The Red Shirts in Bangkok – The beginning of the end?

With buildings burning and tanks rolling into the centre of Bangkok, the Red Shirt leaders have decided enough is enough and have surrendered to the police. It would seem that this is the beginning of the end for the hardcore of Red Shirt protestors who remain. However, this is not the end of the Red Shirt movement.

By sending the army to storm the Red Shirt compound and forcibly remove the demonstrators, the government is attempting to restore control and end weeks of unrest that has paralysed large parts of the city, but ending the demonstrations is a futile gesture, without endeavouring to acknowledge or address the massive social inequalities that are at root of the problem.

Life in Bangkok will return to normal for its inhabitants and the yellow shirts will quickly forget the issues facing the poor and disenfranchised, who constitute most of the Red Shirt movement and the Red Shirts themselves will go back to their farms or factory jobs, but the under-currents of tension and hostility will remain.

I liken Thailand to a volcano waiting to explode. The recent events have caused minor tremors but are merely a prelude to a major, devastating eruption that will have far reaching consequences, if the current government doesn’t act soon to tackle the divisions in society.

Thailand is at a cross roads and it is up to the government to chose the right path. Despite the months of protests, they have one of greatest opportunities in the last 50 years to make Thailand a fairer and more just society.

However, politics in Thailand is fraught with scandal, corruption and nepotism and many of those in the political establishment don’t have the courage or will to tackle the problems of mass poverty and deprivation and would rather bury their head in the sand and use their position to line their own pockets. But, by doing this they are storing up problems for the future and failing yet another generation.

Thailand will eventually drag itself into the modern political world, but more violence and blood-shed will occur before the ruling classes awake from their apathy and realise that we are in the 21st Century and even the poorest members of society have fundamental rights that can’t be ignored.

For more reports, updates and background information the following links are well worth a read

http://www.lfpress.com/news/world/2010/05/19/14005151.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia_pacific/10128352.stm

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/

http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/Bangkok-Red-Shirt-Rally-Live-Wedn-t366679.html&st=75

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