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Southeast Asia: Reactions to Thailand protests

For two months, Red Shirt protesters occupied the streets of Bangkok demanding the resignation of the prime minister. The protest camps have been dismantled already but the city is still reeling from the political crisis.

The violent confrontations between the heavily armed soldiers and protesters in the past week have stunned the world. What are the reactions of bloggers from neighbouring Southeast Asian nations?

A few days ago, the Thailand government revealed that Cambodian “mercenaries” were hired by the Red Shirts to sow violence in the city. This accusation elicited strong reactions in Cambodia. Khmerization reminds the Thailand government that there are many ethnic Khmers in Thailand who are already Thai citizens.

Many red shirt protesters were mainly made up of ethnic Khmers and Laotians living in the northeastern provinces of Thailand who are Thai citizens. We need to remember also that the Thai media owned by the Red Shirt Movement also accused the Abhisit government of dressing up Khmer prisoners in military uniform and sent them to crackdown on the red shirt recently. How true are these rumours? Nobody knows.

The Son of the Khmer Empire believes the motive for spreading this rumor is to demonize Cambodians

I believe the rumour is circulated intentionally and politically in order to…make the Khmer as scapegaot to appease Thai anger against each other and turn the revenge/hatred towards Khmers and esp. the bloody Thai elite and royal family will not be held responsible for the bloodshed.

A political cartoon about the Red Shirt protest crackdown in Bangkok. Cartoon created by Cambodian artist Bun Heang Ung

Filipino journalist Joe Torres visited a Red Shirt protest site

It was like our EDSA “revolutions.” There were raw emotions, spontaneous actions and a lot of fun. The people, many of them from the countryside, wanted the ruling party out. They wanted “change,” something we hear in our politicians campaign sorties these days.

Kopisusu2 from Indonesia was also visiting Bangkok when the Red Shirts were still in the streets

Many analysts agree the protesters have a point. But as long as the demonstration lasts, the Red Shirts are cutting off the supply of joy to businesses in the Red Zone and impeding its flow to the entire economy.

Our old hotel, the VIP Golden House, is inside the zone. It will stay closed until the protesters leave, said the woman behind the desk with a stoic smile.

i eat padek, who blogs about Laos, reacts

wow. red shirts, yellow shirts, thaksin vs. vejjajivait, it's all really confusing… most people have already heard about the recent violence consuming bangkok, thailand and killing it's land-of-smiles-and-etc tourism industry

Southeast Asian Archaeology newsblog warns that the protests are affecting attendance in museums near the protest zones

Most of you would be familiar with the protests going on in Bangkok, which have recently claimed lives due to clashes between the protesters and the authorities. The Fine Arts Department also report that museum visitorships have suffered greatly because of the protests, as the majority of the museums in Bangkok are located near the protest areas, and in some cases protesters have mistakenly stormed the museums!

Musings from the Lion City, a Singapore blogger, analyzes Thailand’s political situation

Even if he wants to call fresh elections, Abhisit most probably can’t as the Bangkok elite that support him and put him in power will not allow it. They will probably also know that any elections will be won by the rural “Red Shirts”. Mistakes have been made by both sides in this conflict and I’m afraid the mistakes has piled up to such an extent that there’s no longer an easy way out for anyone.

Twitter and Facebook were extensively used to monitor the situation in Bangkok. Jonathan Russell provides a better and clearer context about the usage of social media in relation to the Red Shirt protests

While I do agree Twitter, and more prominently Facebook, amplified hateful comments, many of the vitriol online (though worrying itself) can be put down to extreme opinions which do not represent the popular opinion.

A minority of Thais use Facebook (around 3 million) and Twitter (less than a million), and of these the comments came from a small percentage. For example, an vitriolic Facebook Group with 1,000 is large number but, in the bigger picture, is 0.03% of Thai Facebook members and clearly not representative of any kind of majority.

I agree that the manner in which social networks can legitimize vitriolic groups which grew in Thailand during the protests is worrying. As the average Facebook users is more likely in Bangkok, middle class or affluent, and not a red shirt, much of comments and rage were against the UDD and its protest.

3 comments

  • I can’t even believe that Cambodians are being dragged into this! Hearing this actually disgusts me. The fact that they are rumored to be partly responsible, and the idea that the Thai government would do such a thing is appauling. I mean, who knows if there is any truth to it, but the mear though of it is disgusting.

  • Chivan

    @ #26 May 2010, 9:32 am

    If Thailand did not put a Cambodian in jail accusing for protesting among the red shirts, Cambodia wouldn’t care about Thailand. But Thailand always blamed Cambodia and other countries even foreign journalists shot by Thai army just saying the truth. The disgust one is people like you just like the Thai military govt acting so barbarian against humanity.

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