The Thai army has demanded the prosecution of the Assembly for Democracy in Lanna (ADL). “Lanna” refers to the region around Chiangmai in the north. The army has painted the ADL as a separatist group who want to form a new country. Laughable! The army got it utterly wrong because the ADL is just a pro-democracy group in the north. The military mis-read the abbreviated name to mean “the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Lanna”! Of course, this is at a time when some people are talking about separatism and some want a republic.
This is neither the first time nor the last time that the army has exposed itself with stupidity. However, yellow shirts jumped quickly to exploit the issue to create a climate of fear against red shirts. The Prime Minister came out to reassure the nation that there was no such separatist group. She can do better than that. She should ask the army to apologise to the ADL. Of course, she did nothing of the sort.
Sutep’s thugs are roaming across the capital to cause problems as much as they can. The end of the crisis cannot be seen on the horizon.
The current tactic from the yellow shirts and Sutep’s gangs is to accuse the government of failing to rule the country because it does not have the ability to open parliament. They then claim that Thailand needs an unelected prime minister to “satisfy all sides”.
Another alternative is to get the corrupt courts to prosecute Yingluk and her government over the rice subsidy scheme or for using the police to try to break up Sutep’s violent demonstrations. In the former case, it would be killing two birds with one stone, as it would destroy the rice scheme which is hated by the neo-liberals.
Sutep has 3 separate warrants for his arrest. One is for ordering the violent crack-down against red shirts in 2011 and the others are over his role in the recent protests. But there is little prospect of him actually being arrested.
If Pua Thai throws in the towel and gives all the power to Sutep and the military, will the crisis end? I do not think so. A good example was when the Democrats were a puppet government of the army in 2008. They could not control the red shirt protests for genuine democratic elections and it resulted in bloodshed on the streets. Eventually Pua Thai was elected with a huge majority. This pattern of events is radicalising the red shirts and polarising society. Can the big capitals afford to lose money while the crisis goes on?
Pua Thai and the UDD red shirt leadership have done too little too late to protect democratic principles. All they do is to bend over backwards to compromise with the “anti-Democrats”, the army and yellow shirts. They should mobilise the red shirts to challenge the power of the old order. As we have seen after the military bloodshed at Ratchapasong in 2011, many red shirts organised themselves with radical demands. But the radicalisation of red shirts was put on hold when Pua Thai came to power. The majority of red shirts are still waiting for the green light from Pua Thai to fight back. How long can this situation last?