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What You Are Not Seeing

14/01/2014

Two very interesting items from the Thai TV channels.

The first showed the mobs pushing down the barriers at a police headquarters. The second carried an interview with the same protesters partying later nearby.

During the Bangkok protests of the last few weeks, confrontations with the police or amongst opponents have not been unusual. Mostly they have, as this morning’s scenes demonstrated, not been violent. The protesters today were seen to push down the barriers and then walk off.

That is not the impression readers are getting from the foreign press. If they had been shown pictures of the singing and dancing in the streets and the rather jovial atmosphere following the speeches and the assault on the police barricades, those wanting to know what was going on would have been given a different interpretation of events. But that does not sell newsprint.

Although the occasion for the protests was the amnesty bill introduced by the present government and accusations of corruption, the reason behind the political unrest is the attempts by a power elite to abandon elections in favour of government by an unelected council.

The opposition is not fielding candidates in the 2 February election. By not doing so, they are showing they want appointees and not elected representatives to govern the country. They know opinion polls show they are unlikely to win a majority of seats. In fact, they have not won an election for over ten years. Their last period in office was by default when the then government was effectively disbanded by the courts.

As I have said in my other blogs, a similar view of having “good men” administering the country was taken by Patik Siam in November 2012. On that occasion, the demonstrations and protests fizzled out. Today, it seems more likely that Thailand will have an unelected administration in government in the short term.

The most telling comment was from one of the protesters that were being interviewed.

When, challenged that there was talk of negotiation or a postponement of the election, she replied:

“Well, it doesn’t matter because we are going to win anyway”

The Thai “whatever will be, will be” attitude (mai pen rai) will win through. They are very conscious of their elite class structure. Whatever views they have of how parliamentary democracy should work and however much they talk about it, deep down there is that feeling that it is ordained that an elite rule and that it is better to go along with that. It does not matter. Mai pen rai.

Time will tell but it looks as if in the short term the country will be under an appointed administration.

Very noticeable this morning that one TV channel was giving wide coverage to Suthep, the anti-government leader. while others were reporting events in a less one-sided manner.

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