Leading anti-coup activist Sombat Boonngamanong has decided to put his ideological struggle on hold to pave the way for the country to move on after six months of spiralling towards an economic abyss and civil strife.
“The anti-coup activities that I staged before being arrested were peaceful demonstrations. Since I have been arrested, I have to look to the future because the coup has been staged,” Sombat told the press a few weeks ago as police took him to a Bangkok military court with a petition seeking his custody.
“The next step is all about finding an answer for the country – which way is most beneficial to society. I am ready to end my political movement because I no longer want to see anyone being arrested and intimidated. I am ready to cooperate with the authorities to be a part of the reconciliation process so that society can step forward.”
Sombat, the Red Sunday Group leader also known as Bor Kor Lai Jud, commands a huge following and was arrested in Chon Buri early this month after spending two weeks in hiding.
The founder of the Mirror Foundation was charged with defying an order from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which twice summoned him to face questioning on suspicion he had instigated unrest and was guilty of lese majeste.
Critics cannot help but feel sceptical about his remarks, as his statement is similar to other people who were arrested and released such as former minister Chaturon Chaisang. They believe that Sombat was under pressure to say that or did it to solicit sympathy from the court so he would be released.
If we were not finding fault or reading between the lines, Sombat’s remarks could be a most honest and straightforward address that helps nurture the reconciliation atmosphere and dissolves political colours, which is what the NCPO wants the most.
I am totally with him if he means what he said.
Whether the coup is right or wrong, it is the past. Only till we respect our differences, can we move on and live together peacefully.
We may not gain anything from our negative attitude towards the coup but on the other hand, if we think positively that the NCPO’s actions were because it sincerely wants to put an end to our 10-year political conflict, then we can move on.
It’s about sacrifice for the sake of the nation by putting personal political ideologies aside, even though it is against your conscience, and giving the NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha the benefit of the doubt. Prayuth said he was here to fix the country and not to seek power.
Instead of staging campaigns against the coup, we should be staging a campaign to check the NCPO’s work to make sure all the projects and policies are done in the interest of the country and not for vested interests.
Sombat has huge potential to lead such a campaign. He has proven his clout and influence, calling his followers to stage flash coup protests. While living in hiding, he mobilised a gathering of about a thousand people at a McDonald’s restaurant in Ratchaprasong without his presence.
Prayuth cannot overlook or ignore Sombat’s calls or suggestions given the large number of people behind the activist.