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.

Bombs in Central Bangkok – One Dead – PAD Suspected


A bomb campaign has been launched in central Bangkok – four blasts are reported by the BBC with 45 people injured – although it is not clear who is responsible, the presumption is that it is PAD supporters again who are once again aiming to provoke violence and a military coup. The Nation suggests that grenades were launched and not bombs (but then they always do) – both Sala Daeng Skytrain station and unspecified ‘Silom Road’ targets are being mentioned. The Bangkok Post is now reporting one death and 75 injured. Both the Abhisit regime and the PAD have been threatening violence against the pro-democracy demonstrators repeatedly. There are fears that there will be many more deaths tonight.

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.

The Thirst for Blood


It was, I think, in John Le Carre’s excellent novel The Honourable Schoolboy in which it was observed that, of all the peoples of the Mekong region, it was the Thais who were the most willing to turn guns on each other. This seems to be borne out by the thousands of PAD members and others masquerading as the ‘no colour’ demonstrators, whose principal demand seems to be that the army open fire on the pro-democracy demonstrators and use any means available for crushing political dissidence and free speech.

How many deaths will be enough to satisfy the thirst for blood these people have? As a farang, I occasionally come across other farangs who seem determined to tell me that there is a need for the Butcher to show some ‘balls,’ not to be a ‘wuss’ and so forth, by which they seem to mean it is justified to murder scores, hundreds and perhaps even thousands of demonstrators in order to ‘return the rule of law.’ I used to do interviews with executives in different countries as a form of research but, frankly, I became dispirited by the almost relentlessly hate-filled contempt these people mostly have (there are of course exceptions) for the people of the country where they live.

Are the Pylon Bombings Staged?


Before Abhisit’s murderous attack on the pro-democracy protestors last weekend (the death toll has now risen to 24), there were nightly ‘grenade attacks’ on a variety of targets, mostly aligned with the state and its cronies. These attacks generally shared the characteristics that no one saw who was involved, one grenade per ‘attack’ and the almost complete lack of any damage – I have never launched a grenade myself and, indeed, I don’t suppose I have ever seen one in real life but I have the strong impression that if I were prepared to launch attacks against the state, I would make sure the grenades exploded properly and I would shoot several of them to make sure.

Many people concluded, therefore, that these were not genuine attacks.

Now, there are ‘powerful C4 bomb’ attacks against electricity pylons in Ayutthaya, which are being used as ‘evidence’ that ‘terrorist’ attacks intend to plunger Bangkok into darkness. Based on the photos presented in the media that I have seen, these ‘attacks’ seem to have done picturesque but superficial damage to the bases of the pylons but not to have had any real threat to the pylon itself.

Since these ‘attacks’ serve so very well the purpose of the Abhisit regime and the Committee for Resolution of Emergency Situations (when did this start? How many more special powers from the junta’s charter will we see before all this is over?), it is not surprising that people are concluding that these, too, are staged.

The new committee seems to be favouring the use of special forces and, perhaps, vigilantes – since it is known that PAD goons have cooperated with the security forces in the past.

The state is threatening more violence against the pro-democracy demonstrators this weekend. How many will they kill this time?

Suthep Spreads More Rumours


So, another unsourced claim with no evidence to support it that there may be 30-40 bombs in Bangkok and more in the north and north-east of Thailand (why? Who would do such a thing?) – if this is not another obviously made up pretext to bring the jackboots onto the streets with a license to use what violence they wish, then I shall be surprised.

Kicking Off at Supachalasai


Maybe it is just a coincidence but there is another story portraying the Thai people (the little people, that is) as violent: this time, it comes from the King’s Cup match at Supachalasai Stadium, during which fighting apparently broke out on and off the pitch. The match was between Muang Thong United and Thai Port – the fighting does not appear to have been very serious but I did not see ze incident and it is easy to imagine spokespersons either downplaying something that was serious or talking up something that was not serious according to their personal motivations.

Just Who Has Access to Large Amounts of Explosives in Central Bangkok?


Just who has access to M79 grenades and 1.3 kg of C4 explosive? The questions arises after a grenade exploded harmlessly at Rajamangala University of Technology and then the explosive was found (a tip-off?) 250 metres away from the Supreme Court from which position it can not possibly have done any damage to the Court or any of its members. The military-installed Abhisit regime and its lackeys in the pro-establishment media have wasted no time in trying to suggest that these bombs are evidence of what have been falsely called the ‘violence prone’ pro-democracy protestors’ willingness to use force in the run-up to the 26th February verdict – will it be postponed? That would not be very surprising and there are many precedents – it depends, I suppose, whether the Secret Hand thinks he can get away with taking all of the money now or would have a better chance later.

So Who, Actually, Funded the Lengthy PAD Campaign of Violence?


There are many questions that cannot be asked in Thailand, the title to this post is just one of them and most are so dangerous that it is not possible even to hint that we know what they are. How has this politics of silence come about?

Hannah Arendt, in her book On Revolution, makes some useful comments here (p.9):

“Where violence rules absolutely … everything and everybody must fall silent. It is because of this silence that violence is a marginal phenomenon in the political realm; for man, to the extent that he is a political being, is endowed with the power of speech … The point here is that violence itself is incapable of speech, and not merely that speech is helpless when confronted with violence.”

In other words, in the Thai context, people must be silent because of the absolute rule of violence in society about which everybody knows and about which must, therefore, keep silent (as is well-known: the army will step in whenever they like – the last coup was nearly bloodless but not because the army wanted it to be bloodless).

The Useful Mr Red


The media have had a lot of joy dramatizing the recent events surrounding Seh Daeng – army specialist Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol, who today reported to the police to hear charges against him. He is accused (inter alia) of being in possession of ‘war weapons’ – you can always tell who is going to be painted as the bad guy when the phrase ‘war weapons’ comes out; I recall when the police were trying to disperse the violent, heavily armed PAD mob that was illegally occupying Government house they were suddenly accused of using ‘war weapons’ against civilians. What weapons have been found? (As ever, I rely on what information has been put in the public domain – perhaps there is secret evidence to which I am not privy). Apparently, there is a .38 calibre pistol and a ‘number of bullets’ – well, he is a major general and TIT (This is Thailand) so it does not seem very surprising that he should have a gun at home. He is also said to have one, just one M26 grenade – and of course we immediately think of the grenade attack on General Anupong’s quarters the other day (and perhaps grenade attacks against at least one of the PAD’s fascist rallies). Just one grenade? Khun Khattiya himself denies all charges and says he has been framed. He also claims that comments he made (supposedly death threats against judges and others) were distorted or taken out of context – well, as far as I can see, he is a bit of a loose cannon so he might well have said some rash things. He has, I believe, form. In any case, he seems to have performed the role that the establishment might have wished him to perform – there is now some pretext for the jackboots to step up security, repress free speech even further and so on because of the supposed threat from the crazed red-shirt faction and its supporters. He has been very useful to the state, in that sense.

Nakhon Pattani


The powerful do not give up their power easily – not without a fight certainly. That has been the guiding principle of the Thai elites who have held on to direct control over the three southern border provinces and have refused even to permit public discussion of any alternative. It has taken a person who is now playing the role of something of a maverick to challenge the (self-)censorship in public discourse and announce that a measure of autonomy would be better – after all, 3,860 people are now confirmed as dead in the insurgency violence since 2004.

General Chavalit Yongchaivudh, for it is he of whom I speak, has been championing the Pattani City (Nakhon Pattani) local authority which would unite the three provinces with a semi-autonomous form of administration, albeit one that remains subject to the Thai crown and constitution. The Bangkok Post is reporting this as being a compelling concept in the South but immediately rejected by the Democrat-led unelected coalition that is being used by the elite as a supposedly democratic figleaf for the continuing rule by the elite.

The cat is out of the bag, perhaps, and now it will be very difficult for the Bangkok elites to suppress discussion of the autonomy idea as before. For that, at least, General Chavalit has done us all a favour (although in the great karmic scheme of things I suspect he has some way to go before he can expect to be declared some kind of arhat or bodhisattva).

Certainly, something should be done to halt the violence – the current policy seems to be to give the army free reign and to suppress all unwanted news from the region (this from the government to which Stupid Suthep has awarded a score of 100 out of 100). Despite what the right-wing hacks say, it is important to bring management of the region under civilian, political control.

October 14th, 1973 Remembered


October 14th is the anniversary of the 1973 massacre of students and demonstrators by the Thai military. The official death toll resulting from the vicious assault by the military was 77 deaths but it is widely believed to be much bigger. Hundreds of thousands of Thais had taken to the streets to protest against the military rule that had oppressed the country for decades. As ever, the state responded with massive violence, including all manners of atrocity ordered by members of the highest ranks.

Yet the violence was not enough to stand in the way of the people. The despot Marshal Thanom was forced to step down and a civilian government was created under Dr Sanya Dhammasak. Civilian rule lasted until 1976 when the military again seized control to protect the interests of the elite amid more bloodshed.

Ji Giles Ungpakorn wrote of the October 14th uprising:

“The successful 14th October 1973 mass uprising against the military dictatorship in Bangkok, shook the Thai ruling class to its foundations. It was the first time that the pu-noi (little people) had actually started a revolution from below. It was not planned and those that took part had only vague notions about the need for democracy, but the Thai ruling class could not shoot enough demonstrators to protect their regime. In fact the shooting just made people even more angry. It was not just a student uprising to demand a democratic constitution. It involved thousands of ordinary working class people and occurred on the crest of a rising wave of workers’ strikes. Success in over-throwing the military dictatorship bred increased confidence. Workers, peasants and students began to fight for more than just parliamentary democracy. They wanted social justice and an end to long-held privileges. Some wanted an end to exploitation and capitalism itself.”

Ji Giles Ungpakorn, Thailand: Class Struggle in an Era of Economic Crisis (1999), p.113.

The struggle, of course, continues.

Xenophobia


The Bangkok Post is leading with yet another tedious anti-foreigner story: apparently, more than 90% of Phuket beach land is owned by the despicable outsiders who, if it is true, are apparently planning to take the land away or else to poison it so that no Thai person can ever go back there again.

This story follows others in the national media, including various stories about foreigners secretly gaining control over rice-growing land and investigations into Thai-foreigner marriages with a view to seizing land or property that may have been secretly bought – well, we foreigners are not allowed to buy land in the Land of Smiles (Thais of course can buy land pretty much anywhere else) because … well, obviously, it is part of the establishment-military-nationalist elites who aim to frighten the poor and middle classes as a pretext to continue to inflate the budget of the military and the state security organs. Huge amounts of money flow to the military and it would be interesting (but enough to draw an assassination attempt) to know where it all goes.

The repressive Abhisit regime is part of this tendency – it is talking up the ‘dangers’ of the pro-democracy movement demonstration due to be held on the 30th and there is talk of a ‘special law’ to deal with the demonstrators (as opposed to the ‘special’ interpretation of the law which is used to discriminate, some people would argue, against the pro-democracy movement and its supporters). Expect, therefore, more agent provocateur action (perhaps the ‘blue shirts’ – mostly off-duty servicemen and known PAD goons – will reappear to ‘defend their neighbourhood’).

Then again, given Abhisit’s ongoing failure to force his crony into the seat of police chief, perhaps he will have been discarded by the Secret Hand by then. After the birthday party, perhaps. Then, perhaps violence will be used both to destroy the pro-democracy movement and also as a pretext for getting rid of the ineffectual super rich boy, who can also be blamed for it.

Sondhi Shot


When the state fails to provide justice, it is tragically likely that people will take the law into their own hands. This appears to be borne out by the shooting of chief anti-democracy leader Sondhi Limthongkul, who is being operated on now, apparently.

It is seductively appealing to leap to conclusions and then publish them prematurely on blogs such as this but it is hard, nevertheless, to avoid reaching the conclusion that an assassination attempt has been made because the people of Thailand are so disgusted that one-sided reprisals are being made against the pro-democracy supporters while the anti-democracy mob, the blue shirts and other criminals are being permitted to get away with murder.

Nobody wants to see this violence spreading (I have written before about the prevalence of violence in Thailand, partly fuelled by the easy availability of guns) – the government, no matter whether it was brought to power illegally or not, must act to ensure justice is carried out by immediately taking action against all people suspected of breaking the law irrespective of their political ideology. Abhisit’s failure to do so to date reflects very badly on his character.

Violence


Violence has been used for commercial ends in Thailand for as long as history records and, no doubt, much longer than that. One of the more recent episodes has been the shooting of two men behind the Klong Toey market, which vendors (who are now protesting) link with a dispute with a company called Legal Professional Co Ltd concerning the redevelopment of the land on which the market is based.

The two men were apparently acting as guards, presumably because they suspected foul play of some sort. I am assuming that (details are not spelt out) the company concerned would like the vendors to move away so they can redevelop the land and, hence, make a lot of money. We have seen many incidents in the past when force has been used to destroy vendors or beer bars – the problem is that land ownership rules (and practice) are not always clear and the rule of law is too easily set aside when money talks. In the past, of course, a lot of this violence was hidden in the provinces where the very limited press and media coverage meant that local mandarins or godfathers were able to do more or less what they wanted. This has changed to a limited extent but murders of this sort are still not unusual.

Political violence is also used – not so much these days aimed against labour activists and community leaders (although this does still happen) but still very common in the southern border region. Four more paramilitary troops were killed in a bomb attack yesterday – these are reported but the incidents which the southern people feel justify their protests are usually not reported because of the unaccountability of the military who are active in the area.

Violence?


The strike at Suvarnabhumi Airport is apparently over – good news for me, since I due to be there in a couple of hours. Apparently some 300 workers who were responsible for providing baggage and x-ray machine services were striking to receive the 3,000 baht per person bonus they were promised for working without time off throughout December and January. The bonus has not been paid but executives have promised to take their requests into consideration – so that perhaps means that further industrial action is possible.

Industrial action is of course an important right for workers and it is likely to be a significant feature of the rest of the year, since there will surely be many more job losses and company closures (Olarn Chaiparavart, once of this parish of course, is talking about a contraction of the economy by as much as 4%) and not every company is likely to pay strict attention to its obligations re compensation payments and the ethical shedding of jobs. Given the power that the military now holds in society, together with the expansion of the sinister Internal Security measures, it is likely that any physical confrontation featuring striking workers runs the risk of meeting deadly force – this would be the expression of obvious, explicit violence by the state. Slavoj Zizek, in his new book Violence, draws distinctions between this explicit expression of violence and the implicit, non-expressed forms of violence used by state agencies to control an unwilling (section of the) population – some readers might recall Arthur Scargill justifying the actions of striking miners using the same terms.

Here, the ICT is continuing with policies which use the implicit violence approach: it is claimed that more than 50,000 websites are now being blocked in Thailand – supposedly for containing pornography, pro-terrorist articles or political dissidence in certain particular ways. The fact that I am wary of even mentioning the reasons why this website ban exists and will not try to find out for myself whether certain sites are being blocked or not indicates the efficacy of this policy.

Dealing with the Useful Idiots


What should we do with the useful idiots? The BBC’s Jonathan Head has an interesting article on some of the PAD supporters at a recent meeting. They are people who are very firm in their beliefs – even though those beliefs are completely wrong. The PAD, as is heavily-documented, was a violent, anti-democratic movement aimed at disenfranchising the poor and other groups who had threatened the status quo under which the rich and powerful in Thailand had gained their positions. Numerous crimes were committed by PAD members and evidence is clear – so much is obvious.

Yet the PAD people continue to claim, apparently in good faith, that the movement was aimed at protecting the monarchy, exposing corruption and human rights abuses. Seemingly undeterred by the evidence, it would appear that the PAD would return to the streets if its leaders had some other cause to promote. Even if they all return to private life and we never hear from them again, there are still thousands of people whose opinions are, in my opinion, not just wrong but inherently dangerous.

What, if anything, should be done?

It is easy to talk about negotiation and education as the answers but these are of little help to people who refuse to accept evidence or to question their own beliefs. If PAD ringleaders are ever prosecuted for their numerous crimes, then the useful idiots will presumably fancy those ringleaders to by martyrs or political prisoners and their many media backers will continue to broadcast propaganda on their behalf.

We have seen in all too tragic detail how neighbouring countries have treated those who did not accept political change – look at Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China and the treatment meted out by their governments to dissidents. No one is suggesting those measures will be considered here here but is it reasonable to think that Thai people think so very differently from their neighbours?

At the moment, many (perhaps most) people seem content to let the PADemocrat government have a few months in power – if only because it will give them enough rope to hang themselves and remind people why, in 2001, they swept the incompetent and corrupt Chuan Leekphai government out of office and then repeatedly voted for the Thai Rak Thai party and its successors. This is partly because of the unwillingness of rational people to resort to violence to settle political decisions – an unwillingness clearly not felt by those who now hold power and the useful idiots who will not recognise violence when it is used in front of them by their fellows.

Anupong to Lead Military Campaign in Isan?


One of the more sinister headlines of the last few days: “Army to visit Isan to soothe social disunity.Apparently, politically influential General Anupong Paojinda is able to take time out from refusing to obey orders from a democratically elected government to launch a ‘hearts and minds’ mission among the people who have most justified reasons to be concerned about his arrival and that of his troops – especially given that few journalists find it possible to drag themselves out into the provinces to cover what is going on.

Anyone who has looked even briefly at Thai history will be struck by how lawless society has been away from the urban centres. There are endless stories of attacks by bandits and by wild animals, not to mention the depredations of unjust local rulers, especially when it came time to collect up men to serve their legal obligation of corvée labour.

Villages beyond the reach of the central government (which has mostly been weak and limited in its ability to affect what went on at a distance) felt themselves free to specialize in whatever kind of activity suited them – so there were villages specializing in different types of intoxicants, for example. Reports from Europeans showed that brawling and gangsterism among Chinese coolie labour was also a regular feature of life.

In response, military and police figures treated the provinces with a kind of wild west form of justice, secure in the knowledge that no one (important) would find out what they had done (or would complain if they did). Is General Anupong now planning to revive this form of behaviour? Let us hope that there are enough people with mobile phones or cameras who can record what is going on and can bring it to the attention of the world, bypassing the now curiously arrayed court system. The internet helped, to some perhaps limited extent, to reduce the amount of violence meted out by the violent Burmese troops against the monks and civilian demonstrators – can it do the same in Isan?

Or perhaps I am wrong to be suspicious and the military is really planning a series of calm sit down discussions over tea.

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.

Smeliies Occupying Don Mueang


I went past Don Mueang airport on my way to where I am now and had chance to see the occupation at first hand – it was the first time I had seen the Smellies up close and it confirmed my impression that they are a self-important bunch of twerps. Why else would they think they are so much more important than ordinary people that they should be able to use the expressway for free and could keep honest people waiting to go about their business waiting behind them? It is the same for the poor bus passengers forced to get off the buses highjacked by armed PAD goons and left on the side of the road. Luckily police were able to reclaim one such bus – but only at the cost of shooting out its tyres. The others are still in use by the Smellies.

Possibly 20,000 people or a few more joined the PAD useful idiots protest at Don Mueang and some other sites, far below the number of pro-democracy supporters who turned out the other week and it does appear as if the popularity of the anti-democracy movement is finally waning – Chief Smellies had to bus in thousands of presumably Democrat supporters from the South just to reach this number. PM Somchai Wongsawat is, it is being reported, relying on the good sense of the great majority of Thai people who wish to see democracy triumphant in the country. PAD smellies will try to occupy Don Mueang and possibly the Supreme Command HQ if the Cabinet decides to meet there but its apocalyptic government must resign today rhetoric has been exposed as empty posturing. There is still, of course, the danger that PAD goons will take one final chance to unleash another wave of violence on the city but, so far, nothing they have done has roused military leaders to bring the tanks back on to the streets again (Bangkok Pundit (http://feeds.feedburner.com/BangkokPundit) comments that many PAD useful idiots may not be aware of the extent to which armed thugs conduct business on their behalf)

 

Perhaps this might be seen, not as the end or the beginning of the end but at least the end of the beginning.