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.

READ MORE---> Where Thaksin went wrong...

China pays lip service to Burmese junta: observer

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – China, saying it wishes to see political stability in Burma, is tantamount to paying lip-service as it does not care for genuine change because its stands to gain with the military junta in the seat of power, a Sino-Burmese observer said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday told Burmese Prime Minister General Thein Sein that it wishes to see Burma usher in political stability and national reconciliation.

Thein Sein, who is in Hainan province of China to attend the Boao Forum of the Asia Annual conference 2009, met Wen Jiabao on Friday, according to a Xinhua report.

“China sincerely hopes for Myanmar [Burma]'s political stability, economic development and national reconciliation,” Wen was quoted as saying to Thein Sein.

But Aung Kyaw Zaw, an observer based on the Sino-Burma border said Wen’s words carry little weight because China in reality prefers to see Burma stable under the current regime as it stand to benefit tremendously through its bilateral cooperation on various sectors including investment in energy and trade.

“It is just lip service. Actually they want to see stability of the regime in power,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw.

“China knows they will get more opportunities to invest and extract resources from Burma if the regime maintains its stranglehold on power,” he added.

Wen on Friday also called for enhancing bilateral cooperation between China and Burma on energy and transport network constructions, saying China will help Burma to cope with the problems brought on by the global financial crisis.

Aung Kyaw Zaw said, China’s current interest is to immediately implement the construction of the gas pipeline that will connect Burma’s Arakan state and China’s Yunnan state.

Besides, Wen is likely to raise the issue of ethnic armed rebel groups operating along the Sino-Burma border with Thein Sein, as it is a major concern for China along its border.

“I think they will talk on the issue of pipeline construction and ethnic armed groups particularly the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and United Wa State Army (UWSA),” he said.

Aung Kyaw Zaw said Burma probably will urge China to crackdown on Burmese ethnic armed groups to secure bilateral trade and construction of pipelines.

Nyo Ohn Myint, in-charge of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in exile said, China could be worried over opposition groups’ and ceasefire groups’ boycott of the Burmese junta’s proposed 2010 general elections as it could undermine its legitimacy.

“I think the Chinese government is worried that NLD and ceasefire groups are boycotting the 2010 elections,” Nyo Ohn Myint said.

He also said Thein Sein is likely to use his presence in Hainan to campaign for support of the international community regarding the election to be held in 2010.

“He will also take the opportunity in the forum to convince the delegates that the 2010 elections will be inclusive, free and fair,” Nyo Ohn Myint said.
(JEG's: who are the junta including in the elections? as the opposition is still being jailed, the junta needs not to convince us they just have to deliver what the international community wants and that is FREEDOM to all and the ability to speak freely without guns or gangs)

China is one of the few countries that have maintained friendly relations with Burma’s military rulers. In its support of the regime, China along with Russia had vetoed a United Nations Security Council Resolution on Burma in January 2007.

READ MORE---> China pays lip service to Burmese junta: observer...

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