Who gets bail? PAD does

12 04 2013

It is reported that public prosecutors have indicted a further eight members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy on conspiracy charges in connection with the seizures of two Bangkok airports in 2008. At The Nation it is stated that those indicted included singers, generals, NGO activists and the deputy leader of the New Politics Party.

The report says that they “are charged with assembling with more than 10 people to instigate unrest, teaming up to take over and hide in the premises of others, using force and conspiring with more than two people to violate orders issued under the security law.” Recall that hundreds of red shirts were arrested for violating an emergency decree and many of them have already been in prison for about three years.

Double standards? Of course it is, and this point is emphasized when all the PAD lot get bail.
Bangkok-Airport-Closed

The Criminal Court is apparently scheduling a “first hearing on April 29, which is the same day that the case against PAD leaders Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul and 75 others would be heard in connection with the occupation of Don Mueang Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport.”

Interestingly, the funds used for bail were “provided by the Justice Ministry to post Bt600,000 bail for each of six suspects,” while two others used different means to get bail.





Ombudsman on the job

17 10 2012

The Nation applauds the Ombudsman’s Office for being politically biased. In its article on the suddenly active agency, it is argued that “a series of high-profile probes launched over the past year…”.

Yes, in the past year, the Ombudsman’s office established in 1999, “the least talked about, at one point even seen as so insignificant as to be at risk of disbandment” has suddenly been activated. Former charter writer Kanin Bunsuwan notes hat the Ombudsman’s “teeth and claws” were “hidden” in the military junta’s 2007 Constitution. They remained hidden until the Yingluck Shinawatra government was elected. Since then, the teeth and claws have been bared.

Since that election, the Ombudsman “has examined Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ethics for skipping a House meeting…”,  investigated “the qualifications of PM’s Office Minister Nalinee Taveesin and Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Natthawut Saikua…”, and have investigated Thaksin Shinawatra having a passport. The investigation of Natthawut was because he is a red shirt.

The picture of how the Ombudsman’s Office is being used is exemplified by People’s Alliance for Democracy and New Politics Party leader Somsak Kosaisuk. He filed the complaint over Thaksin’s passport, because that “agency had proven itself to be neutral and to make trustworthy decisions.” It seems that “neutral” for the yellow shirts means targeting the Yingluck government while being deliberately somnolent on the previous Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.





Yellow shirt re-branding

2 09 2011

Earlier in the week the  media reported that elements of the yellow shirts continue to re-brand. We have already seen yellow-shirt demonstrators opposing red shirts become no color/multi-color demonstrators led by the re-branded People’s Alliance for Democracy acolyte, airport occupation speaker and representative Tul Sitthisomwong.

During the election, as PAD pushed its failed No Vote campaign, the link between its New Politics Party and much of PAD’s core leadership collapsed as the NPP decided to stand candidates in the election.

The Bangkok Post now reports the outcome of that latter split. It reveals that a so-called Green Politics group has been “formed by 10 former executives of the New Politics Party [and] has pledged to oppose Pheu Thai’s move to rewrite the charter.” It adds:

The Green members are among those that believe the charter rewrite is a bid to help ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra return to the country.

Nothing new at all in this. It could be coming from ASTV/Manager, Sondhi Limthongkul or any of the major PAD ideologues. The only difference seems to be in the name and color, although no one at the launch wore green or yellow.

It is not surprising that the launch was the establishment of the group at the National Institute of Development Administration, a bastion of yellow-shirted academics and anti-Thaksin sentiment.

The group was led by PAD core leader Suriyasai Katasila, said to be “among those who resigned from the NPP, said his new group would not let the Pheu Thai-led government help Thaksin return to the country without serving a prison sentence.” He added that he ooposed red shirts and that “his group would also oppose any amnesty for Thaksin.” Suriyasai stated that this re-branding was “supported by two other PAD core leaders, Sondhi Limthongkul and Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang…”.

Having failed with the NPP, Suriyasai and PAD seem determined to have another go at developing a political party. This seems a bit odd as the group involved has little widespread support. Odder still is Suriya’s muddled logic where, after having expressed an anti-Puea Thai, anti-Thaksin position for his group, he states: “We have to go beyond Thaksin. Don’t let him be the barrier of political reform.” If readers can see a logic in this, let us know.

And, why “green”? This is unclear, except that the NPP’s Swastika-like logo had a green background. Suriyasai did mumble something about expanding “to include PAD supporters, environmental activists and farmers’ groups…”.

One web site explains that re-branding is often done because “the current brand has been tainted in some way or has become outdated.” It seems this is what PAD is doing. Certainly it seems to be setting itself for yet another battle with Thaksin and those who support him.





Unions, PAD and the “democratic” royalist elite

1 05 2011

When Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party government was first elected, it was on the back of a nationalist rejection of the Democrat Party’s lack of independence from the International Monetary Fund’s demands for the further liberalization of the economy following the 1997-98 economic crisis. At the time, organized labor was pretty much on board with TRT.

However, there was soon grumbling about the government breaking promises. Then, in 2004, when Thaksin’s boisterous threats and popularity had cowed the whining of many middle class NGOs and intellectuals, it was the state enterprise unions that first gave anti-Thaksin opposition some backbone.

These unions waged a protest campaign that demonstrated that that the TRT government could be challenged. The state enterprise unions opposed the privatization of EGAT, and the government backed down. While others got most of the credit in the mainstream media for rolling back privatization, it should not be forgotten that rallies of up to 50,000 opposed TRT policy. In fact, this was not forgotten when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was brought together, with state enterprise unions playing a significant role.

With their one time leader Somsak Kosaisuk installed as one of the PAD leadership, the state enterprise unions signed up for the anti-Thaksin campaign and stayed with it through its domination by the royalists and Sondhi Limthongkul and the Dharma Army-Santi Asoke alliance around Chamlong Srimuang. This curious alliance led to the unions being seen to support the 2006 military coup and the Fascist-like claims that wanted to prevent the lower classes having much participation in politics.

All this seemed a clear betrayal of the years of economic and political struggle by unions which had earlier included anti-monarchy actions associated with the 1932 Revolution.

It seems appropriate the, that this Labor Day, there has been an interesting development. The Bangkok Post reports that the State Enterprise Labour Relations Confederation “is defecting from the movement led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy because PAD leaders have said they support undemocratic political change…”.

SELRC leader Sawit Kaewwan is quoted as saying that “PAD bosses had often suggested the country be ‘shut down’ for national reform despite the fact that a new election was near. They had also expressed a desire to change the political structure to an undemocratic system. Sawit claims that such ideas “were in opposition to the political beliefs of the confederation…”.

Where was Sawit in 2006? The answer seems to be in this statement: “We believe in democracy and we do not agree with the enforcement of any power or any individuals’ power for political changes [coup]. We also oppose all forms of dictatorship…”. We imagine that Sawit would associate Thaksin and TRT with some kind of “dictatorship.” However, as we noted above, it was state enterprise unions that showed that TRT could be successfully opposed.

The significant point now is that Sawit says “the board of directors of the labour confederation had resolved that its leaders should withdraw from the PAD and refrain from joining the PAD on rally stages as well as at other activities. The confederation told the PAD of its intention on Tuesday.”

It is also reported that Somsak Kosaisuk, who remains an adviser to the confederation, has “quit as a PAD core leader, and Mr Sawit himself has resigned from the PAD’s group of second-tier leaders.” In another Bangkok Post story it is noted this move “followed an SELRC resolution on Tuesday demanding Mr Somsak and Mr Sawit quit the PAD because the yellow shirt movement’s campaign was undemocratic.”

Meanwhile, Somsak remains leader of the PAD-aligned New Politics Party while rejecting the PAD leadership’s demand for the party to boycott the general election. He appears to be trying to drag the NPP away from PAD. This would appear futile given the domination of Sondhi and Chamlong. However, the damage to NPP and PAD is potentially very considerable.

Somsak appears to have left a way open for PAD to reconcile with the unions, saying “he and Mr Sawit might join PAD rallies in a personal capacity later if they agreed with the group’s activities and approaches,” and noting that he was not in conflict with Chamlong, Sondhi or other key PAD leaders. Even so, he lambasted PAD leaders for “campaigning for something which is ‘close to a coup d’etat’…”.

Pundits seems ready to write PAD off. In a further report in the Bangkok Post the now “embattled People’s Alliance for Democracy” is said to have “lost another ally, with a former fund-raising group demanding an immediate end to its ‘divisive’ rally.” The group mentioned is the ironically monikered “Thais Love Peace group” that has called on PAD to “end its protest and stop verbally attacking its critics.”

Group leader Kanchanee Wallayasewee said “her group raised money for the PAD during its 193-day protest two years ago against the Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat governments.” She claimed that the group included “businessmen, self-styled defenders of the monarchy and online social network activists.” But because PAD speakers were now attacking her members and “distorting” information, her group was jumping ship.

Kanchanee also accused “some alliance co-leaders” of “exploiting the higher institution [monarchy] and trying to foment a pretext for a military coup.” She indicated that many of her wealthy and well-placed supporters were upset when “smeared” by PAD.

She added that her group was ready to support the upcoming election. PPT guesses that this group is already shovelling money into the coffers of the government coalition parties.

This potential loss of support for PAD is seen by several pundits as the beginning of the end for the ultra-nationalist royalists. PAD and Sondhi have been able to mobilize people and this is threatening to the elite and this means that PAD has been tolerated but never fully trusted.

When PAD was necessary for the resurgent royalist elite was in beginning activities that allowed for Thaksin’s huge electoral mandate to be challenged and then to oppose other elected pro-Thaksin governments. In each instance, once the elite had its political path cleared, the result was a military coup and judicial coup. Following that, PAD usually hibernated. Think of how PAD demonstrations ceased in 2006 as Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda took the lead in marshalling forces for the coup.

PAD has been unsuccessful in its current round of rallies, drawing small crowds and becoming desperate and uncontrollable – as witnessed by its attacks on former supporters. That said, it should not be forgotten that PAD did begin this round of bloody border disputes with Cambodia, giving the military further fillip. And yet it now seems clear that the elite strategy is finally coalescing around the idea of an election that it believes the royalist Democrat Party can win. The military has been least convinced of this approach, but the border war and the frantic use of repressive powers to stifle opposition seem to be the approach that has been agreed.

And, quite suddenly, all of the anti-democratic, coup-supporting, royalists and military brass are democrats….





Rallies, coups and bickering promote anti-democratic sentiment

26 03 2011

Regular PPT readers will be surprised to know that the headline reflects a speech given by Democrat Party leader and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reported in the Bangkok Post. He was joining the chorus that any election will be closely fought.

Abhisit

Abhisit reportedly said: “Rallies, coups and bickering will only cause people to feel democracy is not the answer.” PPT can’t help retorting: “Well, stop indulging in activities that promote rallies, coups and bickering!”

Abhisit talks reconciliation, but his actions are of one who wants to imprison and censor his rivals. When he bickers, he sends out armed troops and rouses the thought police. When he supports rallies, he has been seen at the rallies at, for instance, Government House, when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was illegally occupying that location. He even let them off charges when he became prime minister. Abhisit may say he dislikes coups, but his actions are of one who wanted a coup in 2006, and he has handsomely rewarded the military for their actions.

A Thaksin supporter

It is also interesting that Abhisit has reverted to language that can only make Thaksin Shinawatra a major issue in any future election. He sounds oh-so-2005 when he says “the election will give people an opportunity to decide whether they prefer the Democrats’ way of solving problems, or the approach of the party’s opponents, which emphasised conflicts stemming from the vested interests of certain persons.” He adds: “Problem-solving is our way, while our rivals pursue hidden agendas, as we don’t really know what their real boss wants…”.

In this old-fashioned rhetoric it may be that Abhisit is simply seeking the milder yellow-shirt vote, knowing that the New Politics Party is likely to be largely irrelevant. Or it may be that Abhisit is simply aligning with the military, preparing the ground for any possible outcome that is not to the liking of the royalists. If the Democrat Party mantra will be that a vote for Puea Thai will be a vote for Thaksin, it may suggest that all the lucre ladled out in recent months may not be enough to ensure a royalist win.





Updated: Elections, observers and boycotts

25 03 2011

In MCOT News, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban is mentioned twice on rejecting foreign scrutiny.

First, reflecting the fact the the military already presented the government with a fait accompli, Suthep has been forced to agree that “said Indonesia, in its capacity as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), or any other country, should not meddle in the border committee meeting.” The military had refused to accept this, so the Abhisit Vejjajiva government is unable to move on any resolution to the disputes on the Cambodian border.

Second, Suthep has also disagreed with the idea that Thailand “seek international observers to monitor the upcoming general election…”. That was his response to a report that the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), “planned to invite election observers from international organisations” to observe the elections.

Suthep made this a nationalist issue, wondering “why the UDD does not respect Thailand’s national sovereignty but respects foreigners by inviting them to be involved in the country’s internal affairs.” Suthep apparently wants nothing to do with foreigners, saying the whole idea was “inappropriate.”

It is curious that the current government and its backers are so spooked by suggestions of international observation.

The yellow shirts are also opposed to any third party involvement with the border dispute with Cambodia. As for international observers for the elections, if Sondhi Limthongkul has his way, the idea would be redundant. Sondhi has called on the PAD-born New Politics Party to boycott any elections and to campaign for a no vote when people cast their ballots. Readers will recall that PAD successfully called on opposition parties to boycott the April 2006 elections and for voters to cast a no vote (effectively a vote against the Thai Rak Thai Party). This was a crucial element moving the country towards the 2006 coup and beginning a a process of judicialization that began with the king’s call for the judiciary to sort out the disputes that followed the boycotted elections.

While the Wikipedia article just noted refers to this political intervention by the king as “an unusual but socially unifying step in declaring the landslide elections undemocratic, the election was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court…”, this is anything but true. The action set in train a series of events and decisions that have seen Thailand embroiled in 7 years of political disputation and crisis. Sondhi’s call for a boycott by the NPP is already causing dispute, but this time within the yellow shirts.

The Nation refers to a “split within the leadership yellow shirts’ leadership.” The NPP’s leader Somsak Kosaisuk said “the party’s executives and branch heads had resolved at their meeting on Tuesday to field candidates in the election.”

Somsak said NPP “is required to abide by the Political Party Act and the party’s own regulations.” Now PPT is not sure why Somsak and his yellow shirts have suddenly become believers in election laws, although Somsak appeared willing to consider Sondhi’s call, presumably if it gains any political traction.

Somsak does, however, make a point that sits oddly with the opposition to “foreign interference” when he notes that the “New Politics Party was set up in accordance with a resolution by PAD members from all over the country, as well as some 6,000 PAD members in the United States – not just from the five PAD leaders…”. Like the current government, it seems there are “tame” foreigners (we assume some of these PAD members are holding the documents of foreign countries) who are politically useful.

More significantly, Somsak seems to view the NPP as part of a grassroots movement while Sondhi sees it as a tool for himself and Chamlong Srimuang and the murky backers of the PAD. These latter leaders are also busily denigrating the very idea of elections and elected politicians. Sondhi said: “If the election is allowed to go ahead, we will see a return of beasts from hell…”.

It seems to PPT that Sondhi is worried that pro-Thaksin parties will do better than the current regime thinks they will. That said, Sondhi and others have also been attacking Abhisit also.

Sondhi claims that “the PAD leaders have resolved that we will campaign for people all over the country to not vote…”. Sondhi has never really been committed to NPP; that’s why it is led by Somsak, who was one of the early leaders of PAD, but never a major public figure. PPT expects taht Sondhi and his cronies will get their way. Questions remain: will a rightist boycott have any public support, and are there are darker forces behind this move.

Update: The Jakarta Globe has an interesting take on the border observers issue.





With a major update: War not peace

20 02 2011

The ultra-nationalist, royalist right-wing represented by the People’s Alliance for Democracy, the Thai Patriot Network and the New Politics Party are essentially calling for more war with Cambodia. These groups oppose the current government’s ceasefire because it poses a “threat” to “Thai territory.” PAD called the truce “dangerous.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was opposed to peace. In a clear statement of the realities of Thai politics, the army negotiated a truce themselves.

Update 1: This perspective from Cambodia on the truce is worth reading.

Update 2: To get an idea of the scrambling that the Abhisit government is engaged in while dealing with the seemingly independent army, see the story in the Bangkok Post headlined “PM denies truce signed.” Struggling to deal with his ultra-nationalist allies-cum-opponents and the uncontrolled military, Abhisit “denies a ceasefire agreement has been signed with Cambodia.” This is despite the military’s statements, widely reported in the media domestically and internationally.

Abhisit

He means a comprehensive treaty while the military has negotiated a truce. It seems that Abhisit is not consulted by the military and has little idea what is actually happening. That’s the logical result when you are the little brother in a relationship with the military and palace.

Kasit

Meanwhile, the completely hopeless Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya “said yesterday the proposed permanent ceasefire was unnecessary.”

The Post states that a “delegation led by army chief-of-staff Daopong Rattanasuwan was reported on Saturday to have signed a ceasefire agreement with Phnom Penh, whose team was headed by deputy army commander Hun Manet, the son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.”

Kasit, like his premier, had to deny this: ” Kasit insisted the meeting on Saturday was not about negotiations.  It was merely a discussion between military authorities and the results would be referred to higher authorities for a decision on what next step to take.  The minister said no agreement had been reached and there were no binding effects from the talks.”

Remember that it is PAD and the TPN that wants no truce. Kasit and Abhisit seems to be pandering to the jingoists or are in that camp themselves. Whatever the case, the government seems well out of the loop on the military’s actions.

They are playing catch-up with a military that seems to be deliberately demonstrating the hopelessness of the current government.





PAD, constitutions and the military boss

26 11 2010

The Bangkok Post has an editorial on the People’s Alliance for Democracy that has been the subject of a post by Bangkok Pundit. The editorial is representative of the difficult relationship PAD has with the establishment.

The editorial begins: “The leaders and followers of the People’s Alliance for Democracy have some positive achievements in their five-year history.” Here the newspaper is applauding PAD’s role in prompting an alliance between the palace and military and the 2006 coup that got rid of arch-enemy Thaksin Shinawatra and  then the pro-Thaksin government in 2008 via PAD’s long Government House and airports occupations.

But now they are “terribly wrong, [by opposing] in such stubborn fashion, as they are now, in their campaign against changing the constitution.” The opposition to constitutional amendment is “so illogical that it defies logical examination.”

The claim that anti-Thaksin protests involved “crowds of up to half a million” is an exaggeration.” But the Post does admit that “[m]any credit the street demonstrations with motivating a small group of senior army officers into seizing power from Thaksin and putting national power in the hands of a military junta.”

They don’t dare add that it was Privy Councilor General Prem Tinsulanonda who took over from PAD in getting the coup in place. At least the Post see the coup as an “unfortunate reversion…” and sees the 2007 constitution as “highly flawed,” and “badly written,” to include “unacceptable, hastily drafted sections that not even the authors truly understood. The half-appointed Senate is bad for the country. The multi-MP constituencies have left voters confused and poorly represented” and so on.

The Post thinks “Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is correct to press for amending such harmful and foolish sections of the constitution.” Of course, this has not always been the position of the Post, Abhisit or the Democrat Party. The idea that Abhisit’s amendments are not meant to support coalition partners is simply wrong. Then this rather odd point from the Post:

The PAD should realise _ as most of the country accepted long ago _ that the 2007 constitution is a sorry step back from the excellent “people’s constitution” of 1997.

Of course, the red shirts and the opposition Puea Thai Party have long argued this position and have long been rejected, including in the last couple of days.

At Prachatai there is also evidence of the curious dualism that emerges as the establishment deals with the populist PAD. It cites “Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said that the PAD had the legal right to hold rallies during Parliament’s consideration of charter amendments as long as they did not use violence. The Emergency Decree has to be kept in force until the situation returns to normal. He insisted that there were never double standards regarding enforcement of the decree, and all groups had been treated equally, according to an ASTV-Manager report on 24 Nov.”

This statement comes as “PAD leader Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang told ASTV … that PAD supporters were coming from Lampang to join others in front of Parliament. Those who came from the provinces and could not stay overnight with relatives or friends in Bangkok would be welcome to stay at the office of the New Politics Party where air conditioned rooms and toilets were available, and also at Santi Asoke.”

Chamlong claimed support from senators, “[t]he wife of a former regional police commander and recently retired army generals…”. Further PAD rallies were planned for 11 December when Chamlong expected “a number of military officers, both in active service and retired, will join their rally, because it is about the protection of territory.”

A New Politics Party member “told the crowd that their rally was unlike those of the red shirts. The red shirts had come out in numbers, but it was not clear whether they had acted out of their own conscience or whether they were organized and recruited by politicians and canvassers. PAD supporters acted out of conscience.”

False consciousness according to the Bangkok Post.

At MCOT News army boss Prayuthhas stated that “the country’s security agencies and related authorities have never practiced a double standard in enforcing the government’s emergency decree against protest groups, but asserted that every group has been treated equally in order to maintain law and order.” PAD could rally “under the [emergency] law, but the demonstration must be free of violence.”

No double standards? How many yellow shirts are in prison? That aside, the curious love-fear relationship with right-wing political mobilization continues.

 





Dangerous Sombat

12 10 2010

PPT has intimated before that political crackdowns under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime tend to be associated with an outpouring of seemingly coordinated hyper-ventilating from security forces, the government’s acting spokesman, CRES, palace associates and a bunch of angry pink/yellow royalists. That point seems to have been reached again. It remains to be seen if their is an escape valve for all this anger and fear.

Prachatai has a report that relates to the fear and anger of yellow shirts associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Their report is about “Khamnoon Sitthisaman, appointed senator and Sondhi Limthongkul’s right-hand man” who has vigorously attacked Sombat Boonngamanong’s symbolic and peaceful protest activities, saying they “are more dangerous than violent campaigns, as they cannot be handled by the law.”

The dangerous Sombat at Rajaprasong

Ominously, Khamnoon draws a (false) comparison with the period of communist insurgency, but claims the red shirts are more threatening. But he makes the excellent point that the “March-April 2010 [red shirt] rallies seem to be a defeat, but only in the form of large public gatherings.  In contrast, illegal, underground, decentralized and guerrilla-like campaigns have pervaded.  Khamnoon believes that even if Thaksin Shinawatra wanted to order a halt, he couldn’t because he wouldn’t know who to give the order to.  It is not really an exaggeration to say that a certain number of red shirts have already gone beyond Thaksin…”

Of all red shirt activities, Sombat’s are said to be the most dangerous:  “Sombat’s campaigns cannot be prosecuted under any laws, whether the lèse majesté Section 112 or anything else.” Other yellow shirts agree and they want the government to do something.The New Politics Party has urged Abhisit “to be strong and to tighten his grip on power in dealing more firmly with problems, particularly the anti-monarchy movement.”

This is how authoritarianism is embedded.





Updated: Red shirts rally again

11 10 2010

There are several reports about the red shirt rally on Sunday 10 October, including in the international media. VOA News reports that “thousands of anti-government protesters paraded and rallied in the Thai capital, Bangkok, in memory of supporters killed in May in clashes with security forces.  The demonstration was organized despite emergency laws forbidding such gatherings.” The report adds that “Thai authorities have made no attempt to prevent recent demonstrations, including by the yellow shirts, who rally against the red shirts and claim to protect Thailand’s monarchy.”

channelnewsasia reports that “About 6,000 “Red Shirt” protesters rallied in Bangkok Sunday to mark six months since a night of bloody clashes with the army, which left 25 people dead, during their two-month-long street protests.” 6,ooo was a police estimate. In the past, such estimates were always lower than the real number attending, although this report does note that rallies in April and May reached 100,000.

Reuters has a series of photos, although the ones on this page is from a Facebook collection and from The Nation. Thai E-News also has pictures from a red shirt rally in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Green Left Weekly has an interview with Sombat Boonngamanong, conducted before Sunday’s event. He refers to “millions of Red Shirts” who are “just waiting to act again. But they are not sure if they should show themselves, or how, because the government is still hunting them down and threatening them. It seems like they are waiting for a new stage of the movement and waiting to see how that goes.” He adds that the rallies in other countries (Thai E-News has been carrying reports and pictures) are part of a “concept ‘red around the world’ so that Red Shirts all around the world could think up and create their own activities and join with the main activity [in Thailand].”

Sombat believes that the Red Sunday events have “created a big public debate in media especially in the last two weeks before the [19 September] anniversary.” They also seem to have scared the dickens out of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. Government bosses must have felt that 19 May was decisive, but the red shirts keep coming back.

There’s much more in the interview.

Update: The Nation states that red shirts are planning to rally again on Tuesday, at Klong Prem Central Prison, where red shirt leaders have been held for almost 5 months.

This report is of interest as it quotes red shirt opponents. It says that “Suriyasai Katasila, secretary-general of the New Politics Party, later referred to the spate of bomb blasts linked to the red shirts and warned the country could face serious threats of suicide bombs by people who believed in former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He quoted Tharit Pengdit, head of the Department of Special Investigation, as saying groups were planning to use heavy weapons to strike terror among the people.” Suriyasai added: “This is a national crisis. The coalition government must stop playing politics and pay attention to this problem…”.