What the WSJ should have reported

25 11 2012

The Wall Street Journal has usually been pretty reasonable in reporting events in Bangkok in recent years. However, their report on the Pitak Siam rally appears to us to have a wrong-headed slant in it. Hence, we take the liberty of suggesting how it should have been written:

Thai Protest Fizzles: Rejected as Undemocratic by Most Thais

An anti-government rally in Bangkok fizzled as it failed to attract any support from the majority of Thais. Amid torrential tropical downpours Saturday, the disappointed organizers – a group of military- and palace-linked troglodytes – called off their failed attempt to destabilize and bring down the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra.

After a few hundred thugs attacked police lines, the stench of tear gas wafted through two or three streets of the old section of the Thai capital in a reminder of how Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is struggling to consolidate her elected regime in the shadow of one of Asia’s most  conservative politicians, most of them associated with the military and palace and all claiming to be supporters and protectors of the divisive and politicized monarchy.

These aged leaders and their supporting demonstrators say it is the continuing influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup six years ago, that they oppose. However, it is clear that what they really oppose is the idea that non-elite people can elect a government of their choice. In other words, these protesters attack democracy.

Police arrested 138 demonstrators and released all but one without charge. The one charged drove a large truck into police, injuring several.

In many ways, Saturday’s protest, while smaller than expected, was a throwback to the days when royalist demonstrators massed in Bangkok in 2006 and 2008 to throw out elected governments.

When Ms. Yingluck was elected in a landslide in July 2011, there began an rapprochement between the populist Thaksin camp and Thailand’s conservative military and civil service, helped along by the country’s relatively strong economic performance this year. But royalist hatred of Thaksin, Yingluck and of democracy remained.

The buildup to Saturday’s rally was punctuated by claims that Ms. Yingluck’s government operates with the single purpose of furthering Mr. Thaksin’s long-term political aims, although there has been little evidence that her government is actually doing more than implementing its stated policies that saw it win a massive electoral victory. More than 90% of Thais opposed the Pitak Siam rally, suggesting that Yingluck’s government retains strong popular support

It is expected that the defeat of Pitak Siam will see the undemocratic forces rethink, regroup and seek more violent and conspiratorial means to bring down the government. And so on….




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26 11 2012