Thailand: The Judges Stage A Coup

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May 16, 2014: Months of political protests in the capital continue. The royalist and nationalist politicians and parties (yellow shirts) that lost the national elections in 2011 have failed after numerous attempts to take power until recently when the royalist Constitutional Court ruled that the elected premier to resign and installed a temporary premier until elections could be held. The red shirts see all this is another illegal ploy by the royalists to thwart the will of the people and have retained power because red shirt politicians still control a majority of the seats in parliament and have the right to appoint a temporary prime minister. Red shirts also point out that Constitutional Court first declared the February 2 nd elections (which the elected prime minister called to show that she still had majority support) invalid because some voting places were blocked by mobs of yellow shirt protestors. It’s generally agreed that this court decision was absurd and the populists demand that the recently deposed populist prime minister be reinstated or that new elections be held as soon as possible. While the elected prime minister was accused of corruption, her supporters point out that these legal moves by the royalists are dishonest and just another form of corruption.

The royalist mobs continue operating in the capital to block efforts by the elected supporters of the deposed prime minister from having any say in how the government is run. This has brought a growing number of populists to the capital and set up a situation where there could be large mobs of royalist and populists in the streets causing havoc. There were over 70 violent incidents since November that left 28 dead and over 700 wounded. With more red shirts in the capital, there is the potential for a lot more violence.  

The main demand of the royalist protestors has always been that the elected government step down and allow an unelected council to rule long enough to impose anti-corruption measures. This was unpopular with most voters because it was seen as a coup by groups that could not get elected. As a result of all this many of the middle-class yellow shirt supporters gradually got discouraged, especially because of how the demonstrations were hurting the economy and the quality of life in Bangkok (a largely yellow shirt place.) A January attempt to bring in enough protestors to shut down the capital for up to a month, or until the elected government resigned and allowed the minority parties to appoint one to their liking, did not work. This massive and sustained protest was meant to halt the February elections the beleaguered prime minister has called. That effort failed on both counts although sympathetic (to the yellow shirts) judges eventually annulled the February election. At the moment yellow shirt hopes are kept alive by several court cases.

The peace talks with the southern Moslem separatists that began in 2013 remain stalled. The main problem was that the recognized separatist leaders who were negotiating had lost control of the young men who are doing most of the killing. This is the result of the smuggling gangs being largely responsible for getting the young Islamic terrorists started a decade ago. The smugglers have guns, explosives, hideouts and a widespread presence in the south. The smugglers and terrorists have some common goals, especially getting Thai security forces out of the three southern (and largely Moslem) provinces on the Malaysia border. But so far that goal has become more remote as the government orders more and more police and soldiers south. There are now some 150,000 security forces (police and troops) down there. All these lawmen make life very different for criminals and even some gangs are losing enthusiasm for the terror campaign that began in 2004 and has left over 5,000 dead so far (and 40 so far this year). The popular support for the Islamic terrorists has been fading even faster. This has motivated the Islamic terrorists to come up with ways to regain some of the lost love. The best way to do this is to appeal to a desire for revenge. The Islamic terrorists are suspected of being behind some recent attacks on Moslem women and children, as that sort of thing enrages the Moslem population and provides an opportunity for the Islamic terrorists to make and publicize revenge attacks on Buddhist women and children which makes the Thais angrier. Islamic terrorists feel better when there’s a lot of hating going on. But after a while most southern Moslems see through that scam and the Islamic terrorists lose more support.

May 15, 2014: The army warned populists (red shirt supporters of recently deposed elected prime minister) to back off from using violence or else the army would intervene. The red shirts are not happy and earlier in the day some of them threw a grenade at royalists (yellow shirts) and killed three of them. Later in the day a mob of yellow shirts charged onto an air force base where the new acting prime minister was holding a meeting with the election commission to delay the July 20th elections until later in the year.

May 13, 2014: In the capital two royalist (yellow shirt) protestors were injured when someone (probably red shirt) threw a grenade. The yellow shirts were trying to get the caretaker government of the deposed elected prime minister to step down and allow yellow shirt politicians to take over until elections.

May 12, 2014: In the south Islamic terrorists carried out 30 attacks, but for all this activity only one person was killed and ten wounded. The Islamic terrorists want attention, but not more southern Moslems hating them for more civilian casualties.

May 9, 2014: In the capital royalist mobs blocked TV stations and government offices. This is all about forcing the elected government to allow an appointed royalist prime minister to take power.

May 7, 2014: The Constitutional Court, which is largely composed of royalists, ruled that the elected prime minister must step down because of corrupt practices. The prime minister’s supporters see this as a blatant ploy by the royalists to install an unelected and appointed prime minister in defiance of the will of the majority (which since 2001 has elected prime ministers the royalists object to). The red shirts (populists) call this a “judicial coup.” Although the army is also largely run by royalists, the generals are very reluctant to stage another coup because most of their troops are populists and another coup might cause the army to disintegrate. Later in the day someone threw a grenade at the home of one of the Constitutional Court judges. There were no injuries but the point was made.

May 6, 2014: In the south two bombs went off (near a police station and a store) wounding nine people.

April 27, 2014: A national opinion poll showed 44 percent of Thais want the royalist and populist mobs to step back and let democracy work the way it is supposed to. Most of those 44 percent agreed that the current situation is pretty much anti-democratic and being pushed by people who are willing to be corrupt in order to fight corruption and that this is wrong. But enough people agree with the mob leaders to keep lots of people on the streets while politicians play games with each other rather than working by the rules.

April 25, 2014: In the south (Pattani province) a bomb went off on a beach during a sporting event killing three policemen and wounding 17 people. Islamic terrorists were suspected.

April 22, 2014:  Thai police report that they have increased security in areas where there are lots of Israeli tourists. This is in response to a mid-April tip from Israeli intelligence. That led to police arresting two Lebanese Moslem men (one had a French passport the other a Filipino one) who had flown in as tourists and were there to kill Israeli tourists. Israel provided details of where the attack was to take place and attributed it to Lebanese Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah. The two suspects will be deported because they had not done anything illegal yet in Thailand. 

 

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