New year barbs III

4 01 2015

As well as barbs to the military dictatorship in the media (here and here), red shirts have also sent some new year jabs Thaksin Shinawatra’s way.

A report at the Bangkok Post begins with an observation that “[o]pposition to the military-led government could gain momentum this year…”. We think that’s true, and it doesn’t simply depend on “economic stability, actions by Thaksin Shinawatra and the fate of Yingluck Shinawatra…”.

As PPT noted yesterday, we think that there is a potentially broader anti-coup/anti-military opposition that will emerge. We agree with Verapat Pariyawong, “an independent law expert and a red-shirt supporter who has remained outside Thailand since he was summoned by the coup-makers,” who states that “the junta’s strategy of suppressing dissent against students, activists, reformists and academics would only trigger more critics and sympathy from around the world,” and, we think, in Thailand; and that is most significant.

The Post’s report contains several points worthy of consideration including the view that “former prime minister Thaksin will have to weigh his steps carefully…”. Double-dealing with the military and palace is unlikely to resolve his political problems. As one red shirt leader opines, “If he lets time pass and does not make any big moves, his fate would be like that of Pridi Banomyong…”. Pridi failed to build a people-based opposition to military domination and spent 34 years in exile, dying in Paris.

The leader pointed out the obvious, declaring that “many red shirts are disappointed that Thaksin and Pheu Thai Party leaders have gone quiet, instead of fighting for peoples’ civil liberties.” The leader adds, “If Thaksin compromises with military leaders for his own benefit, he will lose the people’s support and will not be able to mobilise people power again…”.

Some have argued that Thaksin and Puea Thai are waiting for more widespread opposition to the military dictatorship to emerge or that they await an election and an electoral comeback. The former might be reasonable but the latter is a pipe dream, for the military won’t allow it to be a replay of 2007.

Jaran Ditapichai, described as “a leading red-shirt intellectual,” acknowledges the power of the military dictatorship by observing that “the power of those in exile against the government is limited.” He notes that “[m]ost of the exiles remain scattered … [and that] he future for those facing lese majeste charges is even more cloudy.”

Another exile is Watt Wallayangkoon, an intellectual and writer is clear and defiant: “A coup is coup. You can’t wait for nice things to happen. And as an intellectual, you can’t produce your work in a dictatorial environment…”. He added that the “mentality of many in the middle class and elite who support the coups, calling them ‘blinkered apologists’.”

Will Thaksin make yet another political comeback in 2015? Does it matter? In 2007, the initial anti-coup activism was muted. But that limited response grew as opposition became more widespread and various groups – including many who were no supporters of Thaksin – came together to oppose the military’s political tutelage. The military junta doesn’t want that to happen this time and so they have been harsher and harder. In our view, that is likely to make the eventual response stronger and more determined. Thaksin might have to hitch a ride.

Fiction and lese majeste

28 10 2014

The lese majeste repression dragnet is cast and those trapped in it are increasing in number.

We have noted that arrests and charges against university student Patiwat and colleague Pornthi. The Bangkok Post reports on their recent court appearance. Interestingly most of the photos in the media strategically left out Patiwat’s leg irons. Feudal chains are usually used on males charged under this feudal law.

Formally charged on Monday, “they won’t enter a plea until December, but feel the play that sits at the heart of their alleged crime is being taken out of context.”

The play is, of course, the October 2013 performance of fictional drama about a fictional monarch entitled “The Wolf Bride.” It was performed for “a commemoration of the 37th and 40th anniversaries of the Oct 6, 1976 and Oct 14, 1973 pro-democracy student uprisings at Thammasat University.”

The “prosecutors cited nine passages from the pay’s scripts they claim insulted the monarchy in violation of the Article 112 of the Penal Code.”

Patiwat told the Bangkok Post his “first impression” of the charges laid was that the prosecutors had sliced and diced the script “and consider only certain paragraphs [the prosecutors consider] as insulting to the monarchy.” He says they “should look at the big picture and that this is a fictional play.”

The Post reports that “two [other] red-shirt activists, Watt Wallayangoon and Jaran Ditapichai, also face arrest on lese majeste charges for their roles in the play event.” PPT knew of Jaran, who is in exile in France, but not of Watt.

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