“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” – Karl Marx.

-Flying Sporran’s Weekend Diary-

While not wishing to plug the Bangkok Post there is a VERY good piece in the newspaper today by the excellent Vornai Vanijaka about Thanthawut Aweewarodomkul a redshirt, who has just come of out a three year sentence for lèse majeste. Please have a read here.

In short, Thanthawut came out of jail disillusioned with the red shirt leaders, the Pheu Thai Party, lawyers, the rights of the poor, life in general and perhaps disillusioned about how he was treated by his fellow man.  He is blunt and to the point and seems to be re-awakened.

I have been in Thailand over 20 years. I have seen a lot. When the popular red-shirt movement began in support of Thaksin Shinawatra, many people smelled a popular revolution. Could the poor really storm Thailand’s Bastille? What a romantic thought.

Your were either for him

On the other side were the ‘Yellow Shirts’ backed of course by the army and the upper and middle classes, who seemed to support an established status quo that was never going to look after its needy.
Essentially there were two camps here – both led by the excessively rich.

“The guard would line us [lese majeste convicts] up,  and slap our faces down the line. It was a humiliating experience.” Thanawut – Bangkok Post

To my dismay many of my younger journalist colleagues in Bangkok were also excited. Some were falling over themselves to live with the ‘revolutionaries’. A very well respected socialist academic seemed to be behind them – but I am guessing that that was more because change was needed and this was a wagon to hitch himself on.

Or against him

“Imprisoned red shirt leaders all have “fan clubs”, whose members visit them often and shower them with gifts. Meanwhile the other 200 or 300 red shirt prisoners are neglected.” -Thanuwat, Bangkok Post

Never mind that any self respecting Marxist or Trotskyist would take one look at this revolution and it’s father figure and quickly come to the conclusion that the father figure would be the first for the salt mines once they had seized control.

“The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.” ― Karl Marx 

It never happened of course. The Red Shirts were bought out by a 30 baht health schemes, loans to farmers, and of course the current controversial rice deal and by a leader who spent a couple of weeks in Isaan being filmed living like the locals.

“Pheu Thai MPs came to visit us one time, all dressed up and behaving distinguished. “We were herded to welcome them. They came only one time in three years. They gave us 2,000 baht each. One meal each, one packet of amenities each…..done.” Thanuwat – Bangkok Post.

Briton Jeff Savage got up on the red-shirt podium

As Thanthawut speaks he talks eerily in an ‘Animal Farm’ mode of Red leaders becoming arrogant and distant as they head for the political hustings with Pheu Thai.

But he had his yellow moments

“…out from the door of the farmhouse came a long file of pigs, all walking on their hind legs…out came Napoleon himself, majestically upright, casting haughty glances from side to side, and with his dogs gambolling round him.” – George Orwell, Animal Farm

The Red Shirts put in a government which, it is now claimed, has plundered the country more than any in recent memory.

And all governments seem to do it to a greater or lesser extent.

There is no evidence that the farmers’ lot has got significantly better at least not at the expense of the average Bangkokian who needs a lot more money to survive nowadays.

“It hurts when I see them [red shirt leaders] demanding ministerial positions. “It hurts when I see them happy with their children. Holding birthday parties. Having a good time. Receiving titles. Walking behind Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.” Thanuwat – Bangkok Post.

Does Thailand learn from its mistakes? There is little evidence it does.  Meanwhile I wish Thanuwat success in his restored life and offer the following.

“Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.”
― Karl Marx