Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Bus to Pattaya and Blogpress

This is to be a new and very short blog. It's existence wholly due to my desire to test my new iPhone blog app-Blogpress.

I was hoping to be able to post pics, but it looks like no.

Now on a slow, local bus to Pattaya. Why, you ask a local and slow bus? My mistake. Got on at the Ekami station in Bangkok in a hurry. Leran from one's mistakes.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone. Is that cool or what?

Location:Sukhumvit,Nong Mai Daeng,Thailand

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Red Shirt Victory ? 27th March 2010.

Here we are now, back in Bangkok. I spent the day walking the streets of the city of Bangkok, in the 'better' areas of the town (Sukhumvit), and around the Parliament House. What I saw was an immense number of Red Shirts in cars, in trucks, on motor bikes, and walking along the street. All with the aim of protesting what they see as the inadequate and unrepresentative current Thai government.

I did speak to one Thai man, who spoke good English, who explained to me what he saw the problem to be. The current government, the "Yellow Shirts", represent the Thai elites, based in the city of Bangkok, and ignore the wishes and needs or the poorer folk who do the work in Thailand. He also spoke of the history of the long struggle Thailand had to attain democracy, something he still does not feel that Thailand enjoys. He wants to see Thailand governed by a democratic and representative government. Noble aims.

And what seems surprising, is that things seem to be going the Red Shirt way right now. As of this afternoon the troops, which were on the street, are returning to barracks. I do not know if they are leaving against orders, but the are leaving! The Red organisers were speaking to the soldiers at length over the course of the day. I saw some soldiers holding red roses, as a sign of? I also saw many cops and soldiers take pics of the protestors. Keep in mind that many of the lower ranks come from the same social background as do many of the protesters.

What ever the cause, the streets are filled with only Reds and regular cops. No soldiers. This act should be put into context. In 1973 the Thai military killed 100s (maybe 1000s) of protesters on the streets of Bangkok. The military have also run Thailand for most of the 20th century.

The Reds are placing pressure on the unelected government of Prime Minister Abhisit. It remains to be seen what this pressure will achieve.

Good to see the people take to the streets again. We should see this in Australia !

Friday, 19 March 2010

The Red Shirts: finished for now?

It is only slightly less than one week since the Red Shirt protests began in Bangkok. The Red Shirts—shall we say the 'working class', those who get their hands dirty in Thailand—are opposed to what they perceive to be the Bangkok based elite. After the struggles of the last few days, just what do they have to show for their efforts? The answer is, in the short term at least, not much.

The RSs avowed aim is to compel the Thai government to dissolve parliament and hold new elections. This did not happen. While the Prime Minister Mr Abhisit did everything short of requesting foreign assistance to restrain his opponents (he declared a state of emergency, lots of cops and troops on the street, hid himself out at an army barracks), he did not panic and give in.

On the other side of the equation the Red Shirts seem to be suffering. Their three leaders seem to have split, there now seems to be a more radical wing of their movement calling for 'communist' ideas, and many of their followers must be disenchanted with the apparent failure of the party. Time, money, man (and a lot of women) power, must have been expended for no apparent gain.

Right now (the evening of the 19th March) the Red Shirts in Bangkok are down to ten to twenty thousand tired people. Their immediate future is to turn around and start the long journey home. I wish them good luck.

However, what are the longer term perspectives? There is still that emergent class awareness held by the poorer but now better educated and more aware rural working people. There is still that perception that Bangkok calls the shots while the provinces do the work. The result of the protest did not change this underlying reality which prompted the protest in the first place. Unless the issue of the relationship between the workers in the provinces and Bangkok is settled, Thailand will continue to experience ongoing political stability.

Myself? Back in Pattaya, again, tired, and ready to sleep. Good night to all.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Red Shirts in Bangkok: 14th March 2010

This is the first main day of the full Red Shirts presence in Bangkok—there avowed aim, to bring down the incumbent Thai Government, led by their political opponents (the Yellow Shirts). I attended the RS rally point at the Democracy Monument this morning, and walked along with them for part of their march through Bkk. All in all, a non-threatening experience. The RSs were smiles and niceness—not the sought of attitude likely to send a shiver of fear through the Prime Minister Mr Abhisit. I even purchased a few Red Shirt souvenirs.

There is a definite class/regional orientation to this rally. The folk come from the provincial areas of Thailand, principally, as far as I could detect, from the north east province of Esarn. These are the dark skinned people who work the fields and clean the hotels of the Thai tourism business. Many protestors proudly identified their home town to me. There beliefs were emblazoned for all to read, even in English. They want 'justice', 'dissolve parliament', 'equal law', and so forth. Mr Thaksin was present, albeit only by image. Placards, badges and t-shirt carried his face amongst his people.

Numbers? I am certain that it is not one million, but certainly lots. Closer I would guess to 100,000. The effect? Overall, not much. Some traffic congestion, but life goes on in the Big Mango. Still a few days to go, lets see what happens.

Sunday 14/3/2010 Red Shirts big day

13th March—Red Shirt Rally Bangkok

The 'Big Mango', as Bangkok is sometimes affectionally known, has today braced itself for the long expected, and long dreaded (in some circles), 'Red Shirt' rally and protest. The goal of the RSs has not always been clearly enunciated. At first the rally was merely to be a protest, a protest based on long simmering resentment of the dismissal of two RS governments, but sparked by the asset seizure of part of the wealth of the RS movement leader and former Prime Minister, Mr Thaksin. However, it is now clear that the RSs demand a change of government.

Saturday the 13th marked the first full day of RS activity in Bangkok. The main streets were filled with RS members in cars and pickup trucks. RS marshals were situated at major intersections. However, the numbers did not look anywhere near the quoted 'million man march'. The mood of the RSs was festive, there was much cheering and smiling at the onlookers, and many of the onlookers cheered back. There was no sign of violence or provocation—however, this is only day 1.

Based as they are in the rural north east Esarn province of Thailand, the RS supporters need to spend a day in travel from their homes to reach Bangkok. Their cause—social justice, or at least what they believe to be a better and fairer deal for the poorer people of Thailand. A complex story and issue.

The Red Shirts must win to form a new government. The incumbent government must simply hang onto power to win. A new day awaits...