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Who will win Thai power struggle?

10:50 UK time, Monday, 15 March 2010

Thousands of anti-government protesters in Thailand have boarded motorcycles and trucks for a mass rally in Bangkok in the latest stage of their campaign. How can the political crisis be resolved?

The number of anti-government protesters has dwindled after four days of rallies.

Many of them support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006 for alleged corruption and abuse of

Are you in Thailand? Who do you think will win the battle of wills: the government, or the protestors? How can Thailand's political deadlock be resolved?

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    As i understand it the situation in Thailand at its most basic is that the country dwelling Thais want a different government than the ity dwellers, and neither is willing to accept defeat.

    So unless a third way,a compromise government is created then basically we will see these sorts of demonstrations in Thailand, orchestrated by either one side or the other for some time to come

  • Comment number 2.

    The Prime Minister of a so called democratic country is in a Military establishment to preserve his discredited and unpopular government.

    The people want him gone yet he wants to stay. He is defiant!

    Sound familiar? Not in the military bunker yet though!

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Not sure what you mean by win. Its obvious that the country is divided so the question of who comes out on top at the moment is not a case of anyone winning anything. The unrest is going to continue for a long time until the two sides are reconciled. Lets just hope that it doesn't become a civil war.

  • Comment number 5.

    I will tell you who already lost: The Thai people per se.

    Romantic as they may seem, "people power" type takeovers rarely bring anything but autocracy. Look at The Philippines, Georgia, Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan.

  • Comment number 6.

    "As i understand it the situation in Thailand at its most basic is that the country dwelling Thais want a different government than the ity dwellers, and neither is willing to accept defeat." That's only partially correct. The poor had a government which they supported and which was democratically elected but which was overthrown by the military. A judicial coup also ousted its successors and brought to power the Democrats (who, it's important to remember, failed to beat TRT or its successors at the ballot box.) How can the crisis be resolved? An election which everyone accepts. At that 'everyone' extends to those elites (in the military and elsewhere) who've played a significant role in exacerbating the social tensions in the country. In addition to this, the wealthy Bangkok middle classes also need to accept that the poor aren't scum from another planet and that they - the poor - won't - and shouldn't - tolerate such astonishing wealth inequalities for ever.

    I think that in the short term the reds have little chance of forcing Abhisit from power but they clearly have that moral authority which is so utterly lacking in the current administration and in the longer-term, I'm much more confident of a return to democracy. The elites - like elites everywhere - are fools but they're not so utterly stupid that they'll fail to see that their eternal intransigence will certainly spell their downfall. The monarchy, for example, is going to be in for a rough time when the Crown Prince ascends to the throne so one hopes that wiser heads at the palace will see the importance of seeking a way through. At least I hope so.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Protests in Thailand have got little or nothing to do with us"

    They have rather a lot to do with me. I live in Thailand. That aside, you might be surprised to learn that some people - though perhaps not many regular contributors to HYS - have horizons which extend beyond the end of their garden.

  • Comment number 8.

    Installing and deposing elected governments by demonstrations and without voting; or voting for people based on their political family pedigree, denotes a certain lack of political maturity or a real understanding of democracy on the part of the voters.

    The latter mentality has been the undoing of Asian countries, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan ; the former is sadly going to undo Thailand - one of the few Asian countries, including India, that have been considered truly democratic.

  • Comment number 9.

    The current Government in Thailand came to power in 2006 via coup d'état.
    This coup took place September 19, 2006, when the Royal Thai Army ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
    Nation-wide elections (at that time) were scheduled for within the month; this seems to suggest that some powerful people did not Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to head another government; they were fearful that he would win the upcoming election.
    General Prem Tinsulanonda, Chairman of the Privy Council was key to the Coup. He cancelled the upcoming elections, put the Constitution itself to one side, dissolved Parliament, banned protests and otherwise suppressed democracy.
    The Council for Democratic Reform (CDR), on September 21st promised to restore democracy within the year. Did it happen?
    The CDR also announced that after elections and the establishment of a democratic government, the council would be transformed into a permanent Council of National Security but its role was never clarified. What was this, except a vehicle for continued supression? The CNS later drafted an interim charter and appointed retired General Surayud Chulanont as Premier.
    The military investigation could find no evidence of the corruption with which they charged Thaksin Shinawatra. There was only one small situation that this investigation turned up: Thaksin and his wife purchased government land by bid, which the military claimed to be a violation because Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister. Most in the Thai legal profession found this reasoning groundless.
    Elections were held on December 23 2007, after a military-appointed tribunal outlawed the Thai Rak Thai party of Thaksin Shinawatra and banned TRT executives from running. Wow, what kind of election was that?
    Two months after the coup, the military junta issued a paper identifying many reasons for the coup - corruption, lack of integrity, etc. but as I pointed out, the military investigation found no proof, just one little incident.
    The purge was completed in April 2007, when all senior officers perceived as loyal to the Thaksin government were removed and replaced with officers trusted by the regime. The junta affirmed on Sept. 20th that along with the abolition of the Constitution and the Constitutional Court other independent organisations set up under the abrogated charter were abolished.
    The junta also barred the establishment of political parties. “In order to maintain law and order, meetings of political parties and conducting of other political activities are banned. Political gatherings of more than five people have already been banned, but political activities can resume when normalcy is restored."
    It was assumed by some Thai analysts and the international media that the coup had the support of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. For some analysts, the silence of both the King and Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda was taken as a sign of approval, though I can’t quite figure out how that rational worked. Royal endorsement is critical to establishing legitimacy for military rebellions - every successful coup over the past 60 years has been endorsed by King Bhumibol.
    King Bhumibol Adulyadej played the central role in the moment of Thailand’s transition to a democratic system. In 1992, when the country came to a standstill in an unprecedented crisis due to pro-democracy protests, he summoned the leaders of the two opposing parties. Both men appeared (on their knees in front of the king) in a televised event, which soon led to a free election.
    King Bhumibol Adulyadej is 81 years old. His heir apparent, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, doesn’t carry the same weight as his father. Whether the monarchy is relevant or even helpful in restoring balance to the current crisis is questionable.
    Worse still, Thaksin is threatening from abroad that it’s time “for the people to come out in revolution."
    "And when it is necessary,” he stated, “I will come back to the country.”
    Thaksin’s statement promises to reclaim the position that was taken from him - no election, nothing - just a coup. Nevertheless, his return might very well lead to unending strife between the yellow and red shirts. The strife could unravel the kingdom.
    A group of protesters at Siam Square, Sep. 22 2006 wore black to mourn the death of democracy, and urged people who opposed the coup to also wear black. They did.
    The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission was critical of the coup. The Commission called on the military to appoint a caretaker civilian government and called on the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the coup.
    New York-based Human Rights Watch was also critical of the coup.
    The Thailand Union for Civil Liberty was also critical of the coup. In a formal statement, it noted that the coup was destructive to the democratic system and would result in serious human rights infractions.
    Several international publications condemned the coup. The Economist said the coup would not solve any problems, that its purpose was to prevent an election victory by the Thai Rak Thai party, and that it undid a decade's worth of democratic progress.
    So, I am RED-shirted.
    The coup was wrong. Elections had been pending within the month. The solution is for Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva to call an election, for world authorities to monitor this election process carefully, and for democracy to be fully restored.

  • Comment number 10.

    It has become accepted that the current state of affairs in Thailand is a battle between the Old Elite and the New. Thaksin is merely part of the "New Ruling Elite" fighting the "Old Ruling Elite". He will not bring any freedom to the Rural Poor but merely replace one feudal system with another.

    This is not a fight by Thaksin for the Freedom of the Rural Poor. It is a fight by Thaksin for the Control of the Rural Poor. Until the rural masses are given genuine education they will be merely Vote Fodder.

    I have no idea who will win this current Power Struggle in Thailand. But I do know who the losers will be - the Rural Poor.

    I grew up in the UK as a Working Class Tory Monarchist. I still consider myself such. But for Thailand to succeed on the World Stage there needs to be a drastic change in thinking by the Ruling Classes.

  • Comment number 11.

    I was impressed to see the crowds of the "Red Shirts" supporters thronging in the heart of the capita. Pleased to see them joined by the minority "Straw Hats" party and the moderate centre-left "Green Umbrella" alliance.
    We couldn't have politics like that in the UK: all the parties would be wearing the same colour: white. They think it stands for righteousness, but really it just means surrender.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Thai people deserve better than they are getting. That much said I don't see that how they get what they need is the business of anyone in the UK.

  • Comment number 13.


  • Comment number 14.

    Having lived here for 9+ years and experienced a number of these political situations I strongly encourage tourists and investors not to ignore Thailand. Instead, please ignore the ongoing noises made by political and personal opponents which are amplified by sensationalist press reports.

    As with previous situations, the areas of Bangkok that are affected are very local and not at all aligned with the following snippet that I heard today - 'Bangkok was flooded by the red shirts'. I struggle to understand how 100,000 any colour shirts could flood a city of 1,500+ sq. k.m. The crowds are centred around government buildings plus the main Thai army barracks. 99% of people in Bangkok are going about their daily chores as normal.

    Thailand remains the Land of Smiles and is essentially a country and people focused on trade. This image is spoiled by the self interest of a small number of the allegedly elite who have only self interest at heart.

    I see that 2 deaths have already been reported, I pray that no more will occur and ask the people who are orchestrating this to take a step backwards, think less of serving themselves and consider instead the people that they are so poorly serving.

    I and my family remain committed to living and working in Thailand.

  • Comment number 15.

    The coup Masters also accused Shinawatra of "disrespecting the king" if i remember well. Is there still a royal angle to it? It astounds me how a democratically elected government can be kicked out by military on such flimsy grounds. No wonder this junta says nothing against the Myanmar junta.

  • Comment number 16.

    Who will win ? He who has the biggest guns.

  • Comment number 17.

    Thailand is in for a torrid period as the battle of political wills is enacted. Who would have thought this centre of Buddhism could be mired in such bitter political turmoil. Even the King, who is highly respected, has been unable to keep the two sides apart.Bloody clashes serve no purpose! Thailand is on a slippery downhill path!

  • Comment number 18.

    I think the system in Thailand is pretty broken where none of the sides involved would ever be able to reconcile without the King of Thailand coming forth to say either "Support this person" or "We should have fresh elections". He is so revered that everyone would respect his opinion. It's sad because it's the easiest for him to say something and have everyone follow it, but since he's removed himself from the well being of the country, no one will win from the outcome.

  • Comment number 19.

    People gathering in Bangkok because they believe in things they are told. They believe that Thaksin is a good politician who gave them better living by giving them money. Where are all the money from? ... CORRUPTION ... by policy and that most of people, esp those living in the rural area, will never be able to understand. These are people who come gathering and yell for Thaksin to come back. They believe that Thaksin was slandered by the bureaucartic system. They believe because they are told distorted information everyday, by people they repect, in other word, by those who give them money. It sounds ridiculous but it's true. This is all the story is. The other points they are talking about are just for making them (the red leaders) be rightful. This is about only people who are not really understand how bad Thaksin is and want him to come back, to give them more money, I guess. That's all. Nothing more than that.

  • Comment number 20.

    A small but very important piece of information for your staff or anyone who are interested in setting the record (and then the Thai history) in a straight way. On the night of the coup in Thailand on 19 September 2006, when I was in the dark trying to find what was really going on, I searched in the Bangkok Post website and found the name of General Surayud Chulanond as the new Prime Minister of Thailand. Shortly after that when I came back to the site in order to save it in my computer, the name disappeared. It came up again several weeks after that, after several other names were tipped to be new Prime Minister. This might mean that someone has been behind the scene all that time and "the search" for the new Prime Minister was just a farce. If your staff or anyone wants to do some kind of scoof on this, your staff or that people might start from the Bangkok Post.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Everything is normal folks:The U.S.and U.K.can go in and fix the problem.I most confident the U.S.and U.K.are behind the political conflict in Thailand.China should handle this matter,it's in southeast Asia and the Chinese involvement is needed.But i have a feeling the U.S.and U.K.are about to send in their envoys and fix the problem like they do everywhere else.

  • Comment number 23.

    The army will win.

    Ohh, hang on...they already have.

  • Comment number 24.

    I find it incredulous that people still support Thaksin. Sure, most politicians are corrupt to one degree or another, but this guy has been a crook since day one. His lies are on record from day one also, just take a look at his 'biography' that he had published and sent out to all the country villages - complete propaganda and full of half-truths and blatant lies. I am also shocked that Western 'pro-democratic' countries seemingly support this dictator-in-all-but-name whose blatant vote-buying in elections went completely ignored by such governments, not to mention his war on 'drugs' where police and others were given a licence to kill indiscriminately. Having lived in Thailand at the time, and in an area where such executions were common, I can only say that the number of 'collaterals' was shocking - wives, children, etc., gunned down by licensed killers. And I have to say 'shame on the BBC' for seeing to kowtow to Thaksin's propaganda machine. He is now a convicted criminal and you should report that he is such. His blatant corruption and abuse of power is there for all to see and anyone who was in Thailand at the time will attest to how he enriched himself and his cronies. Granted, he is not the only one - Thailand is full of corruption from the ground up, but this guy took it to levels of greed unheard of. The sooner his misguided, paid bunch of thugs and ignorants get disbanded, the better!

  • Comment number 25.

    This seems to be now a habit in Thailand; & I can see it spreading worldwide when people want to oust governments...especially as we're no where near the end of this recession...because of unemployment remaining high for years & the same with world deficits. & you need both these two issues to be cured before we can as a world get back to any degree of normality economically & workwise. So Thailand will endure this habit till one day a general will say say fire & then a tinderbox of emotions will explode with many death & probably a coup-de-tat by the military. Yes, right now...the world is getting very messy indeed!

  • Comment number 26.

    No, I am not in Thailand; Neither side will win because this will end up being a repeat show to previous times in Thailand when protests have uprooted the governments.....

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 27.

    Thaksin has money and has his team rallying for his return to power, it is not the red shirts who should decide democracy, but honesty, accountability and ability that should decide Thailand's future. The poor folks are bad for democracy because they sell their votes to the highest bidders, for their lifestyles seldom change for the better in any rule change, it is the middle-class that pays for poor voting patterns. Thaksin is corrupt, he should be banned from participating in any kind of political seat.

  • Comment number 28.

    If Thai ppl really love their King and see Him as their beloved Father, they should be doing vigil in front of Siriraj Hospital holding candles and "get well soon" signs instead of wearing different colored shirts (whether yellow, red, or blue)and protesting in the streets.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Thai power struggle remains clouded by its 931 year history of inactivity, only briefly interjected by small scuffles and occasional accusations of genocide. In 1664, the Quon'on Berg, having recently deposed the Quon'on Brig junta which preceded his own, developed a unique binary relativism, unique for many reasons not least its extreme partisan philosophy. An eternal zeitgeist has ensured the survival of this regime in undercurrents throughout Thai lore.

    In short, the premonitory aspect one should always bear in mind is the future, now.

  • Comment number 30.

    Eh... Depends who is prepared to do the most LeggWerk in this stand-off ??
    Not the war, just a battle.

    It's more ''coup''/''election''/''monarchy'' than Rock/Paper/Scissors isn't it ??

  • Comment number 31.

    Something to investigate. Interesting video. Suspicious money being handed out to anti-government protestors. Not sure what's for or it's the payment to join protesting? Corruption?
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 32.

    What many people have either forgotten or are unaware of is why the coup happened in the first place.

    During the election which put Thaksin in power, he was under indictment (and was found to be guilty of) for transferring his assets to his maid and driver to avoid paying tax. It is also commonly known (in Thailand) that his party paid for votes (the measly sum of Bht 500 per vote) among the northern community, generally farmers and poorly educated people...

    No-one has so far mentioned the events leading up to him being ousted:
    The dreadful anti-drug campaign during which hundreds if not thousands of people were killed by police and soldiers given carte blanche by Thaksin to take down the drug trade in Thailand. May I add that many innocent children were victims during this period. So far NO-ONE has been brought to account for a single death.

    The laws concerning corporate ownership in Thailand were such that foreigners could not own more than 49% of any company in Thailand. Thaksin wanted so sell his multi billion telecoms company to the Singaporeans, however this pesky law prevented him from doing so at maximum profit, so what did he do? He changed the law. Literally one day before the sale was made, the law was amended. No wonder he has billions of dollars to buy football teams and to pay for the protests from overseas.

    The courts have recently stripped him of half his wealth which they have found he acquired by abuse of his power, and illegal means. Incidentally, the entire judicial system must also be involved in the conspiracy to take him out, if what the red shirts are saying is to be believed. Thaksin's actions will bring down the whole country.

    Should there have been a coup? Perhaps not, but with a Prime Minister with such an open and unhealthy track record for corruption, how is it possible to have a fair election?

  • Comment number 33.

    The only way to bring political and economic stability back to Thailand is to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible. The present junta in power, together with all their behind the scene conspirators, should look around the world, study history and realize that all their machinations will amount to very little. I wish the Thai people the very best for their wonderful country.

  • Comment number 34.

    The majority of these redshirts are from the north east(isan) pretty poor area and low incomes but they had it very good in thaksins era with all his handouts to them especially for his votes ,another one of his corrupt dealings ,it is common knowledge during the past elections the thai rak thai party paid for all these votes up north.
    The only reason these redshirts are protesting is because they miss thaksins handouts and they have nothing better to do ,GET BACK TO WORK LAZY SODS

  • Comment number 35.

    I live in Bangkok. The issue won't be resolved. The complexities will dominate without any real outcome. This is frustrating and it is also the way things happen here. Thailand is an interesting phenomenon as a partial or young monarchical democracy amid many non-democratic countries, and it is changing what democracy means through its innate complexity. Its great and abiding strength is made from weaving complexities together, like silk, without clear and tacit outcomes. Much like the plate of spaghetti that is the road system. There can be no winners nor real losers either.Social progress will happen over time, because of time, more than because of any action or decision.It will be a long time, but meanwhile it will go along reasonably well compared with its neighbours.

  • Comment number 36.

    The current House of Chakri was founded on murder. King Bhumibol was ushered into power after his brother the Crown Prince was deemed unfit to govern. This matter has been swept under the carpet for decades, however it along with 18 coups since 1932. The monarchy continues to meddle with the government, police is openly and hopelessly corrupt, the military serves its own selfish interest, often in direct conflict with other power establishments, and all of them lay claim to royal assent. Meanwhile, any party that exploits the rural vote (75%) is treated with suspicion, and inevitably runs afoul of the Bangkok establishment.

    Meanwhile, Thailand continues to survive throughout history by being the whore of whatever World power encroaches it, thus creating convenient but sinister relationships, whether Japan in WWII or the USA during the Vietnam conflict, with little regard for its hapless neighbours who continue to struggle to this day with the toxic and deadly mess left behind from these self-serving associations.

  • Comment number 37.

    The only positive thing that I see as an outcome of the current crisis is that those disillusioned people will see the reality for once. Thailand, I must say, as a nation has no understanding of democratic process. Winning elections in majority is like winning a trophy. It's not about people or betterment of Thailand as a nation. It's about pride and prestige.

    It is indeed sad to see that thousands been mobilised for one mans private agenda. Commendable is the response of the current government. Refraining from any provocative actions.

    Win now one will. Hope there are no serious losses. Thailand has to learn to live as one Nation. Constantly exploiting the divide in society for political benefits will take the country no where. If there is divide, mend it. Or at least try to.

    What bothers me is that there are, still, people who would swing to any side for money. These people, poor as they claim, were poor before Thanksin came to power. Now, they are poor and in debt, thanks to what Thanksin's populist easy access loans. Tragic part is, the same people are out there again, after having accepted money to join the protest. Nothing to do with their cause. They don't even know what is their cause.

    I have lived in Thailand now for 8+ years. I had the opportunity to see Thai society as an insider. Most if not all outsiders don't get such opportunity. There have been polls showing more than 50% of people believe that this 'crisis' is to benefit one man only. It has nothing to do with democracy whatsoever.

    This is not a war, a game, a contest where someone could be a winner. This is, in a lighter tone, a regular carnival. The time was due. 18 coups and still counting. It feels like, 'Ok we are bored, let's coup.' Just a different observation. Remember this is Asia. Life here is vibrantly colourfull. More than black and white.

    So the answer is ... No one wins.

  • Comment number 38.

    A lot has been said here but several key points have been missed.

    A democratically elected leader was ousted by a military coup with total disregard to democracy insulting those who voted.

    The UK and EU did nothing yet condemn other countries for not carrying out elections correctly!

    All the people are asking for is a basic right to one person one vote and that should be respected. If the Junta don't listen this will not go away.

  • Comment number 39.

    If you know anything about the Thai situation (in other words have lived there for an extended period so you understand the complexities of the problem at hand)you will concede the fact that there are no free elections in Thailand. This is a western promoted concept that does not apply in this situation. Thaksin was educated in the west and has used what he learned there to create the present situation. The simple people who support him are there out of cash payments and a sense of duty. Because Thaksin has used his position to promote himself as the savior of the poor those people feel obligated to do whatever he says. He gained their loyalty through an elaborate cash payment system (which is the underlying reason for the number of red shirts). Thailand is basically a seasonal economy with most supported by farming. Thaksin gave them the ability to get extra money at times when they needed it most. People in the west would not understand what it is like for a family of four or more to survive on perhaps $2000 annual income. Thaksin did, paid them and thus bought their loyalty. I have been sitting in a Thai house when the payments came. I was astounded. I did not understand but I observed the changes in opinions with the arrival of the pork belly money. Thaksin took his education, his knowledge of the Thai society, the model of previous political machines and created the situation we have today. The only ones that will win have money. Once they do the poor will have to go back to being poor and the cycle will start again.

  • Comment number 40.

    Politically, it is hard not to find flaws with the would-be pretenders and competing interests that perpetually seek to subjugate the electorate. Sondhi Limthongkul, the yellow shirts leader (with tacit approval by Queen Sirikit herself) openly advocates limiting the vote to Bangkok. His disdain of the rural vote is based on his assertion that it is corrupt and paid for anyway, so it should not play a part in governing Thailand. However, the unstoppable wheels of change roll on as the rural populace continue to produce literate individuals thirsting for change. The still great economic and social divide between the rural & urban areas of Thailand may take another generation to be bridged, when literacy takes a firmer foothold in the poorer regions of the North & Northeast. It was not that long ago that Issan's papaya salad was frowned upon by Bangkok - nowadays it has almost reached the status of "the national dish". Conquer the stomach, and you win the mind!

  • Comment number 41.

    I've lived in Thailand for part of the year for several years. I can't pretend to fully understand the situation here, but I'm dismayed by so much negativity about the Red Shirts. I'm fortunate to count some amongst my friends and I admire them greatly. They are not all lazy and money grabbing/vote selling, they are fed up with inequality and the way the Elite manipulate them so as to have a constant source of cheap labour to provide their maids, cleaners and drivers etc. Despite growing up within an educaion system that is designed to keep them in their place i.e. at the bottom of the pile, many have developed mature political views and they are not going to give in, however long it takes. Thaksin was a catalyst in that he was the first politician to throw them some crumbs, and he opened their eyes to what might be possible in future. In their view his corruption was no worse than any they'd seen previously from others PMs and Government Ministers. The problem for the Elite was that Thaksin played them at their own game, but more masterfully. As someone said recently on the BBC webpages, the genie is out of the bottle now in Thailand, and cannot be put back.

  • Comment number 42.

    From my position sitting looking out over the Chao Phraya (main river in Bangkok) I have seen little to suggest that the Red Shirts will win anything here. Their actions (throwing human blood at the PM's house and Government House) are getting more aggressive and if it continues in this way then nobody will win here. Their numbers have dwindled over the past 24 hours and the local support is non-existent. Their greatest victory would be to go and lick their wounds and focus on next year's general election.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm a Thai who's father is Thai-Chinese anti-Thaksin. My mother from 'esan' North eastern; Srisaket province and I are red shirt supporters. Thai society has always been divided however this event is just a spotlight for the world to see.
    In the past government prior to Thanksin, their policies never given a chance to the rural people. The Esan people were and still seen as second class citizens with no education by the highly educated city people.
    Having grew up in Melbourne Australia where class division do not exist. Where we do not care what car you drive, how rich you are or what part of the country you live. Class division have alway existed in Thai society. People's dignity are determined by their wealth and power. For once there was a government that has noticed the underprivileged society, the people who grows the rice, etc for the elites to consume everyday. For once they have a chance to have a better life, prices of rice was higher than now, price of rubber in the south increased, children have a better chance for higher education through scholarships, villages encouraged to sell their crafts. However the city elites so called 'educated' yellow shirts are not happy because they are paying more for their rice, they feel threaten that their slaves might rise to their level. The thaksin policies are not catering for them when they have more than enough. Feeling missed out like spoiled self centered children.
    With the rural people having a better life for once; who is going to be their maids, to clean their houses, sweep their floor, dress and feed their spoiled kids if the rural 'esan' people are getting a chance or a better life from the Thaksin government.
    Many comments claimed Thaksin government of vote buying, how ignorant can you be and you claimed to be educated yellow shirts people, most of you are doctors and professors yet you must sit in your dorm in front of books all day, not to see that all political parties in Thailand buy votes. The rural people are not stupid, they voted for those that show them some dignity that most of you rich city people never understand because if you do then you would have stop treating poor people like slaves and stop addressing them rudely in restaurants where they serve you. For the country to stop having yellow and red shirts, every citizens have respect each other regardless of their wealth and where they are from. Thailand can never have a real democratic parliament if class division still exist. The solution to this color war is humanity, if most Thai citizen shows respect to each other then this would never happen in the first place. But who could blame them if the country is dictate by a group of people that think they are above everyone else, 'a living buddha' who wealth is beyond the necessity of life...whose children are using power in the wrong ways instead of really helping those in need.
    In the end, who are the greedy one, some comments claimed Thaksin to be the greedy one; a dictator, when his position was taken from him by a group of people who feels their class and status was being threaten by a man who finally sees the inequality in Thai society. His popularity was never seen before in Thai history, one man who finally sees the inhumane, and inequality that existed in Thai society. Too bad because Thailand is missing out again because of some narrow minded yellow shirt city people and the elites; khun ying, khun nai or people with titles in front of their names, shame on you.
    Thank you for a chance to express my opinion...

  • Comment number 44.

    Isn't that what an election is for - to resolve issues between two different sides/opinions? Seems to make sense what the Red Shirts are calling for.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Thai are the best people in the world of free mind. No hypocrites. Their King has led the people over several decades as what a leader should do, to love and take care of the people first. The other leaders from any party will have to be compared with the benchmark set by the King which could be tough. Hence the often opposition to the elected leaders. In my opinion Thailand should elect Trustees from each constituency without any party affiliation. The trustees will work as a Board and be subject to Ethical standards assessment. The people participation in arriving at the Trustee Board should start without fail. Political parties will not work in Thailand.

  • Comment number 47.

    It's funny that the protest leaders claim that this government is illegitimate. While not too long ago the other two previous governments they supported came to power through the same elected parliament and same process. Politics always makes me laugh

  • Comment number 48.

    I lived in Bangkok for 13 years. Democratic Government is a western concept which has never taken root in Thailand despite many attempts since the 1930s. Look at her neighbours and you will find long term leaders, Mahathir in Malaysia, Suharto in Indonesia. Lee Kwan Yu in Singapore, the Junta in Burma,etc. This is historically the Asian way. What Thailand needs is a strong, intelligent and honest leader. Perhaps after the demise of the present king, the royalty may be side-lined and a Presidential system could replace it. Brian Judge.

  • Comment number 49.

    The funny thing is, it all started when the gov of singapore with all it's money in reserves or cpf funds from the people of the island bought out Shin Corp (AIS) at a price which no billionaire or consortium in thailand could offer.

    The gov of thailand tried to confiscate all the shares owned by gov of singapore but nothing has come out of it but fines of 2.2 Billion or more in thai baht or usd. Plus the claim of taksin selling out the country to foreigners. The reason thais are very angry with all singaporeans in 2007-8 and now.

    Could it be karma, as its what they believe in, that all the sins of these two countries supporting uncle sam during the vietnam wars.All Laotians,cambodians, vietnamese had suffered till today.

    Please be reminded that the two investment funds of singapore had lost big time since then and the island may go bankrupt sooner than you all think, which is good karma as they said.

  • Comment number 50.

    There could be a simple solution.

    With Royal consent, the generals may step in and take charge once more.

  • Comment number 51.

    I wish to make clear I live in Isaan, Thailand in one of the many small villages. I am not a follower of any particular Thai political party.

    The question is ‘Who will win Thai power struggle’, in a nutshell, all will lose.

    During the course of the last, politically unsettled, years I have watched the comings and goings of political hopefuls. I have seen the envelopes changing hands from the candidates to the poor Thai villagers containing 20 Baht notes. You may say 20 Baht is not much money, but to a poor Thai it is a lot, it will pay for a meal for the family to share. I have also seen the distribution of 500 Baht notes to get people to attend a rally, of course wear the colour shirt required, which is also supplied, Including transportation from the villages to the rally . Is this not corruption?

    At rallies mentioned, people have been killed by someone wearing the opposite colour shirt. Many cases are reported of beatings, and intimidation.

    Nothing will be sorted in Thailand until something concrete is done about endemic corruption. This stems from the top, this is what brought the downfall of Thaksin Shinawatra, a man with billions of US$, and a craving for power, what other reason would make him so corrupt. He cheated the Thai people out of millions of dollars in taxes when he sold the Shin Corporation, incidently, was the ‘Straw that broke the Camel’s back’, beginning his end. Even now he broadcasts into Thailand stirring up the populace, a convicted felon.

    As for the present Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has his hands tied by his coalition members. Some of which were once in the government of Thaksin Shinawatra and successive Prime Ministers, they changed sides because it appeared ‘the bread was better buttered on the other side’, a major problem in Thai politics. They are almost like ‘War Lords’, commanding large sways of the population, and moving where they are better served financially.

    Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was democratically elected to government by Parliamentary Rules (drawn up by the previous government), in a house sitting to elect a new Prime Minister. It was the move behind Abhisit Vejjajiva of defectors from the previous government, ie ‘War Lords’, which voted him into power. A democratic election of all Members of Parliament, believe me there was no MP absent that day.

    Until corruption is stamped out, or greatly reduced, Thailand will never change, politicians will ‘feather their nests’ by paying for votes, ensuring they stay in Parliament receiving the high payments and perks. This happens in all tiers of government, including the Changwat (Regional), Amphur (District), Tambon (Sub District), and even the village councils. Everyone wants their cut. Who suffers, the poor people and the general public who accepts the bribe, then vote these people into office.

    My wife is a Yellow shirt, her father a Red, I am ‘piggy in the middle’, who just wants to live in peace. I am glad I cannot vote, wait maybe they will give me a few Baht.

    Until corruption is stamped out, or greatly reduced, Thailand will never change, politicians will ‘feather their nests’ by paying for votes, ensuring they stay in Parliament receiving the high payments and perks. This happens in all tiers of government, including the Changwat (Regional), Amphur (District), Tambon (Sub District), and even the village councils. Everyone wants their cut. Who suffers, the poor people and the general public who accepts the bribe, then vote these people into office.

    My wife is a Yellow shirt, her father a Red, I am ‘piggy in the middle’, who just wants to live in peace. I am glad I cannot vote, wait maybe they will give me a few Baht.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have lived in Thailand for many years and to be quite frank an appalled by the lack of actual knowledge of the situation. Thailand has a population of over 60 million. The red shirt demonstrators number less than 100,000 and they have been paid to demonstrate. This is not about the return of democracy, this is not the poor fighting oppression, this is not about fighting an illegitimate government. It is about Thaksin who was convicted of corruption, justly, no matter what he says. It is about him being willing to go to any lenght to regain his ill gotten fortune and power by the only means he knows, buy it no matter what the costs even if that incurs shedding blood.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Politicians are reluctant to relinquish once they are in the saddle. A la Iran, anti-government protestors are aided and abetted by the opposition in their protests against the country's ruling head. What is important is the under the circumstances is the restoration of law and order.
    Any yielding to unruly pressures will lead to mobocracy that is irrelevant and uncongenial to democratic law. In the show of power struggle in Thailand, it is public knowledge by now that the then government of the now opposition leader Thaksin was corrupt to the core that led to his expulsion from the seat of power. Better avenues for reconciliation with the opposition - minus of course Thaksin - should be explored but first and foremost the rule of law should be imposed to end the prevailing friction and chaos.

  • Comment number 55.

    A popular government ousted by the military and the elite of society is OK then, as long as no demonstrations are held??

  • Comment number 56.

    "22. At 4:32pm on 15 Mar 2010, joe kahn wrote:

    Everything is normal folks:The U.S.and U.K.can go in and fix the problem.I most confident the U.S.and U.K.are behind the political conflict in Thailand.China should handle this matter,it's in southeast Asia and the Chinese involvement is needed.But i have a feeling the U.S.and U.K.are about to send in their envoys and fix the problem like they do everywhere else."

    why blame the uk and us?? you sound like you dont like them, many people dont, but where do many go for help?? maybe they are the new world police,i wonder what country you are from and whether they would like the role?? and you are reading a BRITISH website, your comments are ill thought just to provoke readers, luckily im as daft as you for biting!!!

    my thoughts are for a speedy end to the demonstators and just wish for a Thailand reunited

  • Comment number 57.

    The side with Army backing historically wins.
    Classic case of Arrogance. Thailand's elite don't even bother to disguise their Superior belief that Only They are Entitled to Lead the Country regardless of any Democratic Process.

    Without Western Recognition for Legitimacy, these ABUSES of Civil Societies Respect for Rule of Law would never last.

  • Comment number 58.

    "The red shirt demonstrators number less than 100,000 and they have been paid to demonstrate."

    Absolute rubbish. I know plenty of people who support the reds who've not received a penny. And the idea that a demonstration of 100,000 is insignificant is utterly wrong, too. Demonstrations which reach that number in Britain - a similarly sized country - are certainly significant. And to those who say the reds are only popular with the poor and then only because of money, I know university lecturers, and very senior civil servants and military men who all support the red shirts. And - again - it's also wrong the think that there's a direct correlation between support for the reds and support for Taksin. Clearly Taksin is important to the movement, but many, many people support the reds who are no great fan of Taksin. The movement is about democracy, not the election of any one individual.

  • Comment number 59.

    I live and work in Thailand Phuket for 3 years now and every Thai one speaks to don't want have enything to do with the "redshirts'
    but on the other hand would like to see a election to prove and see if democratic rules work.
    It's difucult when normaly every vote is bought in one way or other,I can see it here when localy elections was hold here in Bangtao last year.
    So I do think general election can solv the despute.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    Two groups of different shirt colour that will never accept each other. A current yellow PM who is "fighting" the behaviour of the reds where only a year back the yellow did the same thing causing BILLIONS in damages (something that seems to have been swept under the table). Thailand has to realize that there has to be a middle way otherwise more and more businesses will leave. The frequency of % of businesses and people leaving the country is higher and higher every year causing more damage. Alas power struggle is and going to happen without a deal causing a stand still while all countries around are higher and higher economically. I would be happy for a government that is free of censorship. Why hasnt the red movement been 10X bigger this weekend in Bangkok? easy.. Cut gasoline sales, take license from transporters who whould take "reds" on board and use the puppet newspapers in writing utter nonsense. We yet still have to wait and see but I am not optimistic in the long term

  • Comment number 62.

    There is a clear line in this battle: rich verses poor. Since 90% of the wealth is owned by 10% of the population, the 90% who is poor (Red Shirts) has a great advantage in the elections. The current PM came to power through military might and not through elections. So of course the PM can't agree to an election. The poor will easily elect their candidate.

    Thailand has one of the worst (if not the worst) distribution of wealth among the world. The rich enjoy a great quality of life mostly at the expense of the poor who provide very cheap labor. In this situation, the poor cannot be bought.

  • Comment number 63.

    One side or the other I would expect, probably the strongest. Does that help?

  • Comment number 64.

    Are the govenment working subjectively or objectively? The demonstrations are giving the country a bad name...

  • Comment number 65.

    The previous prime minister was corrupt but he was seen to do more the people in the countryside. the present prime minister needs to show he will do more for them. they are also worried also because if the king dies they will suffer as the prince as a very poor reputation

  • Comment number 66.

    With this biased Thai media, the Red Shirts will never win. It does not matter how many people came out to protest, as the press will be more than willing to report the official figure given by the government (a mere 40,000). On the television it is even more outrageous, as news footage showed an edited version of the news, with the shirt colour of the protesters being tinted pink (incidentally the colour now being adopted by the yellow shirts of old) instead of the actual red. (And I'm watching this from a fully functional telly!). Some channels went as far as turning the telly into black&white whenever footage of the Red Shirts are on display.

    The Red Shirts cannot win outside the poll booths. It has no support from the Palace, the Aristocrats, or the Bangkokians elites, whose voices are disproportionately, unfortunately louder than those of the rural poor. Their best bet is to retreat and continue the tactics of staging smaller-scale protests in rural provinces to garner support for Puea Thai party. Then the voices of the disenfranchised can be fully heard comes the election day.

  • Comment number 67.

    Abhisit has a choice between returning Thailand to full democracy or hanging with the backup of the military/monarchist establishment. It seems - in spite of his party's moniker ("Democrat Party") that he's leaning towards the latter option. What many people overlook is that Thailand's king is largely responsible for the current dismal state-of-affairs. His consent supported the series military/judicial coups. So, blunt as this may sound, the death of the current king could be a blessing in disguise for Thai people.

  • Comment number 68.

    Until the People of Thailand can accept a middle of the road Prime Minister that is not part of the Bangkok Elite, who can do what Thaksin did but at the same time please the yellow shirts I see no resolution. However, I sense the barrier between rich and poor is as a result of Thai politics and richer peoples unwillingness to help the poor. As a British Citizen I can well understand being robbed by taxation to pay for those who don't work, may seem like harsh solution to an equal society but it does work. Thailand is a beautiful country and in most ways unspoiled, I would hate to see the current poitical issue escalating into civil war. A monachy is a nice thing to have, but be under no illusion THEY ARE ONLY GOOD AS A FIGURE HEAD..look at Britains record, Government works better! A public figure needs to emerge as a true leader, drop the shirts guys and for goodness sake help each other.

  • Comment number 69.

    Thailand is a country of infinite possibilities,a country flowing with milk and honey and boundless energy.
    Only lacking is a constitution of fairness set in stone and defended by the army and judiciary.
    Thailand has everything needed to be a leading power house in Asia, except good governance. A government truelly of the people and for the people would see the country a first world leader within a couple of decades.
    I shall be residing there soon and no doubt lament the wasted opportunities of the country, because of bad and indifferent governance and corruption. Wayne Job

  • Comment number 70.

    And the first in line to give blood was an eleven year old child. This is an abuse of democracy. Throwing blood brngs shame on the 'reds' where's I ask is your polical manifesto, your list of demands,instead you have the blood of a child, there is no virue iin this action...time to grow up Thailand.

  • Comment number 71.

    I live in a rural community in northern Thailand in the heartland of red-shirt support. Locally, the general mood is that the current government is illegitimate, not democratically elected and does not have the support of the majority of the people and is merely a front for the military and the powerful elite that have ruled Thailand for a long time. They believe that much of the local media is biased and censored to show the red-shirt movement in a bad way. My local community, and others that I know about, chose representatives to go to Bangkok to join the demonstrations so the reported 100,000 taking part actually represent a very much larger number of people who passionately care about their King and country. Those who went to Bangkok were funded by local donations from the villagers who just laugh at suggestions that they have been corruptly paid to go there. After seeing 2 democratically elected governments removed by the military and the ruling elite, they are fighting for what they see as true justice and democracy, not the official, politically motivated 'justice' forced on everyone by the rich and powerful.

  • Comment number 72.

    BBC. Please this is Thailand's matter. You have no right to open such a debate.
    This is not news. I have also noticed the incredible amount of negative views and attitude towards the Far East.

    Please bear in mind that it is your demoncratic duty to ensure that people of all race are not dicriminated in any form. I am furious to learn how bad it is to have chinese lantern lit, how a robber in china has more "news value" over the murder of another innocent child.

    Thailand is not your concern. Leave it alone.

  • Comment number 73.

    Undoubtedly the rural masses in Thailand deserve a better lot but this protest is driven by the fugitive, former PM Thaksin who simply wants the money back that he looted from the country when he was in charge. Abhisit has no options, he cannot yield to the Red Shirts because that would be seen as yielding to the convicted former PM. It might take a while but the government can wait it out until the Reds gradually disperse and go back home to the provinces. The Reds need a political voice but they have to ditch Thaksin before they can claim to be a legitimate movement representing the rural poor.

  • Comment number 74.

    While acknowledging that Thailand has very real political problems, could I just point out that the Thai baht has RISEN against the British pound by about 20% in the last year? In addition, the Thai Stock Exchange (usually a barometer of political problems) ROSE more than 2% yesterday?

    There may be blood on the streets of Bangkok (medically removed from donors to be symbolically thrown on government buildings), but the much-abused Reds have not been stupid enough to wield power irresponsibly and take over the international airport, as those feeble-minded fools, the Yellow Shirts, did last year.

    Good luck to the Reds, the people's choice!

  • Comment number 75.

    I just heard that "The intent was to splash the blood on the buildings of parliament, but that was not allowed, so they poured it on the floor instead".

    They don't sound like they protested very much, it sounds more like they've already lost.

  • Comment number 76.

    What a load of 'Twaddle' I now understand why there is conflict between Red & Yellow. Everyone makes up their own story, and don't check the facts. Check the Thai Parliamentary Rules.

    Abhisit Vejjajiva was duly elected (legally) without the payment of bribes or support of the military. When he was elected by the MPs in the parliament, which was full, the whips had ensured that everyone was in attendance. Each MP made his verbal declaration, (I repeat VERBAL), supporting a candidate, this process took several hours.

    Abhisit Vejjajiva received the majority vote, making him democratically elected. I am sure this is not what many people say.

    Incidently, the whole process was broadcast on Thai TV, I know my wife watched it all.

    Is this not democratic?.

  • Comment number 77.

    "The Thai people deserve better than they are getting. That much said I don't see that how they get what they need is the business of anyone in the UK."

    It is the business of many people in the UK who have family in Thailand. My brother lives in the south west of Thailand but will shortly be passing through Bangkok to fly to the UK. I also have an aunt and cousin who live in Bangkok and are finding it very difficult to go about their day-to-day business. Even when the protests come to an end the political instability in the country affects my family members on a daily basis - just as it would affect us in the UK if it were happening here.

    Don't assume that the issues in Thailand don't affect the wider World - that's a very shortsighted view!

  • Comment number 78.

    What happened to Jonathan Head?

  • Comment number 79.

    Red-shirt' motive is obvious, they want Thaksin back (and for no good reason at that). Their claim to be against the "dictatorship" is a big fat lie. Before denying it, try explaining the pictures of Thaksin they're waving.

    To those who say previous "democratically elected" governments of Thaksin and Samak are democratic, think again. Thaksin promised millions bath to the local village funds if he is elected, and Samak promised "to have Thaksin returned" to the people. Thaksin's victory in the previous election also has everything to do with him giving out land (state-owned) to the poor for free.

    The aforementioned is only the tip of an iceburg. This is also the reason why he's convicted.

    Meanwhile, Abhisit was elected by the representative of the lower house from both parties, and people say his government is illegitimate.

    Also, please stop comparing red-shirt to yellow-shirt. If PAD's occupation of the airport was bad, I say how UDD(red-shirt) threatened to destroy Bangkok by exploding gas tanks, using firebomb, and burning buses recently was much worse.

    An answer to the question : The only way to resolve this is to stop the red-shirt from receiving Thaksin's money. They'll dissolve in no time.

  • Comment number 80.

    I am an American who has been living in Thailand for the last 2 years. I really think that Abhisit has to call for elections. His party will most likely loose and that is why he is not stepping down. He has bungled everything from the canceled ASEAN meeting last year to the border dispute with Cambodia. He is only supported by the upper echelons of the society. The people want him out. It is time for him to go.

  • Comment number 81.

    Being an Indian who travels frequently to Bangkok for work, I am dismayed at how this nice country is going down because of its politics.

    I prefer to let the democracy work irrespective of how people whine about the 'Redshirts' bribing voters. I would want them to look at an example in India, in the state of Bihar. There was this absolutely corrupt CM,Laloo Yadav, who held sway for 15 years till the voters showed him the door. Message is that even if Thaksin is corrupt, let him be thrown oout by the people as they get fed up of his corrupt ways. Palace interventions, military backed coups will take Thailand nowhere.

  • Comment number 82.

    Somebody wrote that there can only be a third way, which in today's Thailand means the implication of the monarchy. Although acting from behind, the monarchy has been the one who had the final word on the comings and goings of all post WW2 governments.
    The current crisis stems from the fact that the succession to the throne has not been well prepared. The King is revered but his son will find it impossible to achieve the same aura. If the Crown Prince has a reputation, it is the complete opposite's of his father's. Thais know about the Crown Prince, yet they will refuse to discuss it because it is "un-Thai" or improper and because of the tough Lèse majesté laws, which are zealously enforced.
    Thailand is on the brink of a major fall. This is only the beginning as the King is not in strong health. Far more chapters in this turbulent saga are yet to be written. I therefore pray that the army comes in, for a period of 15/20 years and not behind more politicians.
    We could then wait for the generation born in the late 70s to be the one with the disposable income and therefore, the economic power. Then power could be returned to the people. A military dictatorship that keeps those goals in mind would be the only stabilizing force. Such a "junta" would be far more successful than a shaky, ignorant and corrupt politicians that still occupy the entire political landscape of Thailand.

  • Comment number 83.

    #80, please be aware that ASEAN meeting was cancelled due to red-shirt storming the hotel where the metting's to take place. Also, Cambodian border dispute started during Samak's government.

    I feel bad for Abhisit, having to be responsible for everything that others caused. (you might not believe me, but some poor people actually blamed Abhisit for traffic jam)

    Also, "people who want him out" here are the red-shirt, not representatives.

  • Comment number 84.

    I suspect it will be a military dictatorship for a very long time.

  • Comment number 85.

    It's not a case of who will win.

    Taksin is a criminal and like any other crimnals should be arrested.

    How can an ex policeman earning no more than 10,ooo baht a month become the PM and mutilmillionaire that he is.

    One word.


    They are better off without him.

    He has been preying on the folk of rural provinces for years!

  • Comment number 86.

    I can understand that not everybody likes the present Thai Government. This is not unusual in most countries. The present administration was elected by the Thai Parliament after an election following the military removal of the earlier Prime Minister. The former PM has since been convicted by the Courts in Thailand of serious offences of corruption and has since been a fugitive from justice. He also had much of his wealth forfeited by the court as illegally obtained. He maybe the preferred choice of many Thais. In reality he should be in jail serving his sentence. Instead he is working hard against the Democratic government of his country from a foreign hiding place.
    Has it been suggested that the present government does not wish to keep to the constitution and not hold an election when it is due? An election is not due now even if many would like it if one was held. This is a pretty familiar picture. If the opponents of the government want to demonstrate against it, that is their right.The government's is to govern until an election is due to be held. Let us hope it stays peaceful and Thaksim turns up to serve his sentence as the Prime Minister called on him to do previously.

  • Comment number 87.

    I respect Abhisit because so far he personally is clean - but he needs to call an election to put all this unrest to bed. Obviously he is playing for time in the hope the poor will recognise that he can deliver some benefit for them. I think it will be too little, too late.

    Military intervention would be disastrous. Yes, the King is in poor health and unlikely to make a stand for true democracy at this late stage. But are we absolutely sure about the poor reception likely to be given the the Crown Prince? I have just an inkling that the Red Shirts will be support him.

  • Comment number 88.

    It's one of rare democracies where the King has big role and deciding power and a lot will depend on how he (although in poor health) views the whole protests.

  • Comment number 89.

    When those responsible for the illegal occupation of the airport by the Yellow-bellied fools are gaoled, I'll listen to criticism of the Reds.

    Until those responsible for holding international air travellers hostages are PUNISHED, Thailand cannot hold its head high. "Like children" was one traveller's description of the Yellows at the time - she couldn't have used a more appropriate word, but then Thai politics is like the politics of the playground - until the tanks appear and there is blood-letting..

    Yes, sadly, that is the pattern, and has been for decades, though many had hoped that the humiliation of Suchinda in 1992 or thereabouts would herald in a period of sensible civilian rule.

  • Comment number 90.

    Buying votes? How undemocratic...but in democracies "that is" what is done. Maybe not through "actual money in the hand", but by promises to reduce taxes for the poor, promising them shelter and a better work environment or better economy or better educational access(are these are somehow different than handing out money?) And excuse me, there have been politicians that have given out checks to those "who say invested into "green appliances" called the "green incentive grant".
    These politicians are buying popularity with the taxpayers own money. These politicians are selling properties (owned by the taxpayer) to private firms....and into who's pocket does that money go?
    The "Western democracies" are no better. Elections are determined in the big populated cities. (Mainly out east) so the rural voters vote matters not.
    The only difference? The populace is just more subdued and too civil to riot. Or their firearms have been taken away from them.
    People in power want to remain in power, and if they can't remain in power(because they made a law stating that the leader can only lead for 4 years before an election and he cannot run a second term (in that case, they will make sure that they feather their own nest well)
    Seems to me that democracy was working in Thailand normally under the rule of Thaksim

  • Comment number 91.

    This symbolic blood letting by the red shirt protesters is much more fitting than most of these people conveniently remember, when it is their glorious leader Thaksin Shinawatra that has blood-a-plenty on his hands. In the first few months of his time as Prime Minister he instigated what was named a “War on Drugs” in which some 2,500 people were extra-judiciously executed. The fact he is guilty of being corrupt during his time in office is not enough, it is time the world stood up against this criminal and saw to it he is prosecuted for crimes against humanity.
    The red shirts will not wish to be reminded of this, but I lived in Thailand from well before the 1991 Suchinda Kraprayoon coup and my memory does not easily forget atrocities perpetrated in the name of law or democracy, but belie a hidden agenda.
    Pack up your belongings and go home with your red shirts and the bundle of purple notes you have earned, and let Thailand gain a proper democracy when she has learned not to take bribes for votes, nor to offer them !

  • Comment number 92.

    The idea that democracy was working well under Thaksim is rather bizarre. We are not so innocent as not to realize that in our and in all democratic systems the voters are bought with the taxpayers' money. Where Thaksim is different is that not only did he loot the pot for himself and his family but whilst he made the taxpayers pay the tax to fund his bribes he and his family milked the system and cheated the tax. Or so the Thai court found. Who are we to gainsay it?

  • Comment number 93.

    #91 and what about the Tak Bai Massacre? the Krue Sae Mosque Incident? When I arrived in Thailand, there was NO terrorism in the South... OK there was once every two months some guy on a scooter shooting another on a bicycle. Yes Thaksin can be blamed for having set the South ablaze. Thaksin was a Buddhist populist (who had a party Thai rak Thai, Thailand loves Thais) who thought that because the King is not immortal, his turn was coming...

  • Comment number 94.

    Firstly, Abhisit has to call for the dissolution of the parliament. When I said Abhisit, I mean palace -> privy council -> army chief -> PM since we all knew who's actually in charge here. Then, set up a new government comprising of competent candidates from all walks of life, who do not belong to any side. I know... I know... it doesn't sound like democracy at all, but it is the only way to put both sides at ease. After that, prosecute anyone who broke law&order, amend the corruption/election law, etc. Finally, set up a fair and clean election. Give Thailand a new start, hooray!

    To compromise, it is everyone best interest that Thaksin will not return to Thailand, in an exchange of no legal action against him. Sounds bad, I know. But if it can stop the bloodshed, well... And most importantly, the palace (privy council in particular) has to stop influencing on the government/court/military/police and starts acting like one in other developed country, i.e. UK or Japan. Thailand has already come too far for that.

  • Comment number 95.

    Its starting to look like Thailand needs its monarchy back in control. Admittedly, I am not up on my Thai history, though it seems today that everyone just adores the king. Yes I understand that if you do anything but adore him, you can get into a heap of trouble, however it does seem that the people, including political leaders, respect his opinion over their own. The king seems genuinely interested in the wellbeing of the country, from what I can see in how he's injected himself into the political crises of the past few years. So, why not just get him back in control? Could the Thai people be worse off politically than they are now?

  • Comment number 96.

    Thailand is a God Gift tourist Paradise on planet earth. Hope the Thai People just make this paradise more beautiful by peacefully solving all political problems. Lets united nations help Thailand reach a peaceful solution to present political problem. Feeling hurt to see such a Nature friendly country consistently having political problems. Military which plays a major role in Gorvenment forming in Thailand needs to help Thailand gain stability for a long term prosperity of this beautiful country. Democracy shouldnot be supressed at any cost as people make the nation and not other way round.

  • Comment number 97.

    I have to agree with cynicalworldpbserver (post 10). This entire fuzz is a simple conflict between the Old Ruling Elite and the New, lead by Thaksin Shinawatra. What the red shirt doesn't know is that the 'democracy' they are demanding for is essentially the same one, corrupted and dominated by few members of society who are often rich and privileged.

    I am myself a Bangkokian, and one that is lucky enough to have been studying in the UK for almost 7 years. I don't and never think that the people of the countryside are stupid, and their views should be heard. However Thaksin and crime is undeniable.

    Other than the numerous corruption cases he now face, Thaksin did the crime of ruining Thai democracy when he was PM. He bought votes, and gave money, from what I recalled, it's the called the '1 million baht for every village'. This man gave money away, quite visibly to BUY votes using the tax payers money.

    None of his policy is long living and other than his continuing 'fight for justice and democracy'. There is nothing else, not a single policy that has profited the country. His time as PM was to profit himself, by tricking people to believe that he cared for them so they could vote him in again, and continue to ruin and drain the money in Thailand into his own wallet.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    Back in 2006 I left North China and flew to Bangkok, and the stress fell off my shoulders on arrival at Bangkok.
    Too much stuff to fly to Chiang Mai so I rented a car and drove... On the way back I thought there was a lot of army about! That was the coup... Big panic back in Canada as the media overstated the situation, but it was still pleasnat in Thailand.

    In November 2008 I went to Bangkok to write a couple of exams... I passed!
    I returned the rental car... The Mob was upon the airport when I got there and I was late! But I was sent to the gate and got on the Thai 747 for Chiang Mai... We got airborne and were probably the last plane out of there for a while!

    Most of us do not live in a democracy, I don't!
    Canada votes governments out, and the recent Olympic Games put a lot of us out of business these past weeks!
    So I left this city with the highest standard of living in the world for Thailand which has perhaps the highest human quality of life I know!

    In my opinion Thailand has benefitted hugely from the actions of the King. He has been the stable influence that has brought forth a happy little country. I love this country very much.

    This happy place needs a government, any government!, but a stable one.
    It is perhaps better that Thai people work with who they have while the world as a whole is going through its current troubles.
    There is no perfect political place on the planet; investors and tourists need to trust the people.

    I travelled to Malaysia. I learned about the racism there, it is a place one would have to be wary of living.
    I've been to Laos. Nice people, similar to the Thais, but with no say at all, and poor.
    Cambodia... A lot of healing to be done there.
    Vietnam, what a dynamic place with friendly people, but be careful.
    China, very unhealthy and if you want to see the difference between very rich and very poor you'll see it here. Corruption is rife and far more serious than anywhere else I have seen.
    In between all of the above is the most pleasant country in Asia, Thailand, and Thailand should not engage in actions that could create a life such as it's neighbours suffer.

    Love and hate are both strong emotions, and Thai Love Thai should not become Thai Hate Thai, and the despot should stay in exile.

    We who live in the west should not pretend that we live in democracies... We don't!
    We should know our fellow peoples, and the Thais are amongst the best of peoples.

  • Comment number 100.

    Who cares? They are thousands of miles away.


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