. Nuts?

Nothing else, even remotely respectful, comes to mind. Idiots make mistakes but they are hardly dangerous, the worst kind are the idiots who think they are actually educated and who feel entitled, and are willing to impose their mistakes on you, oblivious to any sense or reason.

This week they will come out and make themselves heard, at midterm American elections.

I was talking about the Tea Party, of course.

If the supposedly better educated Americans can be so hopelessly deceived, I completely gave up on our local red shirts.

It all makes sense, though, if you treat them as Astrorurf – a brand name for artificial grass carpets, artificial grassroots.

Both movements have members really buying into their causes, that’s a fact. Over in the States they are angry at the big and inefficient government, over here they blame the elites instead. They are angry at the elites in the US, too:”The elite’s fear and loathing of the tea party movement is rooted in the recognition that the real change is only now coming,” – Tony Blankley. I’m sure you can find a lot more quotes in the same vein.

This kind of rhetoric is all too familiar.

The Astroturf creators played out on a whole sleigh of these largely dormant sentiments to stir up a real revolution against their current enemies. They saw the opportunity to use the useful idiots to their own ends and they seized it.

In both cases the movements still work for the ultimate benefit of the richest class and corporations. Over in the US they already control the country and, most importantly, the general population, and the government is the only entity that dares to stand in their way, so it must go. Here in Thailand the situation is very similar, the government and the elites stand in the way of Thaksin’s return.

What is truly remarkable, though, is the ability of those rich cats to control population minds, to impose their ideas and to convince the ordinary folks to even act against their self-interest. They have proved beyond any doubt that propaganda pays. For people who made fortunes by advertising their products, shift to political propaganda was seamless and it is pretty much an established fact of life in the West – politicians are nothing but products who live by the rules of marketing, on all sides.

The traditional concept of “democracy” has become meaningless – all we see is farming voters, developing and nurturing them and weeding out any troublemakers. And then out comes the ultimate product of genetic engineering – Tea Party like grass roots movements that completely identify themselves with corporate agendas.

About a month ago one of their millionaire leaders conceived a donation campaign, asking people to come online and give $10 to American Chamber of Commerce. That was a cruel joke – the board of that organization probably has a lot more money than all these misguided donors combined – Pfizer, Conaco, Lokheed Martin, JP Morgan, Rolls Royce… Poor souls still came out in force and crashed Chamber’s servers. Idiots.

Over here we have red shirts collecting money for the red cause, too. Let’s all help Thaksin come back and establish democracy. Duh.

For those who insist that reds have moved beyond Thaksin – just a couple of weeks ago he personally told PTP meeting that he would direct their election strategy, set up the platform and select the PM candidate. PTP resolved that bringing back Thaksin would be their major issue. As for reds – they will be given the opportunity to run in elections if PTP doesn’t have strong candidates themselves. Just like republicans in the US where they sport quite a few Tea Party candidates on the ballots.

Anyway, debating the merits of either Tea Party of Reds is a waste of time. There’s nothing left to prove there.

So let’s move on.

Of a particular interest in this regard are the PR people who manage the movement. Over in the US it’s all republican machinery through and through. Over here the masterminds stay in shade, with the exception of Amsterdam who represents red shirts internationally. Oh, hold on, officially he is paid by Thaksin, but, of course, there’s no practical difference.

He claims he is not in for the money (duh!), that he is in for the cause. Well, I, for one, believe him, to a degree. I believe he fully supports the cause – corporations and rich people should rule the world. He also supports the modern day methods of slavery – dragging people into electoral process that falls under full control of big money.

A few months ago Amsterdam wrote about “state capture” where a few privileged individuals make all the important decisions while the general public is left with the image of democracy and a notion that they really matter. Amsterdam learned all about it while working in Russia, for one of those privileged few who fell from grace, so he had access to the inside knowledge of how it works. Fine, don’t want to argue about that, but, look at the free world and tell me there’s no “state capture” there.

Take some most important decisions of the past decade and tell me people were consulted. Financial bailouts – no. People were just told that it was necessary, there was no debate. Iraq war – no, people were not asked, they were brainwashed to believe that it was for the right cause. Just these two decisions benefited the corporations to the tune of trillions of dollars. People were left to fight for crumbs like medicare instead, something they should be entitled to anyway, and they were reduced to fighting amongst themselves.

So yeah, I believe Amsterdam fully buys into this kind of democracy – protecting corporate grip on the world and “liberal democracy” as an instrument. He made a career out of that already. Thanks to his alphabetical advantage he is at the top of major donors of Chatham House, one of the most influential European think tanks supported by a long list of biggest corporations. Who is stupid enough to believe their research supports transfer of wealth and power to the poor?

Another famous freedom fighter like that is George Soros. Here in Thailand he was blamed for the 1997 crisis. Eventually people realized that they brought it upon themselves and left the sheep unprotected and Soros just did what the wolves should naturally do – slaughter as much as possible. What I can’t understand is how this wolf, who brought so much destruction and suffering to millions of families, claims to be world biggest human rights campaigner, bankrolling Human Rights Watch.

Last article about him I read was directed at South America’s human rights abusers. Coincidentally it was directed strictly at the governments that fell out of favor with Wester world order – Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil etc. I’m sure they deserved some of the blame but I can’t help myself to think that the underlying reason for his attacks is to put them back in line and pay their dues.

When in comes to Thailand the concern is not so pronounced but it’s still there. Remember when Thais decided to produce generic drugs themselves? In no time a big name PR company came out with full page adverts condemning the move. Then there was talk about proxy ownership – another stick to stir up the hornet’s nest. Thais managed to escape major wrath but the apprehension of possible consequences was palpable.

Another interesting aspect is New Mandala’s campaign on the internet. Mandala is not just a fancy asian word, it’s distribution of power, the power pyramid, and the relationships between various players and parts. Traditionally in Thailand it culminates at the King at the top who answers to Gods but in the old days Thailand was answerable to China, too.

The problem with this arrangement is that modern corporations don’t have a major say, they are granted permissions but not ultimate control, and “liberal democracy” has no place in it either, hence the need for New Mandala. New power center should be the West and its values and practices, its freedoms and elections.

Unfortunately, people over at New Mandala are not sophisticated enough to slip these ideas without challenging the traditional structure. Americans were far more skillful at that for the last part of the 20th century. New Mandala people instead went into a full attack mode, centering on Thai monarchy and going after elites in general.

For a while I thought I should give them a shot and see if there’s anything more behind their project – after all they all claim to support freedom of speech and look so nice and friendly.

Well, that didn’t last long. Those who read this blog surely remember “What you don’t see on New Mandala” entry a year ago. That had quite an effect on them as they had to admit to some sort of moderation. At first they said they censored my posts because I was talking too much. I thought I’d comply and they’d let me comment there. Nah, didn’t work.

They simply won’t allow anything that undermines their agenda of imposing democracy on uncivilized Thai natives. They allow dissent about as much as Christian preachers talk about atheism – it’s fine to talk about it as long as it stays defeated. They need it there to ridicule it, not to consider it with an open mind.

When they eventually stopped accepting any of my posts on New Mandala this time (it was back in August) there was public campaign to weed out anyone suspected of being me. “Are you StanGin disguise?” was the popular question there for a while.

There was this one comment, about Amsterdam’s White Paper, where, after reasoning that it’s not worth reading as it would contain to many lies and half truths by definition, I gave it a shot and right there, in the very first paragraph, Amsterdam stated that at the time of the coup Thaksin was properly and democratically elected, apparently as the winner of 2006 elections.

As soon as I pointed out that gross inaccuracy the hell broke loose and no one else but Andrew Walker himself stepped in and said that he won’t allow anymore “pointless” debates with Stan G.

In a way he was right – all debates on New Mandala are pointless, as someone noticed in another thread that was labeled as a great discussion – where’s the discussion, you all agree with each other?

I was thinking about writing “What you don’t see on New Mandala part 2” and include some of the banned posts but I don’t see the point – they were banned for advocating a different point of view. Interestingly, the original premise of New Mandala was to facilitate new looks at Thailand and South East Asia, or something alone those lines. Do they believe in it? I think they do, they just don’t realize they don’t live by it anymore.

I don’t believe they notice how incredibly condescending and insensitive they are to Asians. There was this strange post of some photoshopped work of some south asian woman carrying a huge can of Coke on her head and a huge hamburger in her hand. All the comments were about asking permission to use the image in some classes, but who they were asking permission from? The dude who photoshopped this poor woman? Not a single soul paused and thought that the woman in the picture has a name and a family and pride in her way of life. She was just an object that doesn’t matter to them, South East Asia scholars.

Speaking of their scholars – about a year ago they had a series of video interviews on Thai political situation. The last episode was particularly telling. Three of their students started the talk by saying they don’t know what was going on with red protests because of the censorship.

Well, the red protests were probably the best covered violent protest in human history. There were hundreds of journalists covering everything from every possible angle. Hundreds of people with mobile phones snapping pictures and videos. There were hours and hours of video footage on Youtube. As soon as something had become the point of interest, some one would come up with video evidence for it. There were literally hundreds of thousands of people online discussing every possible turn.

And there they were, three ANU students, claiming ignorance due to censorship. No, it’s not censorship, it’s lobotomy they’ve undergone while studying there. They just have to repeat this familiar NM party line. Funny thing, I believe they were also taught that they were independent and critical thinkers.

I believe Nick and Andrew are also fully convinced that they are fair and open minded and independent and what not – they themselves had been conditioned this way. They can’t step out of this box – they don’t even notice the box exists, and that’s their ultimate failure as intellectuals.

Recently Walker has got captivated by various graphs. God knows how many of them were completely meaningless, only exposing his ignorance on the matter. Not that there were wrong, but there was simply too much information that was missing that no intelligent person would dare to come up with any definite conclusions. Many people pointed various gaps, sometimes he just lashed at them, sometimes he would simply move on and produce another useless graph.

With that kind of “academic” work I’m not surprised that he pushes the brand of democracy that doesn’t stand a chance in any proper university. On the other hand, if universities are so progressive and anti big money, why doesn’t it translate into real leadership? I guess once people outgrow their idealism they decide to partake rather than fight.

Amsterdam started out with Marxism himself. Now he makes a living off the biggest capitalists. Our local revolutionaries from 70s haven’t fared much better, as they make living off Thaksin’s movement.

At least be honest and declare what you stand for. I don’t think Thailand would reject their model outright, Thais always find ways to incorporate whatever new ideas they find. As I said, Americans knew how to do that fifty years ago. Maybe they just had people a lot smarter than Walker and Farelly advising them on how to take over Thailand.

Now that Americans are on the way out, Australians would never stand a chance, not with this sorry bunch leading the effort.

Catching up

It is somehow extremely difficult to resume blogging after a long break, and everybody needed a break after the intensity of April-May rallies.

Nothing seems worth writing about in comparison and certainly not worth spending several hundreds words on.

Still, life is going on, so let me sum up what has happened in the past couple of months.

Bangkok by-election

PTP has chosen a jailed candidate, then, as expected, its fan club started whining about how Korkaew was at a disadvantage. It doesn’t make any sense, of course, but being red is not about sense, it’s about making noise.

During the campaign itself PTP was a lot more visible on the road, they had more trucks, more people, more posters, louder music and so on.

I’ve heard of a woman who is registered in one of the new moobans in that constituency but lives mostly downtown, she was dragged to vote by her family but was not very interested herself. She drove to the polling station, got in a booth, and realized she doesn’t know what number to vote for. Once you are in there, there are no names and parties, only numbers, so she tried to remember and the first number that came to her was “4”, the biggest, most visible, red on white number that she saw most often, so she ticked it. Then, still in the booth, she asked her sister if she made the right choice (Dem). She changed her choice but I think it resulted in a spoiled ballot in the end.

This is a perfect example of how factors other than political ideology can influence voters’ decisions, easily.

The result itself presents quite a few explanations. On one hand it looks like both Reds and Dem supporters remain politicized active and they came out in masses – the drop in vote count for both parties was less than 10% comparing to 2007, that means that people who voted for other parties in 2007 couldn’t be bothered this time around, letting Dems and PTP to slug it out and causing a very low turnout overall.

Another explanation could be that voters across the spectrum were equally apathetic and it’s a mere coincidence that both PTP and Dem tallies were close to 2007 numbers, in this case both parties picked up a lot of third choice voters. From Dems’ perspective it’s the worst case scenario – PTP were not expected to draw any new blood into its ranks.

Third explanation is that PTP rallied its troops and nobody else while Dems were trying to appeal to everyone who is non-red, including tens of thousands of people who didn’t vote for them last time, people who had a long weekend and less interest in supporting the government no matter what. Dems won, but not by a huge margin.

Bottom line – no party can say that it lost and both have good reasons to be hopeful when the general elections finally come.

Personally, I think PTP squeezed as much as it could and no red supporter skipped the voting, means they command only about 30% of the vote and would need not only to beat the Dems but also woo coalition partners away from them. Personally I think it won’t work, not on the red agenda.

Election preparations

It looks like Abhisit will call the elections in the first half of next year, parties are switching to election mood already. Bangkok is peppered with advertising for city council elections, I believe, and, for the first time, there’s a lot of New Politics posters everywhere. Bangkok is not Thailand but it’s the first testing ground for every party involved.

Elsewhere PTP is expelling a few rebel MPs with a few more said to be leaving for BJT. Come election time there could be a lot more defections if PTP can’t stop the bleeding. For months their North Eeastern MPs were complaining about how the party is run, particularly about Shinawatra clan members who are in charge. In the capital the rift between Chalerm and Sudarat has been reported many times over, and now they think about Mingkwan as the PM candidate. That won’t go well with Chalerm, too.

Mingkwan has zero appeal outside the party, he has been around for a long time now but has never achieved anything substantial. I remember his promise in 2007 to increase Thailand’s income from tourism four times. Can’t figure out how – four times more tourists, or making them spend four times more? Doesn’t matter, he is first class bullshitter, he doesn’t claim to have any connection to reality anyway.

“Third choice” parties are also preparing themselves. They realize they are too small to make any impact and need to join hands to get noticed by the electorate. Ideally they want to be the deal breakers, position now enjoyed by BJT and Chart Thai. BJT will probably be more successful, though, at the expense of Isan MPs from PTP and possibly some factions from Chart Thai itself.

Democrats will go with Abhisit, easily the best and most acceptable candidate in non-red eyes. They can’t go wrong with him, despite all the accusations.

Democrat Party Dissolution

Dissolution threat is like a swing. One day it looks like Dems are done, the next day it looks like they are off the hook. There are two cases here, one is about misusing official EC funds, another about illegal donation by Prachai of TPP fame.

Back in 2004 Prachai was hunted by Thaksin and it’s very likely that he turned to Democrats for political support. It is also very likely that he contributed to their campaign, too. Legally, however, the case is very shaky, for the lack of proof. DSI has dropped the case against TPP itself, ie no money has gone missing, so it would be more difficult to argue that Dems have “stolen” it.

The witnesses have changed their minds, too, or have been made to change their minds, doesn’t really matter. I find the whole idea of prosecuting the party for offenses three elections and five years ago and under different management an abuse of the system. The only plausible reason is that when Abhisit became the party leader he had signed off the financial statements for the previous year, too, that makes him legally responsible and prosecutable even though he had nothing to do with it. No one cares about the rest of the Democrat team at that time.

There’s one very important point – the laws have been changed since 2004, it will be very tricky to prosecute Dems and impose penalties based on laws that didn’t exist at the time of the offense, and I don’t know how they are going to apply old lawbooks either. At this time finding one party executive guilty means disqualifying the whole board and dissolution, no leeway. That was not the case back then and I have no idea how the courts are going to solve this dilemma. The case could be just thrown out of the court.

The misuse of EC funds is even more ridiculous – Democrats are accused of printing posters that were one inch SHORTER than regulation. Now idiots like Chaturon insist the whole party must be dissolved. He, of course, doesn’t say the Democrat party must be dissolved for printing smaller posters, he just wants them dissolved, period. His main reason is that if TRT were caught cheating every other party must suffer, too. And he is referred to as the intelligent one in the opposition camp.

I can’t imagine how his brand of “rule of law” will develop should this poster boy for “progressives” ever lay his hands on power.

Thaksin, his shyster and red future

I mean, of course, Robert Amserdam. The man keeps plugging his stuff anywhere he can. He finally produced the “white paper” that has become quite a matter of contention when Somtow was asked to respond to it.

Lots of people, me included, dismiss all his efforts outright and think that his works are just mountains of garbage and are not worth wasting any time on. His point, however, is to try and engage the public in a debate at any cost. Get a foot in the door, then you can start extracting concessions.

Somtow saw it right through, The Nation got caught for a second and posted both of them on the same front page, giving Amsterdam the publicity he so badly needs. That was one off, though, they are not going to engage Amsterdam any more, I think.

I haven’t read the white paper itself but I’ve read enough of Amsterdam’s to see that the man has absolutely no consciousness and no moral or ethical constraints when it comes to manipulating the facts.

Once he accused Abhisit of personal and groundless attacks on him when, in fact, Abhisit hasn’t said a word at all. The accusation could have been, if stretched to the limit, applied to Abhisit spokesman but Amsterdam put it into Huffington Post anyway, with “supporting evidence” being an untranslated page from a Thai newspaper. No shame in misleading unsuspected readers whatsoever.

In the “white paper” itself the first paragraph states that the coup overthrew an elected Prime Minister and that TRT had won 2006 elections. I can see where he is coming from but this is just plain untrue. Thaksin wasn’t elected, he lost the status when he dismissed the parliament, he was merely an interim PM, and no one won 2006 elections, there were annulled before they were even completed.

It’s just garbage.

There’s no benefit in dissecting the whole paper, as long as he remains on Thaksin’s payroll no one would pay any attention to what he says, no matter how many times he issues his trademark “Let me be clear on this” denial. As a total newbie to Thailand Amsterdam doesn’t realize what declaring yourself as someone’s proxy does to one’s strength and arguments. Samak could pull it off, Amsterdam has no chance. No one in Thailand would ever listen to him, which makes me question the wisdom of hiring him in the first place.

He has never had a shot at influencing domestic opinions and internationally no one pays attention to Thailand anymore, one paper or one article or even one editorial here and there won’t persuade anyone, international opinion makers on this country are spread too far and between and are not going to be swayed by his paid presentations, and it’s them who’ll set the tone next time Thailand gets in the spotlight.

There’s simply no market for his crap.

Meanwhile, Jakrapob is hinting that Thaksin himself is reconsidering his strategy of trying to defeat the whole country. Thaksin’s a bit of a slow learner in that respect.

While Somtow claims Thaksin can be easily forgiven if he shows enough remorse I somehow doubt that now, not after all that has happened, and paying Amsterdam’s is not helping here at all.

Avatar change

I’ve watched Uncle Boonmee a couple of weeks ago. Absolutely delightful.

The only spoilers were a few “movie experts” who were clapping hands and laughing at “jokes” in the most inappropriate moments. I see how lots of people would try to “understand” the movie and express their “success” with emotional outbursts, but, come on, it’s not your traditional Hollywood/Channel 7 storyline, things do not follow each other in a simple, logical progression there.

Yet they are all inexplicably connected, affecting and complementing each other in a myriad different ways. It would take days to try and explain what exactly the connections are, what the background for each scene and dialogue is, which part are new and original by local standards and which parts are totally conventional.

So, when the “experts” clapped hands at calling Bangkok a “City from Hell” I hope it’s not out of joke appreciation, I hope they at least understood Thai word play here – “maha nakorn” vs “maha narok”. That is an example of a totally conventional, stale joke and a widely held view. Everyone here has heard this kind of joke at least ten times in their lives., nothing to get excited about. The Bangkok woman in the movie hardly reacted at all, and that’s how most Thai would react, too. It “works” only on the uninitiated.

In the end I walked out convinced that foreigners who claim that there’s nothing special about Thailand and dismiss any “you don’t understand this country” arguments out of hand have no idea how really complex and intricate Thai society is.

Is he movie red or yellow? What a daft question! That’s a totally alien, artificial juxtaposition. Not only in the movie, but in the society in general.

In the end I thought that monkey ghost from the movie was pretty cool so I changed my avatar here. In case you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a mysterious ghost that quietly flows through the whole story, at one point luring an enthusiastic photographer to abandon civilization, marry a monkey woman, and go live in the jungle.

Don’t know what we have in common but the image is visually stunning.

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.

Children of the red…

This just needs to be documented – two twitpics by freakingcat

Kid on the barricade

Speechless, just speechless

Crying kid is frightened by explosions

FreakingCat’s comment on this picture:

Red Baby crying after explosions heard at tyre barricades under expressway! INSANITY RULES THERE!

Indeed

Here is the video:

I got pictures and the video from tweets by Richard Barrow and Wizard of Windsor

Chaos – subsiding or expanding?

Let’s step away from “they are armed – no they are not” debate for a moment and look at a slightly bigger picture.

It all started when the army decided to block Rajprasong from getting essential services like electricity and food and prevent more supporters form joining in.

Publicly reds were unperturbed, pointing out to the their own generators and fire hydrants that would never be short of water. Having said that, hordes of red shirts started attacking the army check points, trying to break through the blockade.

Soldiers fought back and defended their positions, scores of attackers were killed or wounded.

It was generally lost on the commentariat that however logical this red tactic might be, attacking army positions has no moral, legal or “democratic” excuse. International media was talking about army fighting the protesters but also failed to mention that the army hasn’t even tried to breach red barricades and came under attack “from behind”.

In the following couple of days the positions remained more or less stable with soldiers holding their positions around Rajprasong and reds on the outside setting fires at a safe distance.

The army is preparing to deal with Rajprasong and for now left tire burning reds to themselves, they are harmless and won’t dare to attack the troops again. They could deal with them later, after the main site is cleared and secured.

As I was typing this the news announcement came in telling the reds at Rajprasong to leave before 3PM or else. Else being put in jail for two years (if they survive the assault, that is…)

The public is fed images of burning Bangkok and reds in places like Bon Kai and Victory monument acting with impunity. In PR terms they are now their own worst enemy, after they burned Tesco Express and a gold shop and a couple of ATMs, robbed 7-Elevens and so on.

Even Weng on the red stage spent nearly half an hour warning against looting and burning property as it would turn the population against them.

So, is it a total chaos? Looks so if you just follow the news, yet it appears to be under control if you look at overall army operations. They didn’t expect all these pillows of smoke and accusations of shooting unarmed protesters or reds trying to attack their positions from the outside but, apart from delaying the crackdown on Rajprasong by a couple of days, reds didn’t achieve anything substantial.

They also failed to inflict any serious casualties on the army proving that their daring assaults are still no match to army’s superior firepower, though that might change when soldiers charge bamboo barricades that are supposed to be well defended. It’s not clear how many people are left manning those barricades, reds might have a serious shortage of manpower to guard their very long perimeter.

What I don’t understand is why the army delayed their advance until after 3 PM at least – there will be only a couple of hours of daylight left. Are they planning to finish the whole operation in three hours? Or are they hoping for a surrender? Or are they planning to move at dawn tomorrow?

Either way, pending some unexpected developments, the final assault on Rajprasong seems inevitable.