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Which version will make it into history books?

The old saying that the winning side gets to write history might be partially true because bookshelves are suddenly overflowing with tomes written ostensibly about an "evil red movement" and why they met a bad ending in May.

Of course, the widely accepted version and the memory of the marginalised will likely be highly contested.

There are at least five anti-red books readily available at local bookshops, and this writer recently picked up three of them from a nook specifically geared toward anti-red readers. The one called "Bad Karma of those Wanting to Overthrow the Monarchy", written by somebody called Mor Noi, was "recommended" by the bookshop.

"Those wanting to overthrow the monarchy or the [Hindu] deities [at Rajprasong intersection] do not have to wait until the next life for their bad karma to catch up with them - it is chasing after them now," the supposed doctor said on Page 56.

Another book called "Sinners who Betray the Monarchy", also written under a pseudonym, dwells on the many attempts made to overthrow Thai monarchy - both in the past and the present.

However, those outside Thailand are telling a different tale. Well-known, exiled red-shirt supporter Ji Ungpakorn, who lives in England, has just released "Thailand's Crisis & the Fight for Democracy" - a book that portrays the red shirts as heroes and is not available in Thailand.

"When living in a repressive society like Thailand, it is often difficult to be brutally honest. One area that we all tried to avoid was an honest assessment of the monarchy. This book does not avoid such an assessment since it was written abroad," Ji argues on Page 6 of the introduction.

Those present during the April-May events will most likely see the incidents differently - depending on what political lenses they wear. Some might even believe that future generations, or at least children who are aged below 15 today and not directly affected by the political division, will be able to look back at the conflict in a more detached and honest manner.

However, this belief doesn't explain why many Thais continue to hold different views of historical episodes such as the 1932 revolt and if it ended absolute monarchy, or the controversial end to King Taksin's reign.

One's view of the institution of monarchy, particularly the Chakri dynasty, will likely influence one's view of Thailand's two important historical incidents.

This year saw the publication of the fifth edition of historian Nagarin Maektrairat's seminal research on the 1932 revolt.

First published in 1992, the work argued against dominant historical accounts, first published in the 1960s, that the timing of the 1932 revolt was "premature".

In the introduction of the fifth edition of Nagarin's work, Fah Diew Kan publishing house noted that the earlier dominant discourse on the 1932 revolt was not conjured from thin air but "was born amid the revival of movements by royalists".

This observation and the current competing accounts of the red-shirt rally and crackdown makes us wonder how much can really be known of the past, and how much of the knowledge we think we have is really a reflection of the present and ourselves.

Is history about detached, completed events that exist independently in the past, or do the dominant historical accounts actually tell us more about who we are today, the current state of politics and the contesting sides?

Few people really appreciate the link between the past and the present.

Source: 
<p>http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/2010/07/15/politics/Which-version-will-make-it-into-history-books--30133817.html</p>