Government and red shirts

5 05 2012

Headline writers at the Bangkok Post’s website have deliberately and politically misrepresented an important story that deserves attention.

At the front page of the site, the Post has a story headlined, “Voters’ remorse surfaces,” while the story itself has the headline, “Pheu Thai failed us, say red shirts.” The story itself begins:

Despite their loyalty to the Pheu Thai Party-led government, red shirts in the northeastern provinces are increasingly grumbling about low commodity prices, high production costs and the rising cost of living which are making their lives increasingly miserable.

Leaving aside the manipulation of the story by the headline writers, the story is one that should not be ignored, not least by the bosses of the Puea Thai government.

One point that comes out clearly is that some villagers in the Northeast feel forgotten:

The villagers also felt neglected as they were waiting for the populist policies promised by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during her political campaign.

They believe that the policies being implemented are being directed to urbanites.

These villagers haven’t ditched the government, but their support cannot be taken for granted:

Our morale is diminishing. We supported Pheu Thai and put up banners of Thaksin Shinawatra with love but we are suffering as no one has reached out their hand to us….

That is the point that the Puea Thai Party and its government need to understand. The government was elected by voters with affinities for the red shirt movement.

Yingluck’s government cannot take this support for granted and nor can it trample over the issues that were significant for red shirts: inequality, double standards, injustice. Cosying up to the amart, keeping red shirts in prison and ignoring rural concerns is not the way to repay the enormous support provided to Thaksin and his parties through years of repression and conflict.



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