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Thailand: Did the government and the Red Shirts cut a deal?

MsExPat's picture

And was this the condition of the UDD leadership's surrender?

Bangkok Post:

Thaksin's arrest warrant delayed

The Criminal Court has taken back the arrest warrant for convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on terrorism charges on Wednesday night, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tharit Pengdit said.

Mr Tharit said the court had issued arrest warrants for Thaksin and nine other anti-government core members on terrorism charges earlier today but it had decided to recall Thaksin's arrest warrant.

"Further investigation will take place on May 24 at 9.30am," the DSI chief said.

The attorneys had already approved the 10 arrest warrants but the DSI would have to wait for the court's deliberation on Thaksin's case again, he added.

Just to refresh your memory, the sticking point that caused the negotiations between the government and the UDD (Red Shirt leadership) to fall apart just before all the demons let loose in Bangkok was the issue of amnesty.

The UDD leaders wanted the government to arrest its own head of security and bring charges against him for the April 10th killings. The reason behind this is that they (UDD leaders) wanted to protect themselves--or at least have a bargaining chip--against similar charges pressed against themselves.

It's complicated, I know, bear with me!

Anyway, the government refused to do it, and that's when the UDD leadership split into two wings--one that wanted to accept the government deal anyway, and the other (the Seh Daeng, radical wing) that said, "No way."

And that is when everything ratcheted up, the government withdrew its deal, and the violence started.

But yesterday, right before the Army moved in on the demonstrators, these same UDD guys decided, okay, we're turning ourselves in.

So they do...and they're all indicted..EXCEPT Thaksin Shinawatra.

Doesn't this seem very odd? If they had surrendered and agreed to the deal last weekend, how many lives would have been saved?

The "delay" of Thaksin's arrest warrant really seems suspicious in the light of all this. It looks to me like another piece of evidence to support the theory that the breakdown of the original negotiation was all about Thaksin.

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MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

Nails it in his NYT piece today:

Thailand’s rural people are not serfs. They have been called some of the most comfortable poor people in the world. The economic boom of the 1980s brought them paved roads, electricity, brick houses, television sets, motorbikes, celltelephones and factory jobs.

Political analysts now call them “post-peasants” and “middle-income peasants.”

But as their standard of living rose, the wealth of the well-to-do in Bangkok rose faster, and the aspirations and resentments of the lower classes grew, too.

They underwent a process known here as ta sawang, or a “brightening of the eyes” — an awakening, a realization of a truth they had not recognized.

When their eyes brightened, they focused in many cases on Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister whose genius was to recognize this untapped electoral bloc, to answer some of its needs with low-cost health care and financial assistance and to secure its support.

Mr. Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006 and lives abroad, evading a conviction for corruption. But he stays in touch with his supporters through audio and video messages and a flow of fatherly messages on Twitter. He remains the single most influential political personality in Thailand, and many see him as the master manipulator of the protests.

“Don’t forget that the two most important weapons in modern-day politics are money and the media, and unfortunately the other side are the masters of both,” said Mr. Anusart, the pro-government senator.

A former telecommunications billionaire, Mr. Thaksin was one of the wealthiest people in Thailand, and one of its most practiced in the use of media.

Submitted by lambert on

"People like me":

When the Thaksin’s party (the Peoples Power Party) won the post-coup election I suspected we would just get back the same politics minus some of the corruption.

Alas it was not to be. The Orwellian named People’s Alliance for Democracy - the Yellow Shirts who don’t want to accept that Berlusconi (sorry Thaksin) was democratically elected – set out to make Thailand ungovernable if elections were fair. [Remember the occupation of Bangkok airport which did not end with snipers and hail of government bullets.]

But be clear what people like me have done in Thailand now. They have subverted democracy with a military coup and a refusal to accept the result of the subsequent election. And they have shot people that have disagreed with them.

An American equivalent would be if (say) the Tea Party (displacing its predecessor Republican Party) won the US Presidential elections and – like many demagogues – turned out to be modestly corrupt. In response a coup was organised by the displaced elites (Democrats and non-Tea Party Republicans) and Tea Party protestors were subsequently shot in the street.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

What makes a "Peoples Alliance for Democracy" any more Orwellian than a "People Power Party" led by a corrupt billionaire?

And you know what I think about trying to shoehorn the Thai political situation into American political frameworks. It just doesn't lead you anywhere productive. And it is highly inflected by American cultural assumptions. Thailand is what Thailand is. The Red Shirts are not the Tea Party. The Yellow Shirts are not Versailles. (And the Red Shirt Camp was not Jonestown, although this Thai commentator has a point of view worth reading.)

If you really twist my arm and force me to come up with "Western" counterparts for the Thai political players I'd probably lump both Thaksin and his minions and the royalist elites into the "legacy party" category. The only difference between the sides is in their styles of stealing and maintaining power.

Speaking of people from other cultures reading the Thai political crisis, I was thunderstruck this morning to read this editorial in China's Southern Weekly magazine, which is one of the most cogent and thoughtful musings on democracy in Thailand that I've read, well anywhere. Now, Southern Weekly is the most "liberal" of Chinese publications, but still...

And as far as the shooting of the Thai civilians is concerned, I see the slimy hand of Thaksin behind every one of those trigger-happy, nervous Thai soldiers. Now that the dust has settled it's become clear to me that Thaksin was playing Ahbisit, the Thai government and the military as deftly as bin Laden and company played the U.S. government after 9-11. He knew exactly how to push their buttons, and he knew what they'd end up doing.

I'm not excusing the government, mind you. They blew it. They should not have taken Thaksin's bait.

The best thing that I can say about this is that at least they didn't take it all the way. The fact that there wasn't a bloodbath on Rajaprasong this week says to me that there's some very small hope that Thakin's wish to destroy Thailand so he can sail back into power again will not happen.