An attempt by a small number of predominantly right-wing Bangkokians supported by the country’s second oldest political party*, the Democrat Party, to suspend democracy in Thailand and install their own unelected “people’s committee” under the guise of ridding the country of the “Thaksin regime” has seen political fervour reach a level not seen since the 2010 protests by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) aka the red-shirts, which ended with a military crackdown on protesters which saw more than 90 people, including two foreign journalists, killed and more than 2,000 people injured.
In 2009 and 2010 the UDD were protesting for elections after the prime ministership and government were “stolen” via a simple vote of lower house MPs, some of who crossed the floor of parliament to join with the Opposition, after Thailand’s Constitutional Court dissolved the People’s Power Party which had won the 2007 general elections, due to vote-buying by one of it’s MPs. It had earlier stripped Samak Sundaravej of the prime ministership for hosting a television cooking show.
The protests this time, however, are about suspending the right for Thailand’s 66 million people to elect their own government as they have done 26 times since the end of absolute monarchy rule in 1932 following “an almost bloodless “revolution”” on the morning of June 24, 1932, which culminated in King Prajadhipok, Rama VII, granting suffrage.
Ahead of the “uprising” King Rama VII had already began down the path of democracy and the decentralisation of power, though his plans were opposed by those in his inner circle, including American Francis Bowes Sayre, Sr., a Harvard Law School graduate and a son-in-law of former US president Woodrow Wilson.
At the time the reasons given for opposing democracy and the people’s right to elect their own government were that the Thai population was politically immature and not yet ready for democracy — the same cries that are being heard today in the concerted effort being made to kill democracy in Thailand.
The protests first began in August when the little known People’s Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot) staged a rally on the edge of Bangkok’s Lumphini Park against a proposed amnesty bill for political protesters the ruling Pheu Thai Party (PTP) was planning on tabling in parliament. The location is the same as that at which the red-shirts erected a massive bamboo and tyre barricade in 2010, and where Royal Thai Army (RTA) specialist, Major-General Khattiya Sawatdiphon, affectionately known as “Seh Daeng” (commander red), was shot dead by an unidentified sniper in 2010.
This was followed by a token protest rally supported by the Democrat Party when the document was tabled. After passing through an examination committee the bill returned to parliament for it’s second and third reading, allegedly substantially different than the originally tabled document.
Red Sunday, a red-shirt splinter group led by Sombat Boongamanong were the first to stage protests about the changes, which would have seen all people involved in political unrest, including protest leaders, soldiers, and authorities from 2004 up to August 6 of this year exonerated, but excluded those charged or convicted of Lèse-majesté offences arising from those protests.
Groups vehemently opposed to the return and pardoning of former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra began holding Bangkok and regional protests, while a whistle-blowing campaign in the heart of the business district by those opposed to the blanket amnesty bill, along with wide-spread disenchantment saw the government beat a face-losing retreat, offering up all but the souls of their future heirs in an attempt to prove sincerely that it would not proceed with the bill either now, or in the future.
However, along the way the genuine wide-spread opposition to a law that was unjust and merely continued the moral transgressions of previous Thailand governments was hijacked by well-prepared, well funded, opportunistic forces of evil who artfully channelled a peoples movement against a bad law into a peoples movement against the government.
The dissolution of parliament and the scheduling of a fresh Thailand general election on February 2, 2014 has failed to satisfy the anti-democracy protesters, led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who say that surrender of total power to run Thailand to them is the only option, with open and veiled threats having been made to the safety and future of the Shinawatra family should this not occur.
Along the way various claims, accusations and demands have been made with the common thread running through them all being that the majority of Thai people are not ready for democracy as it operates in Thailand and that overall they are to stupid to chose their own government due to rampant vote buying by political parties, primarily the ruling PTP.
Therefore democracy should be suspended in Thailand for up to 14 months to allow an unelected “people’s council” to make the necessary changes in place to rid the country of corruption and remove “the Thaksin regime”.
* Thailand first listed political party was the Khana Ratsadon which mounted the 1932 democracy uprising that saw King Rama VII grant suffrage to the Thailand people.
**Some images have been digitally altered in order to comply with Thailand’s lése-majesté laws. Clicking any photo will launch a slide show from that point in the page onwards. To view all photos on a page in a continuous slide show select the first image on the page. For website performance reasons the number of photos on any page is limited to 50.
August 4, 2013 – People’s Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot) rally @ Lumphini Park
August 7, 2013 – Protest against tabling of original draft amnesty bill – about 300 protesters
October 27, 2013 – Red Sunday kick off the first protest against the blanket amnesty bill
November 5 – Protesters move to Democracy Monument to protest blanket amnesty bill
November 6 – Daily whistle blowing campaign in Silom Rd., against blanket amnesty bill
November 13 – Day 1 of a call for a 3 day national shut-down — that everyone ignored
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