I wish that peace will prevail on this new year (or in other words: that no "red-shirt" or "black-shirts" or "any-colour-shirts" will enter into bloody action)
This is a brief report from the american writer Michael Yon after having talked with some of the main leaders of the protest:
Michael Yon is doing an excelent work. You can follow him on FacebookKhun Suthep meeting on New Year's Eve
Some quick notes. This is a stream of consciousness. Due to meetings today I will not even have time to edit, so please forgive any errors or rough parts:
As many people now know, I slipped into the PDRC ad hoc headquarters last night. Many people are asking how I did it. I cannot answer that other than to say good mentors, and years of practice.
Numerous people on staff actually knew me and follow on FB, but did not recognize me. After all, I keep an old photo up for a reason.
Khun Suthep also knew me but not by appearance. We talked until Khun Abhisit came in and stole his ear to wish a happy New Year. Abhisit recognized me right off and said hello.
My apologies for not making photos but I switched hats back to the writer.
Khun Suthep graciously provided much background information and did not flinch at hard questions. He said that he does plan to present himself to the court when this is over. (Neither Suthep nor Abhisit are running from criminal charges. They are facing the charges head on, unlike Thaksin who is a fugitive from justice.)
I was not taking notes during our conversation, and so will keep my comments general, lest I get something incorrect, which I wish at all costs to avoid.
I asked why terrorists are focusing on the separate but allied organization, Kor Por Thor. Nobody actually is sure why terrorists are focusing on KPT. Suthep conveyed respects for KPT, and admiration for their courage using only their bare hands.
Big things are planned for January but I was told in confidence and so will keep it there for now. I would offer that Yingluck would do well to step down, for the good of Thailand. This is not going away. Suthep is very clear, however, that PDRC will avoid violence at all costs. Firm, but no bullets.
I must admit that I am not neutral on the point of Thaksin. I have watched the Shinawatras enough to realize that the corruption is real, and so big to the point of sickening. I say this not as a writer, but as an American who does not wish the United States to offer any help to the Shinawatras. Over the years, I have seen enough of Thaksin. My mind is made up. I write this to be clear about a bias that will not change.
I asked PDRC spokesman Khun Akanat about the five points for reform, which we discussed in detail. More on that as time unfolds. I need to continue to study before committing to writing.
As many people know, Khun Akanat recently resigned from Parliament in protest. He was only 25 when elected, and is only 27 now, yet talking with him seems like talking with a much older man. His English is perfect. I tossed in a good bit of American slang to see if he could track. He did not miss a thing.
I asked Khun Akanat what should be the fate of Yingluck if she resigns. He answered that Yingluck should be allowed to resign in peace and get on with normal life, with no issues and no problems.
I asked both Suthep and Akanat about many other issues, such as what happened on the 26th at the stadium where two people were killed. A policeman and a protestor were shot dead, and many were wounded. Many people know that Suthep went there himself before the 26th to lead people out of a potentially violent clash. Both men were unhappy that a violent clash occurred. (PDRC was not involved in the clash.)
I asked about the “fake” policemen, and the “Cambodians,” and many other questions. PDRC leaders were clear that police reform is essential for Thailand, and Akanat explained a number of problem areas.
One problem area is that the Prime Minister appoints the Police Chief for all of Thailand, who then appoints police chiefs around the entire country. This puts enormous power into the hands of the Chief, and thus directly into the hands of the PM. This is too much power.
Imagine if the US President appointed a single Police commander who is in charge of the FBI, DEA, BATF, Border Patrol, Postal Inspectors, State police chiefs, and all local police authorities, including highway patrols, Sheriffs offices, and local police departments, and even Game Wardens. The only thing he/she would not control is department store security guards.
This means that police chiefs at village level are in the direct chain of command to the PM. That is too much voltage to rest in the hands of one person. That is dictatorial power. It leads to a fantastically corrupt structure. That is a structure custom built not to work for the people.
Interestingly, those who wish to have the status quo of “democracy” are actually “voting” for a dictatorial “democracy,” whereas opposition groups like PDRC and KTP want to dissolve these corrupt power structures.
Another issue is that the same government appoints all the governors. Imagine President Bush or Obama with that kind of power, and the police force, and the military. (Though the Thai military has a powerful voice of its own, unlike the US military.)
The President or PM might as well be holding a ray gun against the head of every citizen. The PDRC, KPT, and other opposition groups wish to break up this power before holding new elections.
Another issue we talked about is the mischaracterization of this fight as a class struggle. It is clear that many former red shirts have defected and wish Yingluck to resign, and they are sick of her brother Thaksin who perpetually puts himself above Thailand. He ignores the courts.
Even the many taxi, tuktuk and motorbike drivers, who to a man several years ago seemed hardcore redshirt, are telling me everyday that they want Yingluck gone. And when you go to these protests, you see everyone from billionaires (literally), to motorbike drivers. For that matter, Thaksin is a billionaire. Hardly a poster boy for the underclass.
There are Thai Buddhists, Christians and Muslims at the protests. This is hardly a class struggle, and for those writers who keep saying that it is, I must ask, are they actually going to the protests? The protestors consists of a core sample of Thai society. Nothing is hidden. It is out there to be discovered simply by going.
I asked what is meant by “getting rid of Thaksin.” The PDRC was clear that getting rid of Thaksin is not limited to pulling out the Shinawatra clan, but the entire rotten apple around them. A rotten core creates a rotten apple. Thaksin means Thaksin regime. They do not want to just pull out the Shinawatra seeds, but the entire apple needs to be plucked off the tree of Thailand.
We talked about many other items but I will bring those to light after more study. And here I must close.
Happy New Year