The content in this page ("Govt Must Act to Prevent Country Sliding into A Blackhole" by Pravit Rojanaphruk) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Govt Must Act to Prevent Country Sliding into A Blackhole

Now that the red-shirt pro-Thaksin Shinawatra protesters have succeeded in hurling an egg on the face of Chuan Leekpai, mentor of premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, and a former PM himself, what is next?

Rotten eggs and faeces on the face of Abhisit? Or shoes and, god-forbid, acid or even a bomb on the PM's face?

Pro-Thaksin protesters have made it clear that they do not accept Abhist as their PM and view the government as having stolen their election. The tit for TAT war continued as only hours after Tuesday's incident with Chuan, who was on a campaign trail in the north, red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan's face also got an egg from the other side in the northeast.

The Abhisit government, insecure about the threat of egg-throwing and heckling protesters, made a sudden U-turn on Wednesday by moving the Asean summit venue from Bangkok to Hua Hin.

But that's unlikely to solve the problem in the long run and the threat of red-shirt protesters travelling to Hua Hin or shutting the airports are still real.

What is needed to calm things down is for this government to act swiftly and hold leaders from both sides accountable for creating troubles, ranging from closing down airports, shutting down Parliament, occupying Government House and inciting violence against the other.

The government cannot just say that it will be fair to both parties and do nothing while the clock is ticking. They risk greater embarrassment and damage during the Asean summit later in February that includes a threat by the red shirts to shut down the airports like what the PAD did.

The PAD leaders, by the way, are still denying they had ever shut down the airports, claiming they just went for a walk "in front" of the airports - never mind if they blocked the road, carried some home-made weapons, arrived in tens of thousands and did nothing after they knew the airports had to be shut from day one.

So how can anyone blame the red-shirt Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) for wanting to also take a walk to the airport next month?

Is throwing an egg or rotten egg on politicians whom you dislike legal and acceptable?

What about shutting airports because you hate those who're running the government? Is it constitutional and acceptable?

Where should one draw the line?

This is a slippery road and raises tough moral questions about the limits of an acceptable way to protest. There's no easy answer and no one wants to take responsibility for their actions, be it the PAD leaders or those of the DAAD.

If the government fails to uphold the rule of law and bring the leaders of both sides to justice for whatever damage they have been responsible for, then the tit for TAT actions will continue down a nasty road. To make matters worse, the government is viewed by the red shirts as simply being part of the alliance with the PAD.

What is needed then, perhaps, is a compromise, some form of power sharing that both sides can accept. But then even the notion of a national unity government has been discredited by the fact that there remain very few public figures and institutions, if any, that are seen as impartial today.

What's more, the Democrat-led government is unlikely to want to dissolve the House and return power to the people any time soon since they have been out of power for so long. And even if they do, and if the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party wins, the PAD will then likely be back on the streets and "in front" of the airports again.

All the mess is a result of both sides not understanding two words: co-existence and compromise. When Thaksin was in power, he tried to subjugate all his competitors, driving them to the wall. The PAD returned the favour, watching the economy burn as the airports were shut down and calling for military and royal intervention, which led to a coup in September 2006 and a soft coup last December.

It's now up to moderates from both red and yellow camps to rise above their partisan agenda and recognise that those donning red will not miraculously start wearing PAD yellow tomorrow and vice versa. What is needed, however, is for them to work to find some kind of political truce.

It's alright if such an optimistic scenario fails to play out - the Kingdom will simply plunge deeper and deeper into a political and economic blackhole until people who are neither with the red nor the yellow groups muster enough power to put an end to the current woe.

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22 Apr 2021
22 Apr 2021

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