February Protest Update- Yellow Shirts, Red Shirts and Coup Talk

The protests in Bangkok continue with Red and Yellow shirts both taking to the streets; yes, both taking to the streets. The yellow shirts have a permanent protest, though numbers are very small, while the red shirts have protests once or twice each month.

To oversimplify and summarize the situation:

  • The yellow shirts have an ongoing protest at the Government House and are upset about border issues and disputed land with Cambodia. 7 yellow shirts were arrested in Cambodia in December for crossing into the disputed land being controlled by Cambodia; 2 of those arrested are still in custody, facing an 8-year jail term. The government has arrested one of the yellow shirt leaders of the 2008 airport blockage- the yellow shirt have called for a major rally on February 5. Why the arrest comes over two years after the airport blockage happened is outside my comprehension.
  • The red shirts have monthly protests and want a new government- the next red shirt rally will be on February 13 and will be against “oppression without justice”. On February 19 the red shirts are planning a large rally that will end at Ratchaprasong. The protest and rally on the 19th looks to be key, the red shirts will pass a resolution during the rally to possibly protract the rally if they are not seeing signs of progress. This means the rally will not disperse and the red shirts will set up a permanent protest site. I have no idea how you pass a resolution at a protest, I would think the protest will become permanent and the “resolution” is simply a threat.
  • The army has been rumored- with rumors printed in local newspapers- to be planning a coup, but has come out and denied they are planning a coup. The government cannot feel safe and give the face of stability when coups are being openly discussed and denied.

There is no danger or significant inconvenience caused by the yellow shirt rally. The red shirts decision on the 19th in regards to making that rally permanent will be a key moment and will influenced primarily by the status of the yellow shirt rally. If the yellow shirts continue their permanent rally, the red shirts will respond with one of their own.

I simply wonder how Thailand benefits from this. At some point personal agendas and the agendas of political parties much be secondary to the needs of the nation. With death and the military in the streets of Bangkok during 2010 and what is happening in other nations, Thailand cannot afford to let ongoing protests scare off foreign investors and those that bring money into the economy and to the Thai people that need it the most.

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About faranginbangkok

Additional pictures: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/faranginbangkok For more updates about Bangkok, Thailand and other thoughts: www.twitter.com/lilrichardb I began working in Bangkok during 2008- a time that featured a great deal of political unrest in Thailand and particularly Bangkok. I had lived in San Francisco for 15 years and was working on a project in Thailand. Generally I spent 2 weeks in Bangkok and then 3-4 weeks in San Francisco. Did Bangkok begin to feel like home? Yes, and No. Bangkok and the Thai culture forced me to feel many things, the change in culture and environment was so dramatic it forced the decision- embrace or ignore. I embraced and made Bangkok my home and base in 2009. I have enjoyed living in Bangkok, experiencing Thailand and the entire ASEAN region.
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8 Responses to February Protest Update- Yellow Shirts, Red Shirts and Coup Talk

  1. effie says:

    hi..
    i am suppose to go to bangkok on the 8th till 13th…
    pratunam specifically…we r bringing small babies with us..really scared of all these news…thinking of cancelling the trip…pls advice uhuhuh…i really appreciate if u can give me some opinion…

    • It should be safe to visit, the currency protests have not featured any violence and Pratunam is well away from the protest site. The yellow shirts plan a protest parade on Friday the 11th, beginning at Government House (far from Pratunam); red shirts protest is set for Sunday the 13th, I am unsure if that protest will involve a visit to Ratchaprasong (near Pratunam).

      If is safe to visit, all protest news is well detailed prior to the protest and you can follow twitter for immediate updates.

      • effie says:

        hi tqvm for your prompt reply…

        this is the news today “Yellow shirts target key city locations”..
        is Ratchaprasong one of the city location??

        and this”He said police can propose the government invoke the emergency decree again if the situation escalates to unrest.”

        what will happen if emergency decree is announced??

  2. john says:

    Do you think the conflict with the Cambodians is a ploy? What is Thaksin’s role, or what might he stand to gain? What’s the point of taking over if the society comes unglued in the process? What is the King saying? What about royal family businesses and supporters?
    Thanks for local insights, J

    • John,
      Thanks for the questions.

      Yes, many think the war with Cambodia is part of the politics currently taking place in Thailand (Yellow shirts upset with Thailand not driving Cambodia out of disputed land/boarder and wanting the Thai PM replaced) and Thaksin’s relationship with Cambodia has certainly been brought up. My feeling- I hope that people are not losing their lives and entire villages being evacuate as part of *simple* politics. I don’t know what properly justifies war, but instigating a war as a backhand way to drive out a PM would be a blatant example of placing personal agendas very, very far in front of the agenda to better a country and it’s citizens. Yes, I know most wars (Iraq) are fought for other agendas than the stated agenda or reason for going to war and can only hope that both sides (logical people on both sides) examine the benefit of the fighting.

      Thaksin has broad support (99%) with the Red Shirts (UDD), anything to destabilize the current government could benefit Thaksin. The Yellow Shirts are protesting in the streets and want the current government out, this fragmentation is a big opening for Thaksin backed friends and politicians.

      I wish I could answer your question “what’s the point of taking over if the society comes unglued in the process”. This is the peak of the tourism season in Thailand, the country is still recovering from the 2010 protests, having a border war and protests in the streets of Bangkok is not in the interest of Thailand’s greater good. The headlines generated by the protests and war will impact tourism (short and long term) and foreign investment. With the competitive nature of Southern Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam), Thailand cannot afford to lose tourism and/or investment dollars.

      Kind Regards and let’s hope the fighting is stopped promptly.

  3. I’ve been living in Bangkok for three years. I am no closer to understanding the politics today than the day I arrived here. There seems to be fundamental misunderstanding about what democracy is and what it means in this country. This is the time all parties and groups should go home and get organized. Get a platform organized, get good people in place to run. Get priorities and policies in place ready to go when election time rolls around. The resources and energy going into the protests are wasted and could be better put to use.

    Think tanks on all sides can put together their own strategic plan for efficient governance. Parties need to proceed in an organized manner and quit taking to the streets demanding the impossible and the unrealistic.

    The big issues are corruption, pollution of all kinds, traffic, infrastructure, lack of preparedness for annual flooding/drought, education, healthcare, I can’t think of one area where Thailand is performing well.

    The country should be much farther ahead than it is. Good planning then measurable progress would go a long way. It is difficult to plan anything when crisis after crisis disrupts the country. Thailand’s potential is taking hit after hit and progress is impossible until political maturity replaces inappropriate and overall disruption. In my opinion.

    As a side thought here, if you are planning to come to Thailand avoid trouble areas and have fun. I think the best time to come is when the school year is in full force. When the school year comes to a close the disruptions seem to kick into high gear. September and November would be my picks for travel. School ends in February and for some reason that seems to be the catalyst.

  4. An update to John’s questions about the Yellow Shirts (PAD) and Thaksin and the possibility of them working together…here is a great article about what is happening: http://asiancorrespondent.com/48020/are-pad-and-thaksin-conspiring-against-the-thai-pm/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BangkokPundit+%28Bangkok+Pundit%29

    As you can read, there is a great deal happening behind the scenes and many different agendas

  5. Effie-
    To your comments about the Yellow Shirts protest and the emergency decree.

    Emergency Decree: The ISA (Internal Security Act) has been put in place for 7 districts around Government House where the Yellow Shirts protest is taking place. What the ISA does (briefly) is give the police or military “extra” powers to handle protests, including clearing the protest site and banning groups from gathering. Don’t ask me why protesters are allowed to gather and block a road and then a special act must be put in place for an area they illegally occupy.

    Here is what was released about the ISA and the Yellow Shirt (PAD) protest: “Up to 50 companies of police, equipped with the ISA’s Section 18 to prohibit people from carrying weapons to public venues as well as entering and leaving specific areas at certain times, have been given the task of solving the problem, including reclaiming areas occupied by PAD protesters.Police will stand guard at important places including parliament, Government House, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Cambodian embassy.”

    Yellow Shirt Protest- the big protest for Friday has *reportedly* been called off. “PAD co-leader Chamlong Srimuang said yesterday the group had decided not to move on Friday for the sake of maintaining traffic flow in the capital.Instead, a group of PAD representatives would travel to Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket to deliver relief supplies to residents affected by the Thai-Cambodian border clashes.”

    99% of Bangkok is not affected by the current Yellow Shirt protest- the 1% that is affected are those that travel around Government House. If the protest does not move- as is now planned- there will be no impact.

    If you avoid the current protest site, there should be no problem.

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