In the red rally from April 8 at Government House to the blockade of Victory Monument, we heard a passion and venting of rage that rarely rises above the surface. By breaking taboos, by naming names, Thaksin smashed other mental shackles (how easy it was). Of course, some protesters parroted the talk of "real democracy" from Thaksin and other leaders. But in interviews, vox pops and video clips, people repeatedly talked about unfairness, injustice, privilege, double standards and a sense of utter frustration. This was a moment of terrible clarity. Such thoughts acquire new meaning when they are spoken out aloud and shared.
But who comprised this crowd at its height? We have to guess from the faces and other facts. They seemed mostly in the age range of 25-45; mainly male (perhaps 3-to-1); more Thai than Chinese in features; jeans and sneakers as standard dress.
The best guess is that the core members were migrants who had moved to the capital to work in easy-entry occupations like hired motorcycle or taxi driver, vendor, construction worker and other casual labour.
The rage is not difficult to understand. The motorcycle driver lives his working life in the exhaust fumes of air-conditioned saloons. He is constantly harassed by the corrupt police, while watching the Benz owners break the law with impunity. He is only in Bangkok because farming has declined over a generation of persistent government neglect while public funds were poured into the highways that wreathe Bangkok.
Thaksin's populism was not only about what he gave to people (cheap healthcare, micro loans) but also how he gave it. His personal style was hot, active, open. He made people feel they had some power. He made them sense they had a leader they could own. He gave them an inkling that their vote could matter, and a hope that it could be a tool to gain a lot more.
Embrace the proposal to return to the 1997 constitution with some fixes for its few well-known failings. Amnesty the 220 banned politicians. Don't try to stifle the red voice; listening is better. Punish the yellow on par with the red or others will do it for you. Stop worrying about the Nicaraguan special ambassador. Bring back a properly elected parliament and government as soon as possible. Accept the result and let the system work. Never again give the puppet players the support they don't deserve.
I think they get the rage of the Reds for the most part.
You got to give credit to Chang Noi for moving beyond all the blame Thaksin for everything and conspiracy theory lunacy of the editors at The Nation.
The thing is that the Red and Yellows are not that far apart on the issues when you think about it. The paradox of the Red and Yellows is that they both argue that they are the voices of democracy and against corruption, but their leadership are not exactly paragons of democratic virtue. That paradox is what keeps them from getting any universal acceptance.
I don't think anything can be resolved in parliament or by politicians while the military, police, bureaucracy and the press corps are corrupt to the core. Abhisit will never take on the military or bureaucracy because he owes his power to them. Abhisit may be a good guy, but he is tainted by the pact he made with the devils, including Newin and company. He won't be renouncing the devils soon.
As long as the military and bureaucrats are powers unto themselves without a media and democratic check against them, as well as a strong political party to take them on, I hate to say it, nothing will change.
I think the Reds should forget about Bangkok, because the elite only want to keep the peasants poor and stupid so they can work for peanuts and be servants to the elite classes. People wonder why the Reds are raging? Economically and politically, they have had all their power stripped away from them. The minute the elites give them a little taste of economic or political power, it gets stripped away from them if they dare to get a little uppity.
They need to decouple themselves from the Bangkok Chinese, the bureaucracy and the military and take back the provinces and villages.
Unfortunately, the first step in that process, creating an independent alternative media, has been destroyed by Abhisit and his minions.