The Battle of Thailand

The Battle of Thailand is raging. It is a battle in which hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world have become hostages. But he battle is not about the reopening of the airport so they can go home. It is about the future of Thailand as its current era is approaching its end.
It is the fight among the young bulls for the future leadership of the heard and the values they believe in as.
You could put your bet on a future with a monarchy scaled back to what we are comfortable with in Europe. Then you go over in the red corner where Taksin, the corrupt former Prime Minister of Thailand is warming up for his battle to return to power to continue the traditional Thai form of politics where the political leaders share their acquired wealth with business cronies and generals from the army and the police.
You could put your bet on a future with a new political system where sectors in society are allocated representatives and only a certain number of seats are up for election directly by the people. Then you go over in the yellow corner where the deeply Buddhist religious former army general Chamlong is warming up for his battle to return Thailand to a moralistic society under a monarchy more like the enlightened monarchy we had in Europe 400 years ago.
If the battle becomes too bloody, the referee the Thai military will step in and occupy the ring until the combatants have regained their composure. But also they have to bring one change or another with them and they don’t seem to have much of an appetite to be part of the fight that will eventually have to take place and that will shape the inevitable post Rama 9 era.
One fellow reporter I spoke to about why the police and the three branches of the military have been so reluctant in moving in and removing the demonstrators and restore order. I suggested that they were afraid of the support the movement might enjoy among more powerful people.
He suggested a more selfish reason. They have their personal career to consider first. If they act politically correct under the current government, it might bring them promotion. But what if the leaders after the battle is over disagree?
On the ground in Suvarnabhumi airport where I have been sleeping – or rather not sleeping – since Tuesday afternoon, the yellow shirts, the PAD’s are well aware that they risk their lives as they vote with their bodies for their candidate Chamlong Srimuang.
They know that elsewhere in the city their opponents will rally on his Sunday 30 November. Wearing their team color of red shirts, they support Taksin and the current government which is an extension of Taksin’s former party and government in Thailand.
What the yellow shirts in Suvarnabhumi airport fear more than a violent eviction from the aiport by the Thai police or the Thai army is that the red shirts will today decide to do the job the Thai police seems unwilling to do. If the red shirts decide to start marching out to the airport, Thailand may well witness unprecedented chaos with fanatics on both side fighting for their cause with all the brutality of a religious war.
Currently, the combatants at least still try to stick to the rules of the game.
      Waking up Sunday morning in the Suvarnabhumi airport was a unbelievable. As the sun rose, the yellow shirted PADs realized they had won one more night – mabe one more day in their lives – and one more round in their struggle to force the Taksin alligned Prime Minister Somchai to resign.
On the asfalt outside the departure hall the weird mix of young people, families with children and elderly people wake up. Stiff from the cold of the night they walk to the toilets. The deafening loudspeakers have pumped throughout the night with the leaders throwing in a mix of morality boost shows, practical information on how to do during the coming gas attacks and the big time party music that gets all the young people on their feet dancing in a show of macabre death defiance.
The leaders are gathered in a pit below the stage. The following is a conversation I had with one of them, about what might unfold today – if the Prime Minister should not unexpectedly decide to resign.
“What will you do, if the red shirts decide to come out here and throw you out of the airport?”
“They won’t come. They fight for the money that Taksin is paying. We fight for our belief in change and for our King!”
“What if you are wrong. What if they also fight for their belief that you are destroying the country and its economy and ultimately will destroy the current form of democracy, that made it possible for them to put their leader in power?”
“Then we know the army will come and protect us! They have sworn to protect the King.”
Looking through my photos from last night, I stop by one of a street vendor sellig t-shirts in the street among the demonstrators. It warms my heart, that these people are the same as the kind Thai people I know and love. You can accept the cold inconvenient night on the ground in open air under only a thin blanket. But living without shopping and making a good bargain for that yellow shirt with a fancy slogan on it? No! That would be too big a sacrifice!
  I am writing this report from behind the 1st Class check in counter of SAS in row K. This desk has been my working desk since Tuesday evening. Especially In the beginning I was frequently disturbed by telephone calls being diverted to my desk from the Airports operators and had the pleasure of advising SAS passengers what they should do in the current situation.
“Thank you SAS for your great service!”
“You are welcome,” I reply with a smile.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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