Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Red Shirts caved in

by Thanong , Reader : 1817 , 09:44:48



Finally, before noon Veera Musikapong, later Natthawut Saikua and other key leaders of the Red Shirts gave up. They realised that it would be a futile exercise to continue the fight because their boss, Thaksin Shinawatra, is finished. They were unplugged.

Yes, Thaksin is finished.

It will be difficult for him to travel about because most countries would not want to welcome him now after witnessing the riots and espionage activities in Bangkok instigated by his Red Shirt supporters. Thaksin was caught making white and blant lies on CNN and BBC, feeding false information to the global audience that his Red Shirt supporters were fighting for democracy when in fact they were burning Bangkok with espionage tactics.

Thaksin is finished because he has bet all of his political fortune on April 13, the dark day of Neptune. He played out his winner's take all trump card. He set fires throughout Bangkok on the day that Neptune overshadowed the Sun to manifying its bad omens on Bangkok. He had the big milatary and police bosses on his side, including some politicians in the government wing. He did not forget to move his family out of Thailand a few days before Operation Songkran Inferno. Khunying Orr is now shopping in Dubai, still having plenty of money to spend.

Thaksin thought he could hold Thailand as his hostage by his remote control as he bargained for his return, his amnesty and his Bt76 billion assets. He thought that a royal petition would come down in his favour because he had Thailand in his palm.

But his stragtegy backfired. Thaksin failed to get the critical mass support. On the contrary, the residents of Bangkok staged an uprising against his Red Shirt supporters, who were burning Bangkok while Thaksin was acting Nero-like with his karaoke machine.

This was the critical factor. If the people -- the real people and not the people Thaksin claims he represents -- rise against the Red Shirt movement, then Thaksin can only go under. Thaksin thought that the burning of Bangkok would reach a critical level so that the country would fail into lawlessness and the military would step in to intervene in his favour.

It did not work.

The whole world knows that it has been duped by Thaksin all along. Many Thais also are disillusioned by Thaksin's ability to destroy the nation only to exchange for his return to power.

Now all the Red Shirt leaders will be going to jail, facing treason charges. If you plant a gas-tank trucks and plan to set it ablaze, you are committing an act of terrorism or espionage against the state. It is not too difficult to trace all the way as to who ordered the trucks out onto the streets.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister, has emerged as a strong leader now. His leadership has been transformed overnight, from a lameduck PM forced to cancel the Asean Summit in Pattaya into a leader who could defuse the political crisis in the most subtle way. There has been no losses of life at all from the authorities' crackdown against the Red Shirts. Only two persons have been pronounced dead by the shooting of the Red Shirts.

Abhisit has prevailed because he managed to bounce out of the corner as the military, the police, the security people and his own political partners had tried to frame him. We have no evidence to substantiate the doubts that these top people formed a link with Thaksin.

But you don't see the face of Gen Anupong Paochinda nor that of Pol Chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan during the Red Shirt's ambush of the Asean Summit. The security people were not doing their duty at all. They stood idle while the Red Shirts succeeded in ruining the Asean Summit. So far they have not come out to show any responsibility for failing to provide security to the Summit and the regional leaders as well as Thailand's guests.

Abhisit is known to have sought advice from a special unit, set up in haste under his command. As Thaksin played out his cards one by one, the advisors countered each effectively until Thaksin lost all of his bet.

At this hour, with the State of Emergency power rested in his hand, Abhisit -- not the army chief -- is the most powerful person in Thailand. He must use this occasion of his rising popularity in curbing the Red Shirts to deal with the failure of the Thai security apparatus, which has been undermining the national interest and including the government's stability.

We expect to see a reshuffle soon of the top security and peace keeping personnel.

If Abhisit resorts to his timid Oxford graduate role, he would miss out an opportunity to frame his leadership going forward. Now is the time to do it.


10:50 AM: The Red Shirts have caved in. Veera Musikapong, one of the leaders of the Red Shirt protesters, has announced that the protesters will disperse.

But he said the Red Shirts would rely on other forum, such as international forum, to make its protest heard.

Confusions are going on inside the Red Shirt camp because some do not want to give in.

The Red Shirts have burnt a public bus in front of Baan Pitsanulok, the official residence of the prime minister.


10:45 am: The authorities are now communicating through a loudspeaker with the Red Shirt protesters at the Government House. Transport has been prepared for any protesters wishing to go home.

So far there has been no reaction from the protesters.

9:30 AM:

About an hour ago, the military and police forces started to close seven key traffic points leading to the Government House. The Red Shirt protesters will be dealt with softly, moderately and decisively in a progressive manner.

Some 450 officers have been seeing getting ready at the Yomaraj area. Other traffic points include the Chulachomklao Military Academy, the Bangkok Metropolitan Police, the Royal Plaza, where the security forces are standing by.

The security forces are equipped with batons, shields, tear gas, and armoured vehicles.

The Red Shirt protesters will be given a chance to disperse or go home. It is not known whether they are allowed to leave the Government House by their Red Shirt guards.

We shall see their mettle.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva won't commit the same mistake as Samak Sundaravej or Somchai Wongsawat, who allowed the Yellow Shirt protesters to hang on until they created complicated political problems. If the political problems become complicated, the military will automatically have a more bargaining power over the government.

Abhisit is now being advised by veterans or retired generals, who have experience in dealing with the protesters during the course of Thailand's political crises. The new generation of commanders has little knowledge or experience in dealing with the mob of this kind.

Soon all the traffics leading to the Government House would be sealed off. Security forces are stationing inside the Government House to prevent the Red Shirt protesters from breaking into the compound.

You may get out of the Government House, but you can't get in.

Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the army spokesman, has just come out to assure the public that the military won't use harsh measures to deal with the Red Shirt protesters. The military would use carrots and sticks.

There are now only 2,000 Red Shirt protesters at the Government House area.

The Red Shirt protesters ravaged the capital and blocked 15 traffic points around Bangkok on Songkran Day. The security forces have now cleared all the traffic points and brought the situation under control.

We don't know what's going on inside the Red Shirt camp. They have kicked out media reporters from the Government House area, accusing them of presenting distorted news and information about the Red Shirt activity.

Besides, the authorities have also cut off the satellite signal of DTV by taking over the Thaicom station. We are deprived from following the Red Shirt activities from DTV.

So what are the security forces going to do next?

The security forces will be negotiating with the Red Shirt leaders by telling them to disperse. If this tactic does not work, water trucks will be brought in to spray the protesters with water. The next step will see the use of tear gas.

But the timing should not be too quick. Time is more on the government's side. The Red Shirt protesters no longer have any legitimate claim of democratic rights after they ravaged the capital with espionage tactics on Songkran Day. Time is not on their side.

Public sympathy with the Red Shirt protesters has dropped. Many Bangkok residents have also stood up against the Red Shirt protesters for creating riots throughout the capital and spoiling their Songkran Festival.

If the security forces only seal off the Red Shirt protesters and cut off their water or food supply for a day or two, the protesters would not be able to tolerate for long. Not all Red Shirt protesters are militants or have the stamina to withstand the heat and pressure or psychological warfare from the security force.

The protesters will be surrounded until they are fatigue and have no strength to fight back.

Last night Red Shirt protesters rode on a motorcycle to shoot at the military at Hua Chang Bridge. One soldier is now being hospitalised in serious condition. A motorist from pick-up truck also fired at the military at the Chai Building area.

This guerilla tactic remains the only option now. A huge regrouping of the Red Shirt is becoming a remote possibility as the condition for creating a military coup or for a political bargain for Thaksin Shinawatra has severely weakened.

As I have said earlier, Thaksin's strategy has backfired.

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