I followed the usual route today – up or down Ladprao Road to the Ratchada junction and then ready to turn right: the traffic board showed green so I was looking forward to a swift trip – but then, Ratchada Road was pretty jammed up – quite why this should be was not immediately obvious but it soon became clear that there was a demonstration outside of the court. Well, to be more accurate, there were preparations for a demonstration. The red-shirted pro-democracy movement had brought their continuing protests to the court, which is sitting on some cases and speedily rushing through others. Preparations were well under way: over about one hundred metres of the pavement there were numerous stalls set up for food and convenience goods, including a variety of red shirts and jackets. There was also a mobile toilet parked up and vans loaded with loudspeakers – of course, plenty of police were hanging around as well, waiting to see how things panned out, no doubt.
It looked like a substantial and well-organised operation established by serious people. The demonstrations are likely to continue at least until the 26th and, if rumours about what the Secret Hand has decided the judges should do are true, then beyond that as well. The Abhisit regime has responded plans to put up to 35,000 extra troops and police in the streets to suppress political dissent and establishing security bases in 38 majority pro-democracy provinces. It is easy to interpret this to mean that everyone knows what the decision will be on the 26th and there is a great likelihood of violence erupting as a result (of course, it is illegal to criticise any judicial decision and I would not dream of doing so, I merely pass on what other people are saying with good intentions).
If the Secret Hand has decided to take all the money and is planning for violence or else calculating that he can use violence for his own end, then is it possible for violence to be avoided? It seems sadly unlikely. The Secret Hand sees the ‘Thaksin Regime’ as a kind of Maoist alternative government which must be eradicated root and branch to return the Land of Smiles to the status quo ante. However insane (or just childish) this idea is (and it is part of Chaturon Chaisang’s argument in Thai Democracy in Crisis: 27 Truths), years of ideological state apparatus activity persuading the public that problems are caused by ill-intentioned people not systems are bearing their ugly, poisonous fruit.