Interview – Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri – Part 1 or How I almost scooped the New York Times.


Well It was a pretty awesome night for Hawkeye. I managed to get a pretty good interview with Khun Prasang Mongkonsiri, one of the UDD’s Committee Members. Now, I’ve only been blogging for a week and it’s my first time, so please take it easy on me. This is the first interview I have ever done. By the way, if I owned a laptop I could have scooped the New York Times by an hour. My salary ain’t that good, plus and addiction to baseball and softball drains my finances a bit. Also, I do not claim to be objective but I don’t lie, so here it goes.

Please note that Mr.Prasang Mongkonsiri was in a four and a half hour marathon meeting and had 45 minutes to talk before he went back into the second half of the meeting. He was full of energy and talked in a rapid fire manner. I have not quoted him verbatim but paraphrased our interview. He watched while I wrote every word and agreed with my understanding of his answers. I have tried to be as accurate as possible. There is one verbatim quote. I don’t know how to write short hand.

Hawkeye: “Will the UDD be leaving on Monday May 10th, 2010?

Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri: ‘We are in negotiations, two days is not enough time. Last nights killing of two police officers and the bombing has influenced our decisions. The appearance of the PAD and Yellow Shirts has also influenced our decisions. We do not know what the relationship between the PAD and Government is.’

Hawkeye: “If Abhisit cancels the agreed upon election date will the UDD return to Bangkok in force?”

Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri: “I believe that if Abhisit cancels the elections we will call for another rally in Bangkok.”

Hawkeye: “How will violence be avoided?”

Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri: ‘That is the problem. We are in talks about how to control the violence because of last night’s shootings and bombing. Some UDD Committee Members have received information about the army and PAD. We have 300 plain clothes police volunteering to come and protect us. They will not be armed. They called Veera (UDD Committee Member) and told him that a high ranking police officer believes the military is responsible for the recent shooting of two police officers. They happened to not be wearing bullet proof vests because of budget restrictions.’

Hawkeye: “Is the subject of the 2007 Constitution a sticking point?

Mr. Prasang Monkonsiri: ‘We have not talked about it, yet. We are talking about the elections. Talking about the elections and talking about the who is responsible for the April 10th violence. Many relatives of the victims have already gone to the police stations and asked for investigations, twenty-five days have past and the police do nothing! If the commanding officer does not want to do anything with the cases, he will give a verbal order but no official paper order will be issued.’

I’m absolutely knackered. I was at the rally last night with my wife and we left at about 2:30am. I finally caught some shut eye at 4:00am and had to be at work at 8:00am. Woke at 7:00am. If you do the math it was a long day. I left the rally at 11:30pm tonight. The wife was worried so I left early. Part 2 will be coming tomorrow. It will be a continuation of the violence issue and the lack of investigations by the police. It will also cover the “terrorist charges leveled at many of the UDD’s Committee Members and the dreaded DSI.  Might be a part 3 if I can get some corrections on my notes form Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri.  The speakers were blaring and tons of people were milling about in their own deep conversations.

On a lighter note, I had a truly entertaining conversation with Sean Boonpracong (UDD’s International Spokesman). I didn’t take any notes because it was a very informal conversation highlighted by sardonic quips and ironic banter meant to feel each other out. There was a sublime moment in the conversation. I told him that I blog for news.inbangkok.org under the name Hawkeye. He replied “I guess I’ll be BJ.” It was one of the best moments of the night.

Content trumps grammar.

Hawkeye

Mr. Prasang after a marathon meeting.

Dreaded Falling-to-Death-from-Tall-Building Disease Strikes Again


A 41-year old Korean man has become the latest victim to succumb to the dreaded falling-to-death-from-a-high-storey disease. Victims tend to share similar characteristics: they have a younger Thai girlfriend who was also in the room when the disease struck; the man voluntarily leaps out of the window in an apparent suicide bid which came completely out of the blue, according to the girlfriend; there was also evidence of fighting and bloodstains in the room. I make no comment in this particular case – who knows what goes on in Pattaya hotel rooms? However, this appears to be, based on the newspaper story, a classic case.

Note to foreign men: choose the ground floor for your assignations. I remember advice given by MI5 to PM Jim Hacker: if thrown out of a window, aim to land on your head – it is over quicker that way.

I was this weekend reading some papers on Thai political history (oh the crazy rock’n’roll lifestyle of the minor academic!) and came across this description of the 1969 election by Daniel Lee in the New Left Review:

“At the February 1969 elections, the ‘government party’ as it was known, the so-called ‘United Thai People’s Party’ (UTPP), failed to obtain a majority of seats and in the vast constituency of Bangkok won not a single seat, despite greatly superior organizational and financial resources, and some illegal tactics. A precarious plurality was obtained by buying most of the ‘independent’ candidates (for sums around $20,000).” Meanwhile, the Hmong (or Meo) rebellion was still smouldering in the north of the country, when the Thai military used napalm attacks against their villages and enlisted the remnants of the Kuomintang’s 93rd Division – which had crossed into Thailand after their defeat in the Chinese Civil War – to fight them in return for citizenship. The Hmong nevertheless resisted for two years and inflicted many casualties and destruction. The first attack by Thai resistance on American air bases in Thailand occurred at Nakhon Phanom in 1971.

Now that is a political crisis. Our times are interesting but people have faced worse.