Red shirts, courts, coup and truth

12 05 2013

As we have been saying for several days, the political temperature in Thailand is rapidly rising. Watching courts, military and royalists becomes important.

The courts remain significant players. As the red shirts rallied against the Constitutional Court, at Prachatai there is a detailed report on red shirts who were earlier sentenced to some very long terms for allegedly burning the Ubon on 19 May 2010.

The Appeals Court in Ubon “upheld the previous court’s decision to sentence Patthama Munnin (female), Thirawat Satjasuwan, Sanong Ketsuwan, and Somsak Prasansap to 34 years in prison.” They were sentenced on “terrorism and arson” charges, and 34 years was a reduction in sentence!

The reports says that the “Appeals Court also upheld the sentences on 7 other defendants: two acquitted, one imprisoned for one year, and four imprisoned for two years.”  The report has all the details.

Interestingly, unlike yellow shirts on terrorism charges from 2008, these red shirts have been in prison without bail since they were arrested. Double standards remain and it is always interesting that these are reinforced in times of rising political crisis.

While discussing double standards, it is worth looking at a story at The Nation which reports on support for misogynist and ultra-royalist cartoonist Chai Rachawat. The cartoonist was so incensed by a speech where premier Yingluck Shinawatra finally spoke with some conviction about democracy that he engaged in a childish tantrum.

The defense of Chai is equally childish and emanates from the likes of aged yellow-shirted academic Khien Theerawit. Writing in Naew Na newspaper, Khien apparently found “13 reasons to support Chai’s comment…”.

Khien reckons that speaking about the challenges of democracy is “selling the country” by “defaming the country.” Khien has the view that “[t]ravelling on taxpayers’ money … the PM must speak for the country’s interests…”. Mentioning that “her brother’s government was brought down by a coup and his parties were dissolved by independent agencies, but without saying why” is a half-truth.

In fact, if she’d told the truth, she would have said that the coup was planned in the palace and the “independent agencies” were military junta appointed agencies that were anything but independent. If she had spoken these truths, the royalists would have been as mad as cut snakes.

Apparently, “Khien defended Chai, saying that as a Thai citizen, the cartoonist has the right to do a great service to the country by protecting the country’s name and interests.”  It seems that “defending the country” involves infantile rants.

And it is important to note that the Yingluck speech and the actions of red shirts, especially in denouncing the Constitutional Court and promoting political amnesty seems to be irritating the military.

So much so that the brass has reportedly had its tanks out on the streets. Putting its tanks out in late night Bangkok traffic is clearly a warning to the Yingluck government to get back in line with the royalists and palace.



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