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Thai writers deconstruct the Red Shirts' rebellion

MsExPat's picture

A digest of after-the-flames-have-died-down essays from an assortment of Thais who write in English. I'll update periodically as I run across more goodies and feel free to add anything you find in the comments.

Wassana Nanuam, military affairs columnist, Bangkok Post, on the Generals, the Army and the politics of "Operation Rajaprasong":

The role _ and eventual departure from the scene by assassination _ of Seh Daeng in the victory of the government and army over the red shirt movement cannot be overlooked. Hawkish soldiers are in one voice on how the outcome of the army's Ratchaprasong operation could have been so different had Seh Daeng had not been murdered.

``Had Seh Daeng survived the May 13 assassination, there would have been a lot more casualties on the army side,'' one soldier observed.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, political scientist at Chulalongkorn U in the Bangkok Post:

The onus rests squarely now on the Abhisit government to bring the reds back into the fold beyond Thaksin. Lumping all the reds under Thaksin's long and manipulative tentacles has been a mistake all along. Accommodating the rank-and-file reds and working with their more moderate leaders, including some of the banned politicians from 2007, may offer a way to bypass Thaksin.

If Mr Abhisit is too compromised and tainted for this task, he should consider his position and make a personal sacrifice to enable others to be put in place for the healing to take place.

Somtow Sucharitkul, composer, essayist and science fiction writer, from his blog:

An Open Letter to the Red Shirts
Not many people in Bangkok would feel grateful to you at this moment. But I do want to thank you. What you did was really important, though perhaps not for the reasons you think. And I want to explain why.

When you build a road, you will sometimes come to a mountain. To get to the other side, you may have to go around it. You may have to dig a tunnel. Or you have to blow up the mountain.

You didn't blow down the mountain, but the tragic events that have unfolded have convinced everyone that it is time to move on. Your people — and the soldiers, too — did not suffer and die in vain. Though we seem to be in darkness and chaos, a fuller democracy is closer today than it has been at any time during the Thaksin administration and all its successors. There will come a time when people will realize that you opened their eyes, that you all contributed to this major turning point in Thailand's history.

Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, academics and authors of the definitive bio of Thaksin Shinawatra
op ed in the WSJ:

This could also be a great moment for Mr. Thaksin. The movement he helped foment has now become a raging tiger. Were he to return and ride this beast, it would probably devour him. In his heart, he probably knows that. So this is an opportune moment to get down from the tiger's back. In a Buddhist society like Thailand, renunciation of one's personal interests is very highly valued. Were he publicly to renounce any intent to recover his seized assets and return to Thailand to serve his two years in jail, that would be seen as a heroic gesture.

Many Thais have made sacrifices or had sacrifices forced upon them this week. Thailand's future hinges on whether these two men are big enough for the personal sacrifices that such an awful moment demands.

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Submitted by lambert on

Travel Daily News:

  • -Bangkok - Entire city
  • Nakhon Pathom - Entire province including Rose Garden Riverside
  • Chon Buri - Entire city of Pattaya, Si Racha (Sriracha Tiger Zoo)
  • Samut Prakan - Entire province including Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm, Ancient City, accommodation around Suvarnabhumi Airport. During the curfew, visitors must arrive at the airport before 21.00 hrs. and depart only after 05.00 hrs.
  • Pathum Thani - Entire province including Dream World
  • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya - Entire province including Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Historical Park, Bang Pa-in Summer Palace
  • Chiang Mai - Entire province
  • Chiang Rai - Entire province
  • Nakhon Ratchasima - Entire province including Khao Yai National Park and nearby wineries.

Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand. Again, I think the story isn't the Red Shirts who stayed in Bangkok, but the Red Shirts who went home to the north and east before the violence began; what they said they saw and did, and why.

Yes, it would be wonderful if the Thai elites practiced a bit of renunciation; it also seems to me -- correct me if I am wrong here -- that it ought to be the role of the monarchy to "nudge" them.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

And I am gradually coming around to the idea that if Thailand is going to move forward, it's going to have to develop strong institutions other than the monarchy.

The monarchy has been the duct tape holding Thai society together for the last fifty years or so. Because of the monarchy, institutions like the rule of law and a truly independent judiciary have been neglected. The military is too strong. The corruption---that is, the "personal rent"-- is choking mobility.

The other day it hit me: maybe the King remains silent, as painful as that must be for someone who loves his country, because he knows it's time for the monarchy to go.