Thailand: Red Shirts paid to protest?

The Red Shirts have ended their protests. The leaders have been arrested and an arrest warrant was issued against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Red Shirts have been protesting for the past three weeks; they were demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva who was accused of using illegal means to achieve power. Last Sunday and Monday, violence erupted between protesters and the military. The confrontation killed two protesters and injured more than one hundred.

Most of the Red Shirts are supporters of Thaksin. Thaksin, who has fled the country to avoid trial for corruption charges, has been addressing his Red Shirt supporters through a video phone. Thaksin’s critics accuse him of using his wealth to finance the protest activities of the Red Shirts. They cite one of Thaksin’s video messages which they believe contains an evidence of Thaksin admitting that he is paying the Red Shirt protesters. The original video was already watched by a quarter of a million people. Watch the video with the English subtitles.

The controversial quote is translated by Jotman:

If (they) return democracy to the people, and return a democratic constitution (to the people), then whoever is in the government, I'm ready to give advice. But if you people want me back to do the job, then I'm ready to serve you. I'm ready to work hard at the age of sixty. And you don't need to go to queue up for 500 baht. Brother and sister, those people who use to receive the edible fruits of democracy during the Thai Rak Thai administration when I was prime minister. . . .

Was this an admission the he was funding the provocative street actions in Thailand? Or was he referring to the government assistance for elderly citizens?

For other updates, Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported about the national address given by the Prime Minister concerning the end of protests in the nation's capital.

In regard for the feelings and concerns of the public that the operation undertaken by the Government to resolve the demonstrations at Government House could lead to violence and damage, Prime Minister Abhisit gave his reassurance that the Government has never regarded anyone as its enemy and has tried at all times not to cause damage or losses. In order to make sure that the demonstration is put to an end, it was necessary for security officers to move in and ask the protesters who did not support violence to return home. On the morning of 14 April, the operation produced results and the demonstrations ended. The roads previously blocked have now been reopened. The Government has facilitated protesters in their journey home. The Prime Minister thanked all sides for their cooperation.

The government is helping the protesters return to their provinces by providing them with free transportation.

Khi Kwai explains why the Red Shirts, which were almost triumphant after forcing the cancellation of a major Asian Summit last weekend, suddenly lost momentum and were defeated by government forces.

The recent wave of demonstrations had started as a stunning success for the red shirts. The series of coordinated actions that led to the spectacular debacle in Pattaya revealed an unexpected measure of discipline and organizational prowess for a movement often thought of as rudderless and unruly

The luck of the red shirts turned in a mere matter of hours. By Monday afternoon, the movement’s once-buoyant leadership had effectively lost control of the situation. Supporters scattered all over Bangkok resorted to desperate measures to halt the army’s methodical advance through the capital.

Thanong consults his astrologer to make sense of what is happening in Thailand:

Neptune is now hovering above lakhana duang muang, magnifying its influence over events in Thailand. “We might have a very serious incident this evening and it will deterioriate further,” my astrologer said on Sunday.

But beginning Tuesday of April 14, 2009, Neptune will gradually move out of Lakhana Duang Muang to the right side of the Sun. This means that the bad omen or bad incidents against Bangkok will subside. The situation will improve.

Red Shirts in central Thailand. From Flickr page of izumiflowers

Red Shirts in central Thailand. From Flickr page of izumiflowers

Bloggers are trying to assess which group started the violence: The Red Shirts, Yellow Shirts, Blue Shirts, or the military? All of them may be guilty of instigating violent actions. nganadeeleg advises Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to institute major reforms in the country in order to improve his image.

Now is the time for Abhisit to decide how he wants to go down in history – it's his choice whether he is seen as another in a long line of elite manipulators, or a true reformer.

Whichever route he chooses, he is unlikely to win a fair election in the short term, but if he chooses reform he at least will eventually be fondly remembered by the majority (and he is actually young enough that he might one day win an election fair & square)

Thumbnail image used from the Flickr account of Y-Not


  • […] Mong Palatino’s got lots of context for the controversial video, including bloggers who’ve sought advice from their personal astrologers in understanding the situation in Thailand. As for me – the sight of an exiled prime minister giving marching orders via videophone and being ridiculed on YouTube is sufficient proof that we’re living in the future. […]

  • Thais in the US

    Mr. Thaksin:
    Please stop embarassing yourself and our country.
    Mr. Abisthit:
    Please work as hard and quickly as you could to turn our country around and out of this political turmoil (in a democratic way). When you finish your part, please make sure that Thailand has true democracy back.

    All Thais need to unite as one. We love our nation, our religion/faith and our king. We have tremendous problems eg. economy, healthcare, etc. that need to be worked on. During this global recession, we have no time to watch our country slipping away.

    Please leave all your conflicts behind and start working together to get our beloved country back on track. We surely do not want to be “a third world country, destabilized by political turmoil”…..again.

    Thais are civilized and peaceful people. Please show the world our true nation.


    Thais in the US

  • […] While most of technology pundits were debating the role of Twitter in stirring Moldova’s protests, we may have missed how it was used (and misused!) in Thailand, where much larger protests were taking place. I’ve spent a lot of time researching the issue, trying to find any references to technologies that have been used to organize and cover protests, but I have found only a handful of blog posts, most of them discussing viral videos. Make sure to check Ethan Zuckerman’s post about the infamous video in which Thaksin supposedly acknowledges that he’s been paying his supporters; the video triggered a lot of heated discussions on YouTube and in the blogosphere, as discussed on GlobalVoices. […]

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