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Reactionary protests attempt to force a coup in Thailand

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Issue 2382

Thousands of reactionary middle class royalists, led by a conservative politician, have occupied government buildings in Bangkok. They are trying to get rid of the government. 

They also occupied the headquarters of the army, hoping that the military would stage a coup. 

The protesters lie about being pro-democracy. They like to wear Guy Fawkes masks, pretending to be similar to the Occupy Movement. But they carry pictures of the king.

Suthep Thaugsuban, the protest leader, called for the “restoration of an absolute monarchy”. 

He was a key government strongman in the military-appointed government, which ordered the shooting down of 90 pro-democracy “Red Shirts” in 2010. 

Yet he has the gall to accuse the present government of lacking “legitimacy”.

These are the same people who called for and supported a 2006 military coup that overthrew the elected government of big business leader Thaksin Shinawatra. 

In those days they were “Yellow Shirts” and they rejected repeated election results that gave huge majorities to Thaksin Shinawatra’s party. 

Thaksin Shinawatra’s support among the population, even today, stems from policies which introduced universal health care and help for the poor. 

Today the Yellow Shirts  want to overthrow the Pua Thai Party government, which won elections in 2011. It is headed by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck. 

The Yellow Shirts and Democrat Party politicians claimed then, and still claim today, that the majority of Thais are “too stupid and uneducated” to deserve the right to vote. 

The protesters are partly angry that the government tried to amend the military constitution of 2007 so that all senators would be elected instead of half being appointed by the elites.

In addition to their undemocratic views, they are also extreme neoliberals. They constantly talk about “fiscal discipline” and are opposed to government funds being spent on health care and welfare for the poor. 

They oppose government support for rice farmers and are opposed to upgrading Thailand’s decaying railway infrastructure to a high speed system. 

Yet they do not oppose massive spending on the military and the royal family.

Yingluck Shinawatra’s government brought this latest crisis on itself. It tried to push through a blanket amnesty bill that would have let all military and Democrat Party killers off the hook. 

It would also have allowed Thaksin to return from exile. 

The amnesty for Thaksin enraged the Yellow Shirts, but the bill was also a slap in the face for the Red Shirts who had fought the dictatorship and died. 

In addition, the amnesty did not cover political prisoners in jail under the draconian lese majeste law against insulting the king.  

The government cannot be trusted not to enter into some grubby deal with its elite opponents. A deal between Thaksin and the military was struck in 2011. The tragedy is that progressive forces of the feft are too weak to win leadership of the Red Shirt movement.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn lives in exile in Britain. His website is


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