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A Week in Review: May 8-14, 2010

My Roadmap's better than your roadmap...

Seven days ago, it seemed only a matter of time before the political crisis in Thailand would be resolved. By the week’s end, we had become almost resigned to civil war.   Read our week in review here...

While the red shirt leaders were meeting to discuss the government’s roadmap, not everyone was happy with the prospect of the rally ending and peace returning to Thailand. Some key players had already long since crossed the threshold of no return and for them it had become a matter of death or glory.

The self-appointed military advisor to the red shirts, and one of Thakisn’s most loyal servants, Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol, was one for whom peace was not an option. Fearing that the more moderate red shirt leaders were close to negotiating an end to the occupation of central Bangkok, the always outspoken and controversial Major General, more commonly known as Seh Daeng (Red Commander), called in an extra 3,000 hard line reinforcements from Khon Kaen last Saturday.

Not surprisingly, Seh Daeng had been identified by the government as one of the main terrorist infiltrators of the reds, and he was in the process of being the first ever army general to be dismissed and stripped of his rank. He was determined to be a star player in this drama, one way or the other.

On Sunday, there were attacks on members of the election commission’s houses while M79 grenades were also fired at Bangkok Bank’s Ratchadapisek branch. Although the grenades were duds and failed to go off, they added to the worrying statistics of at least 42 bomb/grenade attacks since the “peaceful” protest began on March 12.

Monday was the deadline imposed by the government for the reds to accept the roadmap and disperse from their rally site. As the deadline passed, the reds announced their own road map, and not to be outdone by the government, it had 6 points.

The reds agreed to elections on November 14 and lower house dissolution between September 15 and 30. They also wanted the government to unlock the signal to their People’s Channel TV station with an independent committee to regulate its content as well as that of the yellow shirts’ ASTV channel.

Finally, they wanted the state of emergency to be unconditionally lifted and they would then disperse as soon as Deputy Prime Minister Suthep handed himself in to the police to face charges that he was responsible for the deaths on April 10.

Just when the reds were starting to make sense, they went on to say that the reason why the state of emergency should be lifted was because it was hurting investment and tourism, which was enlightening since most people mistakenly thought that it was because a large part of Bangkok was being held under siege by an unruly mob, because police and civilians had been taken hostage by the mob, because many businesses were forced to close, because people were being intimidated and attacked by the mob, because there had been 42 bomb/grenade attacks, or because the mob was setting up illegal road blocks.

Nevertheless, the fact that we were edging closer to a peaceful resolution was considered a positive sign, although the yellow shirts decided to interfere and complain that there had been some behind the scenes negotiations. While a government should never give in to mob rule or terrorism, the yellow shirts were hardly speaking from the moral high ground and were probably just feeling left out.

On Tuesday morning, Suthep dutifully went to the police so that the siege could end, but the reds cried that it was not the right police. Nattawut of the red shirt UDD said that Suthep must not surrender to the DSI because the DSI is under the control of the CRES which is headed by Suthep. More politicking from the reds was countered by more idle threats from the government.

Meanwhile, knowing that the noose was tightening around his neck, Seh Daeng commented during one of his many interviews that if the rally ended, he would be hunted and would have to go into hiding. After one of his phone conversations with Thaksin, he boasted to reporters that new, more hard-line red leaders were going to be brought in and that anyone not prepared to fight should leave the rally now.

The government’s latest idle threat was to cut water, electricity and communications to the besieged area of Bangkok, but under pressure from residents still living in the previously affluent neighbourhood, they finally relented.

There was a feeling of resignation that more bloodshed was now inevitable as the government withdrew its offer for early elections in the face of more delaying tactics by the reds.  About 8 weeks too late, a tight perimeter was set up around the reds’ camp to prevent supplies and reinforcements getting in, although protesters remained free to leave at any time.

The atmosphere was like a volcano waiting to blow and as evening neared on Thursday, it erupted when Seh Daeng was shot in the head by a sniper. Red shirts later stormed the hospital where doctors were fighting to save his life, although they left without interfering in his treatment. In later clashes, one red was killed and ten injured after they attacked soldiers.

Skirmishes continued between troops and protesters on Friday around central Bangkok as reds inside the main camp were supported by reinforcements outside the army’s perimeter.

Under intense provocation, the army struggled to keep the rioters under control and the people of Bangkok safe, yet Thaksin announced that the army should stop killing people and enter negotiations. Unfortunately, that avenue had been thoroughly and patiently explored but had been turned into a dead-end by the reds.

Veera Musikhapong, Adisorn Piangket, Paijit Aksornnarong and Visa Khantap, four of the reds’ more moderate red leaders, quit as the reds moved further away from a peaceful resolution and deeper into a guerilla war. Bangkok was turned into a bloody battle zone and by the end of Friday, another 17 people had died and around 150 had been injured.

So how will this all end? It is clear that some people do not want the reds to accept any peaceful offer to end the rally, and they are prepared to sacrifice thousands of their heavily manipulated followers to achieve their personal goals.

It could be some time before we see an end to this conflict and many years after that before the scars finally heal.

Paul Snowdon – May 15, 2010

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28 Nov 2015, 03:18
canarchaudry / I have been meaning to come here to let you know how much fun it was to watch your Okinawa corcent David!..I have always thought your rendition of Crazy was incredible! ..but that's just me lol:)Time for a visit I actually went to Toronto last week to visit my kids,David we had an awesome time together, wish it could have been longer.I also had the opportunity to meet the lovely Snowangelzz (Deb)who is one of your amzing Canadian fan. It was really nice of her to take some time away from her work to meet me. I'll say good thing came out of this visit which I never dreamt would happen haha..and I am exciited!!:)) Anyway,I hope you had a wonderful visit with family in Florida and other relatives in Vegas too!:)CMN- great event with great people and amzing kids who are true champions. I thought Dream Sky High and Lean On Me were perfect songs for this event. DSH is one of the most beautiful soulful melody with profound message that I have ever heard.I must confess, you moved me to tears when you sang this at such a young age and still does,idk why,lol.Perhaps that is what magic is all about. you created magiceach time you perform this song, David.Lastly, sorry to hear about the tragic news happening in Bangkok, Thailand. I hope and pray that the flooding will subside soon and spare many lives and home of the people of Thailand. you're right,there will always be another day, another time to sing to them.Thank you again for the weekly blog:) really enjoyed talking to you, hope you don't mind my weekly rambling haha.K, sleep well and goodnight David:):):)>
28 Nov 2015, 18:39
Scott_NJ / Thanks for the Blog David. Glad you had fun in Japan! My prayers are with the <a href="">peploe</a> in Thailand. So sad to hear about. I really like your idea to visit someone today. That's a cool thing to do! I see you are going to be a part of the CMN event this weekend. What a GREAT organization. So glad you get to be a part of it!! I'm glad you are excited for the Christmas tour. So am I!!! Have a great day !
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