Thai tuk-tuks to face down the tanks ...


Much has been said about how the government 'red-shirt' supporters are being bought, their presence at rallies around Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand purchased for a couple of hundred baht a day. Spend a few hours in their presence and you soon end up with a completely different impression. These are people that are genuinely worried about the possibility of their democratic right to vote being taken away. They do understand that their former idol Thaksin is no saint. But they nonetheless still love him for the opportunities he gave to a sector of society that was and remains the subject of considerable discrimination, looked down upon, and with little hope of a better future.

They are disgusted by PAD's antics in Bangkok, and the occupation of the airports there in particular. They appreciate the damage being done both to Thailand's reputation and to its economy. Many of them live in borderline poverty, so the slightest set-back can leave them struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis. They feel insulted and degraded by the suggestion that they are simply too stupid and lacking in education to vote for the right reasons. And as The Thai Pirate made clear in his blog this morning, there is a lot more to this vote-buying than meets the eye. (Well worth a read for its insights into the social mechanics at play...). So how are they getting by? Which powerful interests are supporting them? Not those that allegedly are filtering massive sums through to PAD via anonymous Hong Kong banking routes and elsewhere. Here are a few...

All day long, ordinary folk...

On foot, in cars...

Were pulling up in front of the pro-government supporters' headquarters...

To give what they can afford - from a hundred baht, to an occasional thousand...

Or from local restaurants, food and water. Meanwhile, down at the PM's Chiang Mai ranch...

There was an even greater sense of being under siege. No one had a clue if or when the troops would roll in, and the hundred or so women and children blocking the entrance are hardly much of a deterrent. Still, we all remember the photo of the man blocking the way of the tank in Tianamen Square. There was a similar determination amongst those present - hard to credit that emotions are running so high. With their powerful backers, PAD have had most of the publicity, certain TV channels broadcasting non-stop propaganda on their behalf. Even the BBC and others have been taken in at times - only those on the spot can see the misleading nature of certain reports that have come out.


Tactics being discussed near the PM's home, in the event that the army puts in an appearance.

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4 comments:

lillian said...

Great post :-) at least someone goes out there and gets some info !

Hoo Don said...

Great on the spot reporting Pete. Sounds like things are really starting to boil up. Hope everything stays calm and Chiang Mai returns to normal quickly. Don't go walking into the red shirts stronghold with to much mustard on your hotdog, good luck and keep safe.

FrogBlogger said...

Thanks Lillian - hope the flu doesn't last long. Don't know about Bangkok but it's as cold as I've ever felt it here.

Martyn - when I showed my red t-shirt to one guard as quick as a flash he came back with "have yellow under for when go PAD?" Who says these guys aren't clever enough to have the vote!

volunteer abroad said...

I agree with lillian, great post! :)