Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where Thaksin went wrong

By Voranai Vanijaka

(Bangkok Post) - Remember hundreds of thuggish men armed with axes, machetes and other weapons attempting to take over Bangkok and succeeding in vandalising the Royal Cliff Beach Resort's convention centre in Pattaya?

Remember an angry mob trying to kidnap Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and sending Asean leaders scurrying away? Secretary-general to the PM Niphon Phromphan left with broken ribs?

Remember gas trucks planted in different areas in Bangkok - their explosions can wipe out entire city blocks?

Remember reports of two civilians supposedly gunned down by the red shirts; taunting and wielding of weapons, burning of buses and tyres?

Remember that one guy, who unzipped and urinated on the street, in an act of mocking defiance, in front of soldiers and all the cameras?

Remember - and this is by far my favourite - the two red-shirt women ranting and raving, running up to a group of men? One, a flabby woman perhaps in her forties, took off her shirt, revealing a black bra, in rage, posturing and taunting the men? While the other one simply jumped on a man and attacked him?

Images on TV. What went through your mind while watching? Many thoughts, no doubt. Though I would venture that most of our thoughts more or less came to the same conclusion. Which was: "Holy crap! Somebody better do something! Call in the marines! Where's spider-man?! These thugs are going nuts! Wait a sec! Are they gonna come after me next?" Chaos, anarchy, the absence of law - scary stuff.

That, fellow citizens, residents, illegals and everyone else, is why Thaksin Shinawatra and the red shirts failed in their uprising. He wanted, needed popular backing. But instead of inspiring and rallying, the red shirts scared the pah khao ma (traditional sarong), the Gucci pants and fisherman's pants off the poor, the rich and the farang respectively alike.

TV images of thugs running amok all over the city is too unsavoury. It turned public opinion against him. Not all, of course. But enough to lose the Songkran War for Thaksin.

Thaksin was banking on his popularity, sure of a mass uprising to support him and oust the Democrat-led coalition government, paving the way for his exoneration and return to power - that was the goal. It could have happened. I, for one, have always thought that Thaksin is the most popular man in Thailand. Well, next to singing sensations Golf & Mike, of course - we Thais have our priorities straight.

But alas, it wasn't meant to be.

You can blame it on poor generalship. Whoever is chief adviser to Thaksin should be fired. Hire me instead. I want a flat in London and a life-time supply of free chips at a Cambodian casino. I read Sun Tzu's Art of War once in elementary school, so I'm qualified!

Why did yellow succeed and red fail? Both started as peaceful demonstrations, then graduated to terrorism.

The PAD's "final solution" was taking the airport hostage. Sure, there were weapons, violence and deaths. But there was also organisation to the movement. Key leaders were always visible, leading the charge, keeping the mob under control. For the rest of us Thais, Suvarnabhumi is way over there - isolated, way, way, way over there. It was annoying. It was unfortunate. It was inconvenient. But it did not threaten people of their properties. It's not right outside our windows. Unless a trip was planned, it didn't directly touch us.

The UDD's "final solution", on the other hand, was to take over Bangkok. Oops. Who thought that one up? An armed mob running amok all over the city. Key leaders were nowhere in sight. Citizens were threatened and killed. Yup, that will win over public opinion alright. Their actions were way, way, way too near and menacing for comfort. People's revolution? Nope, mob rule.

Like in many cultures and societies, we Thais too prefer to bury our heads in a rice bowl - see no evil, hear no evil - as long as evil is a safe distance away. But this one was right in our faces, and no amount of mascara or skin-whitening cream could hide our terror. It's a matter of proximity, and we won't stand for it.

The red shirts came undone because of images on TV. No wonder they threatened the media with violence, for being so bias as to capture realities with cameras.

So here we are. PM Abhisit emerged from the Songkran War looking prettier than he usually does. People are quick to forgive his earlier misjudgment and indecisiveness. He recovered well enough. Through careful orchestration, and perhaps sheer luck, the military did not end up killing anyone - at least not that we know of at the moment. Many now call him a national hero for exercising the virtue of patience and taking control of the situation.

Thaksin, meanwhile, in reports from Dubai on Friday, has softened his stan

ce and said he's willing to talk. Well, that's what he said.

Is it over? Of course not. Also on Friday, there was an attempted assassination on PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul. Fortunately, if not miraculously, he survived a close range attack by gunmen with automatic weapons, who fired almost 100 rounds. Well, whatever Buddhist relic Sondhi was wearing, look for copies to become the hottest selling items in Thailand since Roti Boy. Anyway, this conflict might go underground and get even uglier.

Is it over? Of course not. This is beyond Thaksin, Sondhi, red or yellow. History has shown that, be it coup, murder, corruption, uprising, terrorism or whatever other evils the rich and powerful orchestrated - rarely, if at all, does anyone ever get punished. Rarely, if at all, does anyone ever get held responsible. So there will always continue to be coups, murders, corruption, uprisings, terrorism and others. Why not? Rarely, if at all, are there ever any repercussions.

Is it over? Of course not. This is beyond Thaksin, Sondhi, red or yellow. When disaster strikes due to the incompetence and ineptitude of officials, no one is ever fired or jailed. At worst, they get transferred to continue being incompetent in another government post. How that's for encouraging criminals into believing they stand a good chance of terrorising the country?

All these, of course, are mai pen rai. But don't post any inappropriate content on the internet, or the wrath will be upon you like white on jasmine rice! We Thais have our priorities straight.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too