The idea of setting up a People's Democratic Republic of Lanna (PDRL) has been under discussion for six months now, according to a leader of the Love Chiang Mai group.
Petchawat Wattanapongsirikul said the PDRL would just be a separate political system for the North, split from Bangkok, and not an independent state. He claims as many as four million out of six million northerners support the idea. Petchawat said people who prefer dictatorship can move from the northern region to other parts of Thailand and warned actors and singers supporting the anti-government People Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) that Chiang Mai people do not welcome them.
He said there were three factors behind the idea of setting up a “Republic of Lanna”. Firstly, people in the North were looked down upon by others, with the PDRC often referring to red shirts as “red water buffaloes”. Secondly, the opposing group did not respect the law and there were double standards in the judicial system. The third reason, he said, was the undemocratic aspirations of the PDRC.
Looking down on red shirts as ‘red-water buffaloes’ was a severe form of discrimination against human dignity, Petchawat noted.
The one country, two systems model existed in China and Hong Kong, he said, as an example.
Any attempt to stage a coup or to shut down Thailand would result in a struggle to create an independent Lanna Republic, which he insisted would continue to respect HM the King as head of state. He claims to have the support of 80 per cent of people in the North, including those who are not red shirts.
“In case there’re those who think differently and admire dictatorship, they can move elsewhere. I’m not chasing them away but people should live under a political system that they are happy with. If you are democratic, come stay with us at PDRL.”
A group of academics, students and alumni at Surat Thani Rajabhat University issued a statement yesterday condemning people who harbour ideas of seccession.
In the Northeast, meanwhile, the red-shirt movement began its first day of registration of “democracy defence volunteers”. There was also a similar campaign in Maha Sarakham.