Ms Chocaholic with lots of opinions and an attitude

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some food for thought for Bangkokians....

As said, I have been seeing so much from Bangkokians vehemently calling on he government, the military and the police to use live ammunition to disperse the red shirt protesters. I seriously hope they are not serious. Yet despite what we may call and I now borrow a word I have seen so much on the internet and I use it for the first time, because it really is the most apt in this situation - while these calls for crack down are what I would assume to be "internet warriors" - ie. I dont believe anyone calling for violence would themselves dare to pull the trigger - yet creating such sentiment would pressure the military into going down the violent path, but most importantly they will feel like its justified. Which of course isnt the case! No Matter how much they may have disrupted the economy by closing down roads.

proposing violent means is certainly far from a solution.
a likely scenario - if Bangkokians continue to let military feel they are entitled to use firearms with live ammunition to disperse the crowd (regardless of how much it is disrupting the economy) - sure the red shirts will be dispersed. their weapons and numbers are no match to those of the army! (remember sharpened bamboo sticks vs machine guns?)
but what is that going to do? we risk alienating the people, and they will take their fight underground. where they are a less obvious target, and the officials become sitting ducks. a case in point - the situation in South Thailand. all started with discontentment that was never addressed. and look where we are now? can we afford that happening in Isaan too?
some food for thought for anyone who has been suggesting shooting the red shirts down.......

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Whats to become of Thailand?

whats to become of Thailand :(
soldiers armed with machine guns, ready to disperse the crowd. protesters set up barricades made of bamboo, and carrying weapons made of sharpened bamboo sticks....
thousands sitting on Rajprasong road, at the mercy of whatever plays out.......
a truly sad time for Thailand. an occasion that I openly admit to bringing tears to my eyes........

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More violence on the horizon for Bangkok?

initially the army proposed 7 steps before using live ammunition - yet more than 20 people were killed (ofcourse the 7 steps were never followed). Now they are talking about a 4 step strategy before getting to live ammunition....and have the audacity to suggest there will be lower casualties? good logic!
BBC News - Thai army 'ready to use live fire against red-shirts'
The Thai army has made explicit its determination to use live ammunition against "red-shirt" anti-government protesters in certain circumstances.

ie. good logic if they think people are stupid enough to believe that....

but what makes me more mad is the stand a lot of Bangkokian people have taken. suggesting that it is ok to kill the red shirt demonstrators because they have disrupted the economy. Regardless of the damage done to the economy, how can anyone suggest killing others?

when the yellows closed airport, or shot at motorcycle guys across the road - i was far from happy, but i would not advocate killing them.
This attitude of if we arent happy with them then their lives mean nothing will not help
especially coming from the supposedly educated group.

I ask this again - where is the compassion gone? where is the usual kind Thai? And I will not accept that line of the reds have gone too far and there is no other way to deal with them. There has got to be a less violent way to resolve the situation.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My political standing

I am certainly not a believer in constitution changes through bullying tactics
but in my opinion today's problems and the red protests (regardless of how much we may disagree with the way it has gone about) is directly linked back to the changes made since the 2006 coup and the precedent set by the Yellow shirt protests of that year.

I questioned a lot of Bangkokians at the time as to the legitimacy in them supporting the yellow shirts. Their answer was always: "anything to get rid of Thaksin. He has manipulated the democratic mechanisms to the point where we cannot leave it to democratic processes to remove him"
I completely disagreed, and to this day still strongly felt that democratic forces were slowly working against Thaksin at the time. (Bangkokians who absolutely adored him for his business acumen had turned against him due to the Shin sales and the tax issue). Elections had been called - but the Democrats boycotted it citing not enough time to campaign?

The election commission had just been replaced, with the new ones very likely to work against him. But what happens? A coup takes place. And they tear up the constitution that had had the maximum people input in Thai history. Was it perfect? Im sure no, but still better than the one put in place by the military.

I remember Abhisit at the time coaxed people into voting for new constitution in the referendum, saying to accept it just so elections can be held. A clear misrepresentation of facts. Elections could have been held without the new constitution. On the other hand, there was also the scaremonger that if the newly drafted constitution does not pass the referendum, then the military could simply pick any of Thailand's past constitution and put that in place. (which means they could have picked the least democratic one from even the 1930s!!) So through whatever means, the new constitution is replaced, with the military happily claiming that it was democratic because it passed referendum. People seem to happily ignore or forget? how the nation was manipulated to vote yes.

Anyhow, so its done. A lot of changes in government over the past 3 to 4 years due to whatever means - I dont think we need to discuss that again, has been done millions of times - finally the Democrats are in power. And did they make any effort to make changes to make the constitution more democratic in their time in power?

On another note more closer to my heart - while Thaksin was in power, a report on the problem in South Thailand had been commissioned. Recommendations were available towards the end of his term (I think?), the government particularly Thaksin was accused of paying no attention. Democrats as opposition were most critical of the government.

One reason cited by the coup makers was so that they can address the problems of south Thailand. Yet nothing was done during the military rule. Now with the Democrats in power and in a position to implement some of the recommendations proposed in the report - yet no such attempts have been made to address any of the problems. For instance, some are simple and non controversial such as including the local dialect Yawi as the second official language for the 3 southern provinces. This strategy would be mostly symbolic and unlikely to have any detrimental affect on administering the country as one unified nation. Yet I have heard nothing of it being considered? I read things like 60% of the problems in the south has eased, from the government's public relations department, but I do not see that on the grounds. People in the local community certainly dont feel that way, and each day feel more and more disoriented from the rest of the country.

People may say Thailand has many issues the government needs to address - education, economy, etc etc - but I see these as on-going long term projects, while the situation in the south and those of constitution related are more immediate and need to be addressed before they escalate. Cos the minute they escalate, everything else will be put on hold (as has happened now with all the protests since last year for example).

Some think Im a supporter of Thaksin, or a supporter of the Reds. In reality, Im more of an onlooker disappointed with the Democrats.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bangkok turns violent

Yet again violence erupts in Bangkok. Im monitoring news through so many different channels, unable to sleep or rest. CNN, BBC on TV and the net, livestream of the redshirt movements from their stage, Thai media channels, emails from journalist friends. Footage on Thai TV. None of it is good news. As of now....about 10pm - at least 7 dead, with more than 300 injured. And its all happening only less than 500 metres from my house! I feel like its 1992 all over again. A Reuters journalist was amongst one of those killed. The news agency is calling it 'Bangkok's worst political violence in 18 years.'

There is so much I want to say, but most of it is just sadness and condolences for those who died, those who got injured. Of course there are also many things I want to express on a political level, but nothing I havent been saying since the protests started by Sondhi Limthongkul in 2006, and the ensuing military coup. Back then I heard a lot of Bangkokians, including my democracy-promoting colleagues, say that sometimes anything is justified to achieve a certain result-ie. getting rid of Thaksin and the evilness that they see he has brought to Thailand. My response was simple: if you let this mob drive out an elected prime minister today, what is to stop them trying to chase out the next one if they arent happy with the next one too? or what guarantee do we have that a different crowd might not form to chase out whoever is the next Prime Minister? The answer I received then was - 'but you dont understand! Thaksin is so evil. He has controlled and manipulated the democratic processes, so it is necessary to resort to undemocratic mean to get rid of him'

And look where we are now? Four years of political unrest, the country not being managed by any government because they have to spend their time either dodging crowds, being airlifted from parliamentary meetings, Prime Minister having to move to live within army compounds, Foreign Minister having to spend a lot of time tracking one person around the world? And constant protests from Yellows, to Reds, to Blues and the latest Pink colours. And a cycle of violent clashes - now almost an annual event.

Do I have answers? Of course I dont. Do I support all these protests? Certainly not. Yet at the same time, if we are to preach so much about equality, then I say that those that were tolerant to the Yellow protests should be as tolerant to the Red protests - regardless of your political standpoint.

Who do I blame? ANyone and everyone who argued that it was ok to adopt undemocratic means and that the end of removing Thaksin would justify the means to achieving it. Another sad day. I had hoped that the 1992 violence would have been the last Thailand has to face. Unfortunately not so.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

In the midst of red shirt protesters

I did have some friends question me before I left Sydney whether the timing of my trip back home had anything to do with joining the protests! As coincidences would have it - without intending to, I somehow ended up right in the midst of the red shirt protesters this afternoon. (and yes it really was unplanned, and yes I realise there have been a couple of coincidences in my life lately.....)

Anyhow....seeing as I got to near Phetburi road, corner of Rajdamri road, just around the same time as the red shirts were arriving from Phetburi Road, and my taxi driver dumped me right in the middle and took a quick U-turn....I didnt have much of a choice but to walk, and no other direction to go except where the crowd was moving to. I got to the car park exit of Central World, asked the guards if I could walk at the pavement in front of the Mall, but there was a polite no. (at this point, the crowd at my end wasnt too big, but there was already a bigger crowd occupying the other half of Rajdamri street, and also Rama I Road).

So back to the main street it was, with the crowds fast becoming bigger. I ended up walking on the road, hoping to be able to walk at a faster pace and get out of there quickly. Not the smartest move clearly, as I somehow ended up right in the midst of the crowd. Not that they were scary - the spirit was very relaxed and friendly, people talking, some had music on, some danced, others took photos, a bit of food was being distributed - they even went out of their way to make sure I got one of those nice sticky rice in bamboo stick. I took a few photos, and one of the red shirts then walked ahead of me, turned round and took a pic of me! What could I do except give him a big smile.....

Took another big effort of maneuvering before I could get to the Rajprasong junction (corner Rajdamri and Rama I) - there were motorbikes parked and the people standing close to the bikes somehow seemed reluctant to give way. Eventually reached the corner, where I could get back on to the footpath, turned right on to Rama I where there were numerous pick up trucks parked blocking the entire road, with more crowds. Saw a couple of farangs with prams head in the direction I had just come from. I tried to explain them its not such a great idea to head that way - nothing to do with violence or lack thereof, but taking prams into such a crowded area??

All this in the midst of screeching hot Bangkok 39 or 40 degrees heat!!

By the time I made it to my destination of Siam Paragon, everyone had been asked to vacate the Mall! Somehow I managed to go inside for a couple of minutes, spoke to P Sun on the phone, and figured out she was waiting across the road on the Siam Square side. Only took me another 5 minutes to walk across the BTS bridge, and only a couple more minutes to choose one of the restaurants still open in Siam Square for my lunch :)

(I did say I love my food! Now you all can not doubt the things I would do for food :P )

Pics to follow in next post......