As news came of a bomb going off at the home of coalition party leader Banharn, I settled down to watch a transvestite beauty contest on Thai television. A thousand people in white went to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to perform a ceremony to increase the karmic bank balance of the country, while in the heart of the red shirt camp, more monks were trotted out to perform a ceremony to increase the influence of the planet Jupiter in order to bring them victory in the coming fray.
There's been an outbreak of H1N1 virus amongst the red community, but Dr. Weng has announced that there is no danger because "it is so hot that you just have to cough, and the virus will die on contact with the heat." All this whilst demanding an "Erection in Thirty Days". I'm not an expert on immunology by I suspect that if there are such viruses knocking around the plaza, they won't be as susceptible to heat stroke as the demonstrators.
It is very interesting to note that in a nationwide poll held by one of the universities, over half the population of Thailand seemed to think that this madness would be "over pretty soon". Either the common man has a better sense of the body politic than the average pundit, or there's a lot of wishful thinking going around.
Meanwhile, Thaksin has surfaced to deny the rumors of his own death. Abhisit did not capitulate to the red shirts' "30-day erection" demand, perhaps because, once the T-word came into use, it also created the new dilemma of whether it is permissible for a legitimate government to negotiate with same. He could not capitulate and they knew that. It would set a precedent whereby any mob could expect any demand from any minority, whose only requirement would be that they break laws and make a lot of noise. Yes, the yellow shirts started this trend by seizing the airport and not getting punished. But the government didn't capitulate to them; the judiciary was what actually gave them what they wanted. This would be a first.
I watched with some consternation the redshirts' clip in which Dr Weng said (I'm condensing this) "The international community is all on our side. Ban Ki-Moon has personally accepted our request for UN Peacekeeping Forces, and the only concern is that he may not be able to arrange them in time." Dr. Weng then proceeded to read the redshirts' letter to the U.N. aloud, in English, as proof of all this. The audience cheered wildly at inappropriate points, reacting only to Dr. Weng's triumphant tone of voice. This is because most people in the audience probably don't speak English, and certainly don't understand diplomatic phraseology. Dr. Weng didn't deign to read Ban Ki-Moon's response, if any. The demand was already proof of its acceptance.
It's a pity that the red rally speeches don't have English subtitles because the international press would surely have a much deeper understanding of what's happening if they did. One notes that the well-placed English-language slogans and placards are all the cues the international press picks up. It has all the subtlety of Woody Allen's "What's Up, Tiger Lily?"
The speech was an ultimate victory of tone over content. This could be said to be the theme of this entire fiasco of a people's revolution. As Humpty Dumpty said, "When I want a word means something different, I always pay it extra." A lesson which Thaksin has surely taken to heart as we begin to reassign definitions to such concepts as "democracy", "majority", and "peace". (Perhaps he should consider also what happened to Humpty Dumpty.)
When someone emerges who truly speaks for the values that the redshirts appear to espouse — a fair shake for the poor, equal opportunity, compassionate governance, and the ability to agree to disagree without resorting to grenade launchers — I will be first in line to join their cause.
For now, though, I would continue to maintain that no one does. In fact the only person who comes even close to wanting to bring about these noble ideals so touted by the red shirts is — ABHISIT!