March 05, 2014 00:00
By Pravit Rojanaphruk
The push by the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) for national reform under a non-elected government has given some pro-government red shirts a reason to toy with the idea of dividing the country.
Apparently, northerners are fed up PDRC’s “my way or the highway” attitude and are planning to bring back the Kingdom of Lanna – the historical centre of which was Chiang Mai before it was fully absorbed more than a century ago into what is now Thailand.
With such talk of separatism in the air, one must ask if the PDRC has pushed its fellow Thais too far, especially when some of its members shamelessly and openly refer to the red shirts as “water buffaloes”.
Society is a complex thing and the failure to see the bigger picture and complicated interactions among various groups and factors often results in failing to achieve what one first set out for. Thailand has been full of such examples over the past seven years.
While Thaksin Shinawatra’s arrogance and abuse of power unintentionally gave rise to the anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy in 2006, the military coup in the same year that ousted him also gave rise to the pro-Thaksin red-shirt movement.
The crackdown on red shirts in 2010 under the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration, which led to 99 deaths, most of whom were red shirts, did not succeed in squashing the pro-Thaksin fervour but instead strengthened the movement’s sense of comradeship, with their struggle being baptised by death and suffering.
The same could be said about the PDRC today, as a perceived sense of common suffering brought all anti-Thaksin factions together after the arrogant attempt by the Yingluck Shinawatra administration and her ruling Pheu Thai Party to push through the blanket amnesty bill.
Similarly, the country’s lese majeste law has been solidifying the stances of both the royalists and non-royalists.
Perhaps these situations suggest that the path from A to B is often not straightforward, and sometimes heading for your destination without caring about other factors might land you at a completely different spot. Even then, some people continue insisting that there is a simple route to the destination and it can be reached without caring for anything else.
Many PDRC supporters continue insisting that once Yingluck resigns or is impeached and a non-elected government runs the country for 18 months to introduce reform, then everything will be just fine.
However, the PDRC seems to have forgotten that 10 million-plus people voted for Pheu Thai and that these people will most certainly not keep quiet. Even people who are not exactly fans of the Shinawatra siblings, but find the very notion of an unelected government unacceptable, are also not likely to sit idle.
So even if Yingluck steps down, the “solution” will not be that simple.
It’s ironic that many of those who thought the 2006 coup would solve problems are thinking of something similar again. Though they acknowledge that staging a coup is unconstitutional, they believe it will help resolve the political crisis.
Yet seven years after the coup – Thailand has not exactly moved forward. Moving to solve problems without considering the complexity of the situation often leads to new and possibly far bigger problems.
PDRC supporters often say that the pro-Thaksin red shirts and the anti-royalist camp should leave Thailand and live elsewhere. Maybe it is time for the PDRC to stop and listen to what those “unwanted” people are saying now.