* photos copyright*
People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) thug at the seized Suvarnabhumi airport.
As the Asian Human Rights Commission argues, it is really about time the international community wakes up the the serious consequences of mob rule in Thailand.
PAD has pushed Thailand to the precipice of fascism from which it will take decades and, presumably, countless lives to return from.
From the Asian Human Rights Commission:
"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.
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.
To read more: THAILAND: Watershed moment for democracy and rule of law
Sunday, November 30, 2008
* photos copyright*
* photos copyright*
People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) thug stands proudly in front of canceled departures at the seized Suvarnabhumi airport.
From the editorial desk at the Straights Times:
"The sight of paid ruffians occupying Bangkok's main airports for three days now (even the sensitive control tower was taken over) has been vividly damaging to the country."
"For Thailand's sake and the continuance of fragile democratic institutions, no elected government should be run out of office by persons and special interests acting unconstitutionally. The PAD can register itself as a party and try to win office legally, but it must abandon its laughable proposition that only one-third of parliament shall be elected and two-thirds appointed. Class-based representation is the road to perdition."
Read more: Proud Thailand as caricature
Saturday, November 29, 2008
* photos copyright*
The view above Yala province courtesy of a helicopter flight with the 4th Army August 2008.
Most of what is in the International Crisis Group's (ICG) latest article about the insurgency in the southern border provinces is not really news.
"Thais, numbed by the repeated atrocities and in any case unsympathetic towards the grievances of Malay Muslims in the south of Thailand, have lost interest."
And, in light if the chaos in Bangkok, it is obvious that Thais have lost interest.
What is more interesting is the idea of what they call a 'policy vacuum' in the South.
"It may seem unrealistic to argue that the Thai government should undertake a serious policy initiative on the south at a time when it is locked in deep political conflict in Bangkok. But unfortunately, waiting for an end to Bangkok's political crisis may mean waiting a very long time. The south cannot afford to wait."
This is utter nonsense. And uncharacteristic for an organization which I hold in high regard.
Since the 2006 coup d'etet, there has been very little in the way of concerted policy originating from Bangkok.
Surayud's government apologized, but failed to address long stranding grievances in the South.
Samak's government, besides being antagonistic and inept, did not have the time or inclination to do more than try to secure their own administration in the face of the growing challenge from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).
And, honestly, Samak was such a belligerent animal so far removed from concepts of peace and reconciliation that it should not simply be a surprise that policy did not change but is a thankful surprise that he did not declare all out war against the country's minority Malay Muslims.
And now Somchai's wounded and dying government has been 100% consumed with maintaining power and utterly unconcerned with policy, let alone the South.
Really, how can anyone really think that policy can emerge from a country that is now stumbling along without a functioning government?
Friday, November 28, 2008
* photo copyright*
PAD thug at Government House. November 2008.
An insightful look at how much damage the political conflict spearheaded by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has caused to Thailand's institutions from the Rule of Lords.
"Whereas the former government played with institutions to obtain its objectives, this group is hell bent upon laying waste to them. Whereas the Thaksin regime had some image of the future, the alliance leaders conceive of their country only with reference to an imagined past."
To read more, click here: “Final battle” can only end in Phyrric victory
* photos copyright *
Photo from Government House at about 10:30 PM on Thursday November 27. Despite serious city-wide panic over coup rumors, it was business as usual at the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) encampment at Government House.
Academic Micheal Connors over at Sovereign Myth puts worth an interesting and alternative take on the class struggle framework which many have utilized to understand the conflict between PAD and the People's Power Party or former Thai Rak Thai.
"In place of the idea that this is a conflict between poor and rich, city and province, consider that the Thaksin regime progressively threatened an elite settlement between liberals and conservatives (in form since the 1980s) that envisaged a generational programme of regime change in a liberal political direction; a settlement that protected both the military and the palace. Class and geographical politics were certainly part of the equation in the 2006 conflict that led to the coup, but it is the subsequent conflict that has brought them to the fore."
To read the full article, click here: The Politics of Coups in Thailand 2008.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
*Image captured from Thai PBS showing PAD thugs threatening to kill a motorbike taxi driver on Vibhavadi road today: November 25, 2008.*
From earlier in the week I commented on how apt Professor Thongchai Winichakul's description of the thoroughly anti-democratic People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) was:
" the PAD is now like a cult, with hard-core followers who think and speak alike close-mindedly, and becomes increasingly militant. As they claim political righteousness, they defied laws, dehumanized critics and opponents and intimidated them too, and [they are] armed."
Now that they have been filmed, among their other violence, hunting down taxi drivers and other motorists and shooting four on a busy Bangkok road, it is time, again, to call them what they are.
They are an ugly mob of thugs who are running amok. A mob is a mob, nothing more and everything less than democracy.
And as Thailand is without a functional government, that has serious implications.
Particularly if one understands that the quintessential social-contract type element of an organized state being that the state alone commands and exercises its sole legitimate use of martial force.
If the police cant control them through legitimate martial force, PAD has enough power to take down the state.
Monday, November 24, 2008
SCENARIOS-What's in store for politically riven Thailand?
By Ed Cropley
BANGKOK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Political tension has returned to Thailand after a brief lull for a royal cremation, with a grenade killing one anti-government protester on Thursday and wounding 23, teeing up another confrontation with police this weekend.
Sunday's planned march on parliament by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is likely to be a flashpoint, especially if protesters blockade the building to prevent an important session on Monday.
An identical blockade on Oct. 7 led to running street battles between police and protesters in which two people were killed, and hundreds, including scores of police, were injured.
Whatever happens, Thailand is likely to remain divided between the rural and urban poor who support Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted as leader in a 2006 coup, and the Bangkok middle and upper classes, loosely represented by the PAD, who despise him.
The elected administration, which is accused of being a Thaksin puppet, has been working out of temporary offices in an old airport since the PAD overran Government House in August.
It has all but given up on policy-making, intensifying investors' concerns about the export-dependent economy's ability to cope with global recession.
The following scenarios examine what might happen next:
- Unless one side backs down -- and there are few signs they will -- Sunday/Monday is likely to be messy. The PAD's stated intention is to trigger a coup and anarchy is its main weapon.
Police will be mindful of last month's high number of casualties, especially the protesters who lost limbs from exploding tear gas grenades, and are likely to be more cautious.
However, hardline PAD elements are armed, and shot at police lines last month. If any officers are shot dead, it is not hard to see their colleagues responding in kind.
All bets are off if a full-scale shooting match breaks out.
RECRIMINATIONS FLY, CRISIS RUMBLES ON
- Whatever happens on Sunday/Monday, accusations will fly from both sides, ensuring the crisis rumbles on amid a poisonous political atmosphere.There is bound to be a small lull around the king's birthday on Dec. 5, but tensions will rise ahead of Dec. 13 when the exiled Thaksin holds a "phone-in" to a sports stadium rally.
A similar gathering of 40,000 people on Nov. 1 ended without incident but the venue then was on the outskirts of the city. The Dec. 13 rally is going to be just 1.5 km (1 mile) from the PAD protest site, increasing the chances of confrontation.
COURTS DISBAND RULING PARTY
- The Election Commission has already found the ruling People Power Party (PPP) guilty of vote buying and the Supreme Court is expected to endorse the decision in December or January, leading to the party's immediate dissolution.
Top figures such as Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin's brother-in-law, will be barred from politics but most MPs will simply switch to a "shell" party already lined up, and as long as the ruling coalition holds together, it will stay in power.
Even if there was an election, the ex-PPP would be likely to win due to solid rural support for Thaksin.
Emotions will run high as the court ruling nears.
PAD CAMPAIGN FIZZLES OUT
Before this week's grenade, polls showed waning support for the PAD, which has been snarling up Bangkok traffic for six months, and its numbers at Government House have dwindled.
However, it is inconceivable it will simply wither and die, especially as it has the explicit backing of the highly influential Queen Sirikit. Protesters also made clear on Thursday they were undeterred by the threat of more grenades.
It is never wise to rule out a coup in a country that has had, on average, one successful or attempted putsch every four years since the overthrow of absolute monarchy 76 years ago.
Army chief Anupong Paochinda has put public pressure on Somchai to quit, but has also said the army will not seize control as it is powerless to heal the basic political rift.
- Regarded as semi-divine by many, King Bhumibol Adulyadej carries huge informal political clout and in six decades on the throne has intervened in several disputes, favouring at various times both elected and military administrations.
However, the 80-year-old has stepped in previously only after major bloodshed, and his advancing years and deteriorating health raise doubts about his ability to calm any new outburst. (Editing by Darren Schuettler and Valerie Lee)
Over at the Bangkok Pundit, there was some question over Thai ISPs censoring Google searches.
Another curiosity of note is the Thai Ministry of Defense web site which apparently tries to install malicious software on your computer.
Even more interesting is what Google claims is happening. According to Google:
What is the current listing status for mod.go.th?
To read more about this site click here.
Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.
Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 16 time(s) over the past 90 days.
What happened when Google visited this site?Of the 178 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 20 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2008-11-20, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2008-11-19.
Malicious software includes 21 trojan(s), 11 exploit(s), 6 scripting exploit(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 6 new processes on the target machine.
Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
Over the past 90 days, mod.go.th appeared to function as an intermediary for the infection of 1 site(s) including sanook.com.
Or try your luck and click on this link for the Thai Ministry of Defense.
* all photos copyright*
From The Nation:
"Tension was high throughout Bangkok on Sunday as anti-government protesters massed for a march to seize the Royal Plaza area near parliament - and red-shirted opponents met to oppose them.
The march by the People's Alliance for Democracy was due to start on Sunday..."
But, as the above photo shows, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) were checked by the Royal Guard who decided to go on parade on the very route between parliament and where the PAD mob is massed.
Was this army Commander in Chief Anupong Pochinda's idea of preventing confrontation? Or, was this a display of the army's 'above politics' legitimacy when they are caught between PAD's insistence that they launch a coup de'etat and the government supporters who insist that they do NOT lauch a coup de'etat?
Saturday, November 15, 2008
* all photos copyright *
PAD militia training near Makawan Bridge. October, 2008.
Thongchai Winichakul, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has an interesting article over at New Mandala.
He is calling the current political crisis in Bangkok a “perfect storm” and, although I dont agree with the entire article, it provides a very clear picture of the chaos.
His description of the anti-democratic PAD is particularly apt:
"The PAD’s propaganda runs around the clock every day, feeding the public with their ideology, concocted news and information, and rumors and lies that serve their political agenda and viciously destroy their critics. The PAD’s demagoguery is more dangerous than Thaksin’s by far. But it is effective; the PAD is now like a cult, with hard-core followers who think and speak alike close-mindedly, and becomes increasingly militant. As they claim political righteousness, they defied laws, dehumanized critics and opponents and intimidated them too, and [they are] armed."
The full article can be found here: Anti-democracy in Thailand
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Military check stop in Yala in August. Language barriers are a serious problem in the South. Most residents speak Pattani-Malayu which is a dialect of Malay. The Thai civil service speaks either central Thai or, as in the case of the soldiers interviewing the women, speak the northeastern Lao dialect.
On August 27, 2008, I was given an exclusive interview with the official opposition leader and leader of the Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva at his office in parliament.
This interview will appear in my forth coming documentary film about the southern insurgency. This is not the full interview transcript, of course, but an important point was raised about the southern language of Pattani-Malayu.
C: And what about the use of Pattani-Malayu? There are about two million speakers of this Malay dialect.
Abhisit : Yup, I think a commission that was set up under the Thaksin administration, ironically…
C: The National Reconciliation Commission.
Abhisit: they did make a proposal concerning the use of Malay as a local language and we think that should be encouraged. Similarly there are also cases, not criminal cases, where you could apply Sharia law, that should also be allowed.
C: In instances of family law?
Abhisit: That's right.
C: If the Democrat Party were to come to power, would Pattani-Malayu become a working language?
A: Yes, we support that proposal.
*all photos copyright *
Since August 26, People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters have been loitering in Government House.
In addition to 24-hours of ear shattering anti-government and anti-Thaksin propaganda, they also can enjoy free food, free medical care, take in a massage, or buy souvenirs.
Or, they can learn English. The following statements, written in a cute little notebook, were presented to me and I was asked to edit the grammar.
From the top of the page, to the bottom it reads:
- God damn! Taksin
- Taksin! go to hell
- Send Taksin back to Thailand
- go to prison, Taksin.
- Taksin, Cheating man on our tax
- Son of a bitch