Friday, 29 November 2013

UPDATE: It's confirmed - a new low was reached. Thai Democrat Party blackshirt thugs DID target an 11year old child

UPDATE: This story is now confirmed beyond all doubt. The headteacher of the school Yingluck's 11year old son attends has sent out an email to concerned parents ADMITTING that a pupil has been the target of protests by Democrat Party supporters at the school. Khao Sod have screen grabs of the email here - look down the right-hand side of the page. It is also inexcusable that NO foreign media have covered this story - it seems too many of them are interested in posing for the cameras and putting out stories of their own "heroism" than accurately recording the context of Thailand's political crisis

UPDATE: Thai Democrat Party deputy spokesperson, Mallika Boon, has expressed support on twitter for the harassment campaign directed at PM Yingluck's 11year old son. She states that it is a "good thing" because he can then go home and "ask his mother" why this is happening to him. It's hard to know how to respond to the Democrat Party anymore. They've clearly lost their minds.

We can also ask if the Democrats officially sanctioned Mallika's support for the harassment - unless Mallika is removed from her position as deputy spokesperson and Abhisit apologises for her comments we can assume harassing an 11yr old child is something directly supported by the Democrat Party leadership.

One of the best-selling and most respected Thai national daily newspapers, Khao Sod, are reporting a simply horrific story from Bangkok.

Not content with beating and force-stripping people on the street, not content with attacking foreign journalists, not content with stabbing people and not content with cutting power off to Bangkok's hospitals the fascistic blackshirt thugs of the "Democrat" Party have found a new horror to import to the Thai people.

They've started to threaten and harass an 11year old child.

Khao Sod are reporting - and I only have a partial translation available at the moment - that the out of hours tuition school where PM Yingluck's 11year old son attends has received a bomb threat. 

Whilst over at Yingluck's son's day school Khao Sod are also reporting that a black truck with Surat Thani number plates - Surat Thani is Democrat Party stronghold - parked up outside the school and its occupants, all dressed in the usual blackshirt clothing of the Democrat Party mob, began to talk to people at the school 

In addition to this Democrat Party-supporting parents of other children are harassing and hurling abuse at PM Yingluck's son as he and his escort arrive at his day school.

Is this what the Democrat Party means by ending the "Thaksin Regime"? Attacking and threatening children?

It's a vile new low even by their wretched standards.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

BREAKING: Thai police come under attack from Thai "Democrat" Party supporters as they attempt hospital reconnection supply.

As the story surrounding the Thai Democrat Party's attempts to use their increasingly violent street thugs to take control of Bangkok the cutting of the Bangkok Police Hospital's electricity supply is further evidence of the Democrat's extremism.

Yet, cutting off the supply once wasn't enough.

The picture below is reported to be of police officers coming under attack from the Democrat Party mob as an attempt was made to reconnect the supply.

UPDATE Hospital under seige by Thai "Democrat" Party will evacuate patients

UPDATE: Thai news source TNN is quoting a senior police administrator that the Police Hospital will be "evacuated".

UPDATE 2: It now seems that not the entire hospital had its supply cut off but that several buildings within the compound did. Medical equipment using large amounts of electricity were not working properly and there has been a planned evacuation of patients from the ICU department. 
In quite a shocking development news is coming in from multiple Thai language media sources that the "Democrat" Party protest mob have cut the electricity and water to the large Police Hospital (it is, in fact, a public hospital) in downtown Bangkok.

The reports, which are also coming from usually pro-Democrat Party newspapers - here and here an English language source is here - state the blackshirted, anti-democratic protesters were attempting to shut off electricity/water to the main Police HQ in central Bangkok. They were warned that if they did so they would also shut down the electricity and water to the hospital which shares the same compound. 

Regardless they cut the supplies anyway.

According to a source specialising in hospital equipment they are likely to have back-up batteries and generators that would last for few hours.

This source, who sells medical equipment to Thai hospitals told me that 

Individual pieces of equipment such as mobile x-rays and the like have battery back up for a couple of hours depending on the age, the rest pretty much will be depending on generators that will have to be refueled and in this situation that does not seem possible, my guess is if the generators are full and they shut down as much as they can they might last until the morning.

What then? Deaths?

These protesters are explicitly fascist and to call them any other than that is just collusion.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

PHOTO: Whilst the BBC crack jokes Thai Democrat Party-linked thugs stab pro-democracy activists.

Yesterday I blogged video of "Democrat" Party-linked street thugs stripping and beating pro-democracy Red Shirts in a back street just north of Bangkok city centre in an area known as Lad Prao.

Today evidence has emerged that these vicious fascistic hooligans also stabbed and attempted to murder a Red Shirt in the same area.

In the meantime BBC reporter, Jonathan Head thinks this is all a big laugh and in-between making excuses for being hugged by people he doesn't consider "raving fascists" - you only get hugged by the people that support the raving fascists, huh, Johnny? - he has also taken to making distasteful comments about how amusing it would be to see more government ministries stormed by the extreme rightwing protesters. 

VIDEO As Western media collude with fascism Thai Democrat Party street thugs attack Red Shirts

The political crisis in Thailand is reaching fever pitch as a Democrat Party-led street protest threatens to boil over into violence.

Last night on the fringes of central Bangkok, just off the main Lad Prao Road and near a pro-democracy Red Shirt gathering, street thugs linked to the Democrat Party violently attacked two men they assumed to be Red Shirts - see the first video below. 

In the second video below it also appears that they made their victims strip first before they beat them.

(Links to the videos can also be found here and here if they don't play below)

This comes only a couple of days after a Democrat Party MP exhorted a mob to attack a German freelance journalist who they deemed disloyal to their cause. 

There's no doubt - if there ever was in the first place - that the Democrat Party's fascistic anti-democratic politics are now being explicitly proclaimed.

Unfortunately most of the English language media in Bangkok - including even the renowned anonymous blogger Bangkok Pundit - appear to be unable to name this fascism and sometimes even seem to be colluding with Democrat Party and fascistic elements (the US journalist in this tweet is thanking a well-known extreme rightwing Democrat Party official who had previously smeared a dead political prisoner). Yet the most bizarre moment came when BBC Bangkok correspondent, Jonathan Head, admitted to "hugging" some of the blackshirted, anti-democrat and fascist activists.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Guest post by Jakrapob Penkair: Suthep's rhetoric of anti-democratic regime change

This is a guest post by former government minister, Jakrapob Penkair, on the extraordinary anti-democratic rhetoric recently used by Thai protest leader, Suthep Tueksuban.

We have Mr. Suthep Tueksuban to thank now. Not only he is leading his supporters to the streets, trying to paralyse Bangkok, Suthep helpfully puts out a key sentence and explains quite vividly what this is all about. In a rousing speech, he says that their aim is to build up “the most absolute of a king's system” in Thailand once again.

Absolute. King. System. If one punches these words into a computer, the phrase of Absolute Monarchy can spring up on the screen in no time. So what has he been referring to? There’s very little doubt indeed. Mr. Suthep is practically changing his stage rhetoric from anti-government into anti-democratic regime-change. 

No one on stage argues otherwise. Every word said seems to wrap around this well-scripted sentence, which is hardly an accident or a slip. We can’t thank him enough for such a crude showmanship. Beyond Suthep, there are always some shrewd hands, long-versed in the cunning art of directing Thai politics.

But Suthep is such an earthy figure he can’t stand being indirect for too long. His impatience and bluntness proves to us a sense of him being a standard bearer. He wants to tell us who is behind him and how much he can do to hurt us. “To hell with red-shirt people of Thailand” he rants, although the Red Shirts are a group who do, in fact, represent the majority. In Suthep’s version of “democracy” smaller groups that represent elites and the ruling classes must tell the majority what to do. Well, democracy is already an endangered species long before Suthep’s strange stage performance. Now it is even stranger with a suggestion that Thailand’s jaded democracy should be replaced by the absolute non-democracy of absolute monarchy. 

Thailand is no enemy of modernity. There is no religious or economic resistance to globalising Thailand. In fact, Thailand jumps on every band-wagon deemed to transport it to new territory, and faster than some. However, there is a line that Thailand does not seem comfortable enough to cross, and that line is mainly about how far Thai democracy can go and the limitations placed upon it. Of course it doesn’t take long to realise that those limitations are imposed, top-down, by unelected networks and elites.

Suthep’s suggestion is not criminal. Rather well-worded and legally thought out. It is only so revealing that we no longer see his solemn face but another face in the atmosphere that dominates all protesters from Suthep’s podium to wherever blind faith may bring.

UPDATE This evening Suthep the person, not the medium, has formally been charged with an act or acts of rebellion and treason. Maybe this is an attempt to lure the anti-democratic "tiger" out of the cave for once and for all? The problem is that one doesn't have much leverage with a tiger in nature. The choice is either to destroy the beast or get wholly devoured. Is Thailand, as one of the reconciling peoples of the East, ready?

บทสัมภาษณ์พิเศษ "จักรภพ เพ็ญแข"

บทสัมภาษณ์พิเศษ: นายจักรภพ เพ็ญแข ผู้ลี้ภัยทางการเมือง

คงไม่ต้องแนะนำกันมากสำหรับ นายจักรภพ เพ็ญแข อดีตรัฐมนตรีในฝ่าย ดร.ทักษิณ ชินวัตร ภายหลังจากถูกกล่าวหาในคดีหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ เมื่อ พ.ศ.๒๕๕๒ และร่วมกระแสประท้วงในห้วงแรกของมวลชนเสื้อแดง จักรภพฯ ได้ลี้ภัยไปยังกัมพูชาและพำนักอยู่ที่นั่นจนถึงปัจจุบัน  

อย่างไรก็ตาม ถึงอยู่ระหว่างการลี้ภัย จักรภพฯ ก็ยังเป็นหัวคิด และเป็นสุ้มเสียงที่โดดเด่นและน่าสนใจในฝ่ายเสื้อแดงและขบวนประชาธิปไตยของไทยอยู่เสมอ 

ผมเริ่มถามจักรภพฯ ว่า มาลงเอยในกัมพูชาได้อย่างไร และขณะนี้ทำอะไรอยู่บ้าง

“จริงๆ แล้วผมไม่ได้ยึดเอากัมพูชาเป็นบ้านที่ถาวร เพราะเป็นเพียงหนึ่งในหลายๆ บ้านที่ผมพำนักอยู่ในช่วงนี้ เพียงแต่ว่าผมมีโอกาสไปกัมพูชาบ่อยหน่อยเท่านั้นเอง เมื่อ พ.ศ.๒๕๕๒ ที่ผมตัดสินใจออกจากประเทศไปนั้น ผมต้องเดินทางผ่านหลายประเทศและมาพำนักอยู่ในกัมพูชาช่วงหนึ่ง พี่น้องกัมพูชาเข้าใจในเจตนารมณ์ในการต่อสู้ของเราดี ประสบการณ์ของชาวกัมพูชาที่ได้ผ่านสงครามหลากหลายรูปแบบก็ช่วยเราได้มาก อย่างไรก็ดี ผมเดินทางอยู่ตลอดเวลา แต่ก็ไม่เคยไปไกลจากเมืองไทยนัก”

กัมพูชาคิดอย่างไรกับคำวินิจฉัยล่าสุดของศาลสถิตยุติธรรมระหว่างประเทศเรื่องพระวิหาร ความขัดแย้งระหว่างทั้งสองประเทศจะประทุขึ้นได้อีกไหม

“ผู้นำกัมพูชาดูเหมือนจะสรุปว่า ความขัดแย้งเรื่องนี้เป็นผลจากทัศนะชนชั้นปกครองของไทยต่อเพื่อนบ้าน มากกว่าจะเป็นกรณีพิพาทชายแดนอย่างแท้จริง นายกรัฐมนตรีฮุนเซ็นของกัมพูชากล่าวเสมอว่าประชาชนไทยและประชาชนกัมพูชาไม่เคยมีความขัดแย้งกัน เหตุที่แท้จริงก็มาจากทัศนะของชนชั้นนำไทยที่มองว่าไทยควรวางตัวห่างจากประเทศเพื่อนบ้านทั้งสี่ประเทศ ซึ่งเป็นทัศนะที่เร่อร่าล้าสมัย ชาวกัมพูชาโดยทั่วไปไม่ได้ใส่ใจกับเรื่องนี้เลย เว้นแต่ผู้ที่อาศัยอยู่ในบริเวณนั้น คนกัมพูชาคิดเรื่องเวียดนามมากกว่า (เรื่องไทย) เยอะ”


“อะไรที่มันยังไม่ลงตัว สุดท้ายก็วุ่นวายสับสนทั้งนั้น ผมเสียใจที่ประเทศของผมซึ่งครั้งหนึ่งมีความสงบสันติเป็นที่สุดต้องระเบิดขึ้นเป็นความโกลาหล แต่สิ่งที่เมืองไทยควรต้องเปลี่ยนแปลงมันถูกเก็บงำและซ่อนเร้นเอาไว้นานเกินไป ภายใต้ลัทธิ “ยิ้มสยาม” ปรากฎการณ์ทักษิณคือสิ่งที่ปลดปล่อยประเทศไทยทั้งประเทศจากการถ่วงรั้งนั้น อย่าแปลกใจเลยว่าสังคมไทยต้องก้าวเข้าสู่ภาวะเช่นนี้ ซึ่งเป็นภาวะที่ผมเห็นว่าควรเกิดมานานแล้วด้วยซ้ำไป คนไทยจะมานั่งทำท่าน่ารักอยู่ได้อย่างไรในขณะที่ทั้งประเทศต้องหยุดตั้งสติใหม่ว่าเราคือใครและมีจิตวิญญาณอย่างไร” 


“คนที่คิดทำเรื่องนี้มีเจตนาที่ดี คืออยากให้ประเทศเกิดเส้นแบ่งที่สามารถเริ่มต้นใหม่กันได้ แต่วิธีผลักดันอย่างทื่อๆ ทำให้ความหวังดีกลายเป็นความวินาศสันตะโร แนวคิดนิรโทษกรรมโดดๆ ไม่ใช่เรื่องผิด แต่จังหวะเวลาที่ทำ มันแย่เสียเหลือเกิน”  

เหยื่อสังหารแห่งปี พ.ศ.๒๕๕๓ จะมีโอกาสได้รับความยุติธรรมหรือไม่

“ได้สิครับ แต่จะได้ก็ต่อเมื่อกระบวนการพัฒนาประชาธิปไตยเดินไปข้างหน้าหรือถูกผลักให้เดินหน้าต่อไป ในสถานการณ์เผด็จการซ่อนรูปของไทยอย่างนี้ ไม่มีทางที่จะได้ความยุติธรรมทั้งในวันนี้และวันหน้า พลังมืดดำในสังคมไทยเขาซ่อนตัวเก่ง อยู่ในรูปของคนดีมีเมตตา จนเราแทบมองไม่เห็น แต่พลังเช่นนี้นี่แหละ ที่คอยขัดขวางไม่ให้พลเมืองไทยได้ก้าวหน้าในเรื่องสิทธิและเสรีภาพแม้แต่น้อยนิด โดยเฉพาะกับผู้ที่ตกเป็นเหยื่อสังหารอย่างโหดเหี้ยมของเขาหรือคนของเขา”


“เราต้องเชื่อมโยงวิกฤติการเมืองไทยเข้ากับเครือข่ายของสถาบันระดับสูง ไม่ว่าจะโดยตรงหรือโดยอ้อม ถ้าความเชื่อมโยงนั้นปรากฎชัด ผมเชื่อว่าคนส่วนใหญ่ในประเทศจะเห็นเองว่า ทำไมเราต้องมีกฎหมายอย่างนี้ และยืนหยัดยืนยงได้ถึงขนาดนี้ เมื่อรู้แล้วสังคมจะปรับตัวอย่างขนานใหญ่”

ขบวนการเสื้อแดงยังมีอนาคตหรือไม่ หากผูกติดอยู่กับทักษิณ

“คุณทักษิณเป็นและยังจะเป็นแนวร่วมที่สำคัญของขบวนการประชาธิปไตยทั้งมวล ผมเชื่อว่าท่าน (อดีตนายกรัฐมนตรี) จะได้่รับประโยชน์มาก หากท่านยังคงผูกพันอย่างมีสาระสำคัญกับขบวนการนี้ต่อไป”


“ขณะนี้ยิ่งตอบยาก ความขัดแย้งที่ระเบิดขึ้นทั้งสองฝั่งในกรณีร่างกฎหมายนิรโทษกรรม เป็นสิ่งที่เตือนเราว่าความขัดแย้งในสังคมไทยยังคงเข้มข้นรุนแรงเหลือเกิน เราคงต้องยอมให้ความขัดแย้งเคลื่อนตัวไปตามธรรมชาติสักพักหนึ่งเสียก่อน ทิศทางใหม่จึงอาจจะปรากฎขึ้น ถึงตอนนั้น ความคิดเรื่องความยุติธรรมและการสมานฉันท์จึงจะมีความเป็นไปได้”

ทักษิณควรวางมือจากการเมือง หรือเขายังมีบทบาทอยู่

“คุณทักษิณเป็นและยังคงเป็นตัวละครที่สำคัญในห้วงแห่งการปรับเปลี่ยนเมืองไทย แต่ขึ้นอยู่กับตัวท่านเองว่า จะนำบทบาทนั้นมาใช้ให้มากขึ้นหรือน้อยลง โดยส่วนตัวผมเชื่อว่า ความอดทนและทักษะอันเป็นเลิศในการจัดการของท่าน ยังคงเป็นคุณอันเอนกอนันต์ในสถานการณ์ปัจจุบัน”


“ยังไม่ค่อยเห็นหรอกครับ ผมน่าจะทำงานที่มีประโยชน์นอกพื้นที่อำนาจของผู้ปกครองไทยไปก่อน แต่ความคิดเรื่องกลับบ้านอยู่ในใจผมตลอดเวลา”


“คงจะในทางต่างประเทศและด้านวิชาการละมังครับ ประชาคมระหว่างประเทศยังคงไม่เข้าใจรากเหง้าของปัญหาการเมืองในเมืองไทย ซึ่งเป็นความผิดของฝ่ายเราเอง ผมคิดว่าผมสามารถทำหน้าที่อธิบายความและปลุกเร้าความสนใจของคนในระดับโลกได้บ้าง ในฐานะอดีตอาจารย์ ผมสามารถที่จะเขียน พูด และสร้างงานทางวิชาการที่จะส่งเสริมการพัฒนาประชาธิปไตยไทยจากทางไกลได้ ยังมีอีกหลายเรื่องครับที่เราสามารถทำให้ดีกว่าเดิมได้มาก”.  

Saturday, 23 November 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with exiled Thai dissident - Jakrapob Penkair.

A former Thai government minister and long-term ally of Thaksin Shinawatra, Jakrapob Penkair needs little introduction to regular Thai-watchers. After being threatened with Thailand's notorious lese majeste laws and after the first wave of mass Red Shirt protests in 2009 Jakrapob moved to Cambodia where he is still living today.

However, despite his self-imposed exile Jakrapob remains one of the most articulate, erudite and interesting thinkers/voices on the Red, pro-democracy side of Thai politics.

I stated out asking Jakrapob to tell readers a bit more about how he ended up in Cambodia and what he is doing there now.
 Actually, I haven’t stayed in Cambodia as a permanent home. Cambodia is one of many places of stay for me, and I return to it rather often. In 2009, when I made the decision to leave Thailand, I came through several countries and ended up staying in Cambodia for some time. The Cambodians understand our plight, and their experience during the war years helps greatly. However, I move around quite a lot, but never too far from Thailand.  
How was the recent Preah Vihear ICJ ruling received in Cambodia? Is more conflict between Camodia and Thailand possible?
The Cambodian leadership seems to see such a conflict as Thai elitists’ perception of their neighbouring countries, as opposed to a legitimate border issue. Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen always says that the peoples of Thailand and Cambodia are never in conflict. It is Thailand’s upper class position that Thailand should give itself a safe distance from all four neighbouring countries, which can be explained as an age-old misconception. Cambodians in general can not care less about such issue, except some living near the borders. Vietnam is actually more on their mind.   
What is your view of recent events in Thailand?
When things do not fall into place, you have a mess in your hands. I am sorry to see my once-peaceful country erupting into turbulence. However, true changes in Thailand have been subtly and discreetly suppressed for so long, under a disguise of smiling Thailand. The Thaksin phenomenon releases the whole country from such hold-up. We should not be so surprised that entering such a period is necessary. For me, it is long overdue. You can’t remain so cute in the face of a national soul-searching.     
Was the blanket amnesty a mistake?
It was initiated out of a good intention to give the whole country a place to re-start. But the mannerism of the process and the bluntness prove to us that a good idea can turn awful. The idea itself was not a mistake. But its timing couldn’t be more troublesome.  
 Can you ever see true justice for the victims of 2010?
Yes, but only if Thailand’s democratisation is allowed or pushed to march on. With the current state of hidden dictatorship, who is seeking every opportunity to overthrow a democratically-elected government, we can’t see justice now or ever. Dark forces of Thailand are pretty well packaged as benevolent and hard to see. But they are there to obstruct all kinds of attempt to give people an edge, especially for those brutally killed by their forces and/or the network. 
What could be done to reform or repeal the lese majeste law?
One must link Thailand’s political crisis with the role of the palace network, both by themselves or referred to. If such link is adequately established, I think people at large will see by themselves why such laws exist and heavily persist. Actions will follow.
Does the Red Shirt movement have a future if it stays aligned to Thaksin?
Thaksin is and remains an important ally of the entire democratic movement. I think he will benefit a great deal by remaining attached, qualitatively, with it. 
How could a genuine process of “reconciliation” take place in Thailand?
Now it is even more hard to say. An explosive rift over the amnesty bill has been a very recent reminder that the Thais are still very much far apart. We must allow the natural process to go on for a few more rounds before a new shape is formed. By then, a talk about justice and reconciliation may be possible.   
Should Thaksin retire from politics or does he still have a role to play?
He remains and will remain a larger-than-life figure in the whole transformation. It is entirely up to him how he will play up, or down, that role. Personally, I think his senses of perseverance and skilled management continue to serve him well in this circumstance.   
Can you see yourself returning to Thailand in the near future?
Not really. My political usefulness is better served outside Thailand’s power sphere for now. But returning home is never missed from my agendas.   
If so, what role would you like to take on?
International and intellectual roles, I suppose. The international community remains quite ignorant of the real root causes of Thailand’s politics, and it is essentially our own fault. I think I can play a role of an explainer as well as an awareness raiser. As a former professor, I can write, speak, and create a body of works to enhance Thailand’s democratisation from afar. There are some areas we can do a lot better.   

Sunday, 17 November 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Suranand Vejjajiva - "No Snap Election".

A former government minister and now the Secretary General to the Prime Minister of Thailand, Suranand Vejjajiva is a well-known political figure who has been close to the machinations of Thai power for over a decade.

Recently I had the chance to conduct an exclusive interview with Suranand on Thailand's present predicament and possible ways out of the crisis. 

I started off by asking him to give a brief outline of the situation right now as he sees it.

 The on-going protests can be divided into three groups, more or less. The first are those who disagreed with the blanket amnesty bill and came out to show their discontent. These dispersed when the government “backed down” and the Senate dropped the bill.  The second group led by the opposition Democrat Party is now trying to capitalize on the large turnout against the blanket amnesty bill and use it as a political tool to topple the government – extending to a call for ousting of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and eliminating the “Thaksin regime.”  The third group is a composition of remnants from the Yellow Shirts who calls for “political reform” through a coup d’tat.  Alliances are being formed and positions negotiated amongst the opposition groups. They are hoping to get another large turnout in order to pressure for change, not necessary in a democratic manner.   

Was it a mistake to attempt a blanket amnesty?

 The intention of the blanket amnesty bill is based on to forgive (but not forget). Many countries with violent political conflicts eventually end up with amnesties as a mechanism to set the country back on track. It is not a mistake but maybe a little too naive and “off” in terms of timing and communicating to the general public.  

 Is the amnesty now dead as a policy? 

The sad part in this episode is the victims of the protests especially people who came out to join the protest rallies and were charged with criminal cases, some still serve time and many have to fight court cases. Time had passed and they should be given amnesty. The government have to find a way to help and relieve them from the burden they did not deserve to take.  

 Is the government considering a snap election? 

No, and the Prime Minister has no intention to resign.  

 Are you surprised that those who were completely silent regarding the amnesty for the 2006 coup leaders are at the head of the protest against this amnesty?  

I am not surprised and always have been disappointed. The 2006 amnesty for coup leaders was not the first time. There have been more than 20 amnesties since Thailand became a democracy in 1932. Most amnesties are for coup leaders, and the people remained silent because the amnesties were usually passed by an appointed legislative body set up by the coup leaders themselves. The current amnesty bill, despite the controversy, was proposed through democratic process via an elected parliament as stipulated by the Constitution. It is embarrassing for Thai political history.   

How real is the threat to Thai democracy right now? Do you think the opposition are committed to democratic means? 

The threat to Thai democracy is always real throughout since 1932. There are groups of elites who believe they are superior and do not believe in the voices of the common man. They allied with the military and businessmen in many occasions to topple democratically elected governments. The opposition [led by Abhisit Vejjajiva, Surnand's cousin] has always been the tool of the elite, and especially more so since they lost the last five elections over past two decades. 

How much does the Pheu Thai party need the Red Shirts right now? 

Pheu Thai and the Red Shirts are inseparable. There may be differences in opinions, but they fought and need to continue the fight for democracy together.   

Critics claim the govt let down their supporters by not reforming laws like lese majeste or not doing enough to free the Red Shirt prisoners - what would you say to them? 

The government has been trying to work to free the Red Shirt political prisoners as hard as possible. Some has been released but many remained, stuck in the judicial maze. The work will need to continue. As for lese majeste, the law remains a sensitive issue in Thailand.   

There's been some talk of the govt bring in the ICC - how likely is this? 


Finally, how can the govt achieve a sustainable reconciliation? 

We need to work to create trust between stakeholders and the Prime Minister proposes to use the reform forum initiated by the government as the venue to discuss how the country can move ahead.