Seeds of bitter crisis were sown in Isaan

your say May 17, 2014 00:00

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Re: "To Western media: It's a bit more complicated" and "What's good for America is not good for the world", Letters, May 14.

How letter-writer Tony Lee can say that the political crisis has nothing to do with Isaan is a mystery to me. It all started there. Thaksin Shinawatra was astute enough to observe that Chavalit Yongchaiyudh had unwavering support in Isaan and decided to expand on that concept. Lee is correct in saying that it has to do with kleptocracy, but it should be remembered that this practice exists on both sides. The very same gentleman who is now stoking the flames against the Shinawatras was reportedly heavily involved in it not so long ago. 
As for Tony Lee dragging America into it because US Embassy officials declined to receive the PDRC’s letter and sent a security guard instead, it would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. That, along with his assertion that 90 per cent of the land in Isaan is owned by 10 per cent of the people is pure balderdash, unless he is talking about the land situated in the towns – the farmlands have been in families for generations. 
It is true that the Isaan people are good, hard-working people. But Thaksin convinced them they could have more without the extra effort and they loved him for it. The problem is that this is only partially true. They could derive more profit from their labour with a more equitable deal on rice, but that is not what he offered them. He offered them freebies and they liked it. So much so that those friendly people have now got a glimpse of the other side and they like it and may even be willing to become violent to share in the spoils. 
Manipulations of the rules by both sides are always just a method of protecting the powers-that-be from the other side.
In years gone by it was all basically the same people on both sides and everyone eventually got a turn at the trough. But Thaksin was an outsider and broke the rules by upping the ante, offering Bt500 rather than Bt3 for a vote and delivering health insurance and village loans. Unfortunately he opened a Pandora’s Box in doing so. This was intolerable to the establishment, who, if it can’t pull off a coup, uses the courts to achieve the same end. Now they want to “reorganise”, which is just another name for creating a new Constitution that favours their side. And so it goes. Only this time, if they succeed, there will be blood. 
Clara Holzer was right in stating that it is a complicated situation, but I don’t believe that anyone truly understands how complicated and volatile it is. 
John Arnone