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News: Edging closer to the brink
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  1. #1
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    Edging closer to the brink

    Published: 7/04/2009
    Bangkok Post
    by Veera Prateepchaikul

    Judgement day is due Wednesday as the red-shirt protesters appear determined to bring the government down to its knees while the government is confident that situation will not spill out of control. But a general sense of apprehension prevails among the public.

    A sense of general apprehension appears to have gripped the nation as it watches anxiously what will happen next when the red-shirt protesters stage what they claim to be their biggest ever rally Wednesday to force for political changes with the resignation of the government and Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda as the priority targets.

    The protest organiser, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship , has predicted that the D-Day rally would attract as many as 300,000 protesters in Bangkok alone. Elsewhere in other parts of the country, similar rally is to be staged in front of respective provincial hall in a show of the red-shirt force in coordination with the main protest in the capital.

    Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who has been directing the protest from abroad through his almost nightly video-link communication with his supporters appears to be in no mood for peace talk since he has spurned the government's overture for negotiation to end the political impasse. On the contrary, he has repeatedly urged his red-shirt supporters to rise up against the government and what he contemptously described as the bureaucratic polity which he also wants to be changed. Despite his repeated calls for the restoration of what he called real democracy, it is obvious that the struggle is nothing about democracy but political changes that will suit his ultimate objectives which are his safe return home for a political comeback free from all charges and the return of his frozen assets.

    Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjava, in his nation-wide television address Monday, appeared to be confident that the situation is under control and that it is not necessary for the government to declare a state of emergency in dealing with the protesters. But while assuring that the government will not resort to force against the protesters, the prime minister urged the UDD to refrain from any actions deemed endangering national security and the country's key institutions. He also stated clearly that he would not allow the conflict to develop into a civil war or a bloodbath.

    While it remains to be seen whether the UDD will be able to mobilise up to 300,000 protesters in today's rally as claimed, the protest leaders and Mr Thaksin should know better that such a huge crowd is not easy to control and things can turn ugly if they are repeatedly worked up by firey or hate speeches. In the past, the UDD leaders have been successful in keeping their protests peaceful. But this time however they must try harder to do the job for they must be held accountable if anything goes wrong intentionally or by an accident.

    For the time being, the chance of a last-minute talk or an intervention by someone charismatic enough to convince Mr Thaksin to the negotiable table seems to be out of the question. It appears that the exiled ex-premier is out on his do-or-die war in total disregard of the dire consequences that will befall on the country as a whole and on himself should the situation spills out of control.

    As the country edges closer to the brink, it is hoped that common sense prevails among all the key players, especially Mr Thaksin, in this potentially explosive brinkmanship game. But Mr Thaksin has the power to make a difference. It is simply a choice of being a hero coming to the country's rescue in a time of extreme despair or a villain to be condemned for years to come for the resulting ruins from the conflict.

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    Re: Edging closer to the brink

    I liked the last paragraph. Well said.

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    Re: Edging closer to the brink

    Back to the edge of disaster once again
    By The Nation
    Published on April 8, 2009

    Political violence is the last thing Thailand needs right now; all sides are urged to exercise restraint

    As the country's immediate future is once again clouded by uncertainty, only one thing is clear: This is a time when all sides must exercise restraint to the fullest degree. All parties to the political conflict must avoid violence at the much-anticipated rally by fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra's red-shirt supporters and anti-government protesters in Bangkok today.

    If restraint is not shown, tragedy or other undesirable consequences will leave another indelible scar on Thai society, which is already suffering from deteriorating social division. We have been on the brink for too long, and fresh violence could easily tip the scales to disastrous effect.

    Difference in opinion is normal in any democratic society. But this simple fact has become Thailand's biggest challenge. Historically, Thais have always been able to live peacefully and in harmony with people of different opinions or different political affiliations. If we are to rediscover that sense of harmony, at the core of a strong nationhood, it is imperative that we make it through peacefully what is expected to be the biggest gathering of the red shirts.

    The rally this time is a cause for concern because certain institutions have been set up for stinging criticism by the red-shirted protesters. Thaksin has urge his supporters to rise up in protest and has heavily criticised Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda and other members of the Council, accusing them of political interference and masterminding the 2006 coup that ousted him.

    Thaksin has said there could be a "revolution by the people", while other protest leaders have warned of the possibility of a "civil war". MPs from the opposition camp and the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) are mobilising supporters from the provinces with the hope of bringing several hundred thousand to Bangkok to topple Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government and discredit certain Privy Councillors.

    On Monday night, Abhisit insisted that his government would not tolerate any attempt to incite riots or fighting between rival political groups. He said in a national address that the government would "take decisive action" in case of deliberate violence.

    Abhisit said the government has not planned to declare a state of emergency to deal with the situation. He said the government would do its best to prevent violence and maintain law and order during the rally.

    The pledge of tolerance comes, however, against a backdrop of increasing defiance. Nattawut Saikua, a leader of the red shirts, said that the aim of the protesters was to first topple the Abhisit government and then Privy Council President Prem. Judging from the stance on either side, a truce is nowhere in sight.

    Some are calling for a mediator to save the day. But whoever that person might be, the widespread division now is unlikely to be resolved without the compassion, tolerance and understanding of Thais as a whole.

    The leaders of the red shirts warn of civil war, which would be such a shame. After all, traditional civil wars tend to arise from such causes as religion or race or extreme human rights abuses. Thailand's problem is a pure power play, and ideology is only cited when it suits individuals' interests. We don't need to take a closer look to know what the ongoing political showdown is all about.

    While trying to ensure a peaceful political environment, the government may have to reconsider its strategy to reach out to people with different political affiliations. It is impossible to reverse the court's verdicts over the corruption charges against Thaksin. But it is worth considering how to address the issue of political reform to respond to people with different political views. This may be one way to help rid us of the red- and yellow-shirt factions in our society.

    All protesters - both red and yellow - say that they are making a stand for the sake of the country. But the best way to show love to the country is to avoid any action that may lead to tragic consequences. Violence will take Thailand down into the abyss. Regardless of who wins this political game, the country will be severely damaged if incidents are blown up out of all proportion.

    On Monday, Prime Minister Abhisit called on the public to help in the effort to get past the ongoing political crisis. He said that if the country could weather this crisis, it would emerge stronger politically and economically.

    What happens in the next few days will show if Thais have such a spirit. It will be another moment of truth that will have a bearing on the country's political course in the years to come.

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    Re: Edging closer to the brink

    Quote Originally Posted by Marie View Post
    I liked the last paragraph. Well said.
    well written, yes; but, objective journalism?

    let people make their point without fear or favour, then let the country decide

    negotiation is better than conflict, i agree. and as churchill said jaw jaw is better then war war. so don't supress jaw jaw

    in european history, not all french people sat back and became pacific on the nazi occupation, some stood up for their opinions and rights.

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