An American View and An English Explanation On May 2010's Red-Shirts Rally
( Last edit 2010-05-14 )
A message from an American expat who worked and stayed in Thailand
An excerpt from a recent post I made on The Daily Beast: I'm an American and live and work in Bangkok for an international company. I have lived here for 6 years and have been in and out of Thailand since the early 90s.
The international press has not understood the situation here nor reported on it with any kind of real comprehension. The real situation is that the Red Shirts are a very small group of uneducated bumpkins with an obsequious desire to return the ousted PM Thaksin to power. Thaksin's money is paying each of them 2000 THB (60USD) a day to keep the protests up. What's so ridiculous is that most Thais are against this because bringing Thaksinocracy back is to bring back gross corruption to the politics here.
Thaksin was a self-serving megalomanic who bought his two previous elections and later stole an billions of THB from Thailand and the Thai people before being ousted. The Red Shirts scream for democracy - but they don't even know what it means. It's absurd and everyone here knows it.
The real problem now is that the police are 90% in support of Thaksin and the Reds, so they won't do anything to curb the protests and violence. The military, which is very powerful here, are on the fence because they are about 50/50 behind the Reds and the Kingdom. There has been sporadic violence but the biggest problem we face is the damage to commerce. With the two largest and most popular commercial areas being closed due to protests for 3 weeks now, retail business, hospitality and the tourism industries are losing about 1.5 billion THB per day. The Reds are doing nothing but hurting the Thai economy, the Thai people and themselves.
Current PM Abhisit is an intelligent, respected Oxford scholar trying to find a solution through the proper channels of negotiation while trying to uphold the law.
A bit more:
One part of the whole Red Shirt's argument is that the Red's are screaming for democracy - true democracy - and yet I doubt they even know the meaning of true democracy. I've heard rumors lately that they would actually like to see an end to the Monarchy here.
A true democracy does not require the ousting of its monarchy. England is a perfect example of a parlimentary democracy with a monarchy and it works just fine. If the Red's are against the venerable HM Bumiphol and would like the monarchy to go away, I would issue them fair warning. This would be a difficult battle for them that they could never win.
HM The King has never been a threat to democracy here and has never ruled Thailand or made any demands on the Thai people. His presence is reveared and appreciated by all. He has never told the Thai people to do anything - only asked graciously. He has done nothing his entire life except love his country and try to improve the well-being of all. HM Bumiphol is more like a father who holds the Thai citizens in his arms with true love and caring. HM The King wants nothing in Thailand but peace and serenity for all.
if this is their ultimate intention, the Red Shirt's can only fail at the notion of removing such a great, gentle, intelligent and kind man from the throne. I encourage all the Thai people to stand up against the Red's in every way by showing your support online, in rallies and with your words. Take the lesson from your King - Be true and honest, fair and good. Support our highly capable and intelligent PM, Khun Abhisit, protect your King and Queen and do not let these Red buffalo destroy the land, the name or the prosperity of this great and enduring country.
Below are comments on the Times Online of the U.K. by one of its reader, Richard Vine, on the Thai protest situation.
I, Sainarong, feel that it is an excellent comment, tailored for the westerners who does not know much about Thailand, and who think in term of black and white.
In future, if one of your western friends should tell you that he/she fully supports the protest of the Thai poors against a tyrannical Thai government which was not elected by the people, send him/her the piece below which is not written by a Thai elite.
PS Of course, matters are actually very complicated, much more complicated than this little piece. Which is why there are so many viewpoints, all of which are probably correct, to a certain degree.
Richard Vine wrote:May 15, 2010 7:30 AM in times online
Imagine that Labour supporters were upset that the Lib Dems changed sides enabling Cameron to become PM and removing the Labour Party from power.
So, financed by a shadowy ex PM convicted of massive fraud, they set up a fortified camp at Marble Arch, armed themselves with firebombs, grenades, guns and spears and indulged in sporadic sorties to take over the TV stations and government offices.
The presence of these protesters has completely shut down Oxford Street and is playing havoc with traffic across the centre of London.
An attempt by the government to clear the protesters is met with massive resistance and more than 20 people die.
Cameron agrees to meet the protesters leaders and in an attempt to end the stand off agrees to bring forward the elections and to dissolve Parliament in 4 months (1 year before necessary).
The protesters then refuse to disperse and continue their lockdown of the centre of London demanding the arrest of Nick Clegg.
Ask yourselves how long a UK government would tolerate this disruption. This has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with greed and ambition - on both sides.
The only difference between Bangkok and other major cities is the massive display of tolerance hitherto shown in the face of quite preposterous demands to dissolve a legitimate government. We hope and believe that when this is over that this same tolerance continues to be displayed.