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.






Joint Communique on Preah Vihear: violation of constitution???

29 09 2009

The National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) is going to make a decision on the Preah Vihear case today whether to indict 36 people including ministers of the Samak Sundaravej cabinet and state officials charged in connection with the cabinet approval on June 17 l2008 for Thailand to sign a joint communique with Cambodia without seeking advice from parliament. However, before making any prediction on the outcome, it is important to note that the Constitution Court had earlier ruled that the Preah Vihear joint communique was endorsed by the Samak cabinet in violation of the Constitution.

The joint communique was to support Cambodia’s application to list the ancient Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site. The NACC on Nov 13 2008 decided to press charges against the Samak cabinet members, except four who were absent, for negligence of duty and violation of Article 190 of the 2007 Constitution, and certain state officials for malfeasance. Of the 36, four are members of the current government. They are Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart, Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Pattaraprasit, Information and Communication Technology Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee, and Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul.

The decision of today is likely to have an impact on the credibility of the Prime Minister and the Military. Democrat Party and its current Foreign Minister claimed that by signing the Joint Communique Samak government had given up certain Thai territories to Cambodia.  This is similar to the constitutional court decision. I would like to think that NCCC’s decision will go in the same direction IF some of the defendants are not holding positions in the current coalition government.

If they decide that it does not violate the constitution then the decision made by NCCC will overrule the constitutional court decision. It will also tarnish the government credibility since the Prime Minister has insisted until today that Thailand has not lost any territory to Cambodia. It is another interesting day in Thai politics.