With 3 updates: Royalists rising

2 04 2010

The Bangkok Post (2 April 2010) reports that a “large number of people wearing pink shirts” rallied at the “entry to Lumpini park on Friday and issued a statement calling on protesters on all sides to stick to peaceful means in promoting their various causes.” Actually, given that they were in a relatively small area, the best description is a “small number of people.” Reuters estimated 3,000, although that is a little generous going by the pictures (which include a couple of images where they apparently set upon a red shirt at nos. 12 and 13).

As numerous pictures show, “peace” was only one concern as many placards were simply anti-red shirt and anti-Thaksin Shinawatra. But none of this matters, for the important thing is that royalists and yellow shirts (now in pink) are back on the streets. And, they are fully supporting and encouraging the military-backed government headed by Abhisit Vejjajiva. Named the “Network for Peace” is yet another yellow-shirted play on words, not unlike People’s Alliance for Democracy, which turned out to be not interested in democracy at all.

As the Post reports, they were led by retired “Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunchorn, former deputy director-general of police, and Charas Suwanmala, dean of the faculty of political science of Chulalongkorn University.” Vasit is not just any old retired police general, but a royal favorite and a determined campaigner against Thaksin. Charas is a well-known yellow-shirted academic from the most royalist of universities. More on Vasit is available from one of PPT’s most read posts. He has also recently been working for the Democrat Party-led government and has long been a Thaksin opponent.

Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn “an oath before the statue of King Rama VI, at the main entry gate, to protect the nation.” Exactly why this statue of this king has to do with royal symbolism – and yet Vajiravudh did much to bring the monarchy down, not least bankrupting the country by his profligate spending – and a location close to the business district, symbolizing the capitalist class’s support for royalist opposition to any change of regime.

The leaders and their group “signed a petition opposing a House dissolution and any constitutional amendments aimed at whitewashing a particular individual instead of furthering the country’s best interests.” The leaders of the groups are said to have “issued a statement calling for all protesters and their leaders to remain peaceful and avoid use of violence, provocation and threats against others who hold different opinions, and to respect other people’s opinions.” Presumably “people’s opinions” should be heard in anything but elections.

At the same time, one of the founding members of the Democrat Party, Lek Nana died and the king symbolically provided soil for his Muslim ceremony. The Nation (2 April 2010) reports that the king via a privy councilor, “granted the soil for yesterday’s burial of Lek Nana, who was a Democrat Party founder, a former minister and the landlord of various prime locations in Bangkok, including the Nana (Sukhumvit Soi 4) area.”

The Democrat Party was founded as a royalist party and Lek was the party’s ninth secretary-general and served as a member of parliament and was a minister for Seni Pramoj’s administrations and science minister under General Prem Tinsulanond. He remained active in the Democrat Party for many years. That the king provides royal prestige to a former minister is not unusual, but the significance of the present tense political moment will be read as significant. Lek Nana was also one of Bangkok’s biggest landlords (after the crown itself, of course) and owned the areas around the Nana intersection, one of Bangkok’s most sordid fleshpots. He also owned the “land on which Democrat Party headquarters is located.”

The royalist political movement is again being mobilized.

Update 1: Bangkok Pundit has a useful post on academics claiming to be “color-less” but in fact being something else – yellow shirts wearing pink.

While PPT realizes that there are many yellow-shirted academics in the universities, it is interesting to note that one source – that is pro-red shirt  – lists the demands and names of the academics from the Scholars’ Network for a Just Society (เครือข่ายนักวิชาการเพื่อสังคมที่เป็นธรรม). It seems that they include 10 academics and 2 graduate students from the Catholic Assumption University, 2 from Chulalongkorn University, 1 each from Prasarnmit, Payap, and Bangkok universities, 1 lawyer, 1 independent scholar, and 4 business people (the most notable being from the Charoen Pokphand group and Bangkok Industrial Gas). It is actually surprising that there are so few.

Update 2: The Nation (2 April 2010) illustrates the continuing bias – and laziness – of journalists there. This article makes a claim that “Despite the red shirts’ criticism, the “pink” movement seemed to be gaining momentum in its efforts to seek support from academics, businessmen and civic-society organisations. The movement’s proclaimed mission of seeking an immediate and peaceful end to the political confrontation has considerably resonated with a lot of Bangkokians frustrated with the red shirts.”

In fact, as PPT has shown, the “movement” is driven by several factors, not the least of which are PAD and Democrat Party organizing of supporters. PPT received an email forwarded from Democrat Party sources that included a virtual who’s who of senior managers at the Bangkok Bank being lobbied for support (we can’t publish the details as that would involve a loss on anonymity and pose a threat to PPT and our sources).

The Nation adds, seemingly bemused, “The red shirts’ suspicion of the ‘pink’ movement may have a lot to do with a prevailing sentiment in the latter group that the government should not dissolve the House of Representatives now as demanded by the pro-Thaksin protesters. The no-dissolution advocates have cited the risk of denting investor confidence as well as the unresolved Map Ta Phut issue as reasons.” PPT would suggest, as the journalists well know, that the suspicion derives from the fact that yellow shirts are re-mobilizing. That has the support and urging of the military and its government.

Update 3: The Nation (3 April 2010) has a useful report on the pink shirt rally. It estimates 2,000+ people attending “to oppose an early dissolution of the House and vowed to protect the monarchy from alleged attacks by the red shirts and fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.” Prime Minister Abhisit later received a “10-member delegation of the pink shirts.” The crowd at Lumpini “chanted royalist slogans and songs alternating with the demand that the Abhisit administration must not dissolve the House.” Leaflets claiming Thaksin had defamed the king were distributed. Apparently about “500 royalists amongst the pink shirts refused to leave the site even long after leaders … were gone. They kept singing royalist songs well into the late afternoon.” The report describes the royalist crowd as “frenzied.”

One of the pink shirts meeting Abhisit was Chulalongkorn University medical lecturer Tul Sithisomwong, who claimed that the group saw “themselves as a civic group opposing the offensive attempts against the monarchy, an unjustified snap election and runaway protests disrupting normalcy and peace.” Tul said that he “urged Abhisit to remain in office because by the outcome of his straw poll via forwarded e-mails, more than 10,000 people did not see a snap election as a way to resolve the political predicament.” Now there’s democracy at work!

Tul also reaffirmed that the pink shirts were not linked to PAD. He said that, “In the past, he used to take part in the protests led by the yellow shirts but his present involvement in the civic group was not a disguise for the PAD…”. PPT has already pointed out that Bangkok Pundit (see Update 1 above) puts this fabrication into context, showing Tul acting as a representative and member of PAD on 6 February 2010.


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8 04 2010
Yellow academics « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] dissolution. The latest is from the most yellow of yellow shirted academics. Others were reported here, here and […]

14 04 2010
Rallying yellow shirts « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] led by Dr Tul Sitthisomwong of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine. PPT posted on Tul here previously, when he recently organized pink shirts […]

24 08 2010
Defending the indefensible « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Charas is dissembling. He has a well-known reputation as a staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow […]

16 08 2020
Hardening lines II | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] think PPT’s first mention of Tul was in early April 2010 when he was a part of a pink shirt – channeling the king – rally, opposing red shirts. […]