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A Roadmap to Lasting Peace?

Thailand has long been a country divided, but the recent polarisation has left the nation teetering on the brink of civil war. While all the recent blame has been laid squarely at the feet of the red shirts, Bangkokians should also accept their share of the blame. Find out why here...

The government hopes that its recently announced 5-point roadmap will help the country reconcile its differences and avert more civil unrest. While it may be an effective short-term solution to the current crisis, it will take a lot more bridge-building on all sides to heal the ill-feeling that permeates the very core of Thai society.

There can be no denying that the red shirt movement has gone far beyond any acceptable level with its ongoing demonstrations. The pro-Thaksin red shirts have crippled one of Bangkok’s most crucial commercial districts, prevented thousands of ordinary people from earning a living, intimidated countless local residents, disrupted a vital commuter service, and set up illegal roadblocks and checkpoints on the nation’s highways.

Emboldened by the mass hysteria of their mob-rule, they have terrorised hospitals, kidnapped police and civilians, and intimidated anyone who disagrees with their campaign of terror. And despite their claims to be unarmed civilians participating in a peaceful protest, they have used armed force to kill and injure security personnel and civilians alike. The list goes on.

The whole country is suffering from this madness, not least the vital tourism sector. However, it is in Bangkok where the worst effects are being felt as several companies in the central business district are prevented from going about their daily business. Inevitably, it is the smaller firms and the low-income employees who suffer the most – ironic as the UDD claims to follow a socialist workers’ ideology.

While a silent majority of Bangkokians have always opposed the red shirt movement – predominantly because of its support for fugitive former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra – they were at least initially tolerant of the red invasion of their city.  However, as the tactics of the reds have become increasingly invasive and aggressive, so has the tolerance of Bangkokians been replaced by hostility and anger.

Bangkokians demanded their city back. Reds demand equality. It began with an exchange of insults when the two sides faced off across Rama IV Road, but the words were soon replaced by bottles and other improvised missiles. The next night it escalated further as M79 grenades were fired into the Silom crowds, killing one, injuring almost a hundred and terrorising thousands as the country edged closer to civil war.

While the average red shirt protester has genuine grievances, their naivety and gullibility have been cruelly exploited by evil manipulators who have hijacked their cause for their own personal gain.

Force fed on propaganda, these previously peaceful country folk have been incited to commit criminal acts that are tearing their own country apart and which run contrary to the democracy they claim to be fighting for.

The predominantly working class red shirts are rightly condemned for their terrorist actions, but it is in Thailand’s institutionalised class divide where the root of the problem can be found.

Yes, the reds have broken the law and committed terrorist activities. But crime and terrorism can only thrive when poverty is rife and the class divide excessive. Yes, poor and uneducated country people have been manipulated by ruthless individuals to serve their own agendas. But they can only be manipulated if they have been victimised and marginalised already.

For too many generations, the people of Bangkok have looked down upon their country cousins and mocked them for their dark skin, their perceived stupidity, their lack of education, and their poor and simplistic ways. For too many generations, the people of Bangkok have exploited their country cousins as cheap labour – almost every middle class Thai household in Bangkok has at least one upcountry maid or servant.

The ugly side of this exploitation reared its head again last week when a 53-year-old Bangkok businesswoman was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in jail and ordered to pay 200,000 baht in compensation for keeping a 14-year-old girl from Buriram in slave-like conditions and regularly assaulting her.

The Bangkok Post reported that the girl was forced to work from 4.30am to midnight and had to eat leftover rice with chilli powder, or food left over by her employer’s family. She rarely received her 2,000 baht monthly pay and was hit repeatedly with a wooden chair, belts and metal rods to the head, chest, back and knees. When the girl collapsed from severe head and body wounds, she was sent to a hospital where doctors only saved her life by draining blood from her back. Her remorseless employer claimed the girl had been in an accident.

Whether we like it or not, those downtrodden masses have been roused from their political slumber and given a voice. For centuries, they have meekly accepted their lot in life as the nation’s farmers, maids, servants, taxi drivers and prostitutes. But the peasants are revolting and they can not be treated like second class citizens any longer. They are Thais, too.

There can be no amnesty for the instigators of violence, but many of the reds are victims too.

We all want peace but if the roadmap is to work, we need to build bridges, not fences or this WILL become a class war.

Paul Snowdon – May 9, 2010

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Have your say...

14 Sep 2015, 14:47
Thank you! I really like your blog as well. It's aalwys wonderful to find a fellow traveler with a similar story.I truthfully just arrived in Thailand a couple weeks ago and I'm still getting my bearings. Bangkok is amazing with a ton of things to do. I've spent most of my time in a town called Lopburi that you can reach from Bangkok for about $1.50 on a minibus or train. It's amazing if you're interested in ruins and tons of monkeys. Send me an email if you want more info!
28 Nov 2015, 03:15
Thank you! I really like your blog as well. It's alywas wonderful to find a fellow traveler with a similar story.I truthfully just arrived in Thailand a couple weeks ago and I'm still getting my bearings. Bangkok is amazing with a ton of things to do. I've spent most of my time in a town called Lopburi that you can reach from Bangkok for about $1.50 on a minibus or train. It's amazing if you're interested in ruins and tons of monkeys. Send me an email if you want more info!
28 Nov 2015, 18:37
Miss you already and hope you're <a href="">lovnig</a> your ridiculously long flight to Asia as I write this Also, did I mention how jealous I am? Can't wait to read your blog! Please update often!
30 Nov 2015, 06:42
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03 Dec 2015, 04:50
A fairly good deiicrptson of the situation Mr Numan but what about the PAD bias? Do you also report for the BBC or CBS? Or possibly Al Jazeera?What you are defending is nothing short of mob rule. You call the PAD "well-educated middle-aged businessmen and women". Do you really think hard working people and businessmen would have time to sit in a protest for months on end. I would say they're more likely to be university lecturers, semi-corrupt public servants, royalists and mafia-like organisations. In short, those who benefit greatly from the corrupt Thai system and who's got plenty to loose by Thaksin's law and order policies. As you yourself conceded, Thakisn was a great leader, easily the best Thailand has ever had. What he understood was that the Thai hierachical system whereby the rich and powerful will never be prosecuted no matter what crimes they commit cannot continue in the long run. That is why he was so popular with the poor and working people. Those who's got most to gain from a society built on law & order and transparency. Sure he initiated a range of populist policies for the poor but they turned out to be very affordable and did in fact do a lot to help the needing. Thaksin's downfall was that there was nothing in his policies for the Bangkok based mafiosos. Actually a very good personal friend of mine is a good example. He's a member of one of the very successful gambling syndicates with many customers from within the very top of politics. He absolutely hated Thaksin, which is why I realised that Thaksin must be doing something right. Thaksin's other big mistakes was that he didn't have very high opinions about the royal family. The King fears Thaksin, he knows that his own son and heir to the thrown is a useless mafioso with no respect among the people. The King understood that when he dies Thaksin will be more popular than the new King, which could very well be the end of the monarchy in Thailand. That's why the King supports those who want to prevent Thaksin from coming back at all costs.You say that corruption increased during Thaksin but that is simply not true. The courts have been unable to raise a case against him apart from some mistermina against his wife - a clean sheet that is previously unheard of in the corrupt affair that is Thai politics.The anti-Thaksin brigade is also very popular among the Muslims in the south. Again, Thaksin stopped the nonsense pussy-footing with those bandits and indeed, since he was removed from power violence has surged in the south. If you would poll Thai people around you, you will find that Thaksin has his support among those who have an honest job and work hard, those who run their own businesses, those who believe in law and order, those who hate the corrupt elite, those who worry about thuggery and violence. In contrast, those who support the PAD, who you hold in such high regard, would be those with less than honest business practices, those who lives on seeking rent from others through corrupt methods and those who are protected by the umbrella of a mafia organisation, the royal family, a university or a powerful public sector organisation. [url=]pgpnqyy[/url] [link=]swxdbfglc[/link]
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