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 Where Are You?

14 04 2009

Thaksin said it often he will walk with RED protesters once the army have its first shot on protesters. It is known that people died bcause of the violence initiated by RED, but WHERE IS THAKSIN. Will he come and help them fight as promised? If he is a  true promoter of democracy, he should come back to Thailand and defend himself in court.

Those leaders of YELLOW should also be put behind bar to show example to RED protesters. Those who violate the law must be put on trial. After containing the RED protesters, the government should consider dissolve the House and call for a fresh election. Whatever the result will turn out to be, we all must accept it. Otherwise the street protest can never end and we can never have a Thailand land of smile back as most of us wish.

It is good to see that the US government is not blind by Thaksin lie on CNN and BBC. Those who set fire on government buidlings are not ordinary Thai citizens. They are well trained with a clear aim to destroy whoever on their ways to bring back Thaksin.

Thaksin’s wish list

13 04 2009

Urban-terrorism tactics alienating the public

What more to say … he has successfully managed to change Thailand a land of smile to a land of mines. His urban terrorism tactics have created total chaos in Bangkok and elsewhere. To return to power, does he need to sacrifice this much? To achieve his goal, do the RED have to sacrifice their lives?

Thaksin can be a hero for CNN and BBC but he is seen as a terror by many at home. Normal people will not set fire on ordinary citizen’s house, they will  not go around killing people. These are the act of terrorist. RED has the right to peaceful assembly and right to express their dissatisfaction of the Abhisit government, but there are limits to what they can do. We are all under the law, including those RED terrorists.

Impressive but exhuastive strategy

11 04 2009
From the Nation

From the Nation

I have always underestimated the power of RED. I see them as too aggressive a force and a group  that lacks long term objective. When they managed to mobilise close to ten thousand of mass I began to realise that the Thaksin supporters are not alone in the fight for the retun of Thaksin. There are  other forces that join the RED Shirt protest. First is those who love Thaksin. Second is those who love democracy and are against bureaucratic polity. Third is those who hate Democrat Party and Abhisit Vechjajiva.

I was impressed the way the RED Shirt leaders mobilised the mass to gather in front of the Government House. Thaksin is well known for using rural & urban poor for his own advantage. He knows that having his face shown on the VDO link will urge people to join. It proved to be perfect. He got the number he wanted. However, provoking is one thing and controlling is anohter. The RED power was expressed unlimited. When taxi drivers blocked Victory Monument road and Sukhumvit , Road, Thaksin and the leaders of RED Shirt group realised they are not the only drivers there are others too on a driving seats and they are there not to have Thaksin return and walk free on the street but they are the real promoter of democracy.

Thaksin and his team perhaps aim something almost unthinkable: Abhisit will not resign and dissolve the parliament. Prem and the other Privy councillors will not resign too. They were appointed by the King and it is only the King who can withdraw their positions.

Thaksin the RED want to win the people war in a short period of time. However, the success of their strategies depends on two main factors: the way the govenrment will respond to the protest and the size and duration of the protest. The government seems to handle it well so far and it is my hope that they remain calm and using only necessary force to handle the mad mass. After the road blocked creating rifts among RED, we can see the size get smaller and after the ASEAN Summit we can see the significance of the group slowly diminishs.

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.

Red Shirt creates no impact on the government

26 02 2009

When one wishes to organise a protest successfully, one must have grand support. The majority of the people must feel that there is the need to go for it. Lacking public support, no protest can succeed. This is true in the case of the red shirt protest here. While there might be a geniune demand from their leaders to drive for a true democracy, the UDD or DAAD is lacking of massive public support. Their protest can not make much impact on the government.

I was interviewed a few days ago regarding the red shirt protest and the impact they might have on the stability of the current government as the protest took place a few days prior to the ASEAN summit in Hua Hin, sourthern province of Thailand. Not only that the protest by red shirt supporters will not creat any impact, this would be a golden opportunity for the government to show the world that here people are free to voice theri concern. Protest is a good thing in any healthy democratic society.

There should not be any violence and no break through to the Government House, as did the Yellow Shirt supporter. The police will not use force in dealing with protesters, they learnt their lessons from the incidence on 7th October 2008.

Thaksin’s influence in Thai Politics is getting less. Although he still has supporters in the country, his influence is lesser than before, especially when he is physically not present in the country. He said it again and again that he will be back to the country but that only shows how desperate the man is. If you know that once your plane touches down, police will escort you to jail, will you still come back? I think he only says it for the sake of saying it to the world, “I will be back”. But what is his chance of coming back? Zero or limited.