Repression, Not Reconciliation – “Political Education Sessions” & Supression Efforts In Pro-Red Areas


The BBC has published an article by Vaudine England titled Divided Thailand seeks elusive ‘normalcy’. The main point they are making is essentially that while it seems that Thailand has returned to normalcy – an impression that the Thai government is working very hard on creating – behind the curtain, things are not so harmonious.

Some key points:

  • the government still persists that there is a conspiracy to overthrow the monarchy, although teams of hundreds of detectives have failed to provide specifics
  • Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations, which managed the government’s response to the protests, still exists, and insists security must remain tight.
  • A state of emergency still holds sway over Bangkok and six other provinces – allowing for arrest without charge, censorship and other controls.
  • Despite this, at least two explosions have occurred in the centre of Bangkok, killing one person and injuring others.
  • “Things have quietened down on the surface but the issues are still very raw, they are lurking underneath” – political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak
  • Dr Thitinan believes the government is pursuing repression not reconciliation.
  • “The army […] have fanned out in pro-red areas for pacification and suppression efforts” – Dr Thitinan
  • political education sessions are being held in every province
  • “This time communities are divided, families are divided, workplaces are divided, companies are divided, even government offices are divided. This is a deeply divided country, a deeply divided city.” – Governor of Bangkok, Sukhumbhand Paripatra

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.