Updated: Red shirt changes

17 03 2014

The Bangkok Post reports that the official red shirts/United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) chairwoman Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn has been replaced as leader by the more fiery orator Jatuporn Promphan. The Post reckons this is a “prelude to a showdown with anti-government groups.” It might be, but PPT reckons our hits are usually a good indicator of the level of political action, and for the last week, they have been markedly down, for the moment. So the change to red shirt leadership is looking to future challenges.Jatuporn

Thida announced she was stepping down at a red shirt in Ayutthaya that drew 10,000-20,000 supporters and followed other large rallies in the north and northeast. A rally is also scheduled for Pattaya.

Thida explained red shirt frustration: “The way to fight via the parliamentary system has been closed. Now we will fight to the end and we will not lose…”. In another agency report she reportedly stated: “What we need is democracy. We do not care which political party forms a government but they have to be elected…”. She also expressed frustration with the months of anti-democrat rallies and the inability of the government to do anything about them.

The official red shirts rallied “to express opposition to the Constitution Court and other independent organisations whom they view as not acting impartially.” And, of course, they aren’t neutral or independent. The rally vowed to “step up their movement if the government is ousted in an undemocratic way.”

Jatuporn told AFP that “any new Red Shirt tactics” would be “peaceful,” and stressed that the UDD still has “to discuss our strategy,” warning that the “next battle will be big.”

Update: Not surprisingly, the UDD leadership change has caused Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha to have a political heart attack. The man in green has hated Jatuporn as the charismatic leader of red shirt protesters in 2010 for his attacks on the military.

Prayuth “implied in a press conference that Mr. Jatupon, and his fellow Redshirts activists, will not be respected by the military, as they have previously committed unspecified crimes.” The lack of respect is probably mutual as the Army has long been criminal in its murderous attacks on civilians, including in 2010.

Jatuporn clearly annoys Prayuth for the Army boss can’t shut his mouth when it comes to red shirts and politics:

It’s not appropriate for an official [like me] to argue with bandits. If they want to be aggressive toward the military I will be aggressive too. I will not accept this.

Prayuth finds red shirts dangerous and threatening because “they had organised separatist movements and insulted the Royal Family…”. It is always informative when Prayuth politicizes the monarchy.

Prayuth, who has commanded murderous attacks on red shirts, has the audacity to proclaim that Jatuporn “doesn’t have enough honour for me to correspond with him, he never shows any honour for anyone.” One should perhaps be a little more reflective on one’s own actions before claiming high honor.

Gen. Prayuth also expressed his “pity” for the Redshirts for having “an immoral man” as their leader.

Remarkably, seeming to set out the current royalist political strategy, Prayuth urged:

Thai people must have their eyes opened … If they are not happy with something, they should file lawsuits and not criticise the monarchy, or the court, or the military.

Pretty clear.


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