The Nation

politics

Smaller
Larger
burning issue

For both sides, it's time for a strong reality check

Since the Bangkok shutdown operation was launched by the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) in a desperate bid to oust the government, many people have taken to assessing the political situation on a daily basis - if not more often - and have kept a close watch on the latest words from PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and military top brass. In such a period of crisis, however, we also need to try harder to look at the bigger picture.

Lack of trust, empathy and the denial of reality seem to pervade Thai society today - and readers might notice it if they are not too busy learning the latest route the PDRC will march along today.

The lack of trust was manifest in the instant finger pointing that followed every bomb explosion last week. Without an iota of trust, both sides are more than ready to summarily conclude that evil can only come from the other party - never mind if no proper investigation has begun in the seconds after the blasts.

There's also an acute shortage of empathy on both sides. On social-media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, anti-government protesters have time and again recalled how red-shirt protesters allegedly set fire to Central World back in 2010, in contrast to their "peaceful" protest today. This writer reminded some of them that arson only occurred after nearly a hundred people, mostly reds, had been killed.

While PDRC supporters demanded Yingluck step down immediately after one of their comrades was killed in the blast on Friday, none called on then PM Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign after 99 were killed over the months of April and May 2010.

On the reds' side, some pro-government red shirts expressed "satisfaction" on social-network sites that a PDRC supporter was killed. It's tragic that people on both sides of the political divide are losing their humanity due to political hatred.

To make matters worse, many are not openly talking about the other "big issue", which has attracted so much hatred against Yingluck and her older brother, ousted and fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. We have all heard about corruption at rally sites, and the Thai media widely reported it, but what about the sense of insecurity over the future of the monarchy among protesters, with His Majesty at 86 and frail?

Those visiting the protest sites cannot fail to notice a good number of protesters wearing T-shirts with royalist slogans like: "People of HM the King" or "[The person] whom I love the most is the King" and that many such T-shirts are widely available on sale at protest sites. On January 13, the first day of the "shutdown", I heard a protest leader on stage at Victory Monument declaring out of the blue that they would ensure the King would remain the head of state. Why such insecurity and why so little public discussion about it?

Another big denial of reality is the belief that if Yingluck was to simply resign today, everything would be fine and reds would just happily obey the orders of the PDRC's "People's Council" that would, under Suthep's plan, be appointed to run the country for a year and a half.

It's time Thais stopped believing our society can break through the political impasse without confronting these issues.


Comments conditions

Users are solely responsible for their comments.We reserve the right to remove any comment and revoke posting rights for any reason withou prior notice.