Thailand escalating battle with Thaksin

Thaksin once again employs his dirty underhand work to fight the Thais who truly have Thailand’s best interest in mind. The events of the last 48 hours are remarkably similar to events just before the 2006 coup. Failure of the police to protect peaceful protesters from Thaksin’s paid thugs is just the start. Blood in the streets is not that far away.

The contents of this post are not my own, however they do reflect my position in greater detail.

Acting National Police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan owes society a clear explanation for the poor performance of his subordinates in handling the protest by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) – and the counter-protest by the pro-government group at the Democracy Monument – over the weekend.

On the surface, the two sides appear to be fighting over the 2007 Constitution – whether to keep it or to change it. But we all know that deep down the conflict is all about that one controversial man named Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister and de facto leader of the People Power party.

Public frustration has been triggered by the way the police, who are duty-bound to maintain law and order, turned a blind eye to the rowdy behaviour of the anti-PAD group, which started the provocation by throwing bottles and bricks at peaceful PAD demonstrators. That unfortunately led to clashes, resulting in injuries on both sides.

Some women participants complained that they were physically assaulted by another group of men as they were about to leave the PAD protest and return home. One woman told the media she was slapped in the face and verbally threatened while police standing nearby simply watched without doing anything to stop the attackers.

The lack of protection from police forced the PAD to deploy its own guards around the protest site, which was eventually moved to Makawan Bridge. These young men sport crash helmets and batons.

Well, I have to admit I do not have any hope at all that the anti-PAD people, no matter which group they belong to – the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) or the Saturday People against Dictatorship – will behave or act like civil people in expressing their political stance. This judgement comes purely based on past behaviour of these people, the most apparent case being none other than the melee in front of Ban Sisao Theves, the residence of Privy Council President Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, on July 22 last year. These people, led by then UDD leaders like Jakrapob Penkair and Natthawut Saikua, staged a rally in front of Gen Prem’s residence, attacked the statesman verbally and tried to set fire to the vicinity. In the end Mr Jakrapob and Mr Natthawut were put behind bars, together with their political colleagues.

While the high-profile leaders got government positions after the Dec 23 elections – Mr Jakrapob being named PM’s Office minister and Mr Natthawut a deputy government spokesman – their followers still kept intact their aggressive approach, as they tried to disrupt a series of PAD forums at Thammasat University auditorium earlier this year. Some members of the media became victims of their violence.

As for the police, it is another story. We cannot afford not to have expectations of these policemen for they are law enforcement officers on whom we have to depend for proper protection under the law. In this sense, they have to live up to the public’s expectations.

But that was not the case on May 25, when the police simply let the public down.

In not properly fulfilling their duty, these police officers put the nation at risk of being plunged into political violence.

One might perhaps argue that the police have no choice but to serve the powers-that-be or face another kind of trouble. Tough choice, indeed.

Which brings to mind the case of Pol Col Ritthirong Thepchanda, former deputy commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, who was dismissed from his job after he allowed pro-Thaksin people to assault anti-Thaksin demonstrators during a rally in front of a department store on Aug 21, 2006.

Yes, Pol Col Ritthirong did make his choice at that time and he had to face the consequences – punishment for negligence.

After nearly two years of court deliberations, the judge handed down the verdict – a two-year suspended jail term – which, ironically, came in less than three days before some of his colleagues took the same dubious path.

For some people, no lesson can ever be learned.

The clock continues to tick closer to a coup in Thailand.

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