LETTER: Clarifying Thailand

Dear Editor,

I applaud you and your reporting team for doing an excellent job with your report on the mass protests of Thai people. You are so keen on current events that happen not only in our local area (around Seattle and Washington state), but also overseas. 

This time, it’s the massive uproar and uprising in Thailand — my motherland. I must extend credit to your reporter in Bangkok, Thailand for detailing the stories of people involved in the turmoil in a neutral and unbiased, but objective and factual fashion. Your readers are lucky to have Laura Love in the right place at the right time, as the crisis has unfortunately continued since its inception a few months ago.

As accurate as the report was, there are a few points of misunderstanding I’d like to help correct, and also clarify some things that were left out:

1. It is not only the commitment of Democratic Party members of parliament who want to unseat the current government led by Yingluck Shinawatra and her Puerh Thai party members who control the parliament, but it has been the will and demand of the majority of Thai people in Bangkok and in provinces throughout the nation.

2. The latest round of protests was not initiated by the Yellow Shirt crowd and/or their leaders, who disbanded themselves this past summer. The protests actually have been carried out by the majority of Thai people (with a diverse mixture of social status and demographic, professional, religious, and educational/academic backgrounds). Judges, professors, doctors, nurses, technicians, engineers, students, merchants, businesses, and even former Red Shirt members all have come together to fight against the government, Thaksin (the convicted, fugitive ex-prime minister), and his cronies.

3. Though Prime Minister Yingluck vowed not to use force or violence against the protesters, members of her inner circle have openly recruited Red Shirt thugs and supporters, mostly from the north and northeast provinces and some from the eastern region and central plains area, to gather in the national stadium. This Red Shirt group is in fact a mob for hire — a new category of labor force introduced by Thaksin and his cronies in recent years that has helped lower the unemployment figure.

4. There have been occupations by the protesters, but no forced entry into the building or compound. In fact, the government officials and workers at sites invited the protesters to go inside. They even offered water, snacks, and provided free health-checkups to the protesters.

5. The total number of protesters on Nov. 24 was likely near 2 million. In contrast, the total number of Red Shirts (who were paid about 1,000 Baht per person) was far from 40,000, as claimed by many foreign media.

I’d like to inform you, the American public and the U.S. government, that any criticism directed against the peaceful massive Thai protesters is unwarranted and wrong. Please exercise good judgment based on relevant factual information and historic events involving the protests by the Thai people. The discontent, uproar, and uprising that led to protests and military coups all derived from corrupted, unjust, irresponsible, and unaccountable acts by government leaders and politicians. Thaksin Shinawatra has proven to be the worst in all categories. He, his sisters, his brother in-law, and members of his leadership team in and outside his political party love to use the words “democracy, majority vote, politically motivated, product of military coup” etc., as an excuse to fool some ignorant foreigners and all of his uneducated, poor Red Shirt supporters from the provinces. Most Thai people in and outside the Kingdom know very well of their dirty tricks, ill-intention, and wrongdoings, including vote-buying and electoral rigging, which enabled them to win elections and become the ruling party.

The government of Yingluck/Thaksin has gone too far in plundering and destroying the country. They tried to enact a blanket amnesty bill, pass resolutions to approve a project that would put Thai people and their descendants in debt for at least 50 years, and sneakily take actions to amend the Constitution, allowing family members to be elected members of both lower and upper Houses. When the Constitution Court decided and declared the amended provision was illegal, they openly denounced the decision and announced that they will not accept the Court’s verdict.

Due to the lack of an effective check-and-balance system or any provision in the Constitution that allows the recall and removal of the sitting prime minister, who is found to be incompetent, unethical, irresponsible, or unaccountable, Thai protesters have no choice but to resort to mass protests. Since a military coup d’état is no longer acceptable or can be counted upon, Thai demonstrators believe it’s their own duty to protect the Constitution, their rights, and the interests of the people.

I hope you and everyone in America and the world will understand and sympathize with the cries for help from the oppressed Thai protesters. The latest protests are really the voice of Thai people, and truly represent people’s power in the democratic system.  Without arms, Thai people are relying on their bare hands and whole hearts, as well as sheer determination and genuine desire for betterment in the country, to get rid of the crooked and convicted politicians currently in power, so that they can reform and rebuild the country.


— Peter Tangpiankij

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