Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013
13

BUT MOST OF US SHOULD BE!

(Michael Yon)
Well Thailand’s turbulent Boxing Day is over and now we’re wondering where we all stand in Thailand. At least I am. 

The government is insisting it will go ahead with elections on February 2nd. The BBC appears to be admonishing  the anti-government  protesters.  And foreign journalists are going to war as a correspondent, with a Special Forces background joins the troops in Bangkok.

So what is the end game? Will the pro-government Red Shirts come to town or will the anti-government protesters continue their disruption and break up the election process?  Will Suthep’s ‘violent and crazed loonies’ take the day? Will the army step in?  - And for whom?

After yesterday’s contradictions. It’s anybody’s guess.

But one option is for the army to step in – before the Red Shirts – and ‘for the sake of law and order’ run another interim government to oversee an independent Reform Panel - a western democrat's nightmare.

Having already rejected previous reform panels the current Prime Minister’s recent proposal to allow one after all has not garnered any support.

Here’s the rub. What is true? What is not?

Because yesterday the BBC broadcast a government spokesman saying the February 2nd election had been set in stone and could not be legally changed.  Who IS running the country? Didn't they set the date?

Similarly in two separate stories the Bangkok Post suggested firstly that the Election Commission could stop the election process through the action of individual  - and then later quoted the Secretary General as saying it would go ahead regardless.

I cannot see her earings but I can see the whistle around her neck. Doctors have opinions too.
And then there are the foreign press and pundits, who are involved in a battle of their own and seem to have drawn up lines either attacking each other, or the government protesters,  or Abhisit Vejjajiva, Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra.

Michael Yon's photograph or army camp within the Japanese-Thai stadium
The thing about the media and social media nowadays is that correspondents having done their own piece for their own newspaper or television network then go online with a few personal feelings of their own.  These comments of course are not those of the organisations they work for.

But you know - we can't just help slipping things out.

At the moment correspondents are raging about Michael Yon, an American photojournalist, who was very busy around the Japanese-Thai stadium yesterday getting lots of pictures with the army –  even quoting a female army medic as saying ‘the government must go’.

Picture - Michael Yon - 'Yingluck must go!'




Nicknamed ‘Bam Bam’ Yon is a colourful character. He is apparently ex-US Special Forces and an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran of some controversy. He tends to always support the military.

But his style has been described by the New York Times as having  "enough first-hand observation, clarity and skepticism to put many professional journalists to shame."  In 2007 in Iraq he dropped his camera and joined in a firefight, he says, to save his own life.  He was subsequently admonished by army top brass. He is also described as a 'Conservatives' journalist.

Yon got in with the army. His pictures seemed to show that they actually had a camp within the Japanese-Thai stadium and he took a photo of a Thai army female medical officer quoting her as saying ' We love the King. Yingluck must go'.  The Thai army are not going to help the police, he stated.

Yon seems to have angered foreign correspondents, including former Reuters, Baghdad Bureau chief, Andrew McGregor Marshall, twittering furiously from, I think,  somewhere near Leith Docks in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Marshall has been twittering every picture of anti-government protester’s violent action he can find or has been sent and does not hide his light under a bushel. He is best known for writing about the Thai Royal family for which of course he has had to leave Thailand.

Andrew Marshall receives a lot of support  and is disheartened at the hate mail he has been getting.

Jonathan Head too seems shocked by the violence,  particularly that used during an attack on a taxi driver.

Foreign journalists seemed a bit disheartened at the verbal and physical threats. (Some local ones too).




Vejjajiva visiting protesters in hospital - Was it so wrong?
But then again they seem to forget that Thai people think they are telling them what to do! And the Thai smile can easily dissipate behind a monitor, or in a Samsung tweet.

We may actually be a bit more tolerant in the UK.

I once had to go to a memorial event for a colleague on the Observer, Farzad Bazoft, who was hanged by the Iraqi government on the personal order of Saddam Hussein for spying (he was’nt) to find that the whole entourage was being harassed by UK Iraqis who suggested a lot more journalists should have been strung up with him.
Journalists supporting Farzad

We had to suppress our disgust. I was all for a public lynching. But Britain's freedom of speech, GBH and homicide laws prevented, any action.

Some also seemed surprised at the violence, seemingly oblivious to the fact that people intending to bring down governments in any country do not do it by making daisy chains.

Some also seem ignorant of the fact that these matters are not played by the Marquis of Queensbury Rules in Thailand.  When shots are fired in Thailand often we do not know who fired them and for what reason.

I have to put my hands up to the fact that I have been broadcasting to three continents on the situation in Bangkok,  but I do not have a side in this fight…except that I have watched governments come and go and the only honest one I believe I have seen in Thailand has been the un-elected one of former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun.

PROTESTERS ATTACK TAXI DRIVER



There may be no cure for Thailand until the old feudal lords or ‘influential persons’ and ‘kingmakers’ are removed from the equation. The Democrat Party is loaded with them – so is the Pheu Thai Party.


Hobson’s Choice.

BELOW POLICE ATTACK PROTESTERS' PICKUP







POLICE COWER FROM ONSLAUGHT







Meanwhile the Michael Yon pictured at the top is now the Michael Yon pictured here (left). Its possible he has become more Conservative as the years progressed. He arrived just after the Rajaprasong riots in 2010 and then proclaimed from a survey of the scene that the military men were very restricted in their use of weapons. I think at this point I will have to say that many journalists will disagree. But as you can see from the first in a three part series of interviews here - he could not find the bullet holes. The natural conclusion to me seems to be (1) either he's looking in the wrong place, (2) the holes were taken away in the bodies of people the bullets killed (3) The RTA rations its ammunition more carefully than US Special Forces (4) He did not conduct a very scientific survey.


FOR DRONE SHOTS OF MILITARY ON THE ROOF CLICK HERE

13 comments:

  1. I passed through a number of protests in the last week (not through choice) and talked at length to Thai friends, unfortunately mostly Yellow in colour so not a great balance.

    One taxi driver assured me that all conversations are listened to by the satellites through the meter and he would be shot for talking - I think he was from upcountry as he was unclear how to get from Asok to lower Silom, Sathorn being a novelty.

    He was worth a Head or Yon or MacG interview to get the true facts.

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  2. The most likely outcome to the increasingly violent political impasse now is a military coup before the pointless February 2 election, perhaps coupled with some definite promise by the army to hold a referendum in six months to see whether the population as a whole wants a general election before or after political reform. This could buy time and might just be enough to hold back the obviously angry Pheu Thai and red shirt people, some of whom may think a coup is preferable to the onset of civil war if nothing drastic happens in the next few weeks.

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    Replies
    1. Good analysis. Hope a coup can be avoided, though. They made a mess of the economy last time. If only they could knock a few heads together but keep out of the politics. A pipe dream. i know.

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  3. Marshall is like a dog with a bone on the succession with Yon a devoted militarist....don't think it matters in the greater scheme of things as from what I can see it's only a fraction of Thais who care about international,perception. I suspect this will play out whatever way it's going to regardless of what foreigners tweet or write...

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  4. Just what Thailand doesn't need. This place has more than enough fascist reactionary troublemakers, parasites and expert pundits without importing any more from the US - a place where the loony right seem more than willing to preside like arrogant lairds over an increasingly impoverished & seemingly redundant general herd. If you can't solve your own country's significant domestic problems, don't bother to bring your brand of lunacy here. Locals are more than capable of efficiently botching up their own country.

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  5. After reading all this guff it just looks like someone from the Drew Noyes school of LETS TALK CRAP TO ANYONE WHO LISTENS and get paid. War corespondent my left foot.He seen the same in Philippines, Nepal, Iraq and Afghanistan where people talk and everyone believes it. Does he really think that the amount of people killed in these other countries is just talk. IDIOT

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  6. Re: Bam Bam Yon, the 'ex-Special Forces' blogger. Some background...
    http://www.blackfive.net/main/2012/07/michael-yon-sold-as-surplus.html
    He looks like he's about as 'trustworthy' as another American who figures quite prominently on this site.

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  7. Marshall is a loose canon. Try disagreeing with him on new Mandala. Criticise the king or crown prince and your comments will be published. Express an opinion based on facts and u have no chance. No academic has time for him. I agree with Tim and Born. Let's stick to what we know and keep gossip, rumour, and personal ideas out of it.

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  8. Not so many years ago coups took place rather regularly and always began at night. On one occasion there was a feeling that the impending coup might turn very violent so a (nameless) embassy introduced the “emergency cascade system”. If a coup was underway the Night Duty officer telephoned 10 senior staff who in turn telephoned 10 nationals who in turn telephoned 5 nationals and so on. The key points were to stay at home and await instructions for travelling either to the embassy compound or out to the airport or an all clear etc. So although a consular official after a hard session at the FCCT bar was somewhat “impaired” he still was able to recognize tanks and troops trundling done the street as he entered his house at 1am. He immediately telephoned the Night Duty Officer to say a coup was underway. Unfortunately the Night Duty officer had felt the alcoholic fumes wafting down the line and as the Army “Young Turks” had inconsiderately started the coup on the 1st of April the Duty officer thought “I am not going fall for this April Fools joke” and promptly went back to sleep in his camp bed. Of course by 8 am mayhem ensued at the embassy as nationals who had gone to work bombarded the embassy line with “what happened to the emergency cascade system” and what do we do. I trust the British Embassy has a robust emergency plan in place and can upload onto its website at a moments notice emergency numbers and advice.

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  9. What about Giles Ungapakorn and his Red Siam manifesto. Try reading that without smashing your laptop. Karl Marx would be proud of him. I'd of thrown him out of Thailand as well. After all, communism has been so wildly successful hasn't it?

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  10. I agree Tommy. But he has a right to his opinion. Marshall can't justify what he says, which is why he is no longer with Reuters. They commented that he could not back up the libelous remarks he was making (and continues to make) and had NO verifiable sources. No news agency could have a loose canon like that around. Outside the New Mandala site, his unproven and one-sided facts are heavily criticised.

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  11. I am quite happy to see challengers of this man's work. I can say unequivocally David has deluded the facts for most ALL of his writings about Thailand's political duress. David's so called journalism does NOT fully represent the real happenings and misalignment of power of elitist groups he is supporting versus the man on the street that wants his vote to be counted for the first time in the history of Thailand. I live in Thailand and not a visitor as David. I can say without a doubt David's work is full of misleading un-truth's and should be considered highly unreliable. Factoids such as the people supporting the rallies are being paid and subsistence provided for fuel costs to get them into the rally sites. In a world such as Thailand with the level of unemployment and/or lack of substantial income, simply being offered payment to attend concerted and catered events is a way of leaving their own struggling lives behind and escaping to an adventure no matter who is paying for the ride. This sort of "pay for" venue is only the tip of the iceberg for what is being "paid for" to rally the people to sites to represent failing elitists groups that are hungry to maintain their power and money grabbing way of life they have been accustomed to for many decades if not hundreds of years. The level of corruption the elitist have been part of alone is sickening. Let alone the crimes against people, unfair conditions and underbelly of organized crime the elitists have been gleaning their money from having been hidden from the public for many years is now surfacing. The same elitists are losing their proverbial shirts due to the transparency of modern information technology. David is perpetuating the same by embellishing his writings with untruths such as the number of attendee's at either of the events represented in David's poorly perceived view of the high numbers of yellow shirt supporters when actual numbers are a fraction of what he has provided in his skewed journalism -and vice versa- the low numbers he reports for red shirts attendee's is actually quite massively higher. These few discrepancies alone should discredit David's writings. His camera lens has been used to angle his views of the events and does not reflect the true happens at the rally sites. David has been purported to have edited the photo of the Cambodian / Thai flag he reported as being flown at a rally site, intended to incite and discredit the red shirt as there has always been contention between Cambodia and Thailand. David knows full well this would cause a stir and more contention between the groups and cast a negative light upon the red shirt rally goers - again another untruth by David. If David did edit the photo he should be banned from journalistic circles. I do believe if the right photos come in showing the Thai flag as is reported flying [not the Cambodian flag as David has shown] then more doubt will be cast in David's direction. The events unfolding in Bangkok alone have been driven by devious criminal activities by yellow shirts committing crimes against yellow shirts that are blamed on red shirts and vice versa. David does not provide accurate real life representation of these main underlying currents of information. Anyone that bends the lens and compromises journalism to meet an agenda of another should be cast aside and ignored. Its a shame that his words and photographs will mislead many people and represent untruths about the serious conditions emerging daily in Thailand.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am quite happy to see challengers of this man's work. I can say unequivocally David has deluded the facts for most ALL of his writings about Thailand's political duress. David's so called journalism does NOT fully represent the real happenings and misalignment of power of elitist groups he is supporting versus the man on the street that wants his vote to be counted for the first time in the history of Thailand. I live in Thailand and not a visitor as David. I can say without a doubt David's work is full of misleading un-truth's and should be considered highly unreliable. Factoids such as the people supporting the rallies are being paid and subsistence provided for fuel costs to get them into the rally sites. In a world such as Thailand with the level of unemployment and/or lack of substantial income, simply being offered payment to attend concerted and catered events is a way of leaving their own struggling lives behind and escaping to an adventure no matter who is paying for the ride. This sort of "pay for" venue is only the tip of the iceberg for what is being "paid for" to rally the people to sites to represent failing elitists groups that are hungry to maintain their power and money grabbing way of life they have been accustomed to for many decades if not hundreds of years. The level of corruption the elitist have been part of alone is sickening. Let alone the crimes against people, unfair conditions and underbelly of organized crime the elitists have been gleaning their money from having been hidden from the public for many years is now surfacing. The same elitists are losing their proverbial shirts due to the transparency of modern information technology. David is perpetuating the same by embellishing his writings with untruths such as the number of attendee's at either of the events represented in David's poorly perceived view of the high numbers of yellow shirt supporters when actual numbers are a fraction of what he has provided in his skewed journalism -and vice versa- the low numbers he reports for red shirts attendee's is actually quite massively higher. These few discrepancies alone should discredit David's writings. His camera lens has been used to angle his views of the events and does not reflect the true happens at the rally sites. David has been purported to have edited the photo of the Cambodian / Thai flag he reported as being flown at a rally site, intended to incite and discredit the red shirt as there has always been contention between Cambodia and Thailand. David knows full well this would cause a stir and more contention between the groups and cast a negative light upon the red shirt rally goers - again another untruth by David. If David did edit the photo he should be banned from journalistic circles. I do believe if the right photos come in showing the Thai flag as is reported flying [not the Cambodian flag as David has shown] then more doubt will be cast in David's direction. The events unfolding in Bangkok alone have been driven by devious criminal activities by yellow shirts committing crimes against yellow shirts that are blamed on red shirts and vice versa. David does not provide accurate real life representation of these main underlying currents of information. Anyone that bends the lens and compromises journalism to meet an agenda of another should be cast aside and ignored. Its a shame that his words and photographs will mislead many people and represent untruths about the serious conditions emerging daily in Thailand.

    ReplyDelete