Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thailand’s Politics Soap Opera (more than a trilogy)

(All pictures came from various sources from the Web, thank you to all :)

2005 – A New ‘Yellow’ Hope

  • Yellow shirts (People’s Alliance for Democracy - PAD) first came out in about 2005 with the main aim of getting rid of the then Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra and his ‘Thai Rak Thai’ (TRT) party. Several peaceful protests were organised throughout 2005 to 2006.

    pad_leaders_pageHere is a picture of the Yellow Shirts’ leaders, the first one (far left) is Sondhi Limthongkul, he is the initiator of the Yellow Shirts (there was an attempt on his life on April 17th, 2009)


2006 – Political War

  • thaksin_interview Thaksin (left) called for a General Election on April (April 2nd for House of Representative, and April 19th for the House of Senate, although the previous General Election was only held just a little over a year ago in February of 2005), this action was to (one believe) due to the pressure from the Yellow Shirts and more importantly because Thaksin knew that his party will win comfortably. And of course he was right, simply because the main opposition party decided to boycott the General Election   thai-protest
  • Yellow Shirts continued to protests, while the main opposition party (Democrat Party, headed by Abhisit Vejjajiva) piled on political pressure 
  • The army stepped in with a bloodless Coup d’etat on September 19th, 2006, while Thaksin Shinawatra was in New York City or a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, subsequently the Yellow Shirts announced its voluntarily dissolved 
    coup2In all honesty it didn’t feel like a military coup, it was quick and peaceful, but again this coup had the so called support from the Yellow Shirts    
  • thailand_coup_leader_sonthi The leader of the coup was General Sonthi Boonyaratglin (see left), who formed the ‘Council for Democratic Reform’ (CDR), and soon after suspended the Constitution, cancelled the up coming elections and dissolved the parliament  
  • SurayudChulanontA monthly later an interim civilian government was sworn in by the King on October 9th, 2006. Headed by General Surayud Chulanont (see right) as the Prime Minister. This interim government ruled for just a little over a year, and as promised, a General Election was held on December 23rd, 2007


2007 – Thaksin Strikes Back

  • 0013729e4abe08ffc7cf2d Here is the fun part; the clear winner of 2007's General Election was the People's Power Party (PPP, now headed by a veteran politician, Samak Sundaravej (deceased, see left)), many strongly believe that PPP is simply the ‘Thai Rak Thai’ party under a different name, in simple words the government is once again under the control of Thaksin Shinawatra who still remained overseas 
  • Subsequently and without wasting time, the new ruling party (PPP) set out to amend the constitution, the Yellow Shirts see this amendment as a way of letting Thaksin back into Thailand with his full reputation back… and of course the they were never going to let that happen



2008 – Return of the Yellow Shirts

  • So there wasn't a surprise when the Yellow Shirts again came out on March 28th, 2008 with a meeting at Thammasat University, and this is where the game of Yellow vs Red Ping Pong truly began
  • 2008 is the year of ‘Political Melt Down’, probably from August 2008 and onwards the Yellow Shirts were out in huge number, in various widespread protests (30,000 reported for one of the protest), strategically they took over the Government House Compound, blocked off several airports around Thailand including the country’s main Suvarnabhumi Airport (November 25th, 2008)


  • Quick recap, in 2008; PPP is in power as the ruling party (government), Samak is the new Prime Minister (PM), Thaksin is still overseas; PPP (in simple words, belongs to Thaksin) is trying to amend the constitution where the Yellow Shirts believes this will let Thaksin back into the country; Yellow Shirts start protesting again
  • 080908_samak By September 2008, Samak (the PM) was in trouble of his own. Samak loves to cook, so it was natural for him to have had a TV cooking show! This resulted in several court cases charging him with a conflict of interest by being a private employee (and receiving a salary) while holding the Prime Minister position! To my understanding this instantaneously terminated his political position

  • So what now? After the termination of Samak, it was decided by the PPP and their coalition partners to form a new government while for the interim Somchai Wongsawat (see below)  was appointed as the caretaker PM, and guess what? He is the brother in law of Thaksin, just imagine how the Yellow Shirts were feeling
  • PPP and their coalition partners decided to reappoint Samak as the PM! (one didn’t know they could do that), but Samak decided not to take the post, he then resigned as the head of the PPP
  • resize.php Do remember that all this time the Yellow Shirts were still occupying the Government House, they were committed to remain there (and were committed to more protests) forever if the next PM came from the PPP, nonetheless (like they give a s%^t), the next PM was in deed the current caretaker PM, Somchai Wongsawat (see right) from the PPP
  • The highlight came in December, on the 2nd of December the Constitutional Court ruled that the three government parties (including the PPP) committed election fraud thus immediately dissolving the governing coalition… … … …
  • asia_0216_p028 This dissolve ruling sees several members of parliament and parties jumping boat to join the Democrat Party (the main opposition), now with the majority, Abhisit Vejjajiva  (head of the Democrat Party) was appointed as the new Prime Minister (endorsed by the King on December 17th, 2008)


2009 – The Red Shirts Menace

  • Ok, Yellow Shirts are the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), consists of mostly people from Bangkok the capital city who opposed to Thaksin and his government
  • Red Shirts are the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), consists of mostly people from Upcountry regions, loves Thaksin and his government
  • udd_leaders_page Red shirts (UDD) (see right for leaders) have been around probably since the late 2006 after the military coup, of course they were opposing the army who had just thrown out Thaksin. Following similar trend to the Yellow Shirts, widespread protests were held during the military rule, of course by this time Yellow Shirts had disbanded as their job was done
  • Here is the Ping and the Pong of it all (another recap);

    • 2005: Yellow Shirts came out in protests to get rid of Thaksin
    • 2006: After a one sided General Election (boycotted by the opposition party) Thaksin still rules, September saw the military coup d’etat and an civilian government was set up, so Thaksin was out, subsequently Yellow Shirts disbanded, then come the rise of the Red Shirts, set out to oppose the military government
    • 2007: Yellow shirts are back, in this year a General Election was held and won by the PPP (who is simply TRT under a different name, Thaksin is still ruling by proxy), so the Yellow Shirts came out once more
    • 2008: Yellow Shirts stepped up its action, taking over the Government House and airports, the constitution court ruled that the PPP and other 2 parties committed election fraud so these parties had to be dissolved causing several MPs and other government coalition parties to jumped ship to the Democrat Party
      By the end of 2008 the Democrat Party was the ruling party as the majority party in the government, so the Red Shirts wasn’t going to have any of this, they once again took to the street
    • 2009: As there have been no changes in the government, Democrat still holds the power so the Yellow Shirts were no where to be seen, while the Red Shirts have been causing a havoc.
    • Throughout 2009 the Red Shirts were as disruptive as the Yellow Shirts ever were, although they did not paralysed the airports but they did manage to storm the location of the ASEAN meeting (Pattaya) causing it to be cancelled, eventually a state of emergency was declared for the surrounding areas (April 11th, 2009)

Red shirts demo in Pattaya (Reuters)6a0105357b4689970c01157015516f970b-800wi

bangkokThe state of emergency was extended to Bangkok as during the ‘Songkran Festival’ (Thai’s New Year (a week long holiday, starting on April 13th, 2009)), the protests by the Red Shirts became a little more serious. Cars and public buses were hijacked then burnt, the Red Shirts had taken over several areas in Bangkok with the main focal point at the Victory Monument (see left). There were clashes between the protestors and government supporters, eventually the Army stepped in and warrant were issues for the protest leaders. Can not remember if anyone died (Red Shirts claimed 6 had died), and the violence had ceased by April 14th, 2009.




2010 – Will the Yellow Shirts be back?

  • Right now Abhisit (Democrat Party) is still in power, the Red Shirts are gathering up their pace, only last Saturday (20th) they organised a long march paralysing most if not all of Bangkok, their demand is very clear this time, ‘dissolve the Government’ making way to yet another General Election 
  • I have to mention this, for one of their stunt, earlier this month on March 16th the Red Shirts asked for 10cc of blood from the willing protestors, by the afternoon they have gathered (to me) quite a lot of it… and what did they do with all that blood? By the afternoon they had marched to the Government House (the same one that the Yellow Shirts took over back in 2008) and poured some of the blood in front of the government house, then they marched to the Democrat Party HQ and poured blood on their gates (for both case they could not get any closer due to the police), the following day they marched to Abhisit’s house (out of line here I think) and poured blood on his gate too, not only that the Red Shirts puts blood in small plastic bags and threw it over the gate landing and spattering all over Abhisit’s house (why?)
     U100P200T1D309127F8DT20100316051827 U100P200T1D309127F10DT20100316051827 
  • Right now we are only weeks away from Songkran Festival, we are all hoping it won’t be as violent as it was last year. The main question is “what if the Abhisit did call for a General Election and looses that?” There is no doubt the Yellow Shirts will once again put on their yellow shirts (of course) and march out again, just like that was the ‘Ping’ from the Reds and now it would be the ‘Pong’ from the Yellows… All one is hoping for is for the next chapters not to be named, ‘Attack of the Reds’ follow by ‘Revenge of the Yellows’…