So I’m down here in cushy Westernized Pattaya, sipping my Oishi and undisturbed (physically, at least) by the political unrest in my current country of (admittedly very short) residence. Thus, like anyone else in the whole world interested in Thai politics, I’m following it through Internet-land. Twitter hashtags include #redshirt, #redtweet, and #redmarch, for those interested.
The quick and dirty rundown here is that there are currently two main political parties in Thailand: the Red Shirts (United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship or UDD) and the Yellow Shirts (Peoples’ Alliance for Democracy or PAD). For a quick summary of each party’s views, BBC News has a short piece explaining some of their recent history.
Very (very, very) basically, the Red Shirts view the current government as illegitimate. They are mostly (but not all) supportive of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and tend to be from rural areas and in poverty (Thaksin’s policies gave a greater voice to those in poverty, as well as providing funding for health care and education). The Yellow Shirts, on the other hand, are the ones responsible for ousting Thaksin and support the current government, and they are more royalist in their views. They were also responsible for capturing Bangkok’s airports in 2008, which they did in protest of the then-freshly elected parliament (they considered that parliament to be supportive of Thaksin and not the monarchy).
Review: Yellow Shirts in power. Red Shirts protesting.
Thus far the protests seem to be remaining mostly peaceful, according to Global Voices Online. GVO also gave a good overview of what’s expected of the weekend of protests. But the real demonstration is slated for tomorrow (Sunday), to my understanding, so we’ll see how it goes.
As a newly-arrived farang here, I’m taking a stance of non-engagement on the protests (which, I think, is generally a good stance to take as a visitor to any country). However, I do find it interesting that like so many political parties fighting for power, both the Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts swear up and down that they are doing it all in the name of democracy. Well, okay, the Yellow shirts swear they’re doing it for a constitutional monarchy. Semantics.
That said, what is possibly my favorite piece on the rally (though sad for its possible accuracy) is from my newly discovered source for a satirical take on Thai news: NotTheNation.Com. They are apparently a riff off of The Nation, an English daily newspaper out of Bangkok. Other gems from Not The Nation include: The Oriental Changes Name to the Gook Hotel and Female Expat Maintains Positive Self-Image Despite Living in Thailand. I never became a regular reader of The Onion, but Not The Nation could definitely pull me in.
Someday, I think I will tackle a topic involving my home country, the United States of America–or as I like to say: US. But all I have at the moment is this unintentionally(?) hilarious AP piece on what tea lovers think of the tea party movement.