The Nation


burning issue

Those who seek a political vacuum walk a dangerous path

During the New Year holiday period, many people have tried to forget the political mess and see the period as "a break", in which everyone can enjoy celebrating the season and prepare themselves for a resumption of the political games later.

As it turned out, however, no one really had a break. Instead, the situation intensified and moved further in the direction of violence. It started with a clash between police and Students' and People's Network for Thailand's Reform (STR) protesters trying to block MP candidate registration at the Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan). The result was the deaths of two people.

The information war continued to rage, with each side claiming legitimacy and painting themselves as the victims, while casting the other side as evil. Let's face it: Both the protesters and the police did cross the line, and live bullets were used, although there has been no proof of who used them or from which specific location they were fired.

Before long, the STR protest site was attacked with M16 rifle fire early one morning, causing one death and a number of injuries. This was followed by almost daily explosions or gunfire at the STR site or on the alliance of People's Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime protest groups.

Police arrested key protest leaders, including Pichit Chaimongkol, who was picked up while visiting a shopping mall away from the rally site. Meanwhile, another key STR man, Nitirhorn Lamlua, said he was surrounded when he became the subject of an arrest attempt, but he managed to get away.

On the other side, police officers staged a rally of their own to show dissatisfaction over the killing of a colleague. They called on the Metropolitan Police chief to provide protective measures. This move widened the gap between police and the protesters. Elsewhere in the country, the blockade of constituency MP candidacy registrations worked effectively in southern provinces, causing 28 constituencies in eight provinces to lack candidates.

Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the main group of protesters, the People's Democratic Reform Committee, whose rally is based at Democracy Monument, has announced a "Bangkok Shutdown" operation. It is clearly aimed at creating a political vacuum in the Kingdom.

It is said that some groups of people want Thai politics to reach such a state, as it would require the military to step in and take over. When politics reaches a dead end, there is always a high possibility that the military will come in to press the "reset" button.

But to achieve this would require pushing the situation to a very dangerous point, given that after the coup in 2006, the military was severely criticised. It learned the lesson and has kept a "neutral" stance. However, such groups believe that eventually, if the situation is pushed to one of the greatest possible tension, the military will come to their rescue.

It is terribly short-sighted to believe so. Such people might have forgotten that the world has changed. A military coup is no longer the solution. Using force is outdated.

And even if it actually happens, a huge group of people will come out to counter it. This group will, at the very least, be as large as "the great mass of the people" that the PDRC claims as its supporters. If such a situation eventuates, a major confrontation will be guaranteed.

Whoever tries to draw the military into staging a coup must be prepared for - and take responsibility for - the consequences.

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