Cool heads from those in authority will be needed over the next few days if the current drama is not to escalate into a real crisis – especially since there are so many people who want to provoke such a crisis.
The main problem is the high oil price, which is hurting a lot of people. Price increases have been approved or will be approved for boat taxis, taxis and buses, while Thai Airways has announced more fuel surcharges. Truckers are striking and as many as 120,000 trucks may be standing idle. Farmers are protesting in different parts of the country because of the difficulties they face. In the north, farmers have blockaded roads in Mae Hong Son with a view to persuading government to guarantee a 25 baht per kilogram purchase price for their garlic. Other protests and demonstrations are planned around the country.
That in itself is not a serious political problem – these are difficult times and people want to make their circumstances known in the public sphere, which is possible under democracy of course. The government will no doubt do what it can in response to the protests – some more help for farmers, for example, possibly subsidizing some fuel prices and so on. It cannot do much to control world oil prices.
The problem comes when trouble-makers try to use these demonstration as evidence there is some terrible political crisis and that the army must step in to restore public order and confidence. Spoilt brat anti-democracy activists are still holding up honest people from going to work in Bangkok and there is a danger that workshy quisling Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader (why? What does he not have to do to get sacked?) of the opposition Democrats will again join in by using parliament to try to prove that normal politics is impossible.
Will this become sufficient of a pretext for elements in the military once again to take to the streets and seize power? That possibility will increase substantially if there is violence – people in Thailand tend to be quite naïve with respect to the media and believe what they are led to believe. Violence will only serve the interest of the anti-democracy faction – if it should occur, consider who benefits and who, therefore, has really caused it. People will take money to do just about anything, here as elsewhere.