Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
10
PRINCE CHARLES UPSTAGES THAI MILITARY CRACKDOWN

Now I am a great supporter of human rights associations and of course the BBC but yesterday I was what could be described as a little bit mischievous when broadcasting to the world about the military coup, or no coup, depending on what view you take.

I was of course fast asleep when it happened but now with Sky News and the Mail Online having full time offices at both extremes of the time clock breaking news wakes me up all the time.

Now do not get me wrong. I believe in fair elections of course. I am no supporter of military coups. But my first reaction on hearing this particular news was ‘Great. Thank God for that!'

From early morning I was getting calls from Australian Sky TV, News Corporation, Australia, Arise TV Africa, CBS in New York and BBC Regional TVs.

I, of course went into the city to see how this ‘coup’ was affecting the capital and then sat back, though I had to do one Q and A with Australia while still not knowing exactly what was going on.

This is not unusual in the current world of news.  You can get away by waxing lyrically on the scenarios of what actually could happen ‘while the situation is still unclear’

This is of course known to most discerning viewers as ‘bullshit’. The major news channels do this all the time pulling in talking heads to speak over wire services material. It saves them thousands by using Skype.

Of course no sooner had the military moved in – very quietly as it turned out –  than we were hearing stories on the net of radio and television stations being occupied, threat to freedom of the media, threats to democracy, fears of no elections blah blah, by which time presumably many foreigners had to ring their mums back home to tell them: ‘Don’t worry I’m ok.'

Sometimes when the BBCs Jonathan Head answers live Q and A’s to London from Maneeya Centre in Bangkok with the Bangkok Sports Club in the background I wish I was behind him with a tickling stick.

Now many foreign journalistic ‘experts’ on Thailand are almost fanatical about Thai politics and are prone to launch mega attacks on each other on social media sites.

This is a daily occurrence.  The BBC covers this human condition in its current advertising campaign stating that its journalists not only report the news they  'live the news'.

I should state of course I am not pointing to Jonathan in this regard.

Me? Well my attitude is why attempt to cure the incurable. I have always viewed Thai politicians as feudal warlords. If they are fighting it’s going to be about money.  There will of course be exceptions, but they are in the minority.  All parties have dangerous baggage.

Thais are also prone to incitement and excitement. (My views are now being reduced to a small font because of course quite frankly why should you care)

The fact that he army has closed down radio and television stations which are spitting vitriol at each other can hardly be described as an attack on the media. The media has to be used responsibly.



Coup or no coup it was inevitable that a third party had to step in to break up what was going on. Thailand was on the way to a civil coup where Suthep the leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee had in effect taken over government house and was issuing a weekend ultimatum.

Who is to say if the latest military move will be good or bad for Thailand? The county’s problems lie in the massive divide between the rich and the poor.  Only education can cure that. And none of the governments have fulfilled their promises on education…so let’s not hold our breaths.

Anyway my views on the air were much less dramatic than those I believe of the correspondents based here. I might have said this was not a coup in which you had to duck, but possibly one for taking 'selfies' in front of tanks - but I did not see any tanks just a few soldiers and small amoured cars and jeeps.

My final broadcast last night had been billed for 10 pm but for some reason the network brought it forward to 8pm.

I was caught driving up the Ekamai Road in Bangkok and had to tell them Skype was out of the questions – so they duly put up the stock photo of myself looking considerably younger and I did a phono glad that there were no cops about.

They must have liked it because it went on and on and there was even a break for adverts or a breaking news item, and I was kept holding through several sets of lights.

I hope I have not encouraged a few more coups in Africa.

I was booked today to broadcast for another BBC Region, this time Wales. Population 3 million. 6 million sheep.

It was cancelled at the last minute. The engineer came on to apologise: ‘Charlie’s just got involved in the Ukrainian’ crisis he said. I sympathized.

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales dammit, had just likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. Now there's the story -Time to move on.

But its a pity. I still have a framed cheque for £8 which is what BBC Wales sent me some time back for an interview. Who else pays eight quid?

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS BRIEFING

TONIGHT AT THE FCCT - NOT TO BE MISSED (unless you have something better to do) - MARTIAL LAW - WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THAILAND?

Other views:

Andrew Marshall on CNN:

"Martial law means the police are sidelined and they are no longer responsible for security. And the police in Thailand are seen as heavily supportive of Thaksin and his allies, which is the red side of the battle. So when you've got a police force that's suddenly been sidelined that's another combustible element in this mix. So Thailand is kind of on a knife-edge.

BBC:

At the moment, the government insists it is still in charge of the country, and both politicians and the army say this is not the country's 12th coup.

But whether it ends up as a coup or not, the Thai army is once again playing a pivotal role in the nation's politics.

Channel 4 News - Posing the question 'Are selfies a sign of a military coup.

'It is not just the selfie that echoes previous military involvements in political affairs. Professor McCargo said the fact that the army has made a number of statements denying that a coup is taking place "doesn't tell us a great deal".

He said: "It is normal that before a coup there will be a series of statements that there is not going to be one. We had statements along those lines in 2006."

However, Professor McCargo said, we really do not know if this is a coup or not yet - and the military may not know either.

Coconuts Singapore:

Singapore night life is better than Bangok's. Yes, let that sink in. It may be uncomfortable, but the evidence is overwhelming. Bangkok's two clubland institutions, Bed Supperclub and Q Bar, which were the twin compass points keeping any Bangkok night out aligned, are gone, and gone to the dogs, respectively.
Two AM closing hours are back in force. Martial Law is here, and with it, perhaps curfews will begin again. Bangkok's version of an after party is a warm, overpriced and possibly spiked Singha at one of the ubiquitous, illegal and unlovely street bars which creep out like roaches after midnight to vie for sidewalk real estate with the dildos, meth pipes and Viagra.

NBC:

The most charitable reading of the army's intervention is that the generals feel they have no choice and will knock heads together and come up with an agreed set of rules for an election.

TWITTER


Andrew Marshall: 'Those denying it is a coup are part of the coup - including Jatuporn. All my forecasts are coming true - one by one.

Jonathan Head BBC : 'It is at least a half coup'.

Michael Yon: 'My guess is that most tourists won't notice martial law'.

Richard Barrow: 'Driving around Bangkok today we have seen a total of one soldier on the streets'.

Drew Noyes:  Martial law offers opportunities  (but don't do it!)

10 comments:

  1. There is a whole heap of trouble coming Thailand's way,if not this particular issue, another one in the not too distant future

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    1. Yes indeed Teddy. Lets deal with that when it comes.

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  2. Actually I believe they paid you 40 quid Andrew and then withheld 32 of it for taxes.

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  3. Andrew, your comment, ...'why attempt to cure the incurable. I have always viewed Thai politicians as feudal warlords. If they are fighting it’s going to be about money...' is absolutley on the button. I nearly wrote 'on the money' but thought better of it. :)

    As for some people taking pathetic selfies with the military... I truly despair.

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  4. I agree with Andrew's synopsis.

    Even the government accepts that they must give the military the chance to prove martial law is there to provide security (they can say little else anyway) and is not a coup.

    The reality is wec are seeing the continuation of the feudal battle (both sides are feudal despite TRT's PT's reforms and rhetoric) which is forever Thailand.

    One would have expected the Baht to weaken. It strengthened slightly! The Bank of Thailand must be throwing buckets of currency at it, though they make no comment. Countries protect their currency.

    The question that is interesting but not being asked is who is conducting that strategy and determining the rate required. Which parties in the feudal camp? Obviously the BOT officials, they have the data. But are they acting alone? The government say they weren't consulted. (In the UK it would be the government giving the all clear to the Bank of England)

    Everything points to it being a network decision: Army, BoT, and the big business players.

    The Democrat party? Not so sure

    Last point, the Thais have learnt not to call it a coup. In 2006 American was stopped until an "elected" government was in place. The UK and America don't want to ruffle Thailand's feathers anyway. Too much of their debt is in Thai and Chinese hands.

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  5. I noted from the above, Andrew, one key and important commentator/ journalist is missing. Dose the foreign advisor to the Thai government, Mr Drew Walter Noyse have an opinion on the current situation? I really do value his forensic and perceptive analysis on Thailand's problems and how he will personally resolve all of Thailand's woes. Then again....may be he's too busy with all the extortion, fraud and malicious prosecutions cases in the Thai courts.....

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    1. I think his security team are tabulating a file on it as we speak

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  6. Last para of previous post should of course have read "American aid"

    Interesting Twitter comments.

    Marshall calling it a coup and claiming he told us so. Not realising the feudal way is the Thai way. His style of western democracy may be fine for him and other countries but Thailand does not have to accept it. Military intervention, alongside other networks, is the Thai way which Thais in the main accept. Reform is needed and may come slowly. But there will always be feudal undertones in both main parties.

    Richard Barrow's comment of only one soldier on the streets would be laughable if his optimistic but dangerous comments were not so widely circulated through his blogs.

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  7. I got "the Thais have learnt not to call it a coup." wrong.

    John Kerry has hinted aid and military collaboration may be stopped as in 2006. See his statement

    Nothing changes about the feudal nature of Thai politics and culture though. And that needs to be understood and recognised by western politicians.

    If a teacher has had enough of two schoolboy bullies or groups fighting and using incitement in the school yard, what does he do? The time for reasoned debate with them is over if the violence looks like spreading. There may be positive points on both sides but they will be sacrificed and no further discussion tolerated. Unfair but pragmatic.

    Longer term there must be reconciliation and restoration of fair play and reform of the delinquent elements but for the present some unpleasant restrictions which affect their activities in the school playground are regrettably needed.

    Which is better? Letting the fighting continue in the name of allowing freedom to do as one believes or pulling the culprits (who may be right in some things, wrong in others) apart.

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