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This is no peasant’s revolt
By The Nation

Red leaders were happy to stir the protesters into a frenzy and then abandon them when the battle seemed lost

BANGKOK: — If anyone still thinks the ongoing street battle in Bangkok is a war between the urban rich and the rural poor, they need to think again. First of all, it might be easy to come to this simplistic perception as video after video and photograph after photograph suggest. On the one hand, there is a professional military armed with modern weapons, while on the other is a bunch of ragtag villagers and urban poor using Stone-Age weapons. Outnumbered and outgunned, these red shirts are putting their lives on the line to “liberate” this kingdom from the evil rich.

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At first it was, “No, we don’t have any weapons. We are peaceful people.” But as the past six days have showed, these red shirt liberators are no longer camera shy. The closer the camera gets to them, the cockier they get. One man was in his underwear dancing for them. Another put up his toddler on the barricade. Somehow there was a desire to perform for the camera. One wondered why.

It’s also difficult to miss the English signs and placards around the red enclaves. They read: “Democracy” and “Stop killing innocent women and children” and so on. And while television cameras capture these placards, red leaders turn up the heat on the stage, getting the crowd rowdy.

And as these images and sound-bytes shape the context of understanding of these events, meanwhile, on the government side we hear the word “terrorist” over and over to the point that it becomes almost meaningless.

It has been a hard-sell for the government counter-propaganda strategy, partly because homemade rockets and slingshots cannot be compared to hijacked planes crashing into tall buildings. But playing the “terrorist” card could prove disastrous, especially when the time comes to make concessions.

The red leaders have succeeded in getting their crowd into the fight of their lives. And then all of a sudden, after hundreds had been injured and scores killed, they wanted to call it quits. Unfortunately, they created Frankenstein, and the monster is tossing Molotov cocktails into shopping malls.

Nevertheless, through the lens of television cameras over these past weeks and months, the world has seen a compelling story made from incomprehensible data that reinforces what the audience wants to believe. The bottom line is that people believe what they see.

And what they see is a greedy elites versus the impoverished poor, and of course, the latter will always be right, as they hold the moral high ground. It’s a mindset that shaped human history and it sells, and it is easy to consume once it is reduced to bite-size.

But is “good versus evil” the only way to see a developing country like Thailand – through the same lens that one used for other troubled places like Manila two decades ago or Rangoon just a year ago? The uprising in Thailand is no Philippine’s “People Power” and Prime Minister Abhhisit Vejjajiva is no Ferdinand Marcos.

Never mind Tiananmen Square, but let’s imagine if this was Paris, London or New York, the reds doing what they have done, they wouldn’t have lasted for more than a week.

Is it because third world countries do not deserve the same kind of civility and ground rules that we see in Western society? Being reminded of one’s deep prejudices isn’t pleasant.

Furthermore, the fact that Abhisit made a serious offer – to hold a general election by November – that was rejected by the red leaders makes one wonder if the people’s mandate was ever on their mind in the first place. They seem to care more about getting bail after this wave of street battles comes to an end than the wellbeing of the ordinary red shirts.

But the red leaders do not have a monopoly on selfishness and insensitivity. Their role model, Thaksin Shinawatra, was seen strolling along the Champs Elysees in Paris with his youngest daughter while his red followers were taking the bullets, partly to help pave the way for his pardon and the return of his money seized by the state – and partly, of course, for democracy, liberty and justice for all.
— The Nation 2010-05-20

“Bangkok-dangerous”

18 of May 2010

Put an end to this rebellion
Published: 16/05/2010 at 12:00 AM
by www.bangkokpost.com

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I’m not in a popularity contest. I’m not a two-faced diplomat playing it safe and trying to please everyone. So let me say it loud and clear: It’s a rebellion, so put an end to it _ with swiftness, severity and certainty.

The military coup in 2006 wrongly overthrew the then democratically elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. That was no democracy.

The coup council handed the power back to the people in 2007. The People Power Party (PPP) won the following election. That was democracy.

The PPP was banned by the Constitution Court for electoral irregularities and the parliament _ the democratically elected representatives of Thailand _ voted the Democrats into power. That was democracy.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) argue against the Democrat-led coalition government’s legitimacy and protest for the government to step down and call a general election.

That was democracy.

And the UDD had won.

The goals of the UDD from the very start: They wanted a House dissolution. They will have one in September. They wanted a general election. They will have one on Nov 14. All within seven months and PM Abhisit Vejjajiva’s term actually ends in January 2012, a year and a half from now.

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They should be dancing in the streets, celebrating victory. Then we can all go to the voting booth in November. Peace and democracy. But no.

The truth has revealed itself. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship is simply using democracy as a front in the interests of dictatorship.

Refusing the peaceful compromise, forsaking the democratic process, continuing to harm the country for the interests of one man, Thaksin Shinawatra, fighting against security forces of the rightful democratic government of Thailand _ that’s an uprising, it’s a rebellion.

It’s criminal. That is not democracy.

If you disagree with me and think the UDD is in the right, then let me simplify it: The next time you’re pulled over by the law in a traffic stop, you should just burn tyres, shoot slingshots at the cop and call him a dictator.

Anyone with an arrest warrant? No need to surrender. Barricade and fortify your home, fire slingshots and fire-crackers and call the law tyrannical.

Buy a lifetime membership to the Association of Anarchists. You don’t belong in a civilisation.

The UDD leaders agreed to the prime minister’s terms. But instead, Thaksin Shinawatra ordered Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol to step on the brake. Because in his mind, he’s screaming: ”What about me!” ”What do I get out of this entire peace and democracy shenanigans!”

Here’s Thaksin’s dilemma. Peace and the democratic process don’t guarantee his return to power. Someone in Montenegro is kicking and screaming on the floor: ”Me! Me! Me! What about me!”

Accepting the compromise is a loss of face and may even make PM Abhisit look good in the eyes of the people, for biting the bullet and extending his hand. Thaksin Shinawatra can no longer rely on the voting booths. He can no longer rely on the democratic process.

The UDD has used democracy as a tool _ manipulated and exploited it to return Thaksin to power. Now that they are no longer confident that the democratic process will serve their interests, the UDD has transformed itself from a democratic movement into an uprising, a rebellion, a criminal organisation.

It’s worth repeating: They wanted a House dissolution. They have one in September. They wanted a general election. They have one on Nov 14. That’s democracy. Instead, they flushed democracy down the toilet.

So there’s no negotiation other than the complete and total capitulation by the government to the UDD’s every will and every whim. It’s a total victory that will embarrass the government in the eyes of the Kingdom and of the world and may possibly bury the Democrat party. That’s the game.

To Thaksin and the UDD, returning Thaksin to power is worth the 50-odd lives already lost. And that figure is bound to rise. More than 1,000 have been injured and that figure will rise. The billions of baht in economic damage. And that figure will rise.

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It’s an uprising. It’s a rebellion. It’s criminal.

The UDD is screaming: ”Now! Now! Now! Prime Minister resign now!” Thaksin Shinawatra is crying: ”Me! Me! Me! I want my power back!” That’s not democracy. That’s a child that needs to be put across the lap for a good spanking.

Let me repeat it again: They wanted democracy. They had democracy. We can all go to the voting booth on Nov 14. But they flushed democracy down the toilet and chose instead, a rebellion.

And when there’s a rebellion, the government must put down the rebellion. Otherwise, we have anarchy. The law must be swift, severe and certain _ any student of criminology can tell you that.

I’ve watched television and read newspapers all this weekend. Most so-called intellectuals, academics and media talk about reconciliation. Well, that’s easy and safe _ using a thousand flowery words without saying anything worthwhile.

We reap what we sow. Again, I’m not in a popularity contest. I’m not a two-faced diplomat playing it safe and trying to please everyone. So let me say it loud and clear _ it’s a rebellion. To preserve civilisation, the government must put down the rebellion _ swift, severe and certain.

UDD members have lost their lives. This is unfortunate. It should never have happened. They should all be in our prayers and their families should be assisted in any way possible. But they’ve died in a rebellion against the rightful, democratic government of Thailand.

The security forces that have lost their lives. This is unfortunate. It should never have happened. They should all be in our prayers and their families should be assisted in any way possible.

Journalists and other innocent bystanders have lost their lives. This is unfortunate. It should never have happened. They should all be in our prayers and their families should be assisted in any way possible.

It didn’t have to come to this. It shouldn’t have come to this. But here we are on the brink of anarchy because of the pride, greed and vengefulness of one man, and of the indecisiveness, uncertainty and lack of leadership of another.

Let me repeat: We reap what we sow. It’s a rebellion. Put an end to it, swift, severe and certain. Or step down and let the rebels take over. The longer this crisis drags on, the closer we are and the deeper we will be in a state of anarchy.

voranaiv@bangkokpost.co.th
Writer: Voranai Vanijaka

Lapassarada Thanaphant poses with a bowl of food and her robot waiter at her Hajime restaurant during its opening ceremony in Bangkok April 1, 2010.

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The Hajime Restaurant in Bangkok is Thailand’s first Japanese robot restaurant, where all the serving waiters are robots.

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Customers order their food on a touchscreen display and their robotic waiter will whizz into action. The friendly robots will also dance to entertain as they work and go out to collect empty dishes at the customers’ table.

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The owner of the Hajime Japanese restaurant, Lapassarad Thanaphant, said she spent 30 million baht ($927,600) on the restaurant including the purchase of four robots from Japan.

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