Protestors storm ASEAN Summit hotel

Red shirted protestors loyal to deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra stormed the hotel where ASEAN leaders, including PM Lee, FM George Yeo and Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang, were holding the annual ASEAN summit, prompting the Summit to be postponed indefinitely. The Thai government has declared a state of emergency.

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Economist edition banned in Thailand

This is the article in The Economist that got it banned in Thailand. (Technically, the distributor voluntarily self-imposed the ban. But we all know better.)

Exerpts from The King and them:

Much of the story of how the king’s actions have hurt his country’s politics is unfamiliar because Thais have not been allowed to hear it. Some may find our criticisms upsetting, but we do not make them gratuitously. Thailand needs open debate if it is to prepare for the time when a less revered monarch ascends the throne. It cannot be good for a country to subscribe to a fairy-tale version of its own history in which the king never does wrong, stays above politics and only ever intervenes on the side of democracy. None of that is true.

In reality, with public anger at the queen’s support for the thuggish PAD and the unsuitability of Bhumibol’s heir simmering, Thailand risks the recent fate of Nepal, which has suffered a bitter civil war and whose meddling king is now a commoner in a republic. The PAD was nurtured by the palace and now threatens to engulf it. An enduring image of the past few days is that of PAD toughs shooting at government supporters while holding up the king’s portrait. The monarchy is now, more clearly than ever, part of the problem. It sits at the apex of a horrendously hierarchical and unequal society. You do not have to be a republican to agree that this needs to be discussed.

While I think the article was a little harsh on the king — it’s not just the monarchy, but large sections of the Thai elite who support this vile anti-government movement called the PAD — it does seem to have an element of truth.

Now it appears the opposition Democrat party is trying to seize power without a democratic mandate. It’s really preposterous.

Thailand’s protesters is subverting democracy

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the group leading the anti-government (or rather, anti-Thaksin) protests in Thailand, is probably Southeast Asia’s biggest misnomer. Instead of promoting democracy, as their name suggests, they are subverting the democratic institutions in Thailand.

After more than 6 months of continuous street protest, the situation has taken a sharp turn for the worse, with PAD members and supporters storming and occupying not just the prime minister’s office, but both airports in Bangkok, crippling the country’s vital tourism industry.

Despite their claim to democracy, I see nothing democratic about the PAD. Not only did they support the military coup, which in itself is the worst possible subversion of democracy, but they openly advocated reducing the number of elected members of parliament and replacing them with appointed representatives from the among the country’s elite.

According to Wikipedia, the PAD consists of middle and upper-class Bangkokians and Southerners, supported by the conservative elite and factions of the Thai Army, some members of the opposition Democrat Party, and leaders of state-enterprise labour unions. Its founder, Sondhi Limthongkul, is a super rich media mogul.

I have always wondered who is financing those thousands of protesters. Don’t they have jobs of their own? Obviously not. My only conclusion is that they are being paid by the rich elite PAD leaders and backers to wreck this chaos on their own country — all to achieve the PAD leaders’ self-serving ends.

I don’t claim to be an expert in Thai politics, and I am also aware of some of former PM Thaksin’s shortcomings. I also support peaceful democratic expression, but these last 6 months of street protests and violence have proven that the PAD is out of touch with the needs of ordinary Thais, and have dumped their consciences for selfish gain.