United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship: the million-man march

4 03 2010

Not realistic, Lack of Real Ultimate Goal and Strategy

This was the first time I ever have a chance to join the press conference organised by the UDAD. It was yesterday at the FCCT. The aim  of the PC, they saaid, was to give briefing to “foreign press” regarding the upcoming rally: The Million-Man March to be held from 12 – 14 March 2010. Strategic location was announced to be from Sanam Luang to Rama V.

I think one of the objectives of this PC is to level up the issue internationally, especially after Thaksin’s assets were confiscated following court verdict on 26th February. Moreover, they must realise most of the local media is not with them, especially after the  fall of the ASEAN summit in Pattaya that followed the April, 2009 incidences.

Speakers supposed to come and give briefing are the following:

– Veera Musikapong

– Nattawut Saikua

– Jaran Ditthapichai

– Darunee Kritboonyalai

– Sean Boonpracong (facilitator and RED International Coordinator)

However, Veera and Nattawut did not turn up as they were very much into the planning of the political rally.  Dr. Weng Tojirakarn replaced Veera and Nattawut only briefly.  They said learning from the past experience in the April incidence, they have adopted new strategy and will use non-violent approach. They said they were inexperienced in dealing with the mass last year but they have corrected it and claimed have improved rally organisation and crowd’s management too. They also claimed that 70% of urban middle class in Bangkok have turned their back to the PAD / Yellow and would surely join UDAD in the million-man march. They said the demand two things: 1) house dissolution and 2) the return of 1997 constitution . The government will have to choose whether to dissolve the house or to suppress the protesters.

I almost dance with the tune, until the question and answer session started. Questions seemed to focus on how to make sure that the rally will not tilt towards violence, how to make sure that the situation like the April 7th will not reoccur, the financial source to fund food, transportation and guards and importantly the stance of RED on the monarchy?

The speakers said that there will be no violence, RED supporters will carry no weapon. They told the audience their plan to manage the crowd from all over the country.Daranee OISHI said her friends offered substantial financial support and she earned more funding through concerts and etc. The RED wants to abolish bureaucrats and political elites but wants the King as the Head of State.

Let’s me share my thought. When I left the room, i kept thinking how come they did not convince me at all.The more I listened to them, the more I know why they have been so unsuccessful. If you develop a strategy to bring down the government, you would keep it a top secret. You would share your strategy only to your team members and you would do everything according to the plan. Every strategist knows that once the information is out, your opponent will adopt a counter strategy to win  over you. At the PC, all speakers were sharing their strategy how they plan to march from where to where and how they plan to manage the crowd. So to me, they may not have a strategy as claimed.

Secondly, what is their indicator that the urban middle class Yellow supporters would lend their support to them. They are as loyal to the yellow as the RED supporters. We all know that changing people’s attitude, belief and perception is difficult. I do not believe that people can switch side over a night. It takes time and these two groups, in most cases, can not mix. Most of them can not even sit on the same table and have a decent conversation.

Thirdly, they claim they adopt non-violent approach. They say there would be no violence if the government does not start it first. For me, the rally itself will definitely suffice to tilt towards violence.

Finally, will they have the number? They claim they have trained people in the villages all over the country and especially in the North and Northeastern regions. They say those trained supporters would come to join them next weekend. However, looking at a few demonstrations organised by the RED shirt, rough estimate of maximum participation would be around 200,000 people. I think it is unrealistic and they will not have the number. Unless this is their last card and they madly invest over one hundred million baht to mobilise the crowd. Even then, one million is unrealistic.

Will they achieve the goal – house dissolution? It may be unlikely. Yet, it can not be underestimated. Better keep close watch as the situation develops.

Old Soldiers Never Die in Peua Thai Party

22 10 2009

It is not a surprise to see Gen Chavalit so devoted himself to protect Thaksin. His recent appearance in Cambodia with Hun Sen, his latest comment on the relations between Thaksin and Hun Sen including his offer to meet up with PAD leaders aimed to destabilise the current coalition government. This is the card old soldiers need to play if he or they are to sit to command as the head of the party.

But for me, it is so funny! It can be the talk of the town among my parents generation, but not my generation and not the younger generation. They are so out of politics. They have never looked around, they only listen to small of group of trusted friends. Chavalit is a yesterday leader. His idea on current situation is so outdated. If he would like to bring on outside enemy, he should have picked a better leader than Hun Sen. Who respect Hun Sen in Thailand? Even if his intention is to level it up to the international level, since ASEAN Summit is taking place here and the world attention is on us, this is a wrong step to take.

Having a negotiation with PAD is just for his own benefit. Does not he know that people are fading away from Yellow as they had set bad rules for the RED to follow. Freedom to demonstrate comes with responsibility. Both Yellow and RED show no respect to the rule and the law. They show no responsibilities of the political turmoil they caused since 2007.

Whatever step Gen Chavisit takes, it will bring the party and himself to its downfall.

Conspiracy Theory: Sondhi Limthongkul Assassination attempts

23 07 2009

Who attempted to assassinate Sondhi Limthongkul, Thai media tycoon, a leader of People’s Alliance for Democracy and a royalist?

There are a few schools of thought. Let’s look at two possibilities out of those fews. First, the bill to kill was issued by the royalty since Sondhi himself when asked pointed his fingers to the palace. Second, it was an attempt by his most wanted enemy a former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Well one might question whether both have enough motives to commit the crime?

Let’s look at the first theory. Why does the palace ordered a bill to kill Sondhi since he is a royalist and his yellow protesters are for the King? Well, the palace does not mean only the King does it? It covers a wide range of people behind it. One may also consider the old saying: when the war is won, the general is killed. But the yellow has not won the people war here. Their attempt ended with the closure of the airport which met with people resistance and anger. How can an innocent and well respected person who is behind the yellow protest get out of this situation? To distance oneself? Sondhi has a great influence  in the PAD and having him killed would perhaps solve the problem as the yellow protest will slowly die down.

Second school of thought would argue it is so obvoius who attempted to assasinate Sondhi. It can be no one else except his long time enemy Thaksin Shinawatra. We all know that although Thaksin resides outside Thailand, his influence in the country is tremendous.  Referring to the deputy police chief who heads the investigation, he said it was a combined effort between the Police and the Military. The person who has a power to order both forces to commit this kind of act must be someone who is in a commanding position. The person can be someone in the current government someone who would benefit from Sondhi’s death. This links well to the latest interview given by the Gen Thani, head of police investigation who instead of reporting the progress to the Police Chief, he chose to report directly to Prime Minister Abhisit. It will have yet to be seen if Abhisit has the gut to go after the person who is behind the case.

Whatever will happen at the end of the investigation, I feel that the government will not be able to reveal the whole truth. They too have to rely on others for thier survival and for their political future. The public will have to live in the dark. Thais can easily forget what happen no matter how serious it is, can we?

What have we learnt?

3 12 2008

It was a pleasant surprise to all Thais to hear the end of airport seige. PAD has finally dispersed themselves. It is like Christmas comes early. News about the dissolution of three ruling coalition parties has lessened political temperature in the Thai capital. A few good things is happening at the same time and at the right time. I wonder if one ever thinks “why so?”.

I have always discussed about political development with my friends, colleagues and family members. especially so after PAD voiced out their concern against Thaksin leadership and staged a protest. I remembered when I have to take my parents to listen to PAD’s talks when I have to defend myself from being misperceived as being PAD supporter when my opinion was challenged when my argument was supported and when we agreed to agree or disagree on certain issues. I think throughout those turbulent time, people’s political awareness were raised to a good level. Those who did not care about politics at all,began to discuss about it, and participated in it.

Those supporters both RED and YELLOW are happy to play their part in the demonstration because they feel that they are doing something for the betterment of the country. In a way, they are rights. Without their participation, the entire scenario would have been different and PAD would not have progressed this far.

Dissolved PPP and Disbaned their executives

2 12 2008

As expected, the constitutional court judges ordered to dissolve the ruling People’s Power Party led by Thaksin’s brother in law and also to ban all its executives. Why as expected? A few weeks ago, many senior leaders have resigned from the party to prepare themselves for new positions in a newly formed party – shell party. Chat Thai and Matchima Thipataya, ruling coalition parties, are also dissolved and their executives banned from politics for 5 years.

While the dissolution of these parties is not difficult to predict, it is more difficult to say whether the court decision will contribute to easing off tension in the Thai capital. PAD inisist they will stay at the airports until their proposal is met. They are now pressing for a national government. Their request will never be accepted and agreed upon by a proxy government. Conflict is likely to continue. Worst case scenario would be a physical fight between anti-government PAD and pro-government RED. Should that happens in a massive scale, it will definitely invite a military intervention military coup.

PAD has been trying to involve the military and the military has until today denied to get involved. They said they had painful experience from the last military take over in September 2006 and would not like to repeat the same mistake. Let’s hope that PAD’s attempt fails in getting military involved and military coup will never take place again!

No Surrender, No Resign: No Way Out

29 11 2008

PAD say this is a matter of death or alive, insisting that they will only move away from Suvannabhumi and Donmuang Airports if Prime Minister Somchai resigns. PM Somchai says he will continue to rule the country since he was democratically elected and can not be chased out by street protesters. As such, both airports remain close and foreigners and Thais alike suffer from PAD aggressive move and the inaction of the government. Police Chief was the first to be sacrificed after he ignored order given by the PM to disperse the crowd at the airports by force. However, the newly appointed police who replaces the Police Chief is not on an equal ranking and may not be able to convince his subordinate or his senior to follow his order. That explains why the situation remains unchanged.There seems to be no way out at the moment.

It is amazing to hear from the news that the number of people joining PAD has increased dramatically since the government imposed emergency decree in two areas. They said they would not leave and prepare to sacrifice their lives – is it worth to die for?

The United front for Democracy against Dictorship is going to gather tomorrow to fight with PAD. As known, UDD is the group that is supported by the government. One of the leaders is the spokeperson of the government. Three others are committee members of PPP and having a television talk show “Truth Today” on National Broadcast of Thailand, a national television. They put on red shirts and criticise the royal monarch. I heard from one of friends who have met with UDD supporters lately. She told me that UDD supporters are there becuase they are against the Queen and the Crown Princess. So I assume PAD associated themselves with yellow to show respect to the royal monarch and UDD labeled themselves red to show disrespect to the monarchy. It amazed me in a way as i find it hard to believe that those rural people from the North and Notheast have no heart for their King and Queen!!!

This explains why there has been talk only and no action from the police and the military. Although they must follow order but how can they go against the monarch. Somchai may refuse to resign now but when the court decides on 3 December to dissolve PPP and ban all committee members for 5 years from political position and involvement, he will have to go anyway. It is very close to the King’s birthday. If the UDD organise a group to surround the court if the court decision does not go their way, there will surely be a civil war for the first time in our history. To this it would be interesting to wait and see if the King can deliver his annual speech and if he can what will he say then.

The Day the Thai Capital Stood Still

27 11 2008

Who would have thought a day would come for all Thais to be held hostage in their own country. Now not a single one can fly out and not a single one can fly in. It is almost the end of the year, a peak season a golden opportunity for tourism industry. It supposes to be an earning month a month to celebrate – it does not suppose to be the day when our rights to travel to move and to decide our own destiny is violated or decided by PAD.

While we are all clear that PAD should not surround our national airport, we are also aware of such an invisible hand support to the group. In a way, they seem “the untouchable” entity, illegal but legal assmbly.

I often hear people complain that Thai manstream media tends to cover just one sided stories. I can quickly agree to this. Last night, there was a murder of a 60 years old man killed by a group of 300 pro-government supporters known as We love Chiangmai 51. The person who was beaten to death was a father of a leader of PAD in Chiangmai. Now civil war has begun and it will soon come to Bangkok. Listening to the three stars in Truth Today, Television programme, it explained to me why We love Chinagmai 51 killed a 60 years old man. A person who is not with us is our enemy – if this is how leaders of government under Somchai Wongsawat think, i can not see a way to resolve the current conflict. Killing definitely is not an answer, it is a start of a war.