Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tension in Thailand

Photo by Apichart Weerawong
All around the world political tension is rising. We have all become accustom to seeing protesters clamoring for change and soldiers or police officers being forced to confront the rage which is meant for the ruling party. But I must say it is becoming tense in the capital of Thailand.
Thais are, in general, passive and accepting of others. Still, they have a long tradition of protesting and picketing in order to bring pressure on the government. They had, just over a year ago, a very peaceful coup -- not one shot fired. Elections were guaranteed and those elections put right back into power the party that had been ousted by the coup. Frustrated as many intellectuals and scholars were, the vote was the vote and it was honored. Taksin, the ousted prime minister, is enjoying life in England. He bought a football team over there and is enjoying his time abroad while his followers prepare to change the constitution so that he will not face criminal charges for his money schemes. It is so in the face of the Thai people that there were bound to be protests.
SAMAK, is his long time follower and is now our current prime minister. He is a hard line guy, who most people blame for one of the few protests which did turn bloody back in the 70's when he was a younger politician. By all media accounts he was the one who gave the order for soldiers to FIRE ON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS who were peacefully protesting against him and his party. The number of dead and wounded has been disputed since it happened.
SAMAK is sabre rattling again. He has said, of the 6,000 protesters meeting and making noise in the capital, he has the military power to STOP them if they do not disband soon. All weekend the fear of violence was high, but the group did not go away.
As a foreigner in this land it is difficult for me to know who is the best government for these people. I only know that Thai nature, peaceful and calm, is the best hope we have for avoiding a war. I believe their love of peace will win out over this trouble. Still the tension in some quarters around the city is truly palpable.