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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Asia Times: Battle Won

Asia Times:


The United States-educated former government spokesman Jakrapob was the self-professed chief strategist for prosecuting the "people's revolution" the exiled Thaksin called for during his recent video phone-ins, which on April 8 drew over 100,000 red-shirted supporters. Thaksin's rally cry for insurrection sparked wild scenes of unrest in Bangkok and acts of disobedience targeting symbols of central authority in several provincial capitals.


Jakrapob told Asia Times Online on Sunday that any military crackdown against UDD protesters would be met with a "vigorous self-defense" that could result in "civil war". That dire scenario was averted on Tuesday when troops surrounded the group's main protest stage outside Government House and forced UDD leaders to disperse their remaining few thousand loyal supporters and surrender to police authorities.


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In an SMS text message to international media late on Monday, Jakrapob characterized the government's version of events as "all bullshit" and that the UDD claimed there were "a lot of dead people". In a follow-up message on Monday morning, just before the UDD's surrender, Jakrapob said that "the local media is incorporated with [the government and] trying to make the whole country blindly believe that nothing serious is happening".


The implications of recent events are serious for Thailand's battered and bruised democracy, as the UDD effectively portrayed and pilloried Abhisit's government as propped up by the military and other anti-democratic forces. Despite his frantic last gasps, the 41-year-old, English-speaking Jakrapob distinguished himself throughout the chaos from the UDD's less-polished stage orators and some say he could emerge as the Thaksin-aligned opposition Peua Thai party's next prime ministerial candidate.

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One UDD insider says Jakrapob was instrumental in pushing the former premier in that controversial direction and that Thaksin's willingness to publicly criticize royal advisors was crucial to the movement's ability to mobilize the masses that gathered in front of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda's private residence on April 8 to demand his and other royal advisors' resignations.


Many royalists interpreted Thaksin's and the UDD's revolutionary rally calls - which were made within earshot of the royal family's Bangkok palace - as a veiled threat to the monarchy and a harbinger of the challenge both Thaksin and Jakrapob could mount to the institution's role in Thai society after the highly revered 81-year-old Bhumibol eventually passes from the scene. Significantly, the military positioned its largest contingent around the palace when it deployed troops to restore order on Sunday.


Secret Negotiations--This is new information. I reckon it has been going on for sometime, but first time I have seen it in print.


That was when Thaksin was still bidding through behind-the-scenes negotiation for an elite settlement that would allow him to recover US$2.2 billion in family-owned assets now frozen in Thai banks in exchange for a vow to permanently stay out of politics, according to sources familiar with the situation.


Thaksin had been engaged in a secret mediation process with the palace and military led by a European interlocutor to find a compromise solution to the country's political impasse, according to Jakrapob. He told Asia Times Online that the foreign-led mediation process was a non-starter and that any negotiations should be held directly between Thais.


Those negotiations reportedly stalled because of the military's unwillingness to negotiate and the government's invigorated efforts to have Thaksin extradited to serve a two-year prison sentence for criminal conflict of interest charges handed down by a Thai court in 2008.


Did the stalled talks lead to violence to get it back?


It's still unclear whether those stalled talks drove Thaksin to embrace Jakrapob's more radical vision for the country's political future. Thaksin's recent rally cries for a national uprising against aristocracy and the need for "true democracy" have echoed Jakrapob's long-held views that certain royal bodies should have a diminished future role in the country's democracy.


Nor is it clear that the UDD's provocative calls and tilt towards brinksmanship will enhance or undermine Thaksin's future negotiating position vis-a-vis his now publicly identified establishment adversaries. One UDD organizer, who requested anonymity, suggested that Thaksin's calls for a national uprising were no idle threat and that the protest group could in the weeks ahead stir more trouble at the provincial level.


Who knows the truth? If you think about it, the logical thing would be to give Thaksin his money, since it was his money and not stolen loot from the government, and be rid of him.


Thaksin and the Commies.


He claimed that Thaksin operatives had for the past two years clandestinely funneled small arms through Cambodia to his supporters in various northeastern provinces, where Thaksin's grassroots support runs deep. The well-placed source also said the arms had been moved and distributed with the help of former Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) contacts, an ideologically driven insurgent group active in the 1960s and 1970s that frequently criticized the royal family during its years of armed resistance.


The group was disbanded in the 1980s, but some of its former student leaders were among Thaksin's top aides while he was in government. There are no indications Thaksin would support an armed insurgency to push his supposedly democratic agenda, but his vow to return to the country if the military cracked down on his supporters has raised new security questions. Abhisit vaguely acknowledged at the height of the recent unrest that the UDD had stockpiled weapons, but he failed to elaborate if that was only in Bangkok or more broadly across the country.


Those claims cast ominous new light on Prem's recent publicly stated support for the establishment of a new army command to oversee the northeastern region's internal security, which the 88-year-old former army commander characterized as his "last dream", according to news reports. The 2nd Army Region, based in Nakorn Ratchasima around two hours by road from Bangkok, is currently responsible for the expansive and decidedly pro-Thaksin rural region, which in the 1960s and 1970s was home to several pockets of CPT armed resistance.


One seasoned observer saw shades of the CPT's revolutionary rhetoric in Jakrapob's on-stage broadsides against aristocracy and calls for a diminished royal role in the country's political future. During an April 8 speech, Jakrapob said on stage that "privy councilors see the country as their treasure and the people as their flowers" - while asserting that none of the royal advisors, comprised mainly of former high-ranking soldiers, had done as much for the country as the democratically elected Thaksin.


Yet Jakrapob's preferred analogy would likely be with former Thai premier and statesman Pridi Banomyang, the civilian revolutionary who orchestrated the overthrow of Thailand's absolute monarchy in 1932 and a man Jakrapob frequently upheld as a democratic role model during several of his on-stage soliloquies and poetry readings.


The Reds are Coming, the Reds are Coming, and this time Red really means Red. I guess Thaksin is Fidel and Jakrapop is Che. I guess that was why Thaksin was in Nicaragua getting Communist insurrection lessons from old Danny Ortega.

This is why I love Thai politics. The truth is always stranger than fiction, or is it the other way around?

Shit, the generals could have saved us a lot of time this go around and start accusing everybody of being a Commie. That was their MO in the past. They could have recycled that excuse once more and everybody could have breathed a sigh of relief and gone home.

The Thai intellectuals will now have to go into 1984 mode. The evil capitalist Thaksin is now an evil Commie Republican.

9 comments:

David said...

"Abhisit vaguely acknowledged at the height of the recent unrest that the UDD had stockpiled weapons"

Using the word acknowledged... should be alleged (typo)?

Why use this obviously wishful thinking and almost certainly lying statement by Abhisit as evidence of anything?

Also, I assume the Siam Commercial Bank (and possibly other Crown companies) are "enjoying the benefits" of Thaksins money during these times where many are short of cash...

Rich said...

Whatever Abhisit does he is finished and will go down in history as a mere opportunist. A lightweight, a fool.

I seriously believe this is not over, and the more crackdowns there are the more bitterness and bloodshed there will ultimately be. When Prem says 'Thais love Thais' he is off with the fairies. When he says he doesn't think of Thaksin he is either lying or stupid.

Everyone knows what and who the problem is, and where all this is going. We aren't dealing with just a few people here, we are talking of potentially a lot of people in the North and North-East, and they are waking up from their 60 year nightmare, the one where everyone elses standards of living went up and their stayed much the same.

History has shown once the people are mobilised in oppressive regimes like Thailand's the elites cannot survive for very long unless they get support from USA (Israel), or China (Burma). Russia used to be a bigger plater but the next centi=ury is going to be about China.

Thailand doesn't have and will not get any support from China, indeed, Chna is already sharpening its knives for an excursion to Thailand. The USA certainly is not going to get into actual conflict over Thailand, and if Hilary's efforts at wooing Indonesia are any indication, the USA is about to pull back a little further away from China. geographically and logistically, they cannot compete with China if the Chinese decide not to have a USA presence quite so close to its own borders. Thais are going to learn that they have no friends.

This is not over yet I don't think but it is not simple.

Rich

Vichai N said...

Nothing is over until it is over of course.

But Thaksin in his lunacy digs himself deeper into a dark murky hole, helped by Jakraphob and the bunch of paid Thaksin sycophants, and the stink Thaksin piles on himself makes him the persona-non-grata he is now in Thailand.

But David and Rich cheer Thaksin on.

Only fools will believe the Red Shirts do it for other than money.

Fonzi said...

matty-

I think you are being hard on Rich. He is no Thaksin lover.

He has attacked me for being a Thaksin lover.

antipadshist said...

it is a funny thing !

I think Vichai N is a typical example of what nowadays is increasingly popularly known as "Yellow Zombie" :)

and very characteristic of them is: while been THOROUGHLY biased and most often brainwashed themselves, they have audacity to accuse others of being paid, ignorant, biased etc. !

perfect example is of course - the Nation and its so called "reporters" ! who often lashed out at some western journalist with accusations of bias and being Thaksin's payees.

Rich said...

"But David and Rich cheer Thaksin on."

Vichai, I am not a great admirer of Thaksin but by any objective accounting, Thaksins crimes pale into insignificance in comparison to those of the Palace and its masters against the Thai people.

Thaksin was undoubtedly a crook but he was elected by the people, which is more than Abhisit was or ever will be.

I know that Thais are 40 years behind the western world in more or less whatever they do; you only have to look at Thai TV and fashions to see a re-run of the '50's and '60's in Europe and the USA, but really, you cannot call people goddamn commies any more just because they don't agree with you.

Still, I am sure you are happy in your bigotry. Hopefully.

Rich

Vichai N said...

My critic should make up their mind whether a bigot or a zombie best describes me.

But if Rich can admit to Thaksin being a big crook yet forgive him because he was an 'elected' deserves more explanation because I am frankly bewildered.

Frankly I don't know why many would still insist that democracy should be preserved in Thailand when crooks and master crooks like Thaksin could perpetuate extra-judicial killings, mafia-style corruption and evisceration of Thailand's institutions.

But I maintain that only a deeply flawed political culture of mass and rampant vote-buying would enable master crooks like Thaksin to be elected Thai PM . . and in such a culture where indeed is the spirit of democracy?

Would anyone dare refute the common notion that the Red Shirts are merely paid stooges of Thaksin Shinawatra?

Rich said...

Vichai:

Most politicians in Thailand have been crooks. Barharn was ven called 'Mr 20%' as I recall.

Get off your high horse, Thailand and Thais are known for its dishonesty, cheating and conniving. To pick one face out of the den of robbers is disingenuous at best. Police generals in 80mTHB apartments? The army with its own business empires and TV station? The Palace which amasses a fortune of 500mUSD+ per year for 60 years while peasant in Isaan live on 100THB a day or less?

You have to be joking if you think anyone will take you seriously about this.

Bigot, zombie, in denial, I think all of these apply, and sadly you are not alone. You ought to be because Thais are fabled for being a bit thick as well as dishonest, but you are not.

Rich

Vichai N said...

Rich you amuse.

Rich you maintain such a low opinion of the Thais, and I quote you:

" . . .I know that Thais are 40 years behind the western world in more or less whatever they do . . ."

" . . .Thailand and Thais are known for its dishonesty, cheating and conniving. "

I am pretty sure you must keep a lot of low opinion/resentment of the Thais . .

Now who is the bigot?

(BTW I drive a Benz, not a horse)