Thailand’s long-simmering political crisis finally made it onto Western TVs this week when protesters closed Bangkok’s international airport, disrupting [shock horror] Western tourists.
The essence is that the People’s Alliance for Democracy, the guys in the yellow shirts who’ve shut down the airport, want prime minister Somchai Wongsawat (สมชาย วงศ์สวัสดิ์) to resign. They reckon he’s the puppet of a former corrupt prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.
You could argue that Somchai’s election, while controversial, was constitutionally valid. But PAD has run out of patience with the string of corrupt and presumed-corrupt politicians. Even the army chief reckons it might be time to call fresh elections to clear the air. But Somchai won’t budge.
This isn’t a simple story of The People versus the Evil Politician though. The roots of conflict go deep into Thai history and culture.
Continue reading “Thailand’s political crisis: an introduction”
[This essay was written for the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance‘s report Life in the Clickstream: The Future of Journalism [PDF], to be launched in Melbourne today. It was published under the title “Smart brains find ways to spread the message” and trimmed to fit the space available. This version includes all of the extracts from @smartbrain’s Twitter stream which I’d originally supplied.]
Bangkok, 7 October 2008. A Jeep explodes near parliament, killing a man. Body parts are thrown up to 20 metres.
Meanwhile, 5,000 members of the royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy are occupying the Government building grounds — well-organised but largely peaceful. Thailand’s Constitutional Court forced Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to resign a month earlier, but his successor Somchai Wongsawat is seen as a corrupt puppet. PAD has given him until 6pm to resign. He does not. The car bomb detonates. The ultimatum expires. The demonstration explodes into riot.
Tear gas. Gunfire. 381 injured. Another death. It’s the worst violence in 16 years.
Meanwhile, in Sydney, my ex-pat Thai partner and I are sinking beers. We take our laptops online but not even Thai news outlets say what’s happening now.
Then, using Twitter, we find @smartbrain.
Continue reading “Journalism in a hyperconnected world”
Last night’s episode 26 of Stilgherrian Live is now online for your viewing pleasure.
In a disorganised episode which started late thanks to Art — I’ll write more about that later — former Treasurer Peter Costello was voted “Cnut of the Week”, narrowly beating controversial Thai prime minister Samak Sundaravej (สมัคร สุนทรเวช) and journalist Mark Day for his backward-looking story Blogs can’t match probing reports.
There was also an impromptu interview with Crikey cartoonist First Dog on the Moon wherein we discuss, inter alia, deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop and rabbits.