Sunday, March 14, 2010
Parting the Red Sea
Well, according to rumor, Bangkok is a sea of red-shirted protesters, but even though I live 5 houses away from the Prime Minister, presumably a danger spot, I haven't yet encountered a single revolting peasant. Perhaps the drama is to come. In his phone-in to his supporters, our intrepid ex-PM had to skirt the issue of his having been thrown out of Dubai for violating his agreement not to use the country to cause political mayhem, and had to insist that he was not in Cambodia although I read in at least one newspaper that he had already landed in Siem Riep. This morning the papers estimated the number of rallyers at around 100,000 and growing, but this is considerably short of the million man march promised. Nevertheless, I saw a BBC clip that gave the impression that we're on the eve of the French Revolution, with liberté, egalité and fraternité being shouted from the rooftops.
Now I have always insisted on being politically neutral. As far as red and yellow leaders are concerned, Dr. Weng is a good man and I worked with him on the concert for world peace 9 years ago. Sonthi is also a fine person and a good patron of the arts who once funded one of my film projects. I had some sympathy with the yellow shirts at first, but their blatant declaration that the poor were too stupid to vote was as ignorant a statement as any uttered by the most bull-headed of the red shirts. As for the reds, there are real grievances, but I'm afraid the legitimacy of the current government can't be considered a genuine one. They are, alas, still protesting the concerns of 2007 without realizing that the country has shifted.
The 2006 coup was a very silly idea, one whose time was long past. The generals realized very quickly that they were not that great at running a country, and the democratic process, complete with attendant corruption, was restored almost immediately. The present government has come about through perfectly acceptable parliamentary procedures. Bringing down the government would not punish the perpetrators of the coup which ousted Thaksin. It's a completely different government, and one which has largely continued Thaksin's policies with regard to the rural poor. Nor has it murdered accused drug dealers without a trial or repressed the Muslim community or muzzled the press, all major distinctions of the Thaksin regime which blighted the many brilliant ideas that Thaksin also put into practice.
Nor would bringing down the government give Thaksin back his confiscated money. We are in theory supposed to have a proper separation of powers in this country, so there's no reason that the judiciary would suddenly rewrite its decision, especially since, by not taking it all, they were able to appear pretty even-handed.
What, in fact, would bringing down the government achieve? I, for one, am not sure. I am not sure that the protesters are sure.
What I am sure about is that my housekeeper told me that according to her sources upcoutry the fee for protesting is 500 baht, minus 300 which must be paid to an agent. The newspapers printed that it was 1,500 and that people were objecting to how little money they were getting to protest compared to last time. If it's 500 a day for 3 days, I guess the figures match. My housekeeper said, "My village isn't coming to the protests. They're not getting enough money, and last time it was too hot and it wasn't what we we were expecting."
Well it is now 11 am and it seems that there's some protesters on my street now. Unfortunately I have to go out to pick up a repaired computer. We will have to see whether traffic will be blocked. I think I'll wear green or purple. Most other colors are political unreliable.
Luckily for all of my faithful readers, I now have an iPhone, so I will continue to tweet as I am being bludgeoned to death by some over-zealous police officer or angry farmer.