Monday, March 15, 2010

Two polities, one ungovernable state

The Bangkok Post is reporting some simply bizarre protest numbers that the Ministry of Interior (MoI) is trying to flog.

46,377 in total with "23,569 red-shirts were from the Northeast, 11,127 from the North, 4,190 from the central region, 3,667 from the East, 2,990 from the West and 834 from the South."

While wildly low, they are also unbelievably detailed to the exact number and location.

While I would put my own first-hand estimate at 200,000+, I think the important thing to remember is that the MoI is probably not floating such imaginatively low numbers for the foreign media or for those who can literally see how absurd their estimate is, but they are likely using their apocryphal numbers for the blissfully ignorant Bangkok middle class.

Watching Thai television this evening, it is remarkable that while the streets are teeming with anti-government protesters, Thai TV is filled with soap operas and game shows.

The news and political talk shows are nearly void of images from the protest and completely void of representatives of the red shirts or dialog on issues fueling red shirt grievances.

Should middle class Bangkok residents chose either their ASTV or government/military media, they might simply remain ignorant of the storm brewing in their city.

Far removed from the soring high-rises, luxury cars, and pleasantly cooled shopping malls is a political movement sown in economic and judicial inequality and the out-right theft of citizens democratic franchise.

The reds are organized, they have an established ideology, and they are growing.

The MoI's hopeful and imaginative numbers are analogous to the hopeful and imaginative idea that the whole red shirt movement is simply a bunch of bumpkins duped and paid by Thaksin.

How long Bangkok will try to sweep the reds away with the trinity of the Military, the Judiciary, and the Democrats remains anyone's guess.

Currently, there is a clearly distinguishable failure of Bangkok based elites to come to grips with the morally questionable suppression of rural voters.

And until the power-brokers in Bangkok begin to negotiate and address the grievances that the reds have, Bangkok and Thailand will remain two very different polities within one ungovernable state.


  1. "Currently, there is a clearly distinguishable failure of Bangkok based elites to come to grips with the morally questionable suppression of rural voters."

    I don't think they care about the moral issue because they don't believe that rural, or "stupid" voters (the middle-class would say poorly educated) have a right to participate in elections anyway.

    I used to get the same sense of surrealism when the PAD were storming Government House and hijacking the airport but in the Thai news all you saw were pictures of parties with people holding hands, laughing, waving flags, etc. Very well stage-managed. Meanwhile in the world press you saw the reality: shooting into crowds, blowing up cars, running over policemen, bodies turning up outside the airport perimeter with bullet holes in the back of their heads. And yet the middle-classes criticise the reds for being violent!

    This is why democracy isn't right for Thailand. The electorate will never respect the right to vote whilst they believe that your basic rights as a human being stem from your position, power and/or wealth.

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