Thailand - caught in a humiliating political farce

Thursday 27th November - all flights to Bangkok from Chiang Mai cancelled

Those worried about making a trip to Thailand would be justified in thinking that the country is caught somewhere between a state of dangerous anarchy and a Broadway farce, going by reports from the international news media. People sporting colourful T-shirts seem to be in control of different parts of the country. A succession of politicians spend a few months in power issuing edicts which no one listens to, least of all the forces of order, until they themselves get kicked out for crimes against the state such as being paid a few quid to cook badly on TV, or whatever dirty linen their opponents can dredge up. Current PM Somchai has been accused of bribery. Worst of all he's allegedly been filmed taking an unidentified young lady out for 'dinner'. Scandalous.

Few tourists in need of advice at Chiang Mai airport. Even the Tourist Police are dozing off...

Just to confuse foreign onlookers a bit more the party in power has to change its name every so often. After Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party got the heave-ho from the military in 2006, it reincarnated as the People's Power Party - which itself will probably have to disband soon as it is accused of electoral fraud from the last time the people were allowed a vote. It will no doubt soon be reborn under a new name, and the same supporters will back it for the same reasons that made it popular in the first place, ie Thaksin-initiated policies giving certain hitherto unknown rights to the urban poor and the underprivileged country-dwellers in the likes of Isaan (NE Thailand province). A complete waste of time and energy then.

A bunch of old ladies and kids wearing yellow T-shirts and brandishing umbrellas are allowed to take over international airports and government buildings at will, while the police smile happily and politely open the doors for them.

The elected government is forced out of its official offices to take up residence in a Don Muang airport VIP lounge - but that doesn't last long either. The yellow T-shirt brigade moves in yet again, so the PM is looking for yet another home. If anyone's got a lock-up garage they don't need, please contact Somchai, c/o his gran somewhere near Chiang Mai, where he's currently holed up.

click to see full-size photoNo sign of him here at the PM's Public Relations Office in Chiang Mai first thing Friday morning. The place was deserted (except for a single muppet standing guard, bottom right)...

The PPP supporters have gone for a nice vivid shade of red for their T-shirts just to make doubly sure we don't confuse them with PAD - the People's Alliance for Democracy. PAD has a novel concept of democracy, which mostly boils down to the belief that only its own supporters are clever and educated enough to understand politics. This is of course entirely consistent with the democratic principle, as there will be universal suffrage for all those privileged to have the brains in the first place to know to vote for PAD-supported policies. Stands to reason, dunnit.

The PPP supporters are most upset over the suggestion that they're a bunch of country bumpkins, and are demonstrating their superior intelligence by setting thugs on 60 year old PAD supporters, such as near Chiang Mai airport last night. The man was beaten to a pulp, and died.

The PPP politicians demonstrate their own intelligence by replacing the TV cook PM with exiled leader Thaksin's brother-in-law Somchai, to ensure that the dispute with PAD could do nothing but worsen.

In the meantime accusations and counter-accusations are bandied back and forth about who paid what to vote for whom, as if such scandalous behaviour has always been unthinkable in whiter-than-white, corruption-free Thailand, and as if either side has a significantly better record than the other in that respect. Riiiight.

The Army itself seems clueless. All a frustrated military could do was show its muscle by engaging in a senseless spat with Cambodia over a few square metres of useless jungle near a pretty temple that was built by the Khmers in the first place.

On Thursday night PM Somchai declared a state of emergency in the areas surrounding the two international Bangkok airports. He seemed to suggest that it would be enforced by the police and backed by military Naval and Air Force units. No mention of the Army whose chief Anupong Paojinda has been making rumblings in recent days. The latter gravely announced on Wednesday that PAD should immediately vacate the airports and the government should resign. Both ignored his 'advice' and said they would do no such thing. Another in a long line of losses of face during this lengthy drawn-out charade.

To borrow a theme from Spike's excellent summing-up over on Pattaya Days, the red and yellow muppets involved should perhaps all put their sweaty T-shirts together in a boiling wash, and produce an orange muppet government of national unity, before the Thai military does its usual trick of sending in the tanks.

Other than some isolated incidents, if you didn't watch the news in Chiang Mai you wouldn't even know that there was a national crisis. Life goes on...

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2 comments:

Camille Lemmens said...

Nice way of describing the situation!

Martyn said...

Calm down, take a deep breath....feeling better...Perhaps a trip down to the Spotlight might do you some good...or perhaps a good English breakfast, take your mind off things....that nice runny YELLOW egg yoke and those juicy RED tomatoes, and lets not forget those tasty ORANGE beans. Yes a good breakfast should do the trick, just don't choke on it, that wouldn't be politically correct.