Political Science Professor's Analyses of Apr-May 2010 Incidence
( Last edit 2010-06-06 )
Thailand is no longer the same.
Prof. Chai-Anan Samutwanich ASTV-Manager May 23, 2010
The incidence last week (May 19, 2010) tells us many things from behaviours of a group of people to problems of democracy.
The rights to gather in peace and un-armed are just claims and tools for violent political movements because the movements used many simultaneous parallel approaches, i.e.
1. Peaceful rallies and sedition.
2. Armed rioters with makeshift non-military weapons.
3. Militant troops with military weapons
4. A political party
5. Foreign networks
Therefore, the rally is just a fraction of the whole movements. Armed rioters consisted of scoundrels, drug addicted and thugs. Militant troops consisted of aliens such as Burmeses and Cambodians.
Though Thaksin have not set up a government in exile, this campaign can be counted as an opening of a head-on civil war against the state and the government. It showed the potential in the funding, manpower, and the alliances particularly in the rural areas.
The civil war among Thais themselves would make the state have limitation to crackdown. The government needs restraint and great care to disperse rallies. However, the Raj Prasong rally was not the actual goal (of the protesters) because protesters had spreaded to several places around. Raj Prasong was no longer the heart of the movment but only a bait.
The police and military were not trained to fight against urban wars. The experience with the communist party of Thailand was in the rural areas. This war is within the capital's urban and the metropolitan areas of cities. Therefore, the military had a lot of limitation to take control of the areas.
Police Maj. Col. Thaksin gave interview to Reuter that Thailand would face "guerilla war" which would consist of military weapons, terrorism and probable assasination of important figures. If there is no major rallies, the government may be able to easily deal with terrorisms or urban guerilla. The chance for the serious incidences like the 30 arsons would be difficult and not on a daily basis or all day and night like on May 19.
The guerilla war will be impossible if the communities are strong enough to gather and protect themselves. However, some communities have members who are the actual troublemakers. On May 19, the stray drug addicted youths in some communities were robbing and setting fire to several buildings.
In the future, the government will have to set up communities' volunteers to the police and soldiers more, which would also be the intelligence sources.
The military training for armed troops needed a huge funding, including the purchase of arms and hiring. The past incidences must have cost a vast amount. But the government was too late to freeze the money and to control the spending of those rally supporters.
The conflicts to the level of violence in Thai society are different from those of other societies. In Africa, they are conflicts between tribes and races. In Sri Lanka it is racial. In some countries, they are with minorities and dialects.
The situation in Thai society is more complicated because some state's mechanisms were secretly supporting the terrorists' movement, although not openly, but with indolence to carry out duties. Even some MPs were playing important roles in mobilizing people to join the rallies and in leading the protest.
The conflicts come from power clashes for only one man's interests. Money and funding is very important. Nobody can deny that the protesters and core leaders got paid in these rallies as well as a pledge that if they win, the rally cardholders who stay put will get paid 200,000 baht per family.
Scholars should study these incidences in terms of mass behaviours with violences and agreesion. Some people had deviated behaviours before. They failed in their lives and profession. They are anti-social and agressive. These people inhumanely acted to injured patients.
The hope for a peaceful society as before has vanished because the wounds and the germs of hatred have spreaded everywhere. Even without Thaksin, the vengeance and violence will remain.
Some people used to exemplify PAD's movement for its economical damage. In contrast, this time red-shirts have damaged all round, economical, political, social and cultural aspects.
We have to praise the Prime Minister for his patience, restraint and careful deliberation in making decisions. Despite of some lost, it was minimal because the government used preventive rather than offensive measures.
The worry is after these incidences, how the government would reconcile. The claim is to open their red-shirts' media and local radio to operate freely. Whether or not they should be reviewed and the hardcore's movement should be repressed and the so-clamied peaceful rally should be monitored depend on their parallel violent movements.
The Cost of Democracy
Prof. Chai-Anan Samutwanich ASTV-Manager May 25, 2010
Songkran Festival this year was a bloodshed as before. This time the incidences shocked a lot of Thais because of the sympathy and condolence to several soldier casualties of rifle shots and explosive grenades.
The interesting point to be analysed is that the provoked hysterical mass stormed into soldiers to seize the armoured carriers and weapons. They even blocked ambulances transporting severely injured soldiers. Some protesters dragged them out for beating up and trambling over. It did not look like Thai people who could act such that. The order of the government prohibiting soldiers and polices from using weapons further boosted the mass. Detail analyses of the mass reveal varieties of people as follows:
1. Rural people who suffer from unjustice become a part of protesters. These people used to benefit from Thaksin's populism.
2. Urbanists who are taxi-drivers and motorcyclists-taxis who favour Thaksin.
3. Pua-Thai party local headmen election convassers, local radio staff in their movement.
4. Red-shirt core leaders about 30 people.
5. Pua-Thai MPs and their supporters.
6. Foreign labourers, Burmeses and Cambodians from the border.
7. Ex-communists from Nan province and lower northeast who have expertise in weapons
8. Armed gunmen, scouts and ex-soldiers.
The first group was used as human shield. Foreign labourers were the attackers against polices and soldiers. The clues were the graffiti on the Democracy monument, written in Burmese language, "Burengnong (a great king of Burma) 's descendants has come to revenge on Thais."
The incidence on April 10, 2010 was not a democratic demonstration. Instead, it only claimed democratic rights and freedom just to provoke riots. Pitifully and regretfully is that the recruited foreign labourers were the people who dragged the incapacitated injured soldiers out from the ambulances to trambling on.
In the past, such situtation would be intervened by the military (coup), but this time, no. The situation became as seen because the (civilian) government has limitations to deal with enraged mass. If there are fatalities, the ralliers would capitalize on those to condemn the government further.
This is Thai politics and Thai democracy. Perhaps we would have to define democracy as the regime for equalities of rights and freedom among logical educated decent peace-loving people versus liars, unemployed, thugs, greedy soliciting people, brawlers, swindlers and violent-prone people.
Democracy needs high patience and restraint. PM Abhisit is admirable for this. This incidence is the test of his leadership whether he has high maturity, patience, restraint and courage.
Democracy has permitted immoral people, liars, selfish people, money-hunger people to have influences and to rude demonstration. There were roadblocks and check points which revealed arrogance of people with inferiority complex. Thai society has to bear with these people. At least, we have to admit that it is a long way still on the road to a reasonable politics for the benefit of the public.
This time also, the silent power has admiringly demonstrated without being recruited or hired. At first, they were looked down because initially there were only 20-30 people. but the number of people was increasing everyday. Moreover, the donation to the soldiers was already more than 10 million baht. Local residents came out to give food, drinks and snacks to oldiers and friendly welcome them. In contrast, an honourable lady (Koon Ying Wiriya Chawakul)went to donate money to the soldiers but was denied and booed. [CLICK to see Koon Ying Wiriya Chawakul]
This Songkran festival, therefore, has exposed the reality of Thai society in every aspect. Our society is like this, with both good and bad people. There are a lot of people too greedy for money. When the state relieves the control (Transition from authoritarianism to democracy), the state needs international standard but the standard of the people is still low. The result is like what it is. Therefore, it is correct that the state has differentiate innocent people from the urban terrorists and to use force against force (of terrorists) to secure peace in the country.
The situation on Raj Damnoen road was not a democratic movement but it was a natural course before a present of the state or during absence of state power where people brutally would kill others. It reiterates a poetry called "The Second Coming" by W. B. Yeats saying "The Best lack all convictions, while The Worst is full of passionate intensity".
It is the time for the state to restore peace and order and it is the time for us to review how much democracy is needed to prevent such incidence. Perhaps, basic roles of the state become only matters of national security. It is an omen that our Thai society is very thin and fragile, particularly when the society posesses the poltical regime which permits the worst evil power to grow to match power of legitimacy.
This is the cost of democracy.
Democracy of a Startled Type
Prof. Chai-Anan Samutwanich ASTV-Manager May 30, 2010
When I was studying, in USA, there was political wake up and black movements which consisted of several extremist groups e.g. Black Panther. Being interested, I got registered in a subject "Black Power".
The extremists were young men who saw that black freedom would be achieved only with armed struggles. It was in contrast to Martin Luther King, the leader who preferred peaceful struggles.
The black movements have a long story because black people had been enslaved. After the civil war, racism remained in general. The white right extremists, Klu Klux Klan, liked to lynch blacks and beat them up. Blacks were worse than second class people. Apart from being living in difficult hardship in their residences, schools, and slums, they were also psychologically traumatized by racial segregration. Schools applied racial segregation. Movies theatres prohibited blacks. Restuarants in white areas prohibited blacks. Buses segregated people. Blacks could not sit in the same car with whites.
The only issue which whites did not discriminate against black was music. The black folk music in Mississippi area received a lot of popularity. Rock and Role music originally came from blacks. Black singers and musicians were popular. Some black singers' songs made white youths most joyfully dancing with blacks. Elvis Presley also was inspired by blues of black people as well as folk songs and church's hymns.
The white extremists were anti-Elvis and anti-rock and role because of this but were unable to resist the tide. Although, nowadays American has freedom movements and blacks have legal assurance, blacks are still treated with violence by polices, to the extent that there are several riots, arsons, vandalism and looting.
I used to study in a country where local people are second class people, the Maori in New Zealand. Maoris live as a big family. They love easy lives and live passively, which results in uneducation and poverty. When there were crimes, the police always suspected Maoris.
I used to help Maoris build a school in the far north of New Zealand. I like Maoris' manners a lot. They were always in good temper, smiling and laughing. They have "Hangi" a way to cook very delicious roasted pork like grilling chicken with rice straw. They put a whole pig in a pit together with pumpkins, sweet potatoes and cover with rice straw and firewood, and set afire.
30-40 years ago, it was rare for blacks and Maoris to reach university education level or high offices. Nowadays, USA has a black President and black people in high offices both in government and private sectors. Also, private companies and government offices have reserved positions for black people. In New Zealand, Maori language becomes an official language and Maori people resume pieces of land like aborigins in Australia.
Blacks have had experienced repression and discrimination for a long time. Therefore, they feel repressed and possess aggressiveness. The more repression, the more violence. They deserve sympathy. In contrast, for Thais despite of poverty, the poverty is not the cause of aggresiveness, feud and violence.
This incidence shows us the aggression and violence stemmed from instigated people claiming to be within limits of democracy. These people did not riot because of poverty but they were under sedition to feel a conceptual repression such as between "Peasants" and "Aristocrats".
A lot of rural people were filled with hope because Thaksin used populism. Some like 30-baht-to-cure-all are good. Cheap loans also build hope, particularly for rural people who do not have cash.
Why red-shirt core leaders chose to rally at Raj Prasong, adjacent to Siam Square and lots of department stores, comes to be realized on the day when they gave up the rally. It is because the area has lots of goods for looting. This is the Democracy of a Startled Type. There were banners saying "Wait until startled." following core leaders' sedition that when in shock, run into deparment stores. It was "point out the way for the villain". As a result, aboundingly rural people have been able to wear Rolex watches and Louis Vuitton bags. Some were carrying 3-4 mobile phones. Some were wearing expensive shoes. All these people call for "the Democracy of a Startled Type" only and nothing else because there was nothing to loot at Pan Fah (the initial rally stage). It is pathetic shame for Thailand to possess a new unique type of democracy.