News / Asia

Red Shirts Pause During Thailand's Political Crisis

Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra addressed the media on December 10, 2013.
Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra addressed the media on December 10, 2013.
Ron Corben

Leaders of Thailand's Red Shirt movement, the key support base for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, say they are increasingly united behind her ruling Pheu Thai party and are preparing for February 2 polls.

The boisterous protesters who have turned out in Bangkok in recent weeks have dominated headlines and shaken the government, but their political clout at the polls is less impressive.

The so-called Yellow Shirts are largely made up of wealthier Bangkok residents, as well as Democrat Party allies in Thailand's south. Protest leaders have rejected the prime minister's call for elections in early February, which analysts say is a recognition that after a decade of election losses, they do not expect to win at the polls.

A Red Shirt leader, Thida Thavornseth, the chairwoman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, says the protesters stance against elections has electrified the prime minister's supporters.

"They are angry. People in the North, people in the North Eastern, people [in the] up country area, they are angry. I try to tell them to keep calm because we want just a few days.”

The UDD's political heart is in rural Thailand. But even there, not everyone has been supportive of the government's policies. After helping vote Ms. Yingluck into office in 2011, disagreements emerged as some factions felt they had been sidelined by the ruling party.

But UDD leader Thida says those internal political divisions have narrowed as their opponents have demanded the suspension of elections and creation of an unelected “people's council.”

Political scientist in the northeastern university of Ubon Rathchathani, Titipol Phakdeewanich, says the yellow shirt protesters have done little to reach out to voters in Thailand's rural heartland, alienating their movement from the voters they need.

"I don't think they really thought about this including people in Isaan or in the north because they still think that these people are not well educated. The more they use this kind of tactic, the more they actually force the Red Shirts to become more united and Thaksin will become stronger and stronger, he said."

The UDD, set up in 2006, was originally formed to support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra after his ouster in a coup. Since then, the movement has been a vital backer of pro-Thaksin governments.

Red Shirt groups have largely stayed quiet during the current standoff. They held days of rallies in a Bangkok stadium last month, but withdrew their supporters following deadly clashes.

Meanwhile, Bangkok protest leader Suthep Thuangsuban has kept up steady criticism of the prime minister, flatly rejected the proposed elections and continued to press for the creation of the non-elected ruling council that will propose major political reforms for the country.

Chris Baker, a commentator and author on Thai politics says the circumstances make for a complicated outlook.

"If you think for a minute about what Suthep is proposing  - an 18 month interim parliamentary government while they think up reform - which is what they did after the coup (2006) and they want to try it again - it's outrageous - really outrageous. There seems to be this extraordinary faith that this process which has been done countless times before without achieving anything will suddenly deliver nirvana - unbelievable, he said."

Red Shirt leaders say they support talks on reforming the Thai political system, but say such talks must take place in parallel with the holding of the February 2 polls.


You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: reallythai from: thailand
December 17, 2013 4:04 AM
There are many reasons why we have to protest and ask that Yingluk and her cabinet resign from being care taking government. Yingluk' cabinet runs the country under Taksin' commands and controls. Taksin is a fugitive in exile. He is corrupted. He is a dictator. He spent a fortune of his money to buy off many MP's. Herefuses the authority of court of justice and Constitution court. He is a cause of all the political turmoil that we are now facing.

The list of destructive and unlawful acts of Yingluk's government and the MP's. on the government are as follows: The rice scheme is corrupted and has lost more than 40 billions baht
The flood management scheme is corrupted and not accepted by the people in many communities. They attempted to issue amnesty decree that encompasses all corrupted politicians, terrorists, arsonists, thieves, and murderers. The process of issuing this particular decree violated the constitution of Thailand.
They tried to amend the constitution that would destroy the balance and control measures of democracy. The Constitutional Court has a verdict that what they did violated the constitution both in term of content and process, but they refused the verdict, which makes them become rebellion.

As Taksin has bought off a majority of MP's, he can practice dictatorship through MP' s voting behavior. Taksin' puppet government is big enough to take everything he wants from the country. It can be corrupted, and the opposition party can not exercise any democratic mechanism to stop this tyrant situation.
Thai people who want to uphold justice, democracy, and the constitution can no longer tolerate this phenomenon, and they are willing to join the protest led by Khun Sutep. There have been quite a few millions of people who joined the rallies on the 24th of November and the 9th of December. Yingluk decided to dissolve the House of Representatives, and announced that there would be an election on the 2nd of Feb., hoping that the protest would be dissolved and all the protesters would terminate their protesting activities. But that is not the case, because the House of Representatives being dissolved is not the ultimate goal of the protest. What the protesters want is to reform the political process and procedure to achieve a genuine democracy--a democracy by the people and for the people. The protesters demand that the reform take place before we hold another election. Without an intensive political reform prior to another election, Thailand will be back into the same situation as we are now. We are not opposing an election, but we want an intensive political reform before an election. This demand is possible, if Yingluk and her cabinet resign from being care taking government. The Constitution has Article 3 and Article 7 that prescribe a procedure that Thailand can have constitutional interim government and people assembly to reform Thailand's politics, so that we can have a fair and transparent election.
What we are doing now is to release Thailand from Taksin's tyrant regime--the regime that is corrupted and in no way democratic in any sense
In Response

by: jethromayham
December 21, 2013 6:13 PM
The yellow shirts will lose again so what else is new? They can not win at the ballot box so they have to resort to taking up arms or calling for a civil war.
Why can't the King step in? Everyone loves the King, right?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs