Thailand crisis: how things have changed since 2010 red shirt protests — “It seems the country is in a state of lawlessness. People can do what they want”.
That is a quote from Thai caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a meeting with armed forces leaders yesterday, but it could just as easily have been a quote from the Democrat-led government in 2010 during the red shirt protests.
What we have here is a complete role reversal from the 2010 political chaos.
Prime Minister Yingluck asked the military to help police enforce “law and order” if the protesters carry out their vow to “shut down” Bangkok starting January 13.
How ironic, because in 2010 it was the Democrats who were all about “law and order” when the red shirts took over the very heart and center of Bangkok for two months back in 2010, essentially setting up a “state within a state” – complete with it’s own guarded borders, police, political leaders, armed forces, etc.
And it was the red shirts who constantly flouted any sense of “law and order” back in 2010 when they ran amok all over the city and pretty much did as they pleased.
When the red shirts first took over the Ratchaprasong intersection in 2010, the Democrat-led government gave them an “ultimatum” to leave by 9pm that night. The red shirts ignored this order, claiming the “unelected” government was illegitimate anyway.
Now, the current anti-government protests, who are closely aligned with the Democrat Party, are claiming the Pheu Thai-led government is “illegitimate”, and they can therefore ignore any and every thing this government says.
I must admit, the ongoing eight-year long Thai political drama is one of the very best. The constantly changing, colour-coordinated street protests and governments is bewildering.
In those eight years, the government has changed back and forth between the two sides five times, and right now what we’re seeing is the fifth major set of street protests by the group not currently in power.
Elected, coup, elected, judicial coup, elected, what to do? That’s from one point of view.
The anti-Thaksin, anti-red shirt segment of the population might describe it on this wise: Elected by fraud, military coup that in this case is justified, elected by fraud again, court decision to set things right, elected by fraud yet again, we’ve had enough of this and we’re not putting up with it any longer. And so it goes. But their side is running out of options.
The Pheu Thai-led government is, of course, all about the February election, and why not? Their side has won all of the previous five elections since 2001, and has every reason to believe they’ll win this one too – even if the Democrats were not boycotting it.
The Democrats/anti-government protesters are adamantly against the February election, and why not? They’ve lost all of the previous five elections since 2001, and have every reason to believe they’ll lose this one too – even if they weren’t boycotting it. Which, come to think of it, is the reason they’re boycotting it.
But what to do? Most people by now realize this whole mess is a direct result of the 2006 military coup that overthrew the Thaksin Shinawatra government, and that another military coup at this point would further enrage the pro-red shirt majority of the population – a very scary proposition for anyone paying attention in 2010.
But one question remains unanswered. If today’s anti-protesters got their way, and reforms took place before the next election, exactly what kind of reforms do they want that would change the end result of every election since 2001?
They can howl about “corruption” all they want – and no doubt there’s a lot of it. But, let’s be real here. Even without any corruption or vote-buying going on at all, wouldn’t the red shirt faction still win every election simply because they have the numbers? They have more people. It’s simple math.
So the only way to change that seems to be to discard the one person-one vote principle of modern democracy. Is that what they have in mind? Giving Bangkok/more educated voters more votes per person than the upcountry/less-educated masses? Who knows? No one’s saying, as far as I can tell.