Monday, March 14, 2011

Significance of Rallies in Thailand

Coup rumors persisted although Prime Minister Aphisit Vejjajiva sent out a clear message, which known on 11 March as to when the House will be dissolved. The rumors persisted although the event of fund raising by the Democrat Party at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center was held grandly. The function was held in amicable atmosphere of coalition partners. All leaders of Democrat's partners joined the event.

People's Grievances
This kind of grand event was like an announcement by the Democrat that it has potential to return as the leader of the next coalition government. The message was directed to politicians and groups of funders. All of these messages failed to become a magic, which was powerful enough to quash rumors, bad news and coup smell.

And these messages could not stop groups of people, who are suffering from economic hardship, from coming out to hold demonstrations to demand the government to help them. These groups of people with grievances have been rallying along with various groups of protesters, which have been protesting throughout the past month.

In the latest move on 7 March, about 400 farmers, who belong to the Land Reform Network for Thailand, the Assembly of the Poor, the Network of the People for Social and Political Reform, gathered in front of the Government House to call on Aphisit to help them regarding to the issuance of community land deeds. They also called on the prime minister to open the hydroelectric Pak Mun Dam.

Earlier, about 30 people, who are members of the Federation of Communities in Thailand and the Thai Phophiang (Sufficiency) Party, came to the Government House to ask the prime minister to help them about high-interest non-banking loans. They called for help after they used to file a complaint to the government in early 2009.

Several groups of people came out to air their grievances and called for help from the government while the government and the prime minister were seen as being on the downtrend.

Economic Hardship
The protests have been going on while the people were having economic hardship and facing rising prices of consumers' goods. This situation apparently affected the popularity of Aphisit and his Democrat Party.

However, the rallies and protests by several groups of people under grievances were not new things as they happened during all governments' terms. But what is special for the Aphisit government now is that the rallies by various groups in grievances and the civil sector are happening while the Aphisit government is facing protests from yellow-shirt and red-shirt people, who want to bring down the government due to political conflicts and problems.

This may lead to complicated situation caused by political conflicts and people's grievances. The complications may provide an opportunity for some people to use in their quest for perfect political victory.

Some observers see that the rallies by civic groups to demand the government to tackle the public grievances while the government's term is ending may not pose as the real trouble for the government.

But the current protests by various groups may be only the prelude to the real trouble, which will happen after the no-confidence debate. After the censure showdown, protesters of the civic groups and political groups will step up their demonstrations to pressure the government.

In particular, certain civic groups are waiting for a right moment to join rallies to try to oust the government. These groups may join rallies of both the yellow-shirt and red-shirt people if these civic groups see that Aphisit and his Democrat are severely bruised by the censure debate. The opposition plans to attack the government over palm oil shortage and allegation that someone in the government had interfere in a legal case to help a cigarette importer.

Thai-Cambodian Border Dispute
And the longer the government remains in office, the problem related to Thai-Cambodian border dispute may reach its climax and the situation may prompt the armed forces to decide to use harsh measures against Cambodia. The military may resort to military measures if talks in major venues fail to become successful. Such a situation may provide justification for the People's Alliance for Democracy to attack the government and their campaign for the ouster of the administration may have more weight.

By that time, it is highly possible that all groups of protesters will become stronger, in particular groups that are related to political leaders and the yellow-shirt and red-shirt groups as well as demonstrators, who are close to the Phuea Thai Party, and even demonstrators who are close to certain coalition partners.

Aphisit may not be completely cornered by protests of various groups, whose members were suffering because of the country's administration. The government could not give in to the demands of the groups or else more groups of protesters would come out to demand the government to help them.

In fact, the Democrat and Aphisit could read through the game and realize the relations between politicians and groups of protesters. As a result, no one should be surprised that the prime minister always came up with clearer date for House dissolution when calls and criticisms against his administration grew louder.

Assessment of Situation
This is because the Democrat and Aphisit have assessed the situation and believe that House dissolution and new election will be worthwhile for their "investment". They see that House dissolution can cool down the political heat both inside and outside Parliament and calm down protesters from both political groups and civic groups.

Aphisit definitely realizes that some groups of protesters have special agenda for their campaigns. They are waiting for a right chance to step up pressure on the government when the situation permits them. And some groups of protesters, which have been established by the opposite side, will never be satisfied with the Democrat anyway.So, giving in to conditions of groups of protesters will be futile and will not boost the Democrat's popularity before the election day.

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