A Deeply Divided Society
What Next for
Defaced pictures of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva were pasted in the Red Shirts camp.
The Red Shirts began as a protest by the poor but it has become a mass movement of those who reject
What began as a protest of the poor has become a mass movement. It is more than just farmers and laborers from northern
The Reds have no clear command structures. They are a magnet for the disenfranchised, many of whom yearn for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and feel excluded from the networks of power in
They are united by their anger with the current government under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who was elected not by the people, but rather only by the parliament -- following dubious intrigues by the military. And they are united by a common opponent: the pro-establishment Yellow Shirts -- an alliance of civil servants and the urban upper classes who portray themselves as staunch monarchists.
Deep Divisions Run Through the Military
The deep divisions that run through the military were recently revealed when Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol was suspended because he sided with government opponents. His death by a sniper's bullet made him into a martyr for his followers. Even Thailand's army chief General Anupong Paochinda has acted indecisively -- first coming out in favor of new elections, as the demonstrators have demanded -- and then publicly siding with Prime Minister Abhisit during a TV appearance.
The country is also divided because
The Press Has Failed to Inform the Public
It is the structural problems plaguing Thailand that make the future look grim: an army that regularly intervenes in politics (Thailand has had 18 military coups since 1932); a constitutional court that professes to be neutral, yet allows itself to be used for political purposes; a population that is raised to be loyal subjects -- loyal to the king, not to the constitution. The press also fails in its duty to inform the public. Insulting the monarchy can result in a prison sentence; this keeps critics quiet.
The crisis has not been resolved, it has merely shifted elsewhere. The Reds started dozens of fires late last week in
If new elections were actually held this year, then it would simply mean that the Reds would be in the government and it would be the Yellows who would be out protesting on the streets.
Translated from the German by Paul Cohen