Updated: Establishment panics as flip-flop terror expands

18 10 2010

Is the establishment in Thailand hopelessly stupid? Is it terrified of opposition? On both counts, it seems they are. If Prachatai’s latest report on the arrest of “dangerous” flip-flop sellers is to be believed (see the earlier story here), the flip-flop terrorists have rattled them.

In fact, PPT finds this story exceptionally hard to believe as we would not have thought any political regime could be composed almost entirely of people with political wits no sharper than a bowling ball. So here’s the story, in full:

A student and two red shirts in Chiang Rai have been arrested for selling flip-flops printed with the face of Abhisit Vejjajiva.  This is the second time the high school student has been arrested; in July he joined four college students in staging a protest in the town against the government crackdown on the red shirts in Ratchaprasong and the Emergency Decree.

On the evening of 16 Oct, the student and two red shirts were arrested and brought to Chiang Rai Police Station for selling the flip-flops at the weekend market in the town.

The mother of the student told reporters that in the afternoon her son and the others had sold flip-flops in front of the venue where the red shirts held their activities in Chiang Rai Rajabhat University.  She had warned her son for fear of further legal hassles, but he assured her that they had talked to the police.  There was no problem that afternoon.  However, they were later arrested at the weekend market.

After the arrest she tried to talk to the police officer who made the arrest and who was the same person who had searched her house after the first arrest in July, but she was told that he had to follow orders.

Thanit Bunyanasineekasem, a local red-shirt leader who was charged by police with having masterminded the students’ protest in July, was summoned to the police station.  The other red shirt arrested was Rung Khlongsanmuang.

The three of them were released at about 11.30 pm.  The remaining 24 pairs of flip-flops were confiscated as evidence.

According to the police record, the police investigator considered that the selling of flip-flops printed with the face of the PM was improper and against the good morals of the public.  He warned the suspects to refrain from this action.  The police will conduct an investigation, and if their action is found to be against the law, the suspects will be prosecuted.

Such arrests, even by petty police in the countryside can do nothing for the current regime other than reveal it as hideously repressive and/or full of thin-skinned, intellectually challenged fools. No doubt yellow-shirt zealots will make claims that the kid and his fellow red shirts were deliberately provocative, but even the shoes are not the same as those sold in Ayudhya, and simply call for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (shown above) to get out and call an election.

What is a farce when it is repeated? Tragedy, screwball comedy? Or just further evidence of the desire to repress opposition?

Update: More on the first flip-flop arrest here.


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22 10 2010
Kasit on political prisoners and repatriation to Burma « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] say Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is flip-flopping because the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime has politicized flip flops. We can say that an article in The Irrawaddy indicates that he seems to be engaging in an acrobatic […]

30 10 2010
21 11 2010
Further updated: Absurdly banning everything red | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] More seriously, this is yet one more example of the extremist measures being taken to “protect” the royalist hegemony. Earlier posts on similar arrests here and here. […]