Unspoken until now, in the background, is the matter of the Thai Monarchy. The beloved king is old and sick and on his way out. Many are wondering what will happen when he dies. His son is unsuitable to replace him to say the least. The daughter is much loved…but it is questionable whether the people will accept a Queen.
The Yellows (Royalists) and current government support the Monarchy. Those behind the Reds (and some academics) speak of “modernizing” governance in Thailand. Traditionally, the King is the Head of State and is supposed to stay out of politics and the Prime Minister is the head of the government.
There are a myriad of rumors pointing to the self-exiled Thaksin who fled the country rather than accept a three year jail sentence for corruption and who is financing the Reds…ironically mostly made up of up-country farmers who Thaksin gave “nitnoy” help (little help) to while Prime Minister.
The government has now said they have uncovered a wide conspiracy to overthrow the King. The Reds deny it. Deputy PM Suthep says this morning that an arrest warrant for ex-General Chavalit (also rumored to be behind the “third hand” mercenaries who appeared with hi powered rifles and grenades on April 10 where 25 people were killed including 5 soldiers) will be issued if he refuses to testify in his involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the Monarchy. The investigation of the alleged plot may be a way of getting him out of the way.
Prime Minister Abhisit said today at noon that the Puea Thai Party filed a police complaint against the PM and CRES on defamation charges for accusing it of involvement in a movement to topple the Monarchy.
Seems the Monarchy has become politicized and the Red farmers and Red sympathizers from Bangkok rallying in the streets are being manipulated and used by all sides.
A journalist for TIME, an expat who has lived in Bangkok for 15 years, has this to say:
On may 19, I watched my adopted city burn. Plumes of thick black smoke rose amid deserted office buildings about 1.5 km from my Bangkok home as troops stormed the Red Shirt camp. There, chaos reigned: protesters set buildings ablaze, soldiers exchanged fire with black-clad gunmen, ambulances raced off with the dead and wounded. But farther south, near my home, there was no bloodshed, just shuttered shops and deserted roads. This unsettled me almost as much. I have lived in Bangkok for 15 years. What terrible force could empty the streets of this once vibrant city?
Fear, of course. The fighting and standoff of the past two months have claimed the lives of at least 70 people — mostly civilians, including foreigners — and injured hundreds. Thais pride themselves on unity. Now they are at one another’s throats, and the institutions that have always claimed to represent their best interests are too outdated and mired in crises to pull them apart. All countries weave myths about themselves, and here is Thailand’s: its people live in harmony, regardless of class, creed or ethnicity, their stability and prosperity assured by unblinking loyalty to King, country and religion — the so-called three pillars of Thai-ness. (See a TIME video on the violence in Thailand.)
The battle of Bangkok has shattered the myth of national harmony. Many Thais welcomed the crackdown. They regarded moderate Reds as dupes and militant Reds as terrorists and both as funded by fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown in a 2006 military coup. But others, including those who were sick of the protests, shuddered to see soldiers firing live rounds at people armed with rocks and slingshots, if armed at all. The last time that happened was a generation ago, in 1992, when at least 48 people were killed. Now Thais watch with horror as their fast-modernizing nation slips back into a darker era.
In 1992 it was Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand’s widely revered King, who intervened to halt the violence. But this time the ailing monarch, now 82, has remained silent. Other key institutions that might play a mitigating role are too busy wrestling with their own dysfunctions. The parliament barely functions; mobs have twice burst through its gates in recent years. The judiciary, which in 2008 toppled a government that Red Shirts helped elect, is widely viewed as partisan and unreliable. So are the media: free-to-air television channels effectively skew to the official line. The police are corrupt and incompetent, and in recent days they were conspicuously absent on Bangkok’s lawless streets. Thailand even has a crisis of faith: Buddhism is reeling from repeated scandals that Pope Benedict XVI might recognize. (See pictures of the showdown in Bangkok.)
These institutions need reform. But they are shielded from scrutiny and even well-meaning criticism by custom, taboo and — in the monarchy’s case — draconian lèse majesté laws. How can a country progress when its people cannot safely debate the very institutions that are central to their lives?
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1990640,00.html#ixzz0ogOJhzVm