Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rioting in thailand

recently there have been a lot of news articles about the protests in Thailand.
It seems to me that this has exposed a typical weakness in the western media. the stories about the protests have been fairly neutral as to their root causes, and not hugely informative. the main point they have covered is that there are protests. the image this gives is that there is some sort of popular uprising against the "corrupt government". Well that is partly true, but it's not the main story.

To get that we need to go back a few years and sell you a little story that is told about recent thai politics.

Some time ago there was a rich man very influential in the media industry. He ran into a little trouble and needed a bailout, so he asked his 'friend' Thaksin. Thaksin told him it wasn't going to happen. Now Thaksin acquired a fairly influential enemy. In the following years he spend a lot of time trying to get back at Thaksin - and for that matter get the other party into power for his own financial benefit.

Thaksin is helped in this regard by the fact that Thaksin's party appeals to the poor people. they arrange subsidies to the chicken farmers and otherwise developed the rural areas. The other party, on the other hand, has networks within Bangkok so is much more able to get together city based protests.

Now the next importnat thing to realise is that while Thaksin was deposed in the coup but the new leader of Thailand is his puppet. Not nearly as competent - but just as unacceptable as a leader to the Bangkok brigade.

Now thaksin has the suport of the poor peopel in the north - so much so that his allies will absolutly win an election. they can have a coup every year and his allies will win the subsequent election every time. As a result any question of overthrowing his government is fundimentally undemocratic. Many of the protesters against Thaksin are openly hostile towards democracy - and talk about how Thailand isn't ready for democracy. I guess they want to sound like the Chinese.

the silly thing is that thaksin presided over good times for Thailand - corrupt as he may have been he was the equivilent of the Chinese government - stamping out drug dealers and growing thailands economy, while the opposition are not percieved as being very competent, except by their own propaganda. It is sad that they call themselves the People's Alliance for Democracy. Its like the democratic republic of Congo or the DPRK.

the one thing the PAD has on it's side is the sympathy of the king - but this is an issue he would be wise to tread very carefully on.


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