The Protests: A Brief Overview

As everyone living in Bangkok now knows (or should know), the Yellow Shirts have carried through with their threat of blocking off major intersections of the city with the intent of forcing the prime minister to step down. Given the hideous traffic jams that Bangkok normally experiences, it’s difficult to see how anyone could further mess things up, but it is not for me to question the motivations of people yearning for honest democracy.

Well, maybe not democracy per se. You see, the party representing the Yellows has not won a general election in over two decades. Having their butts handed to them time and again has not gone over particularly well with the upper middle class and elites who comprise much of the party’s faithful, making them eager to seize power by any means should the opportunity ever present itself. The recent ham-handed attempt by the prime minister and her minions to pass a law that would, amongst other things, allow her controversial brother (and former prime minister) to return to the country without facing criminal charges has opened the gates. From the perspective of Thailand’s well-off, this simply confirms their view of a government corrupted by a family dynasty. One that stays in power only through costly agricultural programs designed to benefit — and secure the loyalties of — the people from the poor, rural areas of the North and Northeast (Red Shirt country).

Because there is no chance of overcoming the widespread Red support of the party in power before the February 2 election, which is shaping up to be yet another pasting should they decide to participate, the Yellows have borrowed a page from the American Republican Party and are attempting to shut down much of the Thai government, along with targeted Bangkok thoroughfares. Their demands are every bit as realistic as Republicans’ assaults on ObamaCare: dismantle Thailand’s parliament and replace it with an unelected, Chinese-sounding “People’s Council”. It has not yet been announced if the head of this committee will assume the title of “Chairman” and wear an army beret adorned with a cute red star. Perhaps all the members will don badly tailored, green peasant’s garbs to demonstrate their solidarity with “the people”. Of course it will be necessary to expand the trouser pockets so their wallets can fit.

All this should be kept in mind as images of flag-waving, self-righteous Thais continue to flood the media outlets in the following days. For regardless of whatever patriotism they may appear to be exhibiting, there is no accompanying respect for their country’s political process, and precious little concern for the rural folk scratching out a living in muddy rice paddies.

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