Stand-Off in Thailand
Many Thais are increasingly tired of their country’s never-ending political turmoil.
In the wake of violent clashes with anti-government protesters on 7 Oct that saw the Thai prime minister clambering over Parliament’s walls to safety, Noi, a Thai employee, says: “This is like a horror movie with no ending.”
Like her, many Thais say they are increasingly tired of the political turmoil stemming from the drawn-out tussle between the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters and the Thai government. In their recent action this month, PAD protesters encircled, blocked and then cut off electricity in parliament to try to prevent Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from reading out its policies as mandated by law.
Two people were killed and more than 300 were injured in the dispersal carried out by the police around parliament and nearby areas.
Television and other media reports showed bloodied protesters and mayhem as authorities used teargas to break up the crowds, as well as some protesters carrying weapons against the police.
I’m so tired of this PAD group, also when they began blocking government offices (to force the government out),” said Rose, a court staffer. “I used to think it was okay for people to express their ideas and thoughts and come out to protest. But this is way too much.”
Ying, who works in the non-government sector, argues that PAD’s actions have crossed the line of democratic protests. “I wouldn’t call this a democratic form of protest because PAD is not representative of all Thai people. It’s just one group that is against (former prime minister) Thaksin (Shinawatra, who supports the current government),” she said in an interview.
One writer in a Thai discussion forum asked, “Is it peaceful assembly when you prevent the government from carrying out its duties, when you use barbed wire and armed youth to block roads?”
Speculation abounds as to whether the violence could lead to a dissolution of the House or force the resignation of Somchai—but he has so rejected both so far. “I will try my best to carry out my duty,” he was quoted as saying. He also told diplomats the country would sort its domestic problems through “democratic means”.
The 7 Oct blockade was a variation on PAD’s kind of protest, one that some in this divided society call ‘undemocratic’ and ‘thuggery’, but others find legitimate.
Why doesn't The Nation and the Bangkok Post ever get opinions from the people?