Jonathan Head, A BBC's Correspondent: Are You Wearing Red?
( Last edit 2009-06-09 )
Original Ariticle : How did Thai protesters manage it?
By Jonathan Head, BBC News, Bangkok 29 Novmeber 2008
Some say the PAD should be viewed as a military organisation.
Claiming victory, the yellow-clad hordes from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) rolled up their mats and sleeping bags. They queued for souvenir autographed scarves - yellow of course - from the leaders who had taken them into this astonishing act of insurrection, and boarded buses and pick-up trucks for the ride home.
An army of cleaners, technicians and security personnel moved in behind them to get Bangkok's $4bn (2.7bn pounds) state-of-the-art airport back into operation. Within a few days the mass sit-in will just be a surreal memory.
But the questions their actions have raised about the state of Thailand will continue long after the last plastic hand-clapper is picked up and disposed of. How could a country as advanced and as dependent on exports and tourism as Thailand allow such a vital transport hub to be stormed by a mob that never numbered more than a few thousand?
What is the PAD, and what gives the movement the confidence to commit its dramatic acts of economic sabotage without fearing any legal sanction? Weak police and Thai police were reluctant to confront protesters The airport sit-in shows the PAD's skill at pulling off bold and unexpected stunts. When the first PAD convoys approached the airport last Tuesday, they said they were only going to protest against then-Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who was due to arrive back from the Apec summit in Peru. The government had a strategy of avoiding confrontation - it did not want a repeat of the disastrous events in October, when several PAD supporters were seriously injured in clashes with the police.
The police were under orders not to use force and retreated. No-one thought the PAD would try to take over one of the world's biggest and busiest airport terminals. Anti-government protesters confront police at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, 29 November 2008 In fact, PAD organisers told the BBC they had carefully planned the seizure of the airport weeks before.
The weakness of Thailand's police is also important. They have proved no match for this determined and organised movement. They are poorly trained in riot control, and lack the status of the army.
When it became clear that the PAD was set on taking over the airport, the local governor asked the army for assistance. None came. As throughout this year, the army's refusal to help contain the PAD has left the government with no means of resisting this insurgency.
Logistical efficiency The police are up against an organisation of considerable logistical strength. It is a remarkably well-trained and well-funded movement. One of the many retired generals supporting its occupation at the airport observed that it should be seen as a military, not a civilian organisation.
Behind the "aunties with clappers" and well-groomed young women clutching lap-dogs that are the public face of the movement are squads of hoodlums, armed with batons, metal spikes and hand-guns who man the barricades and hunt down intruders.
One morning I followed them as they dragged an alleged government spy off to an undisclosed location, kicking and punching him. I was unable to find out his fate. Some of these thugs are members of private armies run by retired generals.
The PAD's logistical efficiency is impressive. Within hours of occupying the airport it had ample supplies of food, water, blankets and medicines for the thousands of supporters who joined the sit-in. The food never ran out. You could get your mobile phone charged, or have a massage. PAD cleaners were brought in to keep the floors and toilets in order. The duty-free and check-in areas were sealed off and vigilantly protected by PAD guards.
The PAD's propaganda arm is equally impressive.
It runs its own television station, ASTV, which is widely broadcast and pours vitriol on the government.
Everywhere the movement goes it takes mobile stages, on the back of trucks, which blare out speeches and music from dawn until the small hours of the following morning. The message is simple: Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is evil, stole the people's money and will destroy the country. The poor rural people who voted for his party were all bribed, and unable to think for themselves. Some of those taking part in the airport occupation had been listening to these firebrand speeches for months, without a break. They all passionately believed their actions were worth the cost to the country, to see Thailand's politics cleaned up.
The question of who is behind the PAD is a subject of intense speculation in Thailand.
I met a lot of ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs at the airport who were helping keep the PAD supplied. But much bigger Thai businesses are widely believed to be financing the movement, including at least two national banks.
Thaksin Shinawatra made a lot of powerful enemies while he was in office with his aggressive efforts to re-shape the country. These are now using the PAD militants to get back at his party.
There are also plenty of former military commanders offering their help to the PAD - people like General Pathompong Kesornsuk, who has openly urged the army to launch a coup against the government. Protesters hold a portrait of the Thai king and queen at the international airport in Bangkok, 2 December 2008 PAD says it is acting in defence of the monarchy. One of the top PAD leaders is Chamlong Srimuang, a former general with close ties to Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, the king's most senior advisor.
Then there is the most sensitive question of all - the royal connection. The PAD has justified its actions as being in defence of the monarchy, and the king's portrait has been displayed prominently during all its protests. Senior figures close to the palace have openly supported the movement. When the queen offered to preside over the funeral last month of a PAD protestor killed during clashes with the police, it appeared to be a tacit blessing for the movement. Some in the government even believe the revered king may be backing the movement, although at the age of almost 81 this seems unlikely. Hard evidence is difficult to come by. But people's actions in Thailand are now being driven as much by what they believe as what they know to be true. The government and its rural followers believe there is a palace-army-elite conspiracy to rob them of their electoral mandate.
The PAD and its middle-class followers believe the pro-Thaksin camp intends to turn Thailand into a republic, and overthrow the existing social order. With so much believed to be at stake, compromise between the two sides is almost impossible.
More Comments From Ronayos (1)
I do not interprete this article of Jonathan as a fair report/comment on PAD. This to me is a rather sub-standard report, particularly when it was created in the name of the long-trusted world renown the BBC.
PAD’s victory is not solely according to the palace and the elite support. What Jonathan wrote is obviously intended to be ABSOLUTELY INCOMPLETE.
The too simple conclusion of his, seen to me, is that PAD’s main objective is to protect the Monarchy and hence the palace’s support and a direct resultant victory QED. How too simple victory it is, according to Jonathan!
The length of 193 days for hundreds of thousands of Thais and hundreds visiting/coordinating of expatriates in US/UK/Canada/Europe amidst the soaking rain, burning sun, recurrent flu, annoying mosquitoes, sleepless nights, red UDD attacks/fatal grenades, 7 deaths, a dozen severely crippled, 700 injured and teargas explosives are the best evidences against this sub-standard report of the BBC.
With PAD’s loyalist heart to the monarchy, we also fight the crook Thaksin’s corruption, the civillian dictator proxies and the electoral frauds which Jonathan did not mention, despite a BBC's photo above here which shows banners condemning the corruptions of the convicted couple. However, Jonathan does not talk about Thaksin’s corruption and PAD’s major objective to fight corruption. Jonathan does not talk about electoral frauds and fake democracy which are PAD’s major objectives to fight.
Jonathan's article has no original idea at all. He is projecting what Thaksin always wants to lead, class struggles, which is a lie.
There is no such ideological fight of "class struggles" in this political crisis. Thaksin is just an opportunist claiming to be a democratic hero to greedily step over any corpses to reach more wealth. People from all classes join PAD to get rid of corruption, bad politicians and fake democracy. It is between RIGHT and WRONG, Not the POOR and the RICH.
More importantly, as a matter of fact, it was the Courts who ruled the ends of two PPP’s governments because of their own frauds, not PAD. Moreover, Samak Sundravej could have been re-elected by his own party, PPP which he was the head, then. Indeed, it was the real owner, Thaksin who mercilessly chopped off Samak. Not PAD. So what made Jonathan wrote such a misleading article?
Jonathan also did not get the actual facts revealed. By all measurements, the champions of the poorest in Thailand at all time are in the three southernmost provinces of Thailand, Narathiwas, Yala and Pattani. A little better are some arid provinces in the northeast of Thailand, situated far from Mek Khong river.
Certainly, less arid Udorn by Mek Khong, a stronghold of Kwanchai, Thaksin's head of red army in the northeast, and much better-off Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the north, strongholds of Shinawatras/Wongsawats' red-shirts supporters are not among the poorest provinces. Yet, people from Narathiwas, Yala and Pattani as well as the enlightened from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Udon joined PAD to rally against Thaksin. Therefore, it is not a class struggle. It is a business hiring of Kwanchai, the head of gangster with local radiostation as instigating mouthpiece. Whereas in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, more cronies of Thaksin do the same thing. Please CLICK for more detail.
The mostly revered HM the King always gives his beloved citizens good advices to follow everyone’s duty at their best. And according to their vows. HM the King always stresses particularly on the MPs, the cabinets, the police and the military officers. He always kindly reminds one’s own conscience to follow the righteous path. Unlike the crook Thaksin, who always tricks greedy followers with big baits which actually are many million times smaller than his own mouthful.
The top two polices fired from the rank during Samak/Somchai as well as the military, become reminded through the call on duty by PAD. That is why they resisted the tyrant governments' orders to kill and turn much softer to PAD.
What Jonathan wrote is simply reiteration of what Thaksin had lied.
However, he wrote, someone in the government (Thaksin/Samak/Somchai) then, believed PAD got the Establishment support. If it is actually so, they should have considered abandoning Thaksin and the attempts to govern by then.
Next time, I hope the BBC could have done better than reitterating on someone’s lies of whom is an obviously proven criminal and a refused criminal from the British soil herself.
More Comments From Ronayos (2)
It is too simple for media to blame PAD by following the official (the police and the government) announcement.
If they just smartly question what the actual safety the airports and the country under Thaksin’s proxies’ administration have been? Even without PAD, the airports and the whole country have never been safe at all.
The police and the airport authority are making use of media to smear on PAD still, that PAD caused a lot of damage to the places to justify their killing of PAD.
However, fact is the only single effective weapon to backfire on the crook governments.
There is no single window broken, no graffiti, no vandalism, no looting, no computer terminal damaged at the airports and the four main government office buildings (Thai Koo Fah, Santi Maitree, Naree Samosorn, and the red building) at the government house as examined by independent bodies and recorded also in VDOs on the day PAD handed back the sites.
That is why the airports could start quite right away after PAD left. Perhaps the Government House would be fit enough just after cleaning up of the six months dust and replanting of the grass. Otherwise, not even a tree or a bush was damaged by PAD.
A shattered window glass at Don Muang, four cracks and craters on the ground at the government office are marks of M79 grenades explosions. So long as any one could fire such grenades into such places without police catching any culprits, even without PAD’s rally, Suwannapoom and Don Muang are still never safe places.
PAD’s rally with their brave hearts, bare hands or holding hand clappers just exposed how corrupt/ignorant Thai politicians are to the safety of the people. and that is FAKE DEMOCRACY
It is only Potjaman and her daughter who got the exceptional highest security treats when they are back to Bangkok on the night of Dec 5, isn’t it?
They got bypass of the security checking, usual passport checking and custom office right at the flight seats. So long as a major tax fraudster bail-jumper criminal with government connections can bypass such checking, Suwannapoom and Don Muang can never be safe places.
PAD’s rally at the airport has effectively told the world about the crook Thaksin, his ineffective/ignorant proxy governments. A lot of foreign visitors to Thailand who are fed up with their politicians, or used to fight with their tyrants looked admiringly to PAD’s peaceful protest and our victory. We just have to keep peacefully fighting on with FACTS.
More Arguments in pad.vfly.net CLICK