Looking down from a safe vantage point into the Red Shirt camp, the untrained eye would tell you these are civilian Thais. But look closer and you will see these civilian Thais packing military weapons from rocket propelled grenades to assault rifles and they are not shy to use them on other Thais.
The stage is set and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there will be some widows on both sides when the smoke finally clears. The convicted fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra has learned his lesson well from the 2009 riots that you must fight fire with fire. Clubs, machetes, and makeshift weapons are no match for properly equipped riot control personnel. So instead of backing down, Thaksin has simply armed his rioters with military weapons and cares nothing at all about the accepted international standards of crowd control and nothing about their lives. He will be comfortably sitting in some far off country sipping cappuccino and coldly looking at people dying because of him.
This will be no ordinary riot clash, this will be as real as war can get in a city setting with hand held military weapons being used on both sides. The only good point is it will be localized to a few city blocks and not an entire city. The US government has told Americans just to get out of the way by a few miles and they will be out of harms way.
The unknowns and most certainly a concern is what the Red Shirts will do in rural Thailand. They have already shown that they will challenge the government and any form of authority. So on that note there will likely be clashes at government offices in the north and northeast. For that point 14 degrees north may become Thailand’s Mason Dixon line dividing Thailand as is North Korea is separate from South Korea. However because Connecting the Dots is not sure of the actual strength of the Red Shirts outside of Bangkok, this is just one possible extreme scenario that may play out as it does match Thaksin’s game plan. Needless to say this will drag on for a while.
The bottom line is this is all very sad and is all based on lack of education. There is a very clear line that is about 17 years old. If a Thai’s education continues past that point, they are likely to be anti Thaksin. Most Thais in the north stopped going to school in their early teens, so they lack the crucial judgment and reasoning skills needed to be successful in life and easily fall prey to others that would use them. In this case many will die thinking they are doing the right thing for King and country.
Several months back Thaksin made a statement that once the first bullet was fired, he would be leading the charge. Once again, the coward and liar that he is finds him nowhere to be found. Certainly Thaksin is in this for himself. For that, there is no doubt.
However, the escalating violence in Thailand can in no way be pointed to one man. It was very easy to see that this would escalate as I pointed out a year and a half ago in your column when I predicted this.
This was set into motion once the government staged a coup on Thaksin. That was the first step leading to this and the military controlled government continued to make mis-steps all along the way.
The military then forced a new 2007 constitution down the throats of the Thai people.
If that wasn’t enough, they allowed the Yellow shirts to write the rules for the Red shirts by illegally occupying the major airports in Bangkok, building barricades and branishing weapons.
The only reason why no one was killed then was simply because no group tried to force their hand and disperse them from the airport. They allowed this to happen and then they are surprised that the Reds use the same tactic?
Further, they have moved back into the days of communism with the harsh laws (allowing anyone to accuse someone else of a crime) that are in place now and the censorship that is taking over the country. This should come as no surprise that we are at this point now.
It is unfortunate that this is happening, but it is a direct result of only being democratic with hollow words. Once you pull the veil back you can easily see the sham that this democratic system is. In reality, Thailand is a close knit relationship between the elite and the military that rule the country under the veil of democracy. Until that bond is broken Thailand will not have a true democracy. With communication via the internet and satellite now widely available, it becomes increasingly harder to control the people.
There are really only 2 ways out for Thailand. Either impose a military government and call it what it is instead of trying to fool the people into believing they have a true democracy or allow a truly democratic system. Either way, it will be a long haul for Thailand. This will take years to sort out thanks to what the government has done to make it worse.
As Aung San Suu Kyi recently stated:
She reportedly told lawyer Nyan Win that Burma “need not look very far” to see that “a new government coming to power under a constitution drawn up by the military will never be stable,” according to AFP.
“We just see Thailand. [Former prime minister] Thaksin was an elected person. The military seized the power from an elected person. The constitution was drawn up by the military.”
“After that, what happened with the first [government]? It was not stable,” she said of the short-lived administration that followed the coup. “This was a result of the constitution being written by the military.”