While Thailand’s reputation as ‘the land of smiles’ is a cliché, the recent images of violence and unrest in Bangkok have been a shocking contrast to its reputation as a stable regional travel and business hub.
Who are the yellow shirts? This question is hard to answer, but the scant information provided by economist Abhichart Sthitniramai and political scientist Anek Laothammathat of Thammasat University, shows that on average they have higher incomes than the red shirts. There are more yellow shirts in the social security system, for example, meaning that they work in the formal sector. Even though they may be just employees, they are ‘inside the system’, while the red shirts are probably working ‘outside the system’ as, for example, daily wage earners.
A student in Had Yai received a surprise phone call from Abhisit Vejjajiva after he had sent an SMS to the PM condemning his road map proposal. He claimed to have been told that Thaksin was paying coalition politicians 100 million baht per head to switch sides. Abhisit admitted making the call, but denied that he had said this about Thaksin.
Unhappy with Aung San Su Kyi’s criticism of Thailand’s constitution and politics, PAD-affiliated senator Prasong Nurak has urged the government to track her financial records to find whether she has received money and from whom.
New Politics Party Secretary-General and PAD spokesperson Suriyasai Katasila says the red shirts’ protests at Rajprasong cause damage to the economy and society, and cannot be compared with the PAD protests which were justified. Calling on Abhisit to take legal action, he is concerned that Bangkokians will take things into their own hands.
Amidst the political polarization that has created deep-rooted divisions in Thai society, the mass media is one factor that has difficulty in denying any responsibility and has been asked serious questions about its role and how it has performed its duty by people who have chosen political sides. At the same time, new media has appeared and individuals’ preferences in following the news change according to their political stance and access to technology. Pravit Rojanaphruk, senior journalist at The Nation, is one mainstream journalist who has long asked questions about his own professional conduct and criticized the media culture. Prachatai talked to him on the day when every single branch of the media gave space to expressing the importance of the profession, especially the duty of the media in the run-up to an eye-catching day in Thai politics, the day of the red shirt rally on 12 March.
Thailand is again in frenzy over coup rumors, perpetuated mostly by anti-government Red Shirts who need a reason to protest and by a media machine that needs a story. The top generals have denied that anything is amiss, words that mean little since they said the same thing before ousting former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.
Leaders of both the red- and yellow-shirt movements appear to have succumbed, in their self-absorbed way, to thinking of themselves as out-of-this-world characters - often to comic effect. Some time ago, the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy supremo Sondhi Limthongkul dressed all in white like some holy man, splashed his PAD followers with what appeared to be holy water, like that dispensed by Buddhist monks. That was at the height of the PAD's seizure of Government House.
(New York) - The government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva largely failed to fulfill its pledges to make human rights a priority, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2010.
Readers have sent e-mails to Smart Buy magazine, criticizing a column written by a dentist who talks of Da Torpedo’s molar abscess as bad karma resulting from speaking ill of the monarchy.