Worrying about the red shirts

13 03 2010

The mainstream media is stoking further fears regarding the red shirts. ThaiPBS has been running a series of government spots that recall the Songkhran Uprising and calling on “all Thais” to defend against the evil ones who create problems. One animated spot seemed to imply that the problems all derived from outside Thailand’s borders. ThaiPBS is a government mouthpiece, but the nature of this propaganda is breathtaking.

The Bangkok Post reports “threats” by red shirts and refers to them as a “horde” descending on the city and adds: “Red shirt protesters in the provinces are gathering momentum before they are due to flood into Bangkok…”. The same source, in the first cited story seemed disappointed that the red shirts were somehow orderly and non-violent: “The first day of the 72-hour red shirt protest drew embarrassingly small crowds but leaders said it was a ‘prelude’ to much bigger events.”

The Nation claims to have discovered “red scandal.” This involves various red shirts receiving funds. While it might be recalled that the red shirts were yesterday said to be broke and that Thaksin Shinawatra wasn’t paying “his bills,” it is now found that the red shirts are “paying supporters.” This plays nicely into the view of red shirts as all being paid protestors. The problem with the story is that the red shirts made it clear that they were raising funds and that those providing transport would be paid at the various staging points on the way to Bangkok.

Unlike members of the Shinawatra family, media does not have Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s family “fleeing.” The Bangkok Post says they have “moved out of the house following the two attacks.” The attacks refer to two men throwing bags of excrement at his house from the street. Like so many others in the elite, Abhisit’s wife and children have made the trip to Hua Hin. PPT knows of several Democrat MPs that have also made the trip to Hua Hin. Maybe the next red shirt rally should be there.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post states that Abhisit and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban are at the 11th Infantry Regiment base in Bang Khen, which is “the government’s and the army’s command centre as it enforces the Internal Security Act, which will be in effect until March 23.

Abhisit and Suthep are said to be using houses “built on the orders of Sonthi Boonyaratkalin while he was chairman of the Council of National Security, which engineered the 2006 coup.” Maybe Sonthi is there – he still occupies one of the three houses – and they can compare notes with the man who prepared the way for the Democrat Party-led royalist government.

They also have four helicopters on standby for emergency evacuation.

Outspoken Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij is in Tokyo – presumably he didn’t flee either – and, according to the Bangkok Post has chimed in with a prediction of violence. Some red shirt leaders apparently agree. Both sides point fingers at each other. But the red shirts claim reported in the Bangkok Post is interesting: “Natthawut [Saikua ] claimed to have detected an unusual movement of thousands of people to Bangkok, where he said they would put on red shirts and instigate chaos and violence. He said he suspected this could be the work of ‘an exorcist from Buri Ram’ an apparent reference to Newin Chidchob of the Bhumjaithai Party.

All news outlets continue to report that red shirts traveling from the countryside are experiencing exceptionally long delays – there are several reports of this at the Bangkok Post website – and there are claims made that this is a deliberate strategy. Bangkok Pundit even reports that the military are using their useless GT200 to check vehicles. Bangkok Pundit is also correct in stating that there is an inordinate effort to weed out “foreigners” from those traveling to Bangkok. All the news reports have had police and military talking about stopping migrant workers participating in the red shirt rally.