Monday, April 12, 2010

Mayhem in Thailand, Government Under Pressure

The mayhem during the night of 10 April on Ratcha Damnoen Avenue left an image that is hard to explain. The casualties and loss from the clashes between the military officers and the red-shirted protesters are too terrible -- very high a price for victory for any camp.

All parties are flooded by questions - those who were directly and indirectly involved in causing this nightmare for everyone in the Thai society, not only the Bangkok people who live near the scenes of the incidents.

Messages From Media
Certainly, those who consumed the messages from all forms of the media, which broadcast the violent incidents, and who later learned that people were killed on that fateful night, are trying to find the culprit. They are trapped in that frame of mind. Was it the government's fault, as the administration has the responsibility to supervise the policy implementation and take care of the nation's peace and order?
Was it the fault of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), which incited the mob to become oblivious of death risks and attack the military in each location, which led to the use of force and clashes and war weapon? Was it the fault of Police Lieutenant Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra a person who incited the red-shirted mob -- the 'rear guard' -- to fight for him with all their hearts to restore his power?

Growing Casualties
The latest record of the number of casualties from the clashes on 10 April rose to over 800 injured, who are receiving treatment in various hospitals, while the latest death toll is 21.

Police Lt Col Thaksin twittered the announcement of his deep condolences. He called for Prime Minister Aphisit Vejjajiva to show accountability for ordering the military to use force in mob dispersal, which led to the loss of live and casualties. He said that Aphisit should show responsibility by agreeing to dissolve the House and return the power to the people.

However, this will not in the least redress the wrong that was done -- nor are the apologies from the government leaders who continue to insist on using 'the law' to maintain what is right, in the hope that the society will finally and truly return to peace and order. After the mayhem, it seemed that the loss and casualties still fail to return peace and normalcy to the society. What looms large is a 'war of attrition.'

The (red-shirted leaders) assesses, and believes, that they will be able to use these incidents to their advantage in fanning the flame of discontent. Therefore, they would not tone down, but immediately launched their retaliation and continued with their offensive.

Mounting Pressure
The government is under heavy pressure from all directions, such as from the army, particularly the former high-ranking soldiers who expressed increasingly negative attitude toward the political sector and the government's indecisiveness and lack of determination, which caused the military to be 'trampled on,' suffered casualties and loss.

Another source of high pressure came from the ruling coalition parties. Deputy Prime Minister for Security Affairs Suthep Thueaksuban was forced to lobby the leaders of the ruling coalition parties in an effort to prevent the Democrat Party from being isolated, as the ruling coalition arties did not want to accept the joint accountability for the casualty and loss in the incident on 10 April.

Several parties look back to find the weak spots that led to the violent incidents. They suspect that the weak spots might have been caused by the same old problem that has plagued the government all along: The lack of unity between the government and the army. They wonder whether it was this lack of unity that led to the red-shirted force being able to defeat the army.

Some parties think that the defeat was caused by the weakness of the government leaders, who were unable to lead the army to victory in this battle and 'free the occupied zone' effectively without loss or casualty. The government leaders allowed the golden opportunity during the early stage of the rally to pass by without any decisive action.

Drastic Step Required
Until this very moment, after the violent incident and the heavy casualties, the government is still unable to find its feet and restore the public faith and confidence in it. Meanwhile the red-shirted group continues to announce its victory, since it believes that the government will eventually be defeated.

The best and cleverest approach to fighting a battle is to minimize or avoid the casualties and loss -- whether the loss of fund, supplies and particularly manpower. What is clear here is that both parties suffered losses in these incidents and therefore both are defeated -- they are both losers.

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