Viphawadi-Rangsit Road

As it happened, we were at Viphawadi-Rangsit Road on Saturday, since our daughter was visiting her dentist on one of the sois off the road in the afternoon. Red-shirted pro-democracy demonstrators were up and down the road all the time we were there, while many of those people who were still working were wearing red in solidarity with the struggle against aristocracy-rule. People visited the shops along the soi handing out ‘dissolve parliament’ stickers. The atmosphere was again one of celebration and anticipation – this time, there really can be the change that people want.

I haven’t been to the centre of the city to see the occupation of the retail centre areas but, on the way to work this morning I travelled along Ratchada Road and there were some thousands (I find it very difficult to estimate numbers) protesting in and outside the grounds of the court there.

The opposition is plain to see: a motley crew of ageing fascist sympathizers and PAD thugs, as well as the usual useful idiots who have sucked too long on the teat of state-mandated ideological state apparatuses, gathered in a masquerade for ‘peace’ in their pink shirts (wonder whether they were paid for by the same person who cannot be named otherwise … well, for obvious reasons – the same person who is believed to have paid for the occupation of government house and the international airports). While there, they sang the song ‘Scum of the earth’ (nak phaendin), which was used in the massacre of dozens of students by military butchers in the 1970s.

Murderous PAD Thugs Attack – Yet Again

Armed PAD thugs, empowered by the celebrity sponsors who block all action against them, have launched more murderous attacks against the police.


This is from Reuters (thanks to Bangkok Pundit):


“The assault by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) was swift and savage, a head-on charge by a convoy of vehicles speeding down the wrong side of an expressway into scores of unarmed police.


As the terrified officers fled, some of them jumping through the open door of accelerating police vans, wild-eyed young men burst from the PAD vehicles, attacking with sling shots, fireworks, iron bars and wooden stakes.


The onslaught lasted no more than 15 seconds but left the five-lane highway, the main access route to Bangkok’s besieged Suvarnabhumi airport, littered with broken glass and discarded police helmets and truncheons.


The police, who have orders not to retaliate against a movement backed by Bangkok’s establishment grandees, had virtually no warning.


‘The yellow people are coming,’ one officer shouted, turning to run as the PAD vanguard, a large sound-truck blaring out anti-government vitriol, careered round the bend of the expressway exit.”

We have seen so much of this before of course when PAD thugs terrorized people during the illegal occupation of government house and the many murders and assaults PAD thugs committed, supported by their well-known celebrity sponsors (it is illegal to name them) who block the police and government from acting against them.


This is (also thanks to BP) form Asian Human Rights Commission:


“The takeover of the main international airport in Bangkok by protestors going under the banner of the People’s Alliance for Democracy is a watershed moment for democracy and the rule of law in Thailand. It follows some months of increasingly aggressive strategies to get the current government to resign and to block it from making amendments to the 2008 Constitution, which was prepared under the watch of the 2006 military coup leaders and their supporters and pushed through via a deeply flawed referendum. 


Alliance members have since August gone from merely occupying spaces like roads and parks to occupying public buildings, in particular, the Government House. Organised armed “guards” have defended their positions both from opponents and from state security personnel. They have also illegally obtained and openly carried an array of manufactured and homemade weapons, including guns from caches that had reportedly been kept in the government premises. They have illegally detained other citizens. They have vandalised, destroyed and stolen public and private property. In the last day or two it has been reported that in addition to occupying the Suvarnabumi airport they have seized busses, and have refused to allow police into the airport to investigate explosions there during the night. They are now reportedly preparing for the latest phase in the “final battle”, which is supposedly being instigated under codenames like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the cities on which the United States military dropped nuclear bombs at the close of World War Two. 


The alliance has exhibited a number of features that from past lessons of Thailand and other countries around the world pose grave dangers to the future of the country’s imperilled democracy. Of these, the following can be said. 


1. They spring from a far-right ideology that has for decades driven successive military-bureaucratic administrations in Thailand, which dramatic changes to political and social life of the last two decades have increasingly threatened. 


2. Their coordinated attacks and actions on the pretext of self-defence and national interest are designed to cause a widespread feeling of insecurity and uncertainty and allow reactionary elite forces to push Thailand back to a 1980s model of “half-sail” semi-elected government. 


3. The alliance leaders have occupied the public space and forced people throughout Thailand to either take sides for or against them, or to opt out completely, thus alienating millions of people and denying them the opportunity to have a say on the key political and social questions of their time.


Some commentators and opponents of the alliance have described its agenda as fascist. This is not an exaggeration. Experience shows that the types of systemic changes and regimes that follow such movements, although they may not describe themselves as fascist, have fascist qualities. Indeed, successive dictatorships in Thailand’s modern history appreciated, expressed and used many fascist symbols and policies, and the residue of these can be found in the language and behaviour of the alliance leaders today. 


If these events are allowed to continue, and it is self-evident that they are being allowed, they will effectively undo everything that was done to build a culture of democratic rights and participation in public life in Thailand during the 1990s … Whatever institutional and legal gains were made in the last decade or two will be undone. 


Already, the criminal justice system of Thailand has been reduced to an utter joke, its agencies and personnel either unable or unwilling to intervene effectively to protect public property and people’s lives, or even prosecute wrongdoers. That the security forces can carry out coups on the whimsy of generals and engage in battles over trifles with those of neighbouring countries but not responsibly protect the Government House or international airport is sheer farce. That government agencies have been forced to negotiate and cut their losses rather than insist that the law be enforced is dangerous folly. And that the senior judiciary, which through a succession of highly politicised judgments has played a major part in contributing to the current mess has nothing useful to contribute when lives are at stake and the country is in greatest need of intelligent guidance is altogether shameful.


Peaceful protest is not only a part of democratic process; it is integral to it. But the rallies and blockades in Bangkok of recent days, weeks and months have not been peaceful. Nor can they properly be called protests at all, as they are not merely demonstrations of a wish, but acts aimed at achieving goals at all costs. And the costs to Thailand have already been very high. They will get higher, and be felt in terms of the lives and liberties of all people in the country if they are not brought to an end. All people in Thailand have a right to oppose this ultra-conservative project for state dominance at their expense.”


One thing that does surprise and disappint (and, frankly, disgust) me is that newspapers are now full of letters and articles by people who previously supported the PAD thugs who have now decided that this is a completely different situation – many people, myself included, pointed out that the PAD is a bunch of murderous thugs many months ago. Only fools and charlatans have ever pretended otherwise, no matter what high office they might hold.

The Friday Morning Dilemma

It is Friday morning and the usual dilemma rears its grotesque head for those of us living on Ladprao Road or any other problematic traffic area. . Indeed, the dilemma is worse than usual this week because it is the end of the month and so very many people are going to go out and spend their salaries on khao, khap khao and bia, Worse still, the sky is darkening and there is a pretty good chance that there will be a storm some time later this afternoon.

Put these factors together and we enter a twilight zone in which taxis, usually available in a plethora of choices, become rarer to find than maturity at a PAD rally. Those that can be found will inevitably take the opportunity to demonstrate their power over the poor pundit by refusing to go to Ladprao or in fact anywhere they do not want to go – which is most of Bangkok, as it happens. Going to the airport is probably OK but we can’t all go and sleep in the airport just because it is the only place a taxi driver is prepared to go.

So here is the dilemma: at what time should I plan to leave the office in order to make it home before midnight and without spending hours sat in a stationary taxi listening to the taxi driver moaning about the traffic. I could sneak out early and try to make it home before the traffic builds up too much – that would mean leaving by no later than 3:30 – but that means not being able to do much of the work I need to finish today and it will be no good anyway if it is raining then. Alternatively, I could wait until later – eight o’clock should probably be safe, although it is far from guaranteed. Another option would be to leave at normal time and then travel on the tube to Siam Square or somewhere and do some shopping in a hi-so place and then hope to get a taxi from Mo Chit around 7:30-8. Again, that does not work if it is raining and that would mean a journey to Ratchada and standing in the rain there. Sigh.

It is more than 7 km to walk and, in Bangkok, it feels a lot longer than that because of the various pavement issues. However, I have walked home before and am prepared to do so again, if I do not have too much stuff to carry.