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MikeIf this was truly the case, that the Thai poor wants "free medical care and free quality education for their children. They want subsidized housing. And they don’t want to prostrate at the feet of superiors as they were long forced to do.", why do they not come forward with these requests. Why do they not offer to talk to the governments about what their concerns are regarding their quality of life. Instead of engaging in negotiations, they stick by their sole demand: "Dissolution of Parliament", a stance which is unlikely to benefit Thailand in the long term. Thailand has took a long time to develop, but she will develop in her own time. What is needed is a stable government, not one that changes every year. Do you not think that the Yellow Shirts will take to the streets once Thaksin returns to power? Do you think that dissolution of parliament would do anything to fix the problem in the long term? Instead of just demanding "DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT! DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT! THE GOVERNMENT IS ILLEGITIMATE", perhaps the Red Shirts might want to look at the concept of a representative government before citing that the current government is illegitimate. If the Red Shirts truly care for democracy and equality, as they are claiming now, perhaps they should focus more on providing suggestions as how the current government could provide for a better standard of living in the rural provinces: increase quality and quantity of education available, increase health care, business activities in these provinces. These things are what they should be doing, instead of just blindly following their neighbor by screaming "The elites look down on us! They're the ones responsible for us not being rich!", perhaps they want to look at themselves, and how they're wasting time which they can be enriching themselves right now. My father was born in a small village in Ayutthaya, and our family's heritage was not one that was particularly rich. Yet he has managed to become a successful banker for a foreign company. I admit, we are lucky. However, if the government is truly out to suppress all poor people, as the Red Shirts claim, such cases of success would not exist. Perhaps what the Red Shirts are doing is focusing on lobbying for better quality of education and human development opportunities. I am not making a blanket claim that Red Shirts are bad people. The majority of them, in my opinion, are innocent, good, simple people who are unfortunately naive to the language of money and the power of persuasion. Jealousy is a powerful thing, and the invisible 'aristocrats' make a perfect target. I acknowledge that a lot of this has gotten off topic, but in sum, if the Red Shirt movement really wants to improve the plight of the poor, they should be focusing their energies on demanding things that matter, such as education, health care, investments, infrastructure, etc. Not just blindly shouting for the dissolution of parliament.
TonyEach time I read it, I get more angry. Can anyone really be this ignorant or stupid? "For that they will fight, manipulate and even kill thousands." Andre writes in regards to what he refers to as the "elite." Usually if you're going to accuse people of mass murder, one cited example is expected. The only one that killed "thousands" was Thaksin Shinawatra in his fraudulent war on drugs, which killed 2,000+ people, extra-judicially, (without arrest or trial - execution in the street). The UN even stepped in to warn Thaksin to which our "people's hero" replied "The UN is not my father." Also, the US was behind the 1932 coup that ended absolute monarchy, and the US/UK and other western investors have long sought to rid Thailand of its monarchy, being nationalist and opposed to globalization. Thaksin "halved" poverty? Got any numbers to back that up? Could it have been economic success that did that instead? What did Thaksin actually do that helped poor people? Have you been in a Thai hospital, saw what the 30 baht health care plan "gave" the people? It was a farce that almost collapsed the entire health care system. Thanks to Andre for defending what is basically a globalist agenda by elitist corporate fascist bankers at the expense of these ignorant protesters who have no idea what they are doing or why. Most of them are paid to protest. Last numbers coming from the protest zone were 8,000, out of a total population of 65 million. Andre needs to wake up that most Marxist revolutions were bank rolled by the same bankersters backing right wing fascism. I guess its too complicated for him, a man who can't be bothered to even read Wikipedia to establish an accurate time line for his own article.
G. BaraWhat so many of these pro-status quo commenters have conveniently neglected to mention is the crude hypocrisy of the Yellow faction. After Thaksin's government was undermined by protests and then removed by a military coup in 2006, fresh elections were held. This in itself was a "fascistic" contempt for democracy. Then after fresh elections again brought to power a pro-Thaksin coalition government, were the Yellows happy to let the government carry out its mandate? No. The coalition was attacked judicially, by concerted media attacks, and by Yellow protests that crippled the economy and seriously inconvenienced thousands of international travelers. Finally it was brought down. Were all these disruptive anti-democratic tactics condemned by the media? Did the military act to break up the debilitating protests that were inconveniencing so many ordinary Thais and foreigners? Were the protesters demonized as terrorists? Not much. Is it any wonder that the Reds feel aggrieved and humiliated. The system is crudely rigged against them. They are allowed to participate in the democracy, as long as they do not win. If they win, they can be legitimately ousted. Anyone who has spent much time in Thailand knows that the author's characterization of the country as feudal is true to a large extent. While I wouldn't dress up all this drama in Marxist theory it is certainly a class struggle. Injustice is fine up to a point, but the blatant hypocrisy of the Bangkok elites and their condescension to the poor rural masses whose cheap labour and low expectations has sustained them in their complacent luxury has been appalling to behold in these past several years. The disingenuousness of the Yellow sympathizers commenting here is staggering. Are their blinkered views the fruit of Bangkok's servile, controlled media?
NaomiI have been closely following what has been happening in Thailand. Andre's article and photos are extremely insightful and truthful. No mainstream media would dare say as much as Andre did and has done in his reporting from all around the world. Let us not buy into the yellow conspiracy anymore but support the real cause and salute all comrades who are fighting for social justice and equality in Bangkok and throughout the country, no matter where we are or do.
Tony ChristiniGreat article. Andre Vltchek once again reports the facts and makes the analysis that matters most, cutting through the deceit.
Burin KantabutraWhat a gross oversimplification this article is; I'm very surprised that a reputable journal would print it without verification. Many quality publications, such as the Asian Wall Street Journal and New York Times, make every effort to present both sides of the story direct from the source, not as interpreted by their correspondent. Thus, for example, if there's a dispute, the article will report what Mr. A said or did to Mr. B, and Mr. B's response, or that Mr. B did not respond to repeated calls, etc. I'm sorry that Japan Focus' editors did not see fit to do likewise. One of the most balanced, insightful articles on the current demonstrations that I've read is by Human Rights Watch; if they can do so, even though they're not mainly a media organization, why can't Japan Focus? To me, the article sees things in black and white, like the commandment in George Orwell's Animal Farm: "Four legs good, two legs bad". I suggest that the truth is more in shades of grey, w/ both the government and the reds being grey. The red shirts, like the pro-government yellow shirts before them, stridently say they're acting in the name of democracy, yet define democracy to include the right to force their own views upon the majority and to deny the rights they claim for themselves to others. Thus, the yellows closed Thailand's main airport to toss out the government of the day, irrespective of how the majority of the people, as expressed through Parliament, felt. Likewise, the reds seek to dissolve Parliament and force new elections, irrespective of how the majority of people, expressed through Parliament, feel. The reds claim freedom of speech, yet they marched successfully in northeast Thailand to prevent the leader of the "mixed colors" group, which wants the violent confrontation to stop, from giving a speech. The reds, like the yellows, claim the right to assemble and protest in whatever public space they wish -- and the right to prevent innocent passage of all others, and the right to protest so vehemently that others cannot live, work, or even receive medical treatment in the vicinity. Thus, last week, flouting the Geneva Convention, 200 reds stormed a major hospital, home of the Thai Red Cross, to search for soldiers (they found none, for there were none) -- and promised that they'd come back in a few days to search again. The reds have many legitimate grievances, which any government should quickly solve at their roots. For example, it is true that the rural poor do not have access to the same quality of education as in Bangkok, as shown by the Ministry of Education's own achievement exams. It is true that Thai society is permeated with corruption, and this must be cleansed from the system, much as, say, Singapore has done. I suggest that the reds (or the yellows/the government) should live their credos, and apply a single standard consistently to their efforts. For the seven years prior to Thaksin's conviction, either he himself, his self-proclaimed proxy, or his brother-in-law was prime minister; thus, it is highly unlikely that his conviction for corruption was politically motivated. To me, corruption, or stealing from the public purse, is stealing from the vast majority of Thais, who are poor. How ironic, then, that the reds' patron saint stands convicted of stealing hope from the poor -- and yet the reds love him for it. For Japan Focus, I would ask that they seek to present the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth -- and the current article doesn't begin to meet that standard. Signed, Burin Kantabutra Thai national, three decades in capital market research, mainly in Thailand. MBA Univ. of Chicago.