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The Inevitability Of Bloodletting


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by Pornpimol Kanchanalak

 

 

The government, by standing firm on the February 2 election date, has snuffed out the chance of Thailand seeing the light of peace and compromise anytime soon.

 

To put the government's obstinacy in perspective, one must recall that a day before Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra met with the Election Committee (EC) on Tuesday, the EC had met with eight major political parties to discuss the pros and cons of postponing the election. After a lengthy discussion, the majority of participants agreed that given the current volatile political environment, a postponement would be the safer option.

 

It is important to remind ourselves that postponing voting does not mean that democracy is placed in jeopardy. On the contrary, an election with only one party - the ruling Pheu Thai - dominating the ballot box, and without the participation of the opposition, is not democracy. Instead it is merely an election by the ruling party, for the ruling party. Such a political monopoly casts doubt on the future democratic landscape of Thailand.

 

To make matters worse, the government's decision to go ahead with the scheduled election comes despite the EC's honest disclosure that it lacks the full number of 50,000 people needed to man the polling stations, with more members of the supervising committees expected to resign. This is not what democracy is all about.

 

Worst of all, the government knows full well that a February 2 election will not produce a functioning legislative branch, as the required 95 per cent of MPs will not be elected.

 

Yet, the caretaker Yingluck administration has the audacity to say it will keep running elections until the forum is achieved. It also has the chutzpah to estimate it will take about a year to accomplish this.

 

The government also expects to perform in its caretaker role for an indefinite period. That means that for the next year, Thailand could be without legislative or administrative branches of the government to create and implement policies.

 

This is madness: a cynical, self-serving and malicious action on the part of this government against the country.

 

It is as infuriating as seeing the Foreign Minister reading verbatim, on national television, US government statements on our current national affairs. Since when has Thailand become a spokesman or minion of Washington? As to why it matters so much what the US thinks, no sensible person will have an answer.

 

Meanwhile, more innocent lives have been lost while voicing their conscience or performing their duty.

Yet, the government has shown no remorse. If the disease came from the People for Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), there has been absolute silence on the part of government, as if their lives did not matter.

 

The police and military have been put in the extremely awkward position of "damned if you do, damned if you don't". As government officers, they have a duty to obey orders. They do not seem to count much as far as this government is concerned.

 

To this caretaker administration, nothing matters as much as its own vested interests, and everybody else can be left to stew in their own juice. And we can be assured nothing will stop it from stooping lower, to a level no leadership or government in the history of Thailand has ever stooped before. All is validated by its perceived God-given sense of entitlement, legitimacy and self-righteousness.

 

It does not matter to this government what happens to the Thai economy. It does not matter how many hand-to-mouth workers will have to be laid off because of the business slowdown. It does not matter how much more divisive Thailand will get. The power of the ruling party reigns most supreme.

 

This is not to say that the PDRC is doing everything right. But for crying out loud, they are unarmed. They only want the country to be reformed before an election is held, because people can no longer tolerate the blatant graft and fraud that have been eating up the national wealth in broad daylight under the cloak of so-called democracy. They do not trust this government to oversee the elections. They do not disrespect the right of others to go to vote, (though the bottom-line is what good will that do?). What we have in Thailand is not democracy in the true sense of the word. Today, we have no strong and viable check-and-balance mechanisms, no laws that will deal a blow to corrupt officers and put them to jail, to send a clear message that such practices shall not be tolerated by the public. As of today, there is no branch or sector of government that cannot be bought or sold if the price is right. It is time that the country went through a rigorous process of reform to make changes for the better.

 

Sadly, the current political conflict and violence could have been ended months ago, was it not for the fact that the government continued to up the ante rather than looking for ways and means to a compromise and dialogue.

 

Now, the government's decision to forge ahead with an election that is nothing short of absurd means Thailand has reached the point of no return. Blood will be spilled. Fingers will be pointed. Where we are heading is a matter only for mere ordinary mortals like us to worry about.

 

The government might think it is standing tall. But it is not. The blame shall be placed squarely on its shoulder, particular those of prime minister Yingluck. She may have been able to duck the bullets many times before, claiming she did not know what was going on as she only chaired the committees that got projects rolling. But this time, she cannot hide behind smiles to escape the blame.

 

As head of government, even if only figuratively, the buck stops with her.

 

 

http://www.nationmul...g-30225519.html

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Not even when they threaten farmers who are protesting because they are going bankrupt from not having been paid by the PT government for last year's crops? Not even when they used deadly weapons agai

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An idiot's guide to this Sunday's election

 

by Suthichai Yoon

 

 

If you go to the polling booth to cast your ballot this Sunday, you are one of those who believe that the election must proceed as the caretaker government insists. It's part of democracy, and nobody has the right to block you from casting your ballot.

 

Of course, you know in advance that only one major political party - namely the ruling Pheu Thai Party of Premier Yingluck Shinawatra - is in the race. The other big party, the Democrat Party, has boycotted the election. The rest on the ballot are medium-sized and small parties.

 

This isn't an ordinary election. It's an election under the state of emergency.

 

Advice has gone out in the social media for those who will be going out to vote: Dress lightly, ready for action. Adopt "camouflage tactics" by wearing a whistle around your neck even if you are totally against Suthep Thaugsuban - to fool some of the hard-core anti-government protesters who might try to get too close to you.

 

If you decide to stay home, you probably agree with the protesters who demand that "reform must come before election" because you don't think democracy is just about casting ballots. Before you pick your next MP, you want to make sure that the election process undergoes a major reform and that the country is rid of corrupt and bad influences.

 

If you are somewhere in between, you might visit the nearest polling booth this Sunday and mark the "None of the above" box because none of the parties listed in the ballot represent your interests.

 

But be warned. Make sure you check the "security situation" at your polling booth before you leave your house this Sunday. The protesters led by Suthep Thaugsuban have vowed to block the ballot-casting nationwide. The caretaker government has advised voters who suffer disruptions or harassment to report to the nearest police station.

 

Your personal safety is of the utmost importance. So, if you insist on exercising your right to vote, by all means cast your ballot. Your choice of parties might have been limited. You should have decided before you leave home which is your favourite party. You should know which parties are in the race. This time around, you might not have the privilege of weighing the pros and cons of the major parties. But if you go out and vote, it's clear where you stand in the current political situation. It's your right, and everybody else should respect that.

 

But if you think the government is being stubborn by proceeding with the election despite warnings from the Election Commission of potential trouble, delays and violence, then you may just stay home. Some of you may decide not to stay home and join the protest. But make sure that you conduct your "civil disobedience" in a civil way. We are all under the emergency decree and as such can be arrested for even mingling in a group of more than four persons.

 

If you think an election should take place and you want to show your dissatisfaction with the limited choice of parties offering their services, you could cast a "No" vote to register your political stand.

 

If you harbour really strong feelings against the poll and are tempted to dramatise your disagreement, don't tear up the ballot. It's a legally no-no and you could be fined or even jailed for doing that. I guess it's because although the gesture is supposed to be part of demonstrating "disobedience" against the powers-that-be, the authorities concerned don't consider that "civil".

 

I have great respect for those on both sides of the political divide - and those caught in the middle.

 

As for myself, all I ask is: Respect my political privacy. The dilemma of deciding between a "No Vote" and "Vote No" is so daunting I can't tell you just yet what I'm going to do this Sunday.

 

 

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/An-idiots-guide-to-this-Sundays-election-30225521.html

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Extra security for PM and VIPs

 

 

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Extra security will be provided for certain government figures, including the caretaker prime minister and some political VIPs tomorrow when they go to vote.

 

The move came amid rising concern of possible clashes and violence between anti-government protesters and supporters of the government.

 

Ballot boxes and papers have also not reached local election offices in many areas, particularly in the South, due to a blockade by protesters. And there is a severe shortage of officials to man polling stations after many of them resigned.

 

Meanwhile, the Civil Court refused to issue an injunction yesterday to suspend the state of emergency, pending a judicial review of the case against the government's imposition of the emergency decree.

 

The court reasoned that the situation did not warrant an injunction as requested by Thaworn Senneam, a leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). Thaworn filed the suit with the court, alleging that the government had unlawfully declared a state of emergency.

 

The court will hold the first hearing of the case next Thursday (February 6). Police will work with soldiers in providing security for key Cabinet ministers, such as PM Yingluck Shinawatra and Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, to prevent risks of disorder or disruption when they go to vote, police sources said.

 

Chalerm is head of the government's Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order, which is in charge of the state of emergency currently in effect in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, and part of Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.

 

The prime minister said yesterday she would exercise her right to vote and asked protesters not to prevent others from going to the polls. "I appeal to you not to block voting. Foreign countries will view Thailand as undemocratic," she said.

 

Yingluck is expected to vote at a polling station at Klong Lam Chiak School near her home in Lat Phrao, while Chalerm will vote at Wat Bang Bon School near his home in Bang Bon district.

 

National police chief Pol General Adul Sangsingkaew and other senior officers, including Metropolitan Police commissioner Pol Lt-General Camronwit Thoopkrajank, are expected to go in person to take care of those two polling stations, the sources said.

 

There will also be extra security at other polling stations in Bangkok where Khunying Pojaman Damapong and General Prem Tinsulanonda are due to cast their ballots, they said.

 

Camronwit said yesterday that extra police and military personnel would be sent to those polling stations to ensure security for the VIPs going to vote.

 

More than 200,000 police will be deployed nationwide to keep law and order on the election day and they will be assisted by 7,000 soldiers in the areas where the state of emergency is in place, said Pol Lt-General Amnart An-atngam, who heads the police's centre to maintain peace during the election.

 

Adul, the national police chief, said yesterday that there was concern that polling stations in some provinces may be disrupted by protesters, including Bangkok, Samut Songkhram, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Songkhla, Phatthalung, and Trang. Earlier in the day, he chaired a meeting of police units to prepare for the election.

 

He said police would attempt to prevent a repeat of violence last Sunday, when a protester was shot dead and many others were injured.

 

The Election Commission has advised election officials to end voting at polling stations if there is a risk of violence or turmoil, election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiy-akorn said yesterday. A new of voting would be called for eligible voters who fail to exercise their right if polling stations are closed prematurely, he said.

 

The Army will dispatch unarmed soldiers to help police maintain security at polling booths, as requested by the Election Commission and the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order, Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said yesterday.

 

However, the soldiers would just be around the polling stations, he added.

 

The First Area Army would keep a close eye on 10 districts in Bangkok for possible clashes between conflicting sides, a source revealed. They are Sai Mai, Don Muang, Bang Kapi, Wang Thong Lang, Lak Si, Bang Na, Bang Bon, Suan Luang, Min Buri and Bueng Kum.

 

In a related development, an opinion poll has found that 36.5 per cent of 1,403 respondents were worried there would be violence on the election day, according to results of Rajabhat Suan Dusit University's Suan Dusit Poll released yesterday.

 

 

http://www.nationmul...s-30225748.html

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Soldiers to patrol toll-way, watch high-rise buildings to prevent violence

 

 

The commander-in-chief of the Army has ordered soldiers to patrol toll-ways and observe high-rise buildings at risk areas to prevent violence when Bangkok voters go to the polls on Sunday.

 

An Army spokesman, Colonel Winthai Suwaree, said the Army chief has ordered troops to be stationed at the outer area of the polling units to prevent possible confrontation and clashes between rival groups.

 

At areas risking attack, the spokesperson said troops will patrol toll-ways and observe high-rise buildings to ensure safety for the people, he said.

 

But he made clear the patrols on toll-way would be periodically and would not deploy soldiers on toll-ways around the clock as they also have other significant task to do, he said.

 

Soldiers were advised to resort to talks and to absolutely refrain from using force, he said.

 

In the provinces, he said Army bases in each area will help to take care in the outer area of the polling units.

 

Earlier, the anti-government protesters sought help from the Army to deploy troops on Don Muang toll-way because their protest site at Lard Prao came under attack almost every night with small bombs and gunfire. Most bombs were thrown and gunshots fired from the overhead toll-way.

 

 

http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/soldiers-patrol-toll-way-watch-high-rise-buildings-prevent-violence/

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Suthep says protesters will not blockade polling units on February 2

 

 

People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban declared last night that anti-government protesters will not blockade all polling units but will allow them to open on February 2 election.

 

His declaration of no obstruction of the polling units earlier feared by the Election Commission and the Center for the Administration for Peace and Order has eased rising concern of expected violence between protesters and voters at the polling units.

 

Suthep kicked off the second day of the 3-day street march to gather support from Bangkok people to boycott election and to join the ouster of the caretaker prime minister in biggest protest rally on February 2.

 

He marched from Pathumwan to join the protest site at Lard Phrao intersection along Ratchadapsek and Lard Phrao road.

 

At last night address to supporters, Mr Suthep reasoned why he would not lead protesters to blockade polling units because he did not want the people to fall into the trap of the caretaker government and the CMPO who wanted to see violence and then blamed the protesters of inciting violence.

 

He said leading protesters to blockade polling units held high risk of violent confrontation and armed attack by hooligans hired by the authorities.

 

If violence broke out, it would be exploited by CMPO and corrupted officials to blame protesters of inciting violence.

 

Instead, Mr Suthep said, on the election day, Bangkok will be turned into the biggest ever shopping streets as all traffic will be paralyzed when protesters occupying roads to hold protest rallies.

 

However, sources said that Mr Suthep strongly believed the February 2 will be nullified because of various legal problems involved after it is held.

 

 

http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/suthep-says-protesters-will-blockade-polling-units-february-2/

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Soldiers to patrol toll-way, watch high-rise buildings to prevent violence

 

 

The commander-in-chief of the Army has ordered soldiers to patrol toll-ways and observe high-rise buildings at risk areas to prevent violence when Bangkok voters go to the polls on Sunday.

 

An Army spokesman, Colonel Winthai Suwaree, said the Army chief has ordered troops to be stationed at the outer area of the polling units to prevent possible confrontation and clashes between rival groups.

 

At areas risking attack, the spokesperson said troops will patrol toll-ways and observe high-rise buildings to ensure safety for the people, he said.

 

But he made clear the patrols on toll-way would be periodically and would not deploy soldiers on toll-ways around the clock as they also have other significant task to do, he said.

 

Soldiers were advised to resort to talks and to absolutely refrain from using force, he said.

 

In the provinces, he said Army bases in each area will help to take care in the outer area of the polling units.

 

Earlier, the anti-government protesters sought help from the Army to deploy troops on Don Muang toll-way because their protest site at Lard Prao came under attack almost every night with small bombs and gunfire. Most bombs were thrown and gunshots fired from the overhead toll-way.

 

 

http://englishnews.t...event-violence/

 

Ohh yes they are in place for sure

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Guess who attacked whom again.

 

At least three injured in clash between red shirts, PDRC protesters at Lak Si

 

 

At least three people, including a reporter, were injured in a confrontation between red-shirts and protesters led by the People's Democratic Reform Committee outside the Lak Si district office Saturday afternoon.

 

The confrontation happened after Luangpu Puttha Issara, a monk who leads the rally at the Chaeng Wattana, led protesters to surround the Lak Si district office to prevent the transport of ballots and ballot boxes from the office to polling stations.

 

While the PDRC protesters were rallying there, hardline red-shirt leader Wutthipong Kachatham or Ko Tee led some 200 red shirts to confront the protesters.

 

Nation Channel reported that explosion sounds were heard four times while the two sides were about 800 metres away from each other. The sounds were believed to come from giant firecrackers.

 

One of the injured was Jirawat Sukanon, reporter of the Daily News newspaper. He was wounds at the mouth and nose from giant firecrackers.

 

http://www.nationmul...s-30225772.html

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Train service between Lak Si and Don Muang stations suspended

 

 

5.15pm - The State Railway of Thailand announced closure of service between Laksi and Don Muang stations for passengers’ safety.

 

The annoucement came after clashes between pro and anti-government supporters near Lak Si district office on Chang Wattana Road.

 

At least, three people including a reporter were injured probably by giant firecrackers thrown into the anti-government groups.

 

 

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/breakingnews/Train-service-between-Lak-Si-and-Don-Muang-station-30225783.html

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