Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Seven hours into the shutdown of the Thai capital Bangkok Prime Minister Yingluck Shinwatra today was reported to have called for talks with protesters to discuss reform proposals and a delay to the election.

With the capital choked, and several ministries and the Stock Exchange either closed or about to be, the Prime Minister called for talks about the election date - up until now an immoveable feast.
Protesters have demanded reform before election. Prime Minister Yingluck has demanded an election then reform.

With barricades blocking Bangkok’s major road intersections overnight, a sea of protesters today brought Bangkok to a standstill today in protest against ‘the corrupt successive governments’ run by Yingluck and her exiled elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra.

Tens of thousands of protesters which included loyalist yellow shirts, unions, Bangkok’s urban middle class, bikers and even lady boys, took to the streets all over the city’s central areas shortly after dawn. 

Overhead motorways  usually choked with rush hour traffic were eerily quiet…but nobody could escape the sound of tens of thousands of whistles being blown in protest.
One demonstrator was admitted to hospital overnight after being shot in the neck but so far the latest protest has been non-violent.

Army Generals are meeting today to discuss the situation, and are watching how talks go, though they are unlikely to step in without cause or perhaps excuse.

Major Banks have closed their city centre offices. Government workers have vacated several government offices and protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has stated: ‘We are here until the government goes completely and we have political reform.”

That is one of the more polite comments coming from the states of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee the largest of the government opposition groups.

Obscene cartoons of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra are on display and the rhetoric can turn ugly on both sides.

A red-shirt supporter went on Facebook to suggest the kidnapping of Thai Army leader’s daughters should the military intervene with a coup.

While protesters say they will leave Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi  airport, an air traffic control centre in the city is under siege as is the Stock Exchange of Thailand. They have so far closed down the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labour, Ministry of Science and Technology and the government’s new complex to the east of the city is also under siege.  

The Government’s Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) say they expect the demonstrations to last for four days. But already the protest is beginning to have  a sound of permanence. Tent cities are going up all over the capital. 

Spicy soup kitchens are catering to the demonstrators and cash is being collected everywhere to help provide logistics.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has resisted attempts to have an election delayed until May so reforms can be made first. She has called for an election on February 2nd and says she will then set up an independent reform council.

She would probably win a quick election using the vote of the rural poor, but they have now started protesting against the government too after Shinawatra’s failure to deliver them cash for their rice.


The Weapon said...

All I say is let the Thais work out their own fate. If the likes of Hillary Clinton or Tony Blair show up offering help, we'll know Thailand is doomed.

mattowensrees said...

Yes, she has called for talks. But she also knows the outcome. This is more about brinksmanship (brinkswomanship!) than the idea dialogue with a party that does not want it will work. I don't know what's going on behind the scenes anymore than others, but the likelihood is an unelected government without the need for an army coup.

No mention of some of the peaceful meetings and rallies that are taking place but not being reported in the press. "2 Yeses and 2 Nos" for example. No mention of the party like atmosphere during some of the rallies. The Thai people already know the outcome.

Born2Serf said...

Could have fooled me mattowenrees? You aren't at all clear. Why does everyone have to talk so cryptically? It isn't necessary. We're in no real danger here. We don't ALL have to follow the Thaksin/Theuksaban line. Common sense has absolutely nothing to do with these old hasbeens, who have both spent a lifetime messing this country up for their own sake alone. Perhaps you are trying to tell us that many know that we 're condemned to centuries more of Shinawatra/Peua Thai (or whatever that party-party is currently called)/Red Shirt corruption, dictatorship, flat-out thuggery and criminal incompetence. I lost ALL sympathy with Thaksin and his mafia (over 10 years ago) when they completely screwed up the Deep South. Don't let anyone tell you it was inevitable. Almost anyone with half a brain cell, some plain common sense and a desire NOT to profit at all costs could have done better. (But of course, those qualities are almost totally absent in the local elite - no exagerration!) Indeed, the situation is still far from unsolvable. The only slight problem is, of course, that none of the current elite has the courage to admit mistakes.
I'm not at all sure that the outcome of all this is particularly clear. And I certainly don't think most locals are any better informed. Most seemed resigned to things never getting any better. My gut feeling is, however, that we haven't yet seen the worse of this awful regime. But to balance those sympathies, it is also necessary to say that the complete incompetence and greed of the local elite and ALL of its so-called political parties has condemned us to this lousy parasitic regime.

The Weapon said...

I don't know how real reform will come. Most politicians, police, army officers and civil servants are living so well beyond their means thanks to corruption, they couldn't live on their salary even if they wanted to. One high ranking civil servant told me a few years ago that if the poor masses really knew how much these people stole from the country, there would be a revolution before the sun came up the next day.

Inspector Clueless said...

Dear Andrea... I was wondering as a worldwide experienced and award winning journalist could you explain in detail your personal and professional take on Suthep's 3/5 compromise?

Andrew Drummond said...

As you are appealing to my feminine side Inspector all I can say that whispered sweet nothing go a long way in this world and I am looking forward to those swarthy farmers come to the fore. They can block my highway anytime.

Andrew Drummond said...

In the words of Andrew McGregor Marshall. I just told you this would happen (Well I didn't but night follows day)