PAD re-emerges

8 10 2011

There have been several pundits who have claimed that the People’s Alliance for Democracy is a spent force. PPT has suggested that PAD has never really gone away, and that the groups who have supported it – mainly royalist businesspeople and palace-military figures – can reactivate the movement as required.

The Nation reports that the “yellow-shirt movement …[has] threatened to take to the streets again if the government continues trying to get fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra a royal pardon.”

PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan “added that the PAD was also against a campaign launched by a group of legal scholars called ‘Nitirat’ (Citizens of Law) calling for all judicial decisions resulting from the 2006 coup to be invalidated. The yellow shirts are convinced that this move is aimed at expunging the Supreme Court verdict against Thaksin…”.

Panthep is reported as telling the small crowd that PAD feared the “Constitution would be changed to allow the return of ‘Thaksin’s authoritarian regime’.” This is reminiscent of the revitalization of PAD in 2008 against the elected pro-Thaksin government led by Samak Sundaravej.

Also reminiscent of that time is the close coordination between PAD and the Democrat Party. The rhetoric and political actions of the party and PAD are again aligning.

An interesting footnote to the PAD story is that its statements came as, the report says: “PAD leaders, including Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, Phipob Thongchai and Somkiat Pongpaiboon, joined other yellow-shirt supporters at the Royal Plaza yesterday morning to give alms to monks to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the 2007 crackdown.”

This is apparently an error by the reporters. PPT believes the report means to refer to the third anniversary of a failed 7 October 2008 police attempt to move PAD demonstrators from the parliament area – the Bangkok Post gets it right and see a sympathetic account of events here.

PAD has issued a “statement calling on the government to provide fair compensation to yellow-shirt protesters injured or killed during the police crackdown on the PAD rally four [sic.] years ago…. The PAD spokesman said yesterday that in reality 10 people had been killed during the crackdown and more than 1,000 injured, with seven losing their limbs due to the teargas explosion.

As far as PPT can determine from media reports and PAD websites, the usual claim is for two dead. In fact, one of these was killed in his own car bomb that detonated prematurely. Most reports are of 300-400 PAD supporters and police injured. It is unclear if PAD are creating a new myth or whether the inaccurate reporters simply got it wrong (again).

PPT thinks that PAD and its supporters in academia, business, media, military, and palace deserve to be watched over the next few months as they seek to again mobilize against an elected government by rekindling claims about “authoritarianism.”