Back From Bangkok, Despite Red Shirts and Red Faces

I currently returned from ten days in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. While there, I found that I knew little or no approximately Thai politics, certainly not enough to recognize who the Red Shirts were or why they were demonstrating in Bangkok. Being present in a country while something out of the regular is taking place tends to consciousness one’s interest on that u . S . A . No longer handiest during the go to but additionally next to it. For me, I appear to gain a vested hobby in a place if I was there for the duration of an crucial occasion. For this motive, my know-how of Thai politics commenced converting during my go to there. Now again home, I continue to be interested in following the information of the anti-government protests of the Red Shirts in Bangkok.

In January 2010, I commenced making plans a month-long ride to India. At the same time I controlled to persuade an amazing pal dwelling in Sydney to satisfy me in Bangkok after my Lewandowski jersey travels in India. We agreed to meet in Bangkok the second week of March. Our plans consisted of staying for four nights in Bangkok earlier than visiting right down to a seashore lodge south of Pattaya for a similarly four nights. Our ultimate two days might be spent in Bangkok before flying home. Not exceedingly, our plans did not constantly observe the line we expected them to because of the political unrest in Bangkok.

My buddy become already conscious from the Australian media that the Thai government predicted protests and possible clashes with a group called the Red Shirts across the time we were assembly in Bangkok. Coming from London, I don’t recall analyzing or hearing some thing approximately the politics in Thailand that could have alerted me to any future trouble. My friend wrote me a concerned e mail about 3 weeks before we were to satisfy in Bangkok. She read of the mounting uneasiness of the Thai government and different Asian states concerning the proposed anti-government demonstrations. I, again, dismissed her worries. It wasn’t till we had been in Bangkok that I realised things have been greater critical than I idea and that she was proper in being involved!

I arrived in Bangkok from Delhi on Tuesday morning, 9 March 2010, with my buddy arriving several hours later from Sydney. We have been staying on the Davis Hotel in the japanese a part of Bangkok for 4 nights. I heard not anything approximately any demonstrations on the global airport, from the taxi driver or from the resort group of workers when I arrived. The folks commenced our sightseeing of Bangkok on Wednesday and Thursday, visiting by using river boat and skytrain to the numerous points of interest. It became only past due Thursday that we started out to get the news that the ‘Red Shirts’ was hoping to have a million demonstrators for his or her weekend protests. Our lodge staff recommended that we live around the inn on Friday as they didn’t recognize what to expect. We took their advice and listened closely to the news to peer if we would have trouble leaving the metropolis the next morning for the beach. There were already reviews of human beings massing in Bangkok for the weekend demonstrations. At the identical time, the reviews indicated that the numbers arriving to protest were tons smaller than expected.

The next day we left for Jomtien Beach just south of Pattaya Beach. Again we saw no indication of problem. There were no barriers or police-blocks on the street as we left the city nor as we drove at the motorway right down to Pattaya. During the weekend, we commenced listening to more about demonstrations, the size of the crowds and the rhetoric of the leaders of the Red Shirts. It changed into reported that in place of a million demonstrators simplest approximately a hundred,000 Red Shirt demonstrators had turned up in Bangkok by Sunday. We discovered that the low numbers were due, in part, to the government blockades of all get admission to roads to Bangkok from the northern rural regions.

It can be which you at the moment are thinking, “What are those colored shirts in Thailand? Who are the Red Shirts? Are they specific from the Yellow Shirts?” Let me give an explanation for:
As a generality, the Red-shirts are supported with the aid of the agricultural population and the city bad. The Red Shirts also are called the ‘United Front for Democracy towards Dictatorship’ (UDD). They supported the former prime minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006, Thaksin Shinawatra, due to the fact they believed he cared what took place to them and listened to their troubles. Despite PM Thaksin’s billions of bucks in wealth, he is taken into consideration a hero to the downtrodden Thais. Not exceptionally, the Red Shirts supported the next high ministers selected through the equal authorities: Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat. There are also pro-democracy activists taking part within the present day demonstrations who disagree with the prison foundation of the 2006 army coup which ousted PM Thaksin.

The Red Shirts fundamental belief is that the existing government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is illegitimate because it came to power after disputed courtroom rulings dissolved elected pro-Thaksin governments, following the 2006 navy coup. They need the present day parliament dissolved and new elections held.

The Yellow Shirts are particularly middle-class and urban elites who help the modern government of PM Abhisit. The Yellow Shirts are one among Thailand’s active political corporations, the ‘People’s Alliance for Democracy’ (PAD). They are from time to time joined by means of an anti-Red Shirt institution which attracts workplace personnel, middle-elegance families, lecturers and a few low-wage workers. In preceding demonstrations by the Yellow Shirts’, there has generally been extra violence and war of words.

What is in the back of the cutting-edge Red Shirts’ demonstration?
In a quick and incredibly superficial records lesson of Thai politics, I set out the subsequent
dates and information in an try to make this very complicated story of corruption and quick-lived governments in Thailand barely greater comprehensible:

In 2006, the Yellow Shirts led protests against the then prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, due to alleged corruption. Mr. Thaksin have become top minister of Thailand in 2001. Prior to becoming top minister, Mr. Thaksin earned billions of greenbacks in telecom ventures. PM Thaksin changed into supported via the Red Shirts.
In September 2006, PM Thaksin was ousted by way of a army coup amidst numerous charges of corruption. He moved to Britain shortly after wherein he remained till October 2008. It become now not till after greater than a year of army control that new elections were held in Thailand in December 2007.
February 2008, an ally of Mr. Thaksin’s, Samak Sundaravej, became sworn in as the new top minister. The Red Shirts supported this government, too.
In August 2008 there had been protests by way of the anti-government Yellow Shirts culminating in a 3-month profession of positive authorities buildings by the protestors. This occupation persevered via the November profession of the Bangkok airports.
September 2008, Prime Minister Samak became brushed off beneath a Constitutional Court ruling due to a conflict of hobby in accepting bills for his appearances on a famous Thai cooking display. Following PM Samak’s dismissal, Somchai Wongsawat (the brother-in-law of Mr. Thaksin, top minister till 2006) changed into sworn in as the new top minister.
In October 2008 the Supreme Court of Thailand located Mr. Thaksin responsible in absentia and became sentenced to two years in prison for a corrupt land deal. Following his conviction, Mr. Thaksin left his residence in Britain for Hong Kong. Somewhat rather, Mr. Thaksin additionally owned the Manchester City soccer club for slightly extra than a yr starting in mid-2007 throughout his short live in Britain.
Beginning on 25 November 2008, the anti-government Yellow Shirts invaded and occupied Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport earlier than also occupying the Don Murng airport down the street. As a part of the Yellow Shirts’ plan to pressure PM Somchai to renounce, their career become to prevent Somchai from returning to Thailand from the APEC Summit in Peru. The Yellow Shirts refused to depart the airports until a change of presidency passed off.
On 2 December 2008, Thailand’s Constitutional Court met the demands of the Yellow Shirts through locating the country’s authorities responsible of election fraud. The courtroom dominated that PM Somchai became banned from politics and demanded that his celebration be dissolved.
On three December 2008, the Yellow Shirts’ career of the airports ended.
17 December 2008, Abhisit Vejjajiva, a rival of Mr. Thaksin and his two successors, fashioned a new government and have become high minister.