Why No Mention of Human Rights Abuses?


Some extracts from a post at Thai Politico by Giles Ji Ungpakhon (i.e. not including the bits that may be illegal) (and possibly not the original source – he has a blog of his own somewhere as I recall):

What is the root cause of this crisis?

The root cause of this crisis is not the corruption of the Thaksin government in the past. It isn’t about vote-buying, good governance, civil rights or the Rule of Law. Politicians of all parties, including the Democrats, are known to buy votes. The elites, whether Politicians, Civil Servants or Military, have a history of gross corruption. Even when they don’t break the law, they have become rich on the backs of Thai workers and small farmers. The Democrat Party is stuffed with such millionaires.

Ironically, the Thai Rak Thai party was helping to reduce the importance of vote-buying because it was the first party in decades to have real policies which were beneficial to the poor. They introduced a universal health care scheme and Keynesian Village Funds. People voted on the basis of such policies. The Democrats and the conservative elites hate the alliance between Thaksin’s business party and the poor.

The Red Shirts, who are organised by government politicians, are the only hope for Thai democracy. They have now become a genuine pro-democracy mass movement of the poor. This is what is meant by “Civil Society”, not the PAD fascists. Thai academia fails to grasp this basic fact. But the Red Shirts are not a “pure force”. Many have illusion is ex-Prime Minister Thaksin. They overlook his gross abuse of human rights in the South and the War on Drugs. But these human rights issues are also totally ignored by the PAD and their friends.

So, my question today is, why do so many of Thaksin’s and Thai Rak Thai/People’s Power Party/ Puea Thai’s enemies ignore these ‘human rights abuses’? Bear in mind that several committees have sat to find evidence and not brought any prosecutions. Readers will be aware of the low level of evidence now required by the courts to hand out prison sentences and other punishments. So why nothing?

Possibilities:

1)      life is cheap in Thailand and no one cares – the ‘War on Drugs’ for example was so popular (and some argue it was successful in getting methamphetamines out of schools, which is what people were really worried about) that the PPP government tried to bring it back twice this year alone.

2)      Thaksin is innocent or at least there is no smoking gun. It is illogical to argue that the government controls the police and the army when we have seen both police and military repeatedly to refuse to obey the orders of the government and Thaksin was, in any case, ousted by a military coup.

3)      Bringing prosecutions would reveal the complicity of a number of people whom the elites who now control the courts do not wish to see revealed. In this case, Thaksin may or may not be guilty.

Any other explanations (apart from conspiracy nonsense about Thaksin stooges controlling the world, possibly in the form of eight foot high lizards)?

Chaengwattana Road blocked by PAD Protesters


+ + + another update from R, not John + + +

The Chaengwattana Road in the north of Bangkok has been blocked by PAD protesters.

(if you’ve driven there, you might wonder what difference it makes, cause it’s chronically clogged with traffic jam anyway…)

PAD protesters used 80 personal cars and 6 trucks to block the road.

And what is Thaksin doing meanwhile?


+ + + another post from R, not John + + +

As protests against Thaksin’s proxy government in Thailand escalate, Thaksin himself is displaying calm confidence.

In a recent interview with ArabianBusiness.com he talked about how his visa being revoked in Britain affected him:

“Do you know how many countries there are in the world? There are 197. And only 17 have an extradition treaty with Thailand,” he notes with a thin smile. “Better still, only 10 of those treaties are active. So, don’t you worry about me, I still have many places to stay.”

So, while he might have “lost face” there for a moment, that’s pretty much the only triumph his enemies get out of this.

However, you can sense that it caused Thaksin some headaches:

“I think the UK is a mature democratic country, and they should understand that I am the victim of the coup d’etat,” he maintains. “I am the victim of dictatorship, even though there was a court verdict.

The fact the he announced his return to politics didn’t really come as a surprise. However, he also talks about some other goals he has:

Shinawatra reveals he intends to make a comeback in politics, tackle global poverty, reorganise the Middle East’s healthcare system – and while he’s at it, establish a sizeable foundation to look after Asians hit by the financial crisis.

[…]

Putting his political problems aside, Shinawatra is focused on tackling poverty in Asia. He speaks passionately about the plight of the poor, and details the measures he took during his reign in Thailand – and how they worked.

Then, he get’s questioned on whether he wants to introduce new healthcare methods in the United Arab Emirates to, and his answer is:

“I think if I can re-manage for the UAE government, I will do exactly the same. I will bring in the same experts who used to work with me. I will not just give treatment but also preventive measures – for example, there is a lot that can be done with nutrition and other advice on healthy living.”

Why he decided to return to politics, inspite of his previous announcements that he had left politics forever?

“I have no choice,” he insists. “In the beginning after I was ousted, my wife asked me not to go back to politics. She didn’t like politics, and the whole family went through a lot of hardship so I didn’t go back.

“But now I have been cornered because the country is going down deeply,” he continues. “The confidence is not there; the trust among the foreign community is not there; the poor people in rural areas are in difficulty.

With me at the helm I can bring confidence quickly back to Thailand, and that is why we have to find a mechanism under which I can go back into politics.”

What does Thaksin say about the general situation in Thailand currently (not particularly about the besieged airports & government house)?

“The coup is still there – it has been transformed from a military coup to a judicial coup,” he explains. “I think a lot depends on the power of the people – if they feel they are in hardship and they need me to help them, I will go back.

Now, PAD leaders regularly “accuse” Thaksin of his brilliant marketing to the rural poor that made him win the election.

I guess this interview will just be another prove of his “evil image campaigning”, this time directed at the international community. Obviously, the PAD does not resort to evil PR tactics and not “compromise on the truth”, because if you look around at what other nations, business leaders and NGOs think of the PADs current protests, you will have to look very hard and long to find even one that is not condemning them. And if you’re being condoned by basically everyone, that must be evidence that you are speaking the truth… right? left? up? down?

But then – as the ASTV station put it – the EU and the USA of course don’t count, because they “accepted Thaksin’s money”. The PAD leaders of course would *NEVER* accept Thaksin’s dirty money… never, ever. That’s why they are trying to freeze his assets… If they’d get a hold of his money, they’d probably give it to the rural poor, or maybe burn it, so nobody get’s infected by evil money…

Explosion at Don Mueang Airport, Gunshorts Fired, Nobody Hurt


On Sunday night at 3:55 am (Thailand time) a couple of gunshots were fired, followed by an explosion. Nobody got hurt.

Businesses Threaten To Stop Paying Taxes


+ + + update from ram ++ +

Businesses are preparing for gigantic losses (in tourism industry alone it’s expected that more than 1 million people will lose their jobs and 50% less tourists in 2009)… now, they are also putting pressure on the government.

On Saturday, Nov 29, hundreds of members from the Chamber Of Commerce threaten to stop paying taxes if the government doesn’t end the civil chaos. However, I wonder how they would want to enforce that…

CNN’s Dan Rivers from the besieged Bangkok airport


+ + + another update from ram + + +

CNN’s Dan Rivers is walking you through the Suvnarnabhumi airport in Bangkok and points out (yet another) big problem: aviation security. Everyone can now walk into the airport and up to the airplanes and do whatever they want. This poses a huge threat to aviation security, and even if all the protesters would leave know it’s very likely that the international aviation authorities will require the complete airport to be checked from top to toe for security breaches… which would take days, possibly weeks…
(NOTE: before the video a short advertisement is shown… I couldn’t do anything about it, it’s CNN, but afterwards the report starts)

Illegal Airport Occupation Continues – Bloodshed Seems Increasingly Unavoidable


There has been no improvement overnight – the PAD remains in illegal occupation of Suvarnabhumi airport and have also forced the closure of Don Mueang. A few diplomats and officials are getting in and out via U Tapao military airport but thousands of passengers, mostly tourists, are stranded not just in Bangkok but across the country. Economically it is a disaster. Thousands of jobs will be lost and the poor and working class will of course suffer the most.

The likelihood of force being used to end the occupation increases by the hour – PAD ringleaders are refusing to obey court orders to leave the premises and refuse requests by the army chief to vacate the airport (although it is not clear exactly how much help PAD continues to receive from at least some factions in the military).

The government is obliged to do something to restore the rule of law – numerous foreign governments, including the EU, have called for non-violent means to resolve the situation but nevertheless said that the situation must be resolved. Many of the PAD’s useful idiot class seem quite happy to die as ‘martyrs.’ Bloodshed seems unavoidable (of course there are still gunfire and low level explosions going off – possibly by PAD elements to keep the temperature high).

No meeting between PM Somchai and HM the King has taken place, despite reports yesterday – perhaps no such meeting was ever scheduled or communication took place by telephone? Who knows how these things are managed? Well, someone presumably but not me.

PAD ringleaders continue to spout diatribes against the elected government and its supporters , including the most offensive insults. Whatever happens now and in the future, there are going to be thousands of people remaining who believe that this stuff is true and that the politicians really are the terrible people falsely portrayed by the demagogues. That is going to represent a serious threat to public order and security for years to come.

Thai Democracy and Rule of Law on a Knife Edge


I cannot see anything good coming out of this. Army chief General Anupong Paojinda has called upon the government to resign – let us hope Khun Somchai will remain resolute because dissolving parliament now would lead to chaos and, it seems likely, increased bloodshed on the streets. Looks like 18% of government budget plus being one of the most powerful people in the country is not enough for General Anupong to do his duty.

PM Somchai is back in the country, apparently and has gone to Chiang Mai. He was summoned for a meeting with HM the King but it will take him a while to get there, presumably. There is a bit of a lull at the moment – perhaps people are awaiting news of the meeting? I cannot imagine anything other than a personal meeting being suitable.

By the time I post again, I expect the PAD will be responsible for more deaths and misery.

What could happen? Impossible to imagine the PAD thugs just going home. Will some police/military unit loyal to the democratically-elected government clear out the PAD after tourists have been evacuated? Possible. Will nothing happen apart from a stand-off with a few bombs/beatings? Also possible?

Eventually the government is likely to have to call more elections, assuming that the recent trend of judicial decisions continues and the ruling parties are dissolved on some pretest (verdicts are due ‘in a few days or a few weeks’). The likelihood of being able to amend the Junta’s Constitution prior to that is receding.

Whatever happens, it will be worst for the poor and the workers, as most people well know.

Thai Army Chief Urges PM to step down


+++ BREAKING NEWS INSERT (BY EDITOR, NOT JOHN WALSH) +++

Here’s some footage from the CNN on the occupation of Suvarnabhumi airport and the current situation. (there’s a short advertisement in front, after that the footage starts).

What does that mean for Thailand’s tourism industry?

Kongkrit Hiranyakit, head of the Tourism Council of Thailand, told The Associated Press that the bombings, at the height of the high season which runs from late October to February, could cut income from tourism to half the expected 240 billion baht ($6.8 billion).

(Source: CNN.com)

Also, you might want to read what AlJazeera has to say about the current crisis

I have a group of European friends visiting Thailand for the new year. Today 3 of them have called me already and I got emails from 2 others and expect more soon – they are all concerned whether it’s safe to visit Thailand, and I’m sure there are many other people all over the world who are even more scared.

If these protesters really love Thailand, then they should sacrifyce their own agenda for the better of Thailand, and not the other way around…

Here’s an excerpt from India Times on what happened at Suvarnabhumi from the travelers’ perspective:

airport director Saereerat Prasutanont saying 3,000 passengers had been stranded and 402 flights cancelled.

Angry, tired and hungry passengers had earlier began leaving Suvarnabhumi on buses provided by airport authorities, after many spent the night sleeping on baggage carousels and at check-in desks.

They complained that they had had nothing to eat or drink since the protesters burst into the two-year-old terminal late Tuesday, and that no one was giving them information about what was going on.

“It was very unclear. Thai Airways staff said we need to vacate the airport, go get your bags and get out,” said traveller Andrea Neil from Australia.

A meeting between Thailand’s military and business leaders gives some hope that the protests might end soon, so Thai stocks rebound a bit after decline when the Airport was shut down.

However, the outcome of that meeting was:

Thailands army chief General Anupong Paojinda stepped in urged prime minster Somchai Wongsawat to step down and hold new elections..

“We will send him a letter to inform that he must dissolve the house and call new elections,” the general told a news conference after an urgent meeting of military and business leaders to address the deepening crisis.

“This is not a coup,” he said. “The government still has full authority. These points are the way to solve the problem which has plunged the country into a deep crisis.”

“As army chief, if I launch a coup the problems would be solved once and for all. But there would be a lot of consequences including the international reaction.”

Well, a coup might solve the problem of the airport being occupied and protesters on the street – but it wouldn’t solve any of Thailands political and structural problems as far as I can tell.

Thai PM, who just landed in Thailand at Chiang Mai airport, declined to comment on the Army Chief’s “suggestion”.

PAD Thugs Close Suvarnabhumi Airport: Country in Crisis (This Time, It Really Is)


Suvarnabhumi Airport is closed– PAD thugs have been occupying the airport overnight and there is chaos around the many places where people have been trying to get home or go on their holidays. Shots have been fired at the airport and there have been explosions in many parts of Bangkok.

I have said enough about the despicable PAD thugs and their various behind-the-scenes supporters.

This year already, tourism has already suffered considerably: foreign arrivals were already projected to be down 30-50% – and that was before embassies started advising people not to travel here at all (well, they cannot come to Bangkok at all, my wife’s colleague is currently waiting at the gate at Changi Airport with no information and complaining. There are many others, of course). Hotel occupancy was already down 40% (up to 80% in Pattaya, according to one report). As one (unnamed) ‘tourism expert’ observed: ““Do you know when the country’s image is destroyed, it’s very difficult to revive it in a short period? What does Thai hospitality look like now, when there are clashes and violence inside the country?”

As the continuing financial crisis starts to cause real job losses, this is the last thing the country needs.

I will post more later after certain events which are due to take place either have or have not occurred.

Fighters Not Lovers


Seh Daeng, the renowned army specialist Maj-Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, is described as ‘hopping mad’ that the supreme leader General Anupong Paojinda has given him a new assignment – Seh Daeng (I’m a fighter not a lover) is to lead the nation in aerobics dancing. He will be posted to various shopping centres and supermarket car parks to help middle-aged women shape up by prancing about to 80s power ballads. “I have invented one dance,’ he is reported to have said, ‘which is the throwing a hand grenade dance.”

The Major-General, an opponent of the right-wing anti-democracy PAD (his nickname means ‘red’), was believed to be referring to incidents such as the October 7th confrontation, in which smoke grenades were used when PAD thugs refused police orders to disperse from an illegal occupation of Government House and two PAD thugs blew themselves up with their own bombs/were uniquely unlucky in being killed by smoke grenades, one of which must have been thrown several kilometres and magically entered the car in which one thug expired in a blast outside a police station.

The PAD mob has been quite quiet recently – research shows the Thai people decisively reject them and their goals (I may have included the links previously, if not I will look them up again some time). Now they are talking up new threats of chaotic disorder and violence. There is talk (largely fanciful I would have thought but then what do I know) of bringing in 100,000 people from the South – the South has long been a bedrock of support for the Democrat Party and, under the disgraceful leadership of workshy quisling Abhisit Vejjajiva it is almost impossible to tell where the PAD stops and Democrats begin. This could lead to confrontations with pro-democracy supporters, who a few weeks ago held an entirely peaceful demonstration featuring up to ten times the amount of useful idiots that PAD thugs can these days put in the streets.  

Job losses are starting to mount – I fear that that the unemployed (the crisis will start to bite by the end of the year, I would have thought) will be dragged into street protests.

Red, Yellow and Brown Frauds


Some 70,000 people dressed in red and descended on the Rajamangala Stadium to demonstrate their support for democracy. The good-natured and wholly peaceful crowd also had the opportunity to listen to a phoned in speech by exiled and ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who was said to be in Hong Kong for the purpose. Khun Thaksin spoke of the global financial crisis and Thailand’s part in it and also said he would not be able to return home for ten years unless there was mercy from the royal institution or ‘people’s power.’

It was all quite a contrast to the PAD mob’s illegal occupation of government house – PAD thugs shot another innocent unarmed individual overnight. The PAD mob and its celebrity sponsors can scarcely muster 10,000 useful idiots to parade in the streets these days – there is no doubt that the will of the people calls for democracy in Thailand.

PM Somchai Wongsawat has confirmed that the government is willing to hold talks with the PAD mob, with a view to ending the ongoing protests. PAD ringleaders appear to be divided over this – some will talk and some will not. One interesting story in the Bangkok Post yesterday described the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect – there are more than 10,000 of these brown-clad frauds, apparently. They have been expelled from the Sangha – the world body of Buddhist monks, which is the oldest social organization there is. Although they masquerade as Buddhist monks, they are not recognized as such in law and could be arrested and defrocked by police, although this is sadly unlikely to happen in the near future. The movement supports the PAD mob and a spokesperson has said: ”Thailand needs going back to that period of political upheaval in 1932 and starting its new democracy … It is not a backward move if we go back to the old system, living in the same way as the followers of the Buddha walking barefoot with no air-conditioning.” That’s exactly the kind of clear thinking we need to ward off the global financial crisis.

More Violence


The sky outside is pitch dark, lit only by the piercing lightning which seems to be coming down directly behind the BOI building, from where I am sitting. While most people would be happy enough just to get home in a reasonable time without getting soaked (I fear it is already too late for me), others are planning to rack up the violence. We have already had a couple of bombs today and at least one death. There may be more confrontations tonight.

The usual people have started to throw around the usual accusations but it is a little soon to tell what has really been happening. Still, to fool the most people, tell the biggest lie.

The PM has been consulting with police chiefs and has said that the latter should get on with investigating what has been going on and arresting the perpetrators. I am sure they would be more than happy to do so but will fear that they are going to be caught in the middle of whatever kicks off over the next few days – we have already seen how willing the PAD mob is to try to murder police officers, with guns, iron spears and even by repeatedly running over them with vehicles. The red side, UDD, has found itself (rather surprisingly) allied with the police because of PAD violence but, were I a copper, I would not like to test how deep that allegiance would be when push comes to shove.

And so, once more, we approach a weekend with violence in the air and the threat of a military coup casting a pall over the lives of honest, hard-working Thai people.

Meanwhile, a bomb in Yala has wounded nine people, three of them critically. I had thought (and wrote) that the government was not doing anything to solve the Southern insurgency problem but, following the PM’s recent visit, it has been pointed out that the level of violence has actually declined significantly over recent months – I had noticed there were fewer stories to post but did not make the connection properly. So, some slow and small progress is being made, quietly, which seems to be the PM’s way.

The Financial Crisis and Thailand


The DG of the International Labour Organization, Juan Somavia, has observed that the emerging international financial crisis could lead to an additional 20 million people becoming unemployed – the figure around the world will rise from 190 to 210 million. Further, the number of people living in absolute poverty (less than US$1 per day) will rise by 40 million and those living in poverty (less than US$2 per day) by 100 million.

The sectors expected to be hardest hit in terms of employment include ‘construction, automotive, tourism, finance, services and real estate.’ These are all sectors which are important to Thailand – mostly it will be low-skilled, low-paid and low-value added jobs that will be lost. The tourism and related industries have recently been suffering significantly because of the PAD mob’s illegal occupation of government and the conflict on the Cambodian border. Since many jobs are informal or semi-formal in nature (e.g. family members no longer needed) it is difficult to know what effect has already been felt.

Thailand is a country suffering from what the World Bank calls the ‘middle income trap’ – that is, it emerged from non-developed into developing status through emphasizing exports and manufacturing based on low labour costs. This is successful up to a point (which has now been reached) but is not sustainable any further as rises in standard of living make low labour costs more difficult to obtain (especially because of the increased competition from China, Vietnam and India). It is also dangerous in that it renders the country very sensitive to what is happening in the rest of the world – the first thing that people do around the world when facing economic difficulties is to stop buying things and, in general, they stop buying imported goods first.

The Thai Rak Thai administration of 2001-6 attempted to deal with these issues when the painful memories of the 1997 crisis were still fresh. PM Thaksin aimed to reduce reliance on the outside world by developing domestic capitalists and empowering the poor through regional development at the village level, which also had the aim of reducing the incentives for labour migration and the social costs that entailed. Had those policies still been in force, Thailand could look at the current crisis with much more confidence. Alas, most policies were abandoned after the disastrous 2006 military coup and the current PPP government has been largely unable to implement similar policies because of the ongoing PAD protests. Indeed, courts have recently begun to decide that policies of redistribution as practiced by TRT with huge electoral mandates to do so are ‘unconstitutional.’   

Why Do You Tell Me That It’s Good To Be A Stranger?


Looks like it might be a good weekend to be away from  Bangkok – central Bangkok at any rate – if any of the various ‘doomsday’ scenarios pitching the anti-democracy PAD mob against the pro-democracy DAAD supporters and a police presence led by former Police Chief General Salang Bunnag come to pass. Disgraced PAD ringleader Chamlong Srimuang, a man with a great deal of blood on his hands already, seems quite prepared for more of his pawns to lose their lives and to continue murdering opposing protestors. The police seem to be preparing for the worst. Curious how quickly one’s sympathies can change – who’d be a copper with the heavily-armed and powerfully-supported PAD are out to get you? Not to mention being held to blame for anything else that happens.

Will the military take this opportunity to stage yet another coup? It seems to be quite well established that leader of the army Anupong Paojinda is holding out against the rest of the top brass who are in all favour of rolling the tanks out onto the streets again. Anupong, surely, calculates that he is now at the height of the power he can expect – the military receives huge amounts of money from the budget, enough to smooth over many things, shall we say, as well as buying a load more gear (and of course purchasing provides its own opportunities). At the same time, Anupong can lord it over the government because PM Somchai is in no position to act against him, even if he wanted – it was reported earlier this week that Anupong had further bolstered his position by appointing protégés to key Bangkok-based posts. All of this power and prestige is likely to be lost if there is a coup – it is more than likely that there would be an armed response to the tanks and jackboots this time and one which might, just might conceivably spiral into an entirely more serious series of changes in Thai society. Anupong would also face international condemnation and would have to make more constitutional changes to protect himself and his cronies from the criminal prosecutions which he and the previous junta so richly deserve. It is a lot to throw away.

Why Do You Tell Me That It’s Good To Be A Stranger?


Looks like it might be a good weekend to be away from  Bangkok – central Bangkok at any rate – if any of the various ‘doomsday’ scenarios pitching the anti-democracy PAD mob against the pro-democracy DAAD supporters and a police presence led by former Police Chief General Salang Bunnag come to pass. Disgraced PAD ringleader Chamlong Srimuang, a man with a great deal of blood on his hands already, seems quite prepared for more of his pawns to lose their lives and to continue murdering opposing protestors. The police seem to be preparing for the worst. Curious how quickly one’s sympathies can change – who’d be a copper with the heavily-armed and powerfully-supported PAD are out to get you? Not to mention being held to blame for anything else that happens.

Will the military take this opportunity to stage yet another coup? It seems to be quite well established that leader of the army Anupong Paojinda is holding out against the rest of the top brass who are in all favour of rolling the tanks out onto the streets again. Anupong, surely, calculates that he is now at the height of the power he can expect – the military receives huge amounts of money from the budget, enough to smooth over many things, shall we say, as well as buying a load more gear (and of course purchasing provides its own opportunities). At the same time, Anupong can lord it over the government because PM Somchai is in no position to act against him, even if he wanted – it was reported earlier this week that Anupong had further bolstered his position by appointing protégés to key Bangkok-based posts. All of this power and prestige is likely to be lost if there is a coup – it is more than likely that there would be an armed response to the tanks and jackboots this time and one which might, just might conceivably spiral into an entirely more serious series of changes in Thai society. Anupong would also face international condemnation and would have to make more constitutional changes to protect himself and his cronies from the criminal prosecutions which he and the previous junta so richly deserve. It is a lot to throw away.

Watch Out, Beware, Trust No 1 etc


It would probably be wise for foreign tourists to stay away from central Bangkok over the next few days and instead visit sunny Koh Somewhere. First there will be numerous traffic problems as a result of the funeral ceremonies for HRH Princess Galyani Wadhana, which will continue through the week. Then there is projected to be a meeting of various factions tomorrow, when the right wing PAD mob will (perhaps) be confronted with pro-democracy demonstrators from outside of Bangkok. There is due to be a verdict tomorrow concerning the Ratchadapisek land deal, which was brought on evidence-light terms (unless there is evidence that has not been brought into the public domain) against the wife of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra and the man himself. Junta cronies spent so much time and money trying to scare up some evidence (any evidence for anything) against Khun Thaksin that there is a need to justify all of that work (not to mention the 2006 coup) by bringing in some guilty verdicts. Some dissent about the courts is beginning to emerge.

The anti-democracy movement is currently reported to be blocking traffic around Central World and handing out anti-police propaganda to passers-by – wonder who paid for all that? Convicted criminal Sondhi Limthongkul? Why have his assets not been frozen? Eh? Oh. There was some talk over the weekend by a senior police officer of seizing government house on Wednesday, after the funeral, and scattering the PAD mob which has illegally occupied it for some months. That might prove not to be such a good idea, we shall see how it turns out.

Meanwhile, in an in-no-way xenophobic scaremongering story, the Bangkok Post has identified a new threat: Latin American burglars. So, watch out for anyone wearing a sombrero, Zapatistas, Sven Goran Eriksson impersonators and other ethnic stereotypes.

Strange Bedfellows


“Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows,” so said Trinculo in The Tempest, which is a phrase more commonly heard in the form ‘politics makes strange bedfellows.’ So it has now become in Thailand with the pro-democracy UDD movement (the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship) promising to become human shields for the police, who were repeatedly attacked by the right-wing PAD thugs last week.

For decades, the police have been one of the state agencies routinely used to hassle left-wing and community activists, beating up and killing many people. The military and para-military forces, especially the heavily-armed ‘Village Scout’ or ‘Red Gaur’ movements, have also been used to suppress many forms of dissidence, especially during the period when Communist forces were active in the outlying districts.

The police are also routinely linked with corruption, particularly the traffic police, who are said to stop drivers for various fraudulent reasons and request bribes to make the paperwork disappear. They are not, conventionally, figures of any great sympathy in society.

It comes to something, then, for the ‘boys in brown’ to be seen as, in some ways, heroes of democracy (not by the right-wing, of course, who are talking of police brutality, tyranny etc). This is partly because of the savagery of the PAD attacks, the refusal by certain doctors to treat police who have been injured (including being shot and deliberately driven into by vehicles) trying to enforce the rule of law against the illegal PAD mob, the fact that the police have been prevented from doing their jobs by certain highly-placed individuals who protect the PAD and because it has become clear just how ramshackle their equipment is (in contrast to the enormous increases in the military budget over the past few years). It is said that the police wanted to use water cannon but did not own any and the BMA refused to lend them city equipment. They were obliged, therefore, to use Russian-made tear gas grenades for lack of alternatives.

So, now it is that the right-wing talks about police abuses while those who have actually suffered from abuses for decades are coming to Bangkok to protect them.

PAD Mob Unleashes Wave of Violence


The PAD mob has started to how its true nature – yesterday, heavily armed mobsters launched a wave of violence in Bangkok and is threatening more.

Three police have been shot by PAD mobsters; a dozen more have been hospitalized after a PAD mobster drove a pickup truck into them. Two or three people (the news is still not clear, to me at least) have lost legs, at least one of them because he had a bomb in his pocket. Police have found hand grenades – it is likely that the people who were injured in the initial clearing of the mob from parliament yesterday morning were injured by PAD owned grenades or bombs – there is no proof of this yet, so far as I can see but it seems the most likely explanation. Police continue to maintain they used only tear gas and the events were covered by the international media and I have seen no meaningful suggestion that they acted improperly. This is from the BBC.

The situation seems to be reasonably calm at the moment. There are troops on the street to protect various locations and it is said that 30 companies more are ready to join them. Army chief General Anupong Paojinda is currently supporting the government – and PM Somchai is remaining calm, in public at least. However, the military is riddled with factions and it is not certain that there will not be yet another coup. At least most of the top military leadership now realize after the disastrous Surayud government that they are simply incapable of running a modern economy.

Presumably the PAD will intensify violence later today in the hope of provoking the coup and ending democracy – which is their stated aim. It is a dangerous time. There are many rumours flying about.

Police Act against PAD Mob


The anti-democracy mob PAD blockaded parliament last night with a view to preventing the democratically-elected government from opening the new session and the convicted criminal Sondhi Limthongkul made another load of demands on behalf of the few thousand thugs who support his disgraceful attempt to bring an end to democracy in Thailand (reports that the demands concluded with ‘moon on a stick’ cannot be confirmed).

This morning, at 6:20, police moved in and used tear gas to disperse the mob and dismantle the illegally-erected barricades. This was to enable a path into and out of parliament for the democratically elected government (and junta cronies in the Senate). As would be expected, the police had to be careful because the PAD mob is known to be heavily armed and has murdered two people already, in addition to numerous beatings and acts of savagery.

A few dozen members of the mob suffered from the usual effects of tear gas – there were reports also that some people were suffering from ‘wounds’ caused by ‘shrapnel’ or ‘powerful explosives.’ The PAD has lied about this kind of issue before so it remains to be seen what truth there is in it or whether it was PAD mobsters who caused the injuries – mobsters are known to have attacked the police headquarters with tear gas of their own. Army chief Anupong Paojinda is said to be releasing a statement on behalf of the army this afternoon – so it’s back to turning on the radio in trepidation of the martial music that denotes yet another coup.

The government, led by PM Somchai Wongsawat, has now completed its duties in the house and made its exit – the PM had to climb over the wall to Vimanmek Mansion. The PAD again besieged parliament and turned off water and electricity, apparently.

Quisling Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (how long can he keep his job?) has led an unsuccessful boycott of proceedings, bleating about police actions and by no means supporting the rule of law. The Nation, meanwhile, has plumbed new depths of cynical lies – its website proclaims ‘Black October, 2008,’ disgracefully demeaning the memories of hundreds who were killed by the military in 1976 while protesting for democracy, the very same democracy that the PAD mob is trying to end. The Nation is a disgrace. Its editors, if they support this, should be deeply, deeply ashamed of themselves.