Using the ISA to protect “Democrats”?

25 11 2009

It would be pointless for PPT, in writing about the Democrat Party, to always have to add  that the party is democrat in name only these days. However, the way the party is behaving in government, it almost seems we should do this. Take the recent case of the long imposition of the Internal Security Act in all of Bangkok for the period 28 November to 14 December.

Red shirt leader Veera Musigapong has said the “core leaders agreed on Wednesday to the postponement of the mass protests. Various reasons were given. One reason is said to be that Thaksin Shinawatra that the protest was too close king’s birthday. But that date hasn’t changed for several decades and talk of the rallies has been around for weeks. In any case, the red shirt protests were to end before the king’s birthday celebrations. A second motive, according to the Nation (25 November 2009), is that “the postponement was decided after Abhisit government invoked internal security laws in Bangkok.” This was said to reflect the fact that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government “was immature and uneducated…”.

But, according to Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, the government is, for the time-being, maintaining the ISA in Bangkok (Bangkok Post, 25 November 2009: “Red-shirt rally postponed, ISA still to be enforced”).

Suthep said the “government needed to be absolutely certain there would not be any violence before calling off the security plan.” On this basis, the so-called Democrats might just as well keep the ISA in place permanently.

Just to maintain the climate of fear, the government and its press, including the Bangkok Post, Nation and a plethora of other newspapers keep repeating the still unsubstantiated claim that there is a death threat to Abhisit. But this refers to allegations made about an event in Chiang Mai, not Bangkok.

Speculating, do the royalists backers of the Democrat Party-led government feel so insecure, with Abhisit’s ratings down, the king in hospital and the military jittery, that the king’s birthday celebrations now require the ISA to be in place? Or is the ISA just a device for keeping the Democrats in government? Speculating further, will the king even appear for his birthday or even leave hospital on his birthday? Having been in hospital for more than two months and with news of his recovery gone from the newspapers, is the “great fear” returning?

Update: The Washington Post (25 November 2009) also carries a report on the postponement of the red shirt rally. As well as the usual, largely unsubstantiated, platitudes about the king’s role in Thai politics, the Post cites Veera as saying: “We want to show responsibility for the country and show our loyalty to the king. So the red shirts have decided to postpone the protest indefinitely…”, adding that the government’s imposition of the ISA “an overreaction.” So not that different from the Bangkok Post, but with a nice quote on “loyalty.” Incidentally, Bloomberg (25 November 2009) reports that “indefinitely” seems to mean until the leadership of the red shirts meets again, later in December.

The Washington Post also cites PAD supporter Sombat Thamrongthanyawong of the National Institute of Development Administration as having expected “chaos or violence” and seeing the cancellation as “a calculated move” to keep “moderate” supporters on-side. Interestingly, though, Sombat seems to think that Peua Thai would win an election, suggesting again that the ISA is also a part of the royalist-military arsenal of weapons to prevent elections before their own victory can be guaranteed.



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26 11 2009
The real reason for upcoming Red Shirt rally - Page 8 - - The Thailand Forum

[…] far more peaceful than those held by the “Yellow Shirt PAD”. There is this article here which really makes a lot of sense […]

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