PPT read the breaking news on a couple of bombs at Siam Paragon Shopping Center/Siam Square Station from the first reports. We decided to stay mum until some further news filtered out. The reason for this is that Thailand’s politics has seen plenty of bombings and they are usually for unexplained reasons. It isn’t often that anyone takes responsibility.
A few years ago there were bombs in Bangkok blamed on Southern insurgents/separatists. No responsibility was claimed and no other bombings in Bangkok were attributed to this group. The red/yellow protests saw plenty of bombs. Some came from either side. Some came from police. More came from the military. On the latter, sometimes the military was using bombs directly and sometimes they were using proxies. Some of those proxies were agents provocateurs.
In other words, working out who is responsible for a bombing is pretty difficult.
But not for Thailand’s super sleuths under businessman/police chief Somyos Pumpanmuang. He is reportedly “confident” that arrest warrants will soon be issued. Somyos has a record of fast arrests. The problem is that several arrests look remarkably like frame-ups.
The Bangkok Post reports “[t]wo improvised time bombs” and others have reported “pipe bombs.” A police spokesman stated that the bombs “were not intended to kill.”
Interestingly, “[a]uthorities at first told the media the blasts were caused by the explosion of a power transformer of a Paragon billboard. They dropped that story and admitted the blasts were caused by bombs after several hours of investigation.” Were they initially flummoxed or were they thinking they had to cover for someone?
Yet The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha reckons the bombing was political:
Asked if the bombers hoped to create unrest and discredit the government, Gen Prayut said: “You already know this. Why even ask?” [Khaosod has a different translation: “Everyone knows the answer to that question. Otherwise they would have done it in a jungle. Why the hell are you asking this?”]
So did another member of the military dictatorship, General Anupong Paojinda, who said the “bombs were … intended to … cause unrest.”
In another report, Prayuth reportedly claimed that police were investigating people “opposed to the operations of the government.” He went further still:
We have to look at people who have spoken about using violence [recently]. We have to investigate whether there is any connection…. I have instructed police to investigate this matter also, the people who said something about violence or opposing the operations of the government.
Far be it from us to deny that royalists associated with the anti-democrats, with a long history of violence might have been involved. How much of a coincidence is there that a quite mad yellow shirt has accused the U.S. of attempting to stir discontent in Thailand in order to justify an invasion. Bizarre, yes. But it was far worse than this, and readers can read the rant at Khaosod.
Of course, Prayuth means red shirts. He identifies them as his enemies and as a threat to the military-royal nation.
Is there another possibility? We think there may be. One of the Post reports pointed out that the military junta had “denied reports the military regime was considering ending martial law.” The junta has been under considerable pressure from the U.S. in recent days, and its reaction has been strident and confused. In previous years, when under pressure, military regimes have attempted to create chaos and opportunities to crack down on opposition. Is that what’s happening?
Clearly, if nothing else, the bombs mean that martial law stays and the military is likely to be busy apprehending, warning, calling in and more.
Update: The military has denied it set off the bombs to maintain martial law and its junta’s iron-fisted rule. It would do that.