This post is the latest in a series from our Bangkok correspondent, H. Numan.
It’s going to be busy next week in Bangkok. There are massive demonstrations announced. Lots of troop movements to the city. Has nothing to do with a possible coup d’état. All those tanks and artillery pieces are brought in for “Children’s day” so kiddies can sit on a tank. Children’s day is tomorrow. After that we have Army Day on the 18th, so those tanks come in handy for parades for that as well. The very idea of a coup — too silly for words!
As the army commander Prayuth Chan-Ocha said: “People are scared of something that hasn’t taken place yet,” “Don’t be scared if you can’t see it. Everything must happen for a reason,” he said, before adding, “Without a reason, nothing will happen.”
From Monday 13 January onwards demonstrators have announced that they will block the city until the government resigns. In essence a repeat of the siege of Ratchaprasong area in 2010 by the Red Shirts. This time the Yellow Shirts are doing the besieging.
Don’t be surprised if a coup occurs sometime next week. I’d be much more surprised if it didn’t.
The problem is a lot bigger than one can read in the news, though.
Of course the protestors have a very good point. Right now we have a demissionary cabinet headed by the Thaksin family. The younger sister of ex-premier Thaksin, Yinluck, is premier. Elections have been announced for the beginning of February. In which Thaksin’s party, currently named Pheu Thai Party is expected to win once again an absolute majority.
That does not sit well with protestors. Thaksin set up this party under the name Thai Rak Thai (Thais love Thailand) party. After he was ejected from government (Silk revolution), this party was disbanded. It simply renamed itself People’s Power Party (PPP) until the new one was disbanded as well. Currently it operates under the name Pheu Thai Party.
Pheu Thai presented a candidate list that reads like a family outing of the Shinawatra family: the first three names are Thaksin’s direct family; the following few are in-laws and close associates.
Translate this to US terms: the Democrat Party announces Obama for president, his wife for vice president, his nephew for Justice and his brother in law for Defence. It wouldn’t fly, would it?
But the demonstrators have a major PR problem too. The leader is Suthep Thaugsuban. This chap has a rather checkered history: he is going to be prosecuted for corruption, and for that reason he lost his parliamentary status. As he has nothing to lose, he went wild.
Another charge is levied against him for inciting revolt and disturbing the peace. There is an arrest warrant for him, but no attempts have been made to arrest him so far. Partly because the fact would entice massive unrest, partly because the police and the Comedy Capers are one and the same club and partly because this is Thailand. Quite rightly Red Shirts say: look who’s talking. The pot is calling the kettle black!
We’ll be living in interesting times, as the Chinese proverb goes. I’ll keep you informed.
This was Bangkok reporting,