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Too late to write on Thailand. Not.

(I got started... And...)

It feels like everything is being done behind closed doors, but and so press censorship is getting stronger, and the Generals may be clumsy enough to try to shut down the Internet. (Na ga happen because how would the Thais send selfies to each other if the Internet is down?!) Anyhow, somehow I don't think any force on this earth will stop Thais from communicating, so the Generals should just give up. If they can get the hate speech damped down, that should do it, no? The big point for me at least is the elections, if any. Khaosod English:

BANGKOK — Thailand may not get to see a functioning government for 24 more months.

"We have presented two solutions," said Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn. "One option is a quick arrangement of elections five months from now ... and the other option is an election in one or two years from now."

Mr. Somchai made the comment several hours after he attended a 7-party "peace talk" arranged by the military, who declared martial law on Tuesday to prevent an escalation of violence between Bangkok's rival protest groups.

Todays's meeting was aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the protracted political crisis that pits the embattled caretaker government of Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisarn against anti-government protesters allied with the establishment.

The government and its Redshirt supporters have consistently argued that holding elections is the best way to resolve the country's political impasse, while anti-government protesters and members of the oppostion Democrat Party have demanded that unspecified "national reforms" be held before any election takes place.

How much you wanna bet that the 5-month solution presented by the EC has terms the Reds can't possibly accept?

Anyhow, dunno. I vacillate between thinking:

1) It's all going according to a script from some backroom deal;

2) It's all started going according to a script from some backroom deal except at some point some of the players defected, even if the other players don't know that yet;

3) There are mutually conflicting scripts, with several players having said whatever they think the other guy wanted to hear at the time.

One other thing to consider: There is a Thai concept -- I'm hearing AV scream in pain, here, but bear with me -- called kreng jai (เกรงใจ ) (literally, respectful heart) which means "[is] reluctant to impose upon; deferent to; is considerate of (another's feelings); respectful of (another's privacy, space, etc.); fearful to approach." An example: I was having trouble turning my cell phone on to make a call. Because I never use cell phones! I griped about this with my Thai friend, but they didn't say anything, so I went to the mall (four hours!) and got the salesman to explain. Boy, did I feel dumb! So I asked my friend why they didn't say anything, and they said "I didn't want to embarass you." Now, they were in fact incredibly sensitive and considerate -- I mean, I really did feel dumb! -- but it only lasted for a minute, and I would rather have had the four hours back! Now, imagine that attitude permeates every social setting and every hierarchy to an intensity you can't even begin to imagine: that's kreng jai. (And I'm sure there are different flavors or degrees of kreng jai by social setting, whether family, or workplace, or party... or army.) Me being me, I love the considerate part, and strive to emulate it and return it, but I'm not so strong on that hiearchy part.

Now, kreng jai has political ramifications. I read a book -- here again I hear a cry of pain -- by Ron Morris, called The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations. It explains, among other things, why lobbing a grenade at somebody's house when anyone would know they're not at home is not so much a crime, really, as just sending a message. But Morris also applies the kreng jai to Big Men -- the Men at the top of any hierarchy. The problem Big Men have is that -- just as my friend was reluctant to embarrass me, because of kreng jai, which really kicked in because I was higher up, being male and older -- is that they find it very difficult to get accurate information, because their subordinates, out of kreng jai, don't want to upset them with bad news, or even things they don't know or haven't predicted, because how could the Big Man possibly not already know what needs to be known? And the corrollary:

Because they get so much bad information, Big Men invariably over-reach. It's almost like a Greek tragedy: Hubris, nemesis. Except that the Big Man's tragic flaw (hamartia) is not just a flaw that he has, but a collective flaw.

And who is the Big Man in Thai politics right now?

Why, General Prayuth, who just imposed martial law. So we will see how long it takes him to over-reach.*

NOTE * For geeks, Thaksin's over-reach, at least recently, was the Amnesty Bill that ticked everybody off, even the Reds; although I think Thaksin thought he had a deal, and whoever he had the deal with betrayed him.

NOTE Thailand is a monarchy, and the lèse-majesté laws are enforced, even against foreigners. Therefore, readers, discussion of the Thai monarchy or royal family is off-topic. This will be especially important of Thai websites are shut down, and any Thai people wander over here following the Google. We don't want to put them in any kind of jeopardy. Thank you!

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Submitted by lambert on

I meant, although this wasn't clear, that the over-reach happens at the end of a process, and I saw Martial Law as the beginning, and it was very smooth. The over-reach combines, perhaps, with face issues, so having over-reached, they can't back down, like Suthep keeping up his marches (assuming he's an independent agent) or the Shinwatras with the amnesty bill (assuming there was no backroom deal).