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.

Political decision: The rubber saplings corruption case

25 09 2009

Another historic court verdict in Thailand history: the Supreme Court Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found all 44 defendants (who served under Thaksin leadership) in the Bt1.44 billion rubber sapling project graft case not guilty. This shall stand to remind all the Thais of injustice and incredibility of our judiciary system: the lack of independence of members of the judiciary. It is a political rather than legal decision.

Newin who served as the former deputy agriculture minister and the 43 co-defendants were charged with corruption the procurement of 90 million rubber saplings for about 1.4 billion baht for farmers in the North and the Northeast. Let’s imagine if Newin did not switch side and he was loyal to Thaksin and Puea Thai Party, would the verdict still be read the way it did? Does his supporting role or mediating role in the current coalition government facilitate his corruption case?

Newin has played an important role in the current coalition. The injustice court verdict on rubber saplings case has brightened up a political prospect of a rising political star, Newin Chidchob, a de facto leader and a newly appointed headmaster of Bhumjaithai Party. Crying while giveing interview to the press won him the best actor award!

However, Newin and the other former executives of the disbanded parties still face another legal hurdle that is the five-year political ban imposed by the Constitution court. To be able to make a political come back, the constitution would need to be amended or amnesty bill be enacted. It is interesting and something to watch is whther the chater will be amended to facilitate his political ban? If the rubber sapling is the first example to show how the verdict will be read, it is not very difficult to predict the outcome of the online lottery case and the rest that involve Newin and his crews. It is a political case that ends with political decision.

Thaksin dreams to be a real hero to rescue Thai democracy

9 04 2009

Thaksin urged his red shirt supporters in his VDO link yesterday to block the main road in Bangkok and not to give up on their demands. “We won’t retreat. The only way is forward. If the government uses force to suppress the protesters who come in peace, we will rise up”. “All roads will lead to Bangkok and I’ll be there with you.”  This is what a democracy promoter should do?

He loves democracy as much that he has to destroy everything else that blocks in his way just to rescue democracy. To make his dream comes true, he is using those who have gained under his leadership to join force to revolt. Its pay back time. But I wonder if he would win this people war of his. We loose and loose badly. No one will win out of this political mess.

Continuing to do what he is doing now, Thaksin can ever dream of becoming a real hero to rescue Thai democracy. He is fighting the war he can not win. Sad thing is that he knows how to use the mass for his political gain.

New Coalition Government under Democrat Party

8 12 2008

When we hear this news for the first time, it reminds me of the development in Malaysia when its opposition leader claimed to have enough number of lawmakers to form a government. The Malaysian Opposition could not deliver its promise. How about the Thai Opposition Democrat Party?

It sounds so unusual and it is the first time in Thailand to have a number of lawmakers to switch side. The Democrats seem to have the advantage after the fall of Somchai Wongsawat and the dissolution of People’s Power Party. There seems to be on prominent leaders left to take a hot seat of premiership. Even a newly formed political party Puea Thai led by Yongyuth Vichaidit refused to take such a position. Democrat Secretary General held a press conference last Sunday saying with confident that Democrat will form a new coalition government with Abhisit Vejjajiva as a new prime minister. When we were about to believe that this is possible, Puea Thai leader confirmed that it has a new prime minister ready and will submit it to the house this week. This shows its de facto leader Thaksin’s determination to fight and to signal that the game is not over yet for him and his party.

I am not against the idea of switching side but I find it difficult to accept the fact that Democrat has to rely on Newin’s faction for its to form a new government. What happen if they do not vote for Abhisit in the house? Has Democrat prepared to answer when people questioned how much does Democrat offer to Newin’s faction for them to crossover. Democrat has to explain it well to their supporters or risk losing them in the next general election. At risk immediately would be its candidate for Bangkok Governor election in Janauray 2009.

Democrat’s recent move is criticised widely since the development took place after its consultation with the Army Chief. A few of Democrat’s leaders were seen to support People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstration that blocked the airports recently. This means that even if their effort in forming a new coalition is successful, they will surely face with the same situation as the previous government -  a mass movement by United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), although the RED demonstration will not be as powerful as the YELLOW movement. It is therefore quite likely that a new coaltion under Democrat Party will be shortlive and can not be sustained for longer than a year or two.

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.