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Thailand’s very own arms race has taken a shocking new twist this week. As the red shirt army gathers on the streets of Bangkok, it may not be hand grenades or pipe bombs that bring about the government’s downfall. Find out what the red’s secret weapon is here...

From across the country, thousands of red shirts are swarming on Bangkok this weekend intent on bringing down what they have been led to believe is an undemocratic government. While the vast majority are hoping for a peaceful rally, there is a hardcore in their midst hell-bent on causing mayhem.

Unfortunately, although few in number, these trouble-makers happen to be the group’s leaders, who have selfishly hijacked and perverted what is in truth a very righteous cause.

Having seen red shirted thugs riot in Bangkok last Songkhran; storm the ASEAN summit in Pattaya, causing regional leaders to flee for their safety; violently attack Prime Minister Abhisit’s car; and throw hand grenades at Bangkok Bank branches, the government is understandably on its guard.

As we reported last week, motorcycle taxi drivers have been drafted in to help monitor the capital for bomb threats and up to 50,000 soldiers and police will be on security duty for the duration of the rally.

However, the most clear and present threat posed by the red shirts may be of a more unconventional kind.

With the red-shirted United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) calling for the Democrat government to step down so that they can re-instate their very own democratically-elected dictator, this is already a dirty war. But it’s just about to get dirtier.

In preparation for this weekend’s rally, red shirt supporters in Ayutthaya have been preparing “tonnes” of home-made bombs - stink bombs. Hundreds of plastic bags have been filled with pla ra (fermented fish sauce) in a uniquely Thai version of the Molotov cocktail.

Pla ra is a popular condiment in the north east of Thailand – a hotbed of red shirt support. However, it is somewhat pungent to say the least and smells like, well like rotten fish, which is exactly what it is.

I have, on occasion, come home and thought that a dog had snuck into our apartment and died of dysentery behind the sofa only to find my wife obliviously lapping up a plate of som tam poo pla ra.

The red shirts have turned to biological weapons of mass disgust as a primarily defensive measure and have promised to use their dirty bombs sparingly.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, one of the Ayutthaya bomb makers said, "We won't rush to throw pla ra bombs though. It's expensive, and it's also our food".

However, red shirts have proven their willingness to fight dirty in the past by throwing pla ra bombs and even bags of human excrement at the PM’s house.

Indeed, just in case the pla ra bombs aren’t disgusting enough, Police Lt. Col. Waipoj Apornrat, a former MP for Kamphaeng Phet and a red shirt leader, has told UDD supporters to bring bags of shit to Bangkok with them.

One would have thought that, with thousands of people eating pla ra in ill-prepared rally sites for a few days, excrement would be in ready supply, but you can’t have too much shit in your arsenal, I suppose.

Paul Snowdon – March 13, 2010

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