Freitag, 2. August 2013

Thailand's gossip factory is working overtime!

Never again!

Zur deutschen Version!

Since a couple of days Thailand's gossip factory is working overtime again. Some people are afraid of violent clashes and riots instigated by some anti-government groups like Dr. Tul's multi-coloured-shirt group, the new formed "People's Army against (also: to overthrow - see update below) the Thaksin regime" (self-declared successor of the Pitak Siam movement), supporters of the so called "White Masks/Thailand Spring" (referring to the Arab Spring), supporters and members of Thailand's "Democrat Party", etc, etc, etc. Other rumours are even anticipating another coup to topple the elected government of Thailand (again).

Update: The call themselves now: The People's Force for Democracy to Overthrow Thaksinism" (PEFOT) 

What are the reasons for the latest anti-government protests which started on Wednesday 31. July 2013 with the rally of the "Democrat Party" and their supporters at the BTS-Station Chong Nonsi and will continue with an announced mass protest on Sunday 04.August 2013? The main reason is the controversial amnesty bill, which will be debated in the parliament on August 07. and 08. Actually this amnesty bill is meant to grant amnesty to all people who were involved or are suspected to be involved in the protests, violent clashes and riots of Thailand's recent past (excluding Thaksin, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban and the military). But the opposition (parlamentarian and non-parlamentarian groups and parties) are convinced that the ruling Pheu Thai Party will abuse/rewrite the law to white-wash former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-imposed exile since he was ousted in a coup in September 2006.
(for more background information see Saksith Saiyasombut:

The mostly ultra-royalist, far-right nationalist or semi-fascist groups are profoundly convinced, that Thaksin and his supporters are still the most dangerous threat to the Thai monarchy and for the Thai nation and that it is their (holy) duty to defend Thailand and the Monarchy by all means. A good exemple therfor is the totally fabricated story about the government's failed rice scheme policies.
(Bangkok Pundit:
Furthermore, they condemn the policies of the government in general and accuse them of nepotism, destroying the country's economy and Thailand's future.

Suthep Thaugsuban, 23.06.2011

On Wednesday Suthep Thaugsuban said during the protest rally of the Democrat Party and their supporters at Chong Nonsi Station that the opposition party might organise a street rally against the amnesty bill. ...The rally is one of two options the party has planned for opposing it. Another option is through parliamentary mechanisms. Mr Suthep was addressing the people  Wednesday evening. ``If the government insists on pushing through the amnesty bill and if the Democrat Party loses all the fights in the three readings of the bill, we will blow the whistle to encourage people across the country to vent their anger against the government. The military and the police must also stand by the people because the government would lose its legitimacy to run the country."...
Bangkok Post:

After the coup September 2006.

But which facts or stories started the rumour mill?

The facts (more or less):

1.) The  "People's Army against the Thaksin regime" (led by Adm Chai Suwannaphab and key members of the Isan Kuu Chart group) issued an ultimatum to the Yingluck government:
To take action against critics of the monarchy, especially those in the camp of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. As well, they demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa from the defence and deputy defence portfolios respectively.
The protesters also called for stern measures to curb the rising cost of living, the end of the 350-billion-baht water management scheme and the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure investments, and the withdrawal of all reconciliation and amnesty bills aimed at bringing Thaksin home.
The protesters gave the government seven days to act on the demands or face a peaceful rally on Aug 4.
(Bangkok Post:

...As the new parliamentary session approaches, the political situation is becoming intense. Detractors and rivals of the government are taking to the streets after having waited for two years, since the ruling coalition came to power.
The government has been accused repeatedly of corruption, favouritism, unfair treatment, double standards and acting for the benefit of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. The apparent goal is to undermine the government's legitimacy in running the country.To the government's detractors, the last straw is its plan to push for an amnesty law for protesters. A bill proposed by a group of MPs from the ruling Pheu Thai Party has been tabled for House deliberation next Wednesday.
Government critics and the opposition say the main beneficiaries from the proposed law would be red-shirt protesters who committed severe criminal offences during the 2010 unrest, such as rioting, theft, arson and murder. Ordinary protesters who violated the state of emergency law and the Internal Security Act invoked during the unrest have all completed their jail terms...
(The Nation:

2.) The enforcement of the ISA (Internal Security Act) by the Thai government in three districts of Bangkok for 10 days, starting on 1st of August.
...National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said the ISA will cover Dusit, Phra Nakhon and Pomprap Sattruphai districts once parliament reconvenes today. Lt Gen Paradorn said the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) will take measures to prevent and suppress any incidents which may affect national security.
The decision came after security agencies told the cabinet meeting that the ISA should be invoked...
(Bangkok Post:

3.) ...A hand grenade was hurled at the house of Vice Admiral Pajun Tamprateep, a close aide to Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, in the early hours of yesterday. It did not explode and its safety pin had not been removed... (The Nation:;-nobody-hurt-30211614.html)

4.) On Thursday, 01. August His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (after being nearly four years in hospital) and Queen Sirikit (being in Hospital for one year) left the Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok and moved to their palace in Hua Hin.

5.) ...A group of militant anti-government protesters have been trained by former army captain Songklod Chuenchuphol, in the same way as the late red-shirt strategist Maj-General Khattiya Sawatdiphol did, ahead of the red shirts' major rallies in 2010...
(The Nation:

The rumours (because they are hard or impossible to verify):

Ratchaprasong News on Facebook:
"Two sources told RN that Newin (Chidchob) is back in the political fray by trying to bring Ayuthaya gangsters to provoke fight with riot police."

"RN's security team discusses the Army's posture at this moment and our general said Gen Prayuth has distance himself from the government somewhat and could not be counted on to support the government 100%"

Other rumours mentioned that opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva met with representatives of the Royal Thai Army in Kanchanaburi a few days ago.

What to expect in the coming days?

What will happen in the coming days or weeks is really hard to predict. A new putsch is just as possible as that nothing is going to happen at all! Thais love gossip, to exaggerate and spreading rumours. Information in Thailand is often spreading like Chinese Whispers game - after a short while it is nearly impossible to tell what the original news was and what was just recently added or dropped. 

In the last three years since the violent crackdown in May 2010 we "were informed at least about three or four allegedly imminent coup d'état's". And nothing happened! The last Pitak Siam protest in November 2012, which tried to provoke a coup to topple the Yingluck government failed miserably and the last gathering of the "White Masks" was a complete failure because only a few hundred instead of the expected several thousand supporters joined the "Mega Gathering".

23.11.2012 - the second Pitak Siam protest - protesters attacking the police forces

All we can do now is sit and wait for the things to come. Hopefully it will be only a storm in a teacup.

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