thailand political situation

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robertk
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby robertk » Fri May 21, 2010 7:00 am

Last edited by robertk on Fri May 21, 2010 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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robertk
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby robertk » Fri May 21, 2010 7:21 am

This old BBC article from a set of protests over a year ago has some clear insights- especially about whether the current govt. will be seen to be fair and connect with the country at large...It seems , for whatever reasons, Abhists promises of reconciliation haven't worked well. What will the next round hold..




http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7998243.stm
By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok
Nobody won. That is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the chaotic events in Thailand over the past few days.

Certainly not the red-shirted United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), whose attempted uprising degenerated into a series of chaotic clashes with the army that left a wake of destruction on the streets of Bangkok.

Not Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva either. Although he clawed back a lot of his authority through the successful military operation to disperse the UDD protesters, the promise he made on taking office four months ago to promote reconciliation in his country now looks hollow.

Not the army, which carried out the unpleasant task of clearing the streets with growing confidence, and surprisingly light casualties.

Its decision to suppress these protesters, when it did nothing about the equally damaging actions of the yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) last year, makes a mockery of its claim to be a neutral force.

That and the 2006 coup that deposed Thaksin Shinawatra have irrevocably tarnished its image with a sizable part of the Thai population.

Not the police, who are now such a diminished and demoralised force that almost no-one in Thailand expected them to play any role in the recent disorder.

When confronted by a few thousand unarmed protesters at the Asian summit in Pattaya, they offered only token resistance. In Bangkok they were essentially invisible. Without a functioning police force, the rule of law that Mr Abhisit has talked of so often becomes very precarious.

And finally, not Thaksin Shinawatra, whose melodramatic call for a people's uprising fell flat, and who is still stuck in exile, without a secure place of refuge.



Three years of intractable political conflict are taking a debilitating toll on Thailand. Emotions are now very raw.

Some of the ugliest scenes in recent days did not involve the army; they occurred when local residents came out to confront the rampaging red-shirts. Shots were fired, two people died, and some were savagely beaten.

It is difficult to explain why Thailand, a country once seen as a paragon of stability and social harmony, has become so polarised.

The division between Red and Yellow cuts across many lines; it is not simply just rural-versus-urban, or poor-versus-rich. Spend long enough with either group and you meet people from very varied backgrounds.

Multi-millionaire Thaksin is both loved and hated in ThailandBut there is one issue that clearly divides the two camps.

That issue is Thaksin Shinawatra, the man who shattered the traditional mould of Thai politics through his brilliant campaigns, winning him two record election victories in 2001 and 2005.

Not all the Reds love this brash and controversial figure.

But they pretty much all think he was unjustly removed from office by the 2006 coup, and that the various legal cases brought against him - he was sentenced to two years in jail in absentia last year for an abuse of power - are without merit.

They also believe in the power of his populist agenda, the key to his party's mass following.

Not just because it improved the lot of the rural poor - economists have questioned the efficiency and long-term benefit of many of his policies - but because for the first time it gave poorer Thais a sense that their vote mattered, that voting for a particular policy platform could bring you tangible benefits.

The Reds felt Thaksin gave them a voice in Thai societyThis approach politicised a previously neglected class of people in Thailand, and made them a powerful, new force.

These people are the reason Mr Thaksin did so well in elections, and the reason his allies were returned to office in 2007, in the first election held after the coup, even though Mr Thaksin and 110 of his top party officials were banned from running.

They are now the mass base of the red-shirt movement. And they believe, passionately, that their side has been treated unfairly.

Festering grievances

The many, well-founded criticisms made of Mr Thaksin's style of government do not affect that view: that he was autocratic, fatally weakening Thailand's fragile democratic institutions; that he presided over a sharp escalation of human rights violations; that corruption continued to flourish under his administrations; that he shamelessly promoted on the basis of loyalty, not competence.

The Yellows say Thaksin was both corrupt and autocratic.
These are points made tirelessly by the PAD during their anti-Thaksin protests last year, and they are hard to refute.

But because so many poorer Thais saw this flawed politician as their champion, they resented it bitterly when forces aligned with the wealthy elite decided to bend the rules to kick him out of office.

It was ultra-royalist generals who led the coup. But they were cheered on by conservative judges and bureaucrats, wealthy business tycoons and many urban, middle-class Thais. Mr Thaksin's followers felt robbed.

That sense of being robbed continued last year when they saw the governments they had voted for harried by the PAD, and then disqualified by bizarre court decisions.

And they felt patronised when PAD activists said - as they did repeatedly - that the only reason the poor voted for Mr Thaksin was because he had bribed them to.

These grievances continue to fester, and deepen the divide in Thai society.

Go to a red-shirt rally and you will hear the same mantra; "We are grass-roots people, fighting for democracy, against the ruling class".

Go to a yellow-shirt rally and you will almost inevitably hear a different mantra; "We are educated people, fighting against corrupt politicians who abuse democracy".

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva has failed to draw support from rural voters.
There appear to be no towering, Obama-like figures in Thailand, who can win the respect of both camps. Certainly not Mr Abhisit, who often looks uncomfortably out of place in the rural, red heartlands of the north and north-east.

How he deals with the leaders of the "red uprising" now - and how that compares with the treatment given to last year's "yellow uprising" - will be an important test of his promise to uphold the rule of law impartially.

So the conflict which erupted so spectacularly in Bangkok and Pattaya over the past week will probably rumble on, steadily eroding the confidence of investors, tourists and the Thai people, in a stable future for their country.

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robertk
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby robertk » Fri May 21, 2010 7:27 am

One more:

Red shirts more than just a bunch of Thaksin's supporters
By Pravit Rojanaphruk
The Nation
Published on April 7, 2009


Those who show up tomorrow will include many more than passive Thaksin supporters and those organised by former Thai Rak Thai politicians from upcountry. It will be an unholy alliance of many groups wanting to tear down the old political order.

First are those opposing the September 2006 military coup which, incidentally, ousted Thaksin. Some of these people were never Thaksin fans. This writer knows of one female member, formerly very actively supporting the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). But the coup convinced her that the military and the aristocracy who pull the strings were the greater of the two evils and had to go. Those with long-enough memory will also recall that DAAD co-leader Weng Tojirakarn was more than once on the PAD stage ranting against Thaksin too.

Many young reds who opposed the coup felt military intervention should have been consigned to history, as they had only a faint memory of the 1991 coup that ousted then premier Chatichai Choonhavan. They have a contempt for military adventure in politics.

Group two are those who feel Thailand needs to move away from a semi-feudal system where politics is orchestrated behind the scenes. They also want to see the monarchy institution truly outside politics.

A group of netizens, calling itself FARED (First Aid Red) have volunteered at the Government House rally site to offer first aid despite the fact none was trained in medicine. However, they have hired a nurse or two to teach them.

Some educated red shirts want to see a much more limited monarchy institution, like those in Great Britain or Japan, and have vented their frustrations on the Internet. A string of arrests and jailings, such as that of Suwicha Thakor, who got a 10-year term last week for lese majeste and for breaking the computer crime Act, have made it clear there are people unhappy about the current arrangement. The crackdown and the counter-reaction continues as police are eyeing to arrest more. With the Internet coming under close surveillance, one resorted to spreading attacks on the monarchy by distributing leaflets and was reportedly arrested on Saturday in Khon Kaen. These people pose a challenge to the commonly accepted belief that all Thais revere the monarchy institution and they want change.

The PAD's New Politics, which proposed limited electoral rights, and their seizure of the airports, also provided a turning point for others who have joined the red-shirt movement.

Group three are fuelled by general insults handed down by a large section of the press describing the protesters as a hired lowly educated mob who don't know what voting and democracy is all about - only serving to make more working class red and angry. These people can be found riding the bus back home from rally sites late in the evening, hating the anti-Thaksin media as well as PAD's New Politics which they regard as insulting and elitist.

So this is a war between new money, represented by Thaksin and his associates, some die-hard leftists, a young middle class fed up with old politics, educated as well as lesser educated middle and working class versus the PAD - which claims to represent the monarchy and moral politics and is run by the few and supported by the military, the bureaucracy, old money and old elites.

Now that Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanond has been openly dragged into the feud through Thaksin's allegation that he's behind the coup, the battleground is even clearer.

The PAD's momentum surged when it attracted people from many walks whom Thaksin had made his enemy during his abusive and egocentric rule as prime minister. Now the red DAAD have attracted many diverse groups who feel upset about the old powers and are willing to use Thaksin, and let Thaksin use them, to achieve victory.

This unholy alliance is getting stronger by the day as more and more people feel emboldened by the sheer numbers challenging the old establishment. And it's definitely more than just about Thaksin or PAD, Sondhi Limthongkul or even Prem.

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby robertk » Fri May 21, 2010 7:30 am

Another: Notice the last sentence suggesting abhisit should seek an electoral mandate. This article is over a year old
The Financial Times Limited 2009

Thailand's slide into mob rule
Published: April 14 2009


Ever since the autumn 2006 coup that deposed populist prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand has given every impression of having succumbed to mob rule, an impression only somewhat relieved by putting a young Eton- and Oxford-educated premier, Abhisit Vejjajiva, at the front of the house.

Events like last weekend's cancellation of an Asean summit, with leaders such as China's Wen Jiabao evacuated as "red shirts" protesters loyal to Mr Thaksin overran the coastal venue of Pattaya, are beginning to paint Thailand in the colours of a banana republic.

Before that, of course, Thailand ran through a brace of Thaksin proxy leaders, toppled by "yellow shirts" royalists who brought the country and the economy to a standstill under the indulgent eyes of the police and the army.

At the root of this now chronic instability is the complete inability of Thailand's ruling class to come to terms with the political implications of Mr Thaksin's constituency.

Thais emerged from the 1997-98 east Asian financial crisis looking for a strong but democratic champion of their interests. What they got was Mr Thaksin. A tycoon with deep pockets, he addressed for the first time the needs of the rural poor of the populous north-east. He was also ruthless in riding rough-shod over institutions from the central bank to the courts, and using blanket repression against Muslim unrest in south Thailand and death squads against drugs dealers.

But it was not just Mr Thaksin's pluto-populism that alienated the urban elite and elements from the army, bureaucracy and the court. They simply could not tolerate the shift in power to political out-castes.

This became clear when the 2007 constitutional reform was rejected by a big majority in the north-east. No wonder. It was a gerrymander to prevent the new actors from the countryside ever again taking political centre stage. Bans on Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (Thais love Thais) party – the only party ever to win an absolute majority – and its successors reinforced the message.

While Thailand ostensibly has a strong unifying force in King Bhumibol Adulyadej, there have been 18 coups under its constitutional monarchy. Like any other complex and dynamic society, Thailand needs more than a regal umbrella: it needs solid modern institutions.

Mr Abhisit, who came to power in a murky parliamentary vote, can justify his position by recognising Thailand's new political players are here to stay, and by making its institutions work to accommodate them. And he should seek a proper mandate through new elections.
The Financial Times Limited 2009

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mikenz66
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby mikenz66 » Fri May 21, 2010 8:07 am

Thanks for the articles Robert,

Keep safe!

Here's some pictures that were posted recently:
http://womenlearnthai.com/index.php/upd ... haprasong/

Mike

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby gavesako » Fri May 21, 2010 9:14 am

This article confirms the reports about what happened at Wat Pathum:

We met a monk we chatted with many times before. He was in deep shock and he was talking to us about unbelievably horrible stories about the massacre of many people that happened inside Wat Pathum. He told us that he has seen with his own eyes how the Thai army was allegedly shooting at least 20 people in cold blood. Nine of them died in the temple and the others couldn’t be brought to a hospital because the army sealed the compound completely.

Even if the army suspected some militant aggressive red shirts inside, they should respect the temple grounds as "khet aphaithan" (safe area) and not simply start shooting. It was an old tradition in Thailand that even if a runaway criminal hid himself inside the Uposatha hall of a temple, the policemen could not just go inside and arrest him, they had to consult with the abbot first. It kind of shows the diminished respect towards the Buddhist religion in Thailand nowadays.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby Pannapetar » Fri May 21, 2010 9:54 am


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gavesako
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby gavesako » Fri May 21, 2010 10:15 am

Wat Pathum Wanaram is a Dhammayut city temple (study temple nowadays) which is regarded as more "special" than ordinary temples, it is a "royal monastery". It is quite a prestigious place actually with good links to the Dhammayut centre at Wat Boworn. That is why the monks (still wearing the dark brown robes like forest monks do) can be easily distinguished from other monks who were taking part in the red shirt protests.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Pathum_Wanaram
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
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robertk
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby robertk » Fri May 21, 2010 11:27 am

Thanks Mike and ven. gavesako for those links,
Shocked to see central world looking like 9/11.

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby gavesako » Fri May 21, 2010 2:09 pm

Shooting at civilians taking refuge in a temple would be seen as particularly reprehensible in a country that is 95-per-cent Buddhist. “The army won’t come in here. This is a haven. They will respect the fact that this is a temple,” explained Pra Putthi, a 38-year-old monk who resides at Wat Pathum. He spoke Wednesday as the sun was setting and hundreds of refugees began making preparations to spend the night inside the temple.
Within an hour of the monk’s calm assurances, the supposed safe haven of his temple was under heavy fire.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/wor ... le1576659/
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
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forestmat
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby forestmat » Fri May 21, 2010 2:16 pm

48 hours later and I am sitting here playing with an M16 bullet fired at us, still shaking my head at what we all went through on Wednesday...

This will take time to heal.

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby appicchato » Fri May 21, 2010 3:32 pm


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jcsuperstar
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri May 21, 2010 8:19 pm

สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby Bankei » Sat May 22, 2010 12:04 am

Events like this also provide nice opportunities for people taking revenge and eliminating problem makers - not too many questions are asked.

Also an opportune time to organise the burning down of your own buildings for insurance reasons.
-----------------------
Bankei

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby forestmat » Sat May 22, 2010 2:39 am


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robertk
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby robertk » Sat May 22, 2010 4:55 am

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opin ... chaprasong

Troubling questions after Operation Ratchaprasong
Published: 22/05/2010 at 02:37 AM


The street riots which culminated with the arson of Bangkok's central business district have been put down as inevitable. Both the ragtag red shirts' perpetrators of violence and the more organised armed "men in black" were no match for a uniformed army supported by armoured columns in the end.


Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva speaks at a news conference held at the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bangkok on Friday. Mr Abhisit said he was committed to national reconciliation but made no offer of fresh elections, two days after troops quelled the worst political violence in modern Thai history.
The 70-odd death toll so far from the Ratchaprasong-centred protests over the last two months exceeds each of the previous crises - the entwined Octobers of 1973 and 1976 and the straightforward pro-democracy uprising in May 1992.

On the other hand, the arson attacks have set back the Bangkok-concentrated capitalist boom by at least a decade. The symbolic damage could be more costly as the knock-on effects on tourism and investment come to the fore.

While all stakeholders assess the mounting costs, several troubling questions warrant clarity in the days during the immediate aftermath of the Ratchaprasong rage and rampage.

First, had the various peace overtures run their course? On the eve of the crackdown, a senate-sponsored peace deal appeared in the works. Leading senators were shown on state-run and army-owned television stations in discussion with the leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

But it was clear that the UDD moderates were intent on standing down. Might more time allotted to them for persuasion of their crowds and bargaining with their opposing hardliners have helped bring a peaceful way out?

And the failures of earlier olive branches need to be explained.

What happened to the promising negotiations brokered by Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra? Was it scuttled by the Thaksin hardliners, rejected by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, or both? Mr Abhisit came up with a five-point peace proposal with a concrete election timetable for November polls just two weeks before street riots spiralled out of control. This proposal was accepted by the UDD with the additional condition that Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban turn himself in to police to own up to the civilian deaths on April 10.

Why did Mr Suthep surrender to the Department of Special Investigations instead of to the police when he was certain to be freed because no charges had been filed against him? Such gamesmanship and leveraging between the two sides have incurred sombre costs in the streets of Bangkok. And why did PM Abhisit withdraw his peace offer and election timetable if he was intent on finding a peaceful exit out of the brinkmanship? This reversal may have strengthened the hand of UDD hardliners and tipped the balance among the UDD leadership towards a more violent outcome.

Second, should the Abhisit government preside over what its finance minister calls a "healing process" when it has been party to the conflict and is culpable for the dead and injured?

Early government noises suggest more pacification policies and campaigns to placate the reds in the countryside. But we have been here before. After the Songkran riots in April 2009, Mr Abhisit pledged reconciliation and reform. The consequent recommendations for con stitutional amendments came to naught. Further antagonism and alienation of the reds have partly brought on the Ratchaprasong protests. He and his government had the entire year in 2009 to bridge the divide and bring the red shirts on side, but the result has been the opposite. What can the Abhisit government do this time that they did not do after the reds' rioted in April 2009?

In the eyes of Bangkokians, the reds are disgraced yet again. But the reds may not care because they no longer accept the Thai state such as it is and the political system it upholds, because the system is seen as rigged and stacked against them.

The onus rests squarely now on the Abhisit government to bring the reds back into the fold beyond Thaksin. Lumping all the reds under Thaksin's long and manipulative tentacles has been a mistake all along. Accommodating the rank-and-file reds and working with their more moderate leaders, including some of the banned politicians from 2007, may offer a way to bypass Thaksin.

If Mr Abhisit is too compromised and tainted for this task, he should consider his position and make a personal sacrifice to enable others to be put in place for the healing to take place

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby robertk » Sat May 22, 2010 4:59 am

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opin ... -runs-deep
Thwarted for now, the red tide still runs deep
Published: 22/05/2010 at 02:34 AM
Online news: Opinion

Two generals feature prominently in Thailand's tumultuous and violent politics. One is a full general, the No.1 commander of the Thai army to whom politicians _ whether they are in the government or not _ must pay heed.

The other was a major-general, seen as having no authority, no power and virtually no value in the eyes of the army.

These two generals stood opposite each other. They were in a different alliance. They supported a different colour. The commander is the pillar for the government viewed as pro-establishment. His subordinate was a red soldier.
Army commander General Anupong Paojinda has had a key role in the development of events billed as the most serious political conflict in Thailand's modern history. His oft-repeated view that political problems must be solved by political means prompted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to come up with the five-point road map to national reconciliation, complete with the dates for House dissolution and a new election.



The role _ and eventual departure from the scene by assassination _ of Seh Daeng in the victory of the government and army over the red shirt movement cannot be overlooked. Hawkish soldiers are in one voice on how the outcome of the army's Ratchaprasong operation could have been so different had Seh Daeng had not been murdered.
``Had Seh Daeng survived the May 13 assassination, there would have been a lot more casualties on the army side,'' one soldier observed.


The arrest last Sunday of Seh Daeng's right-hand man, Pichet Sukchindathong, who reportedly controlled the Sala Daeng barricade, further weakened the red militancy.

That Seh Daeng was no longer there to command the hardcore red shirts to mount a full resistance against the surrounding soldiers could be one reason why the operation to seal off Ratchaprasong and finally to take it back from the protesters, succeeded.

This time, the armed and experienced ``men in black'' who appeared out of darkness to wreak havoc on the soldiers on April 10, did not emerge. The advancing troops were met by only the red guards and hardcore UDD members, some of whom were armed with M16s and handguns.

An army source revealed that Seh Daeng's faction consisted of only about 10 people, most of them trained in the use of M79 grenade launchers. The ``un identified militant group'' meanwhile included about 20 people _ former rangers, former police, former soldiers as well as some who are still in service.

Yet another faction is a small private army of about 20 personnel who work for an influential figure in Bangkok.

The source said that although Seh Daeng coordinated these groups, mapped out strategies and tactics to counter any offensive move by the government and army, he did not command the forces. Each faction reported to its own chief. They were only temporarily allied to help the red shirts.

After Seh Daeng was shot on May 13 and died four days later on May 17, the army sent Special Force soldiers to shadow leaders of the militant groups so they could not get into the protest area. That is why the army did not run into a fierce and fatal resistance from armed men as they did on April 10.

All this of course does not mean that the army would not be able to reclaim Ratchaprasong if Seh Daeng were still alive. One maverick soldier, no matter how foolhardy, would not stand a chance against 30,000-strong troops deployed for the Ratchaprasong operation. The most he could do would be to make it a little more difficult for the army.

It is also believed that if Seh Daeng had not been killed, he would have fought to the death when the army advanced into the besieged junction.

Considering the circumstances, it is no surprise that the government and army are the prime suspects of being behind the assassination of Seh Daeng.

It is undeniable that Seh Daeng was a man with many enemies. The army specialist seemed to know that his life was in danger for he always went to great lengths to avoid being exposed. He took refuge in the middle of the protest area. When travelling, he often rode pillion on a motorcycle with another guard sitting behind him. Seh Daeng never ate any food or took any drink offered to him by strangers. His only mistake was to cross over from his own line of defence to give interviews to reporters.

Even though he had been fully aware that he might be stalked by snipers, he did not believe they could take him out. ``A sniper would not be able to claim the life of Seh Daeng,'' he once boasted.

The government and the army may have prevailed today, but they have definitely not won the war. The wound is deep in the heart of the red shirt movement. From now on, skirmishes and guerrilla attacks as well as opportunistic arson attacks can happen any time and nobody knows when they will end.

Bangkok could become like the restive deep South. It is a vision that no one wants to come true.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wassana Nanuam reports on military affairs for the Bangkok Post.

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat May 22, 2010 5:28 am

ไม่ใช่เสื้อสีใด แค่ฝรั่งรักไทย :weep:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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cooran
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Re: thailand political situation

Postby cooran » Sat May 22, 2010 6:56 am

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: thailand political situation

Postby forestmat » Sat May 22, 2010 9:52 am



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