The Stain of Blood

Blood may be washed away but the stain of the blood can last for a long time – consider Lady Macbeth, her crimes years in the past, still waking every night into the nightmare of the guilt and shame of what she has done. Does the same destiny await the Butchers Abhisit and Suthep? On the face of it, Suthep seems to be a wholly self-satisfied knave largely untroubled by the thought process but is Abhisit the same? Is that what he learned from his privileged Etonian education and his gentleman’s PPE degree at Oxford?

Reminders of his ordering the killings of pro-democracy demonstrators will not all be psychological – some will be physical too. The relatives of one of the protestors killed by troops under the order of the Abhisit regime have begun filing complaints with the police about the actions and the killings. If this happens in a number of cases, it is possible that the Butchers may be entangled in legal proceedings for many years – until last week, it was possible to believe that all of these cases would just be brushed under the carpet, as cases against the designated organs of the establishment always seem to be in Thailand. Yet the Electoral Commission’s decision to dissolve the Democrat Party may mean that all of this has changed. If the dissolution goes ahead, it presumably indicates that the establishment no longer considers Abhisit and his pals as designated agencies and so it will be open season on them. If that is indeed the case, then there must be a genuine chance (slim perhaps but genuine nevertheless) that Abhisit will be forced to stand trial for whatever crime he is deemed to have committed resulting from the deaths of protestors (and who knows how many more there will be in the next week or two). Will he too spend the rest of his life as a fugitive from Thai justice?

I imagine this consideration must have had some influence on his decision to appoint General Anupong as head of the Committee for Resolution of Emergency Situations (although there is a story that Suthep is still actually in charge, although that just seems to be face-saving spin). Military officers do not have to face trial for the acts they commit, as the conspirators and henchpersons behind the 2006 coup demonstrate.

Early Songkran on Ladprao

It has been a quiet start to Songkran in this part of Ladprao – well, I only popped out to Foodland around 11 to collect some Raad and Kaeo Savoey mangoes for she who must be obeyed. A few kids were setting up their stations (and a few more on my back home less than an hour later) and some daddies were transporting their kids on the back of their motor cycles with their water pistols and so forth (I assume they were daddies, I know the look). It would be a pity if the kids cannot have their fun at all.

Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I noticed that the troops and their vehicle had been withdrawn from outside the courts on Phahonyothin Road and the Songkran facilities (an indoor pond, some little fountains and so forth where people can pour water respectfully over each other) had been removed – it is a fixture every year and no one had managed to stop the festive music coming over the PA system.

It is a strange atmosphere: people along Ladprao Road still openly display red shirts, banners and so forth (some people of course just wear work uniforms that are red and some are wearing Manure or Liverpool shirts but still) – some wear pink (not sure if they are the PAD coming back onto the streets or just people wearing pink shirts – it is very tempting, invidious in fact, to judge people by the colour they are wearing because I feel very sensitive to it but one must be careful in doing so). People still travel to the occupied sites in their red shirts to join the protests but everyone knows now what Abhisit has ordered the soldiers to do. It will not be the same again. Even knowing that Abhisit has been declared a non-person by the establishment has not yet made much difference. Symbols are still important – it has not been hard to interpret the meaning of a very well-known person with a record of supporting reactionary interests lighting incense to the officer among the soldiers killed and ignoring the rest, not to mention (obviously) the small people murdered by the state. Perhaps new pictures will emerge tomorrow.

Abhisit Vejjajiva: Butcher of Bangkok

After all those yearsof being groomed for the position,  Abhisit Vejjajiva has finally lived up to his destiny as the Butcher of Bangkok.

He tried to run away to Australia but Prem banned him.

He tried to run away to Vietnam but Prem banned him.

Now, on orders, at least eight are dead and hundreds injured after Abhisit Vejjajiva was responsible for the murder of unarmed civilians. Update: 21 are confirmed dead and more than 800 injured.

These despicable crimes against humanity can only be ended by the immediate arrest of Abhisit and those who ordered the massacre of unarmed, innocent civilians. Irrespective of whether anyone in the crowd was armed or fought back, those soldiers were armed with live ammunition and used it against civilians. Abhisit must take responsibility for what was done.


“Investigators do not believe he took his own life.”

The severed head of a western man in his forties has been found dangling some five metres from the Rama VIII Bridge. A note, apparently written in English, was found attached to the head, claiming I want but I cannot …,” and “I came to Bangkok to be [with] you.”

Top Bangkok police investigators seem to be concluding that this is not a case of suicide: how can they be sure?

Political Killings in Thailand

Khun Angkhana Neelaphaijit, wife of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit who disappeared a few years ago, has wondered whether one of the police officers identified by witnesses may have faked his own death. The officer concerned, Pol Maj Ngern Thongsuk, was reported to have been washed away on September 19th during the construction of a reservoir. The body of his relative, Khun Naruechai Chinwannarat, was apparently recovered but that of the Pol Maj has not been. He had been identified by witnesses as being involved in forcing Khun Somchai into a car on Ramkhamhaeng Road on the night he disappeared. Many people assume that he was killed (since his body has not been recovered, this is just an assumption by people) in connection with his defence activities of people in the deep south. Few court cases are brought about in the region despite the many thousands of deaths caused by the insurgency and a wide range of other alleged crimes.

Political killings have been quite common in Thailand of course. Notorious criminals such as Field Marshall Sarit would run up and shoot (according to my informant in this area) various Chinese workers accused, however lightly, of gangsterism and shooting them. These killings, like many others, tended to go unreported in the press – a few weeks ago, a letter to the Bangkok Post pointed out a shooting death almost at the gates of Chulalongkorn University which has subsequently gone unreported. Benedict Anderson, in an article in the New Left Review entitled ‘Murder and Progress in Modern Society’ some years ago distinguished between two principal categories of murder: ‘national’ killings which were performed by agents of the state and were anti-middle class in intention so as to reinforce the political status quo and the ‘local’ killings, which were performed by private mercenaries and were pro-middle class and intended to intimidate members of the subaltern classes and their self-appointed tribunes – that is, union leaders, community leaders and others standing in the way of progress.

There are too many guns available. The killings almost certainly continue, one way or another.

Grand Theft Auto Banned; Troublemakers

The Grand Theft Auto IV game has been banned in Thailand after a young man of 18 has, apparently and allegedly, killed a taxi driver to obtain money – thereby recreating a scene in the game. The man’s name has not been released but he might face the death penalty for the murder.

There have been a number of complaints about violent computer games recently – well, to be honest, there have been a number of complaints about a wide range of modern cultural phenomena, on the (wholly unfounded) basis that the whole of Thai society is going to hell in a handcart. The prurient right has received more power since the demonstrations of 2006. A number of those protestors sought to dress up their greed and hatred of the democratically-elected government with some kind of moralistic posturing. That unfortunate tendency has remained prominent and, in the current climate, no one is in any position to point it out too forcefully.

That does not mean that there are not bad things going on, of course. There are reports every day of people holding up convenience stores, involved in smuggling drugs rings and all kinds of crime. I am not sure if any of that is as bad as deliberately trying to stir up racial hatred, which is the new wheeze of the anti-democracy mob (and their shadowy etc and so on). At least the PM is stirring on this one and I think Thai society as a whole would understand the mobsters are going too far with this. Research recently reported shows that the majority of people, for example, prefer the government to go ahead with its democratically-mandated policy to amend the junta’s charter, since otherwise the whole political situation is likely to come to a grinding halt or worse.

There are no links in the body of this blog because the network has gone down – not sure how much time I will have later to rectify the problem.

Superficiality, Violence and the Giant Freshwater Stingray

Two stories have appeared today which at first glance appear unrelated but on second thoughts indicate certain characteristics of modern Thai culture. First, three people have been given life sentences for the murder of a 25 year old man. They were apparently motivated by the fact that he attended a rival vocational school – there have for years been occasional stories of violence between rival colleges, mostly on the outskirts of Bangkok. More recently, stories have emerged of ‘hazing’ rituals for young people joining universities and colleges, who are obliged to suffer a variety of forms of ill-treatment and abuse. I would have associated this with American institutions but then Tom Brown’s schooldays provides an early example.

The three convicted men used guns and a knife to kill the victim so this was a premeditated attack which initially attracted the death sentence, now commuted.

The second story is about sales of expensive Swiss watches to Thai people. Thailand is now the fourteenth largest market for the machines, which have a reputation for being both stylish and, in my opinion, inordinately expensive. Exports have increased by 22% this year to 4.4 billion baht (that’s around US$125 million), despite the economic problems in the Kingdom. Spokespeople point out that watches are being bought not just for their own sake but as investments to be handed on to children – not so sure about that. Conspicuous consumption and the reliance on superficial brand names and loyalties, which is what unites these two stories of course, are not terribly attractive qualities and are not promoted by Buddhist thought, for example.

But what about the giant freshwater stingray goes the cry up and down the kingdom? What indeed. A new project is aimed at identifying the presence of these creatures in the rivers of the Kingdom – they are both difficult to find (skulking on river floors as they do) and dangerous – the sting can be very serious – was it a freshwater ray that killed the famous Australian bloke whose name escapes me last year? Well, we should learn more about them soon.