Friday, February 20, 2009

More from Giles

Giles is back and has some interesting quotes.

First, from the Guardian, titled "Thailand's battle for democracy":

"Five years ago, Thailand had a thriving and developing democracy with freedom of expression, a relatively free press and an active civil society, where social movements campaigned to protect the interests of the poor. Today, the country is creeping towards totalitarianism.

Since his (Thaksin's) overthrow and as a result of the prolonged crisis, a grassroots "red shirt" democracy movement has developed. They are moving beyond Thaksin. What is also amazing is that this is becoming a republican movement because of the actions of the military and the PAD in dragging the monarchy into politics."

Not sure how the rest of the Red Shirt movement is going to appreciate being labeled as republican. But in a country where there is simply no honest discussion of the monarchy, it is hard to say whether there is actually support for a republic. If the Red Shirts quietly adopt this, fracture into different groups, or distance themselves from republicanism will be the only way to really see if Giles is correct about it becoming a republican movement.

Regardless though, royalists will be boiling with violent rage over this and the likelihood of clashes between Yellow Shirts and Red Shirts seem certain.

And over that the New Mandala, there is part one of an interview with Giles. Some of the more interesting quotes:

"But I was not going to leave the country with my tail between my legs, I was not going to run away. Once, I left the country, I decided to fight back without any restriction. I wrote the notes of the Manifesto on the airplane I flew from Bangkok to London.

I felt that really it was necessary for someone to say those things because it was in the mind of thousands of people in Thailand but nobody has said it.

What is interesting is that this Manifesto, in a Western European context, is not very progressive. It is normal. In a Thai context, however, it is explosive. I think that indicates the difference between the amount of democracy in Thailand and the amount of democracy in Britain or Western Europe.

I think the whole situation in Thailand has reached what I would describe as a civil war. It might not be a violent civil war, but it is a civil war of ideas between two sections of society. And the Red Shirts section is rapidly becoming republican. So, really, people want to move beyond just fighting Lese Majeste, and talk about political reform. I think people are ready for that.

I think that the monarchy must be feeling insecure. Even more important, I think that the military and those that have in the past enjoyed undemocratic power but claimed legitimacy from the monarchy are really very, very scared that when this King dies, their legitimacy will evaporate because they are not going to be able to claim the same legitimacy from the Crown Prince.

I am not necessarily in agreement with Giles but I certainly appreciate his decision to fight back and to force discussion on the monarchy.

He is certainly right about his manifesto not being progressive in Europe, but it is nothing short to seditious in Thailand.

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