News is just coming through that Thailand’s Constitutional Court has disbanded the ruling People Power Party for electoral fraud, and banned prime minister Somchai Wongsawat (สมชาย วงศ์สวัสดิ์) and 35 others on the party’s executive from politics for 5 years.
What happens next is up to the Red Shirts, the pro-Thaksin loyalists. As I explained in my backgrounder, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย) wanted the PM to resign, so their aim has been achieved. Will the Red Shirts accept the ruling, though? Or will they turn violent? Certainly the Red Shirts are the more violent of the two factions.
Breaking News says AP reports that the second and third parties in the coalition, Matchima and Chart Thai, have also been dissolved.
I’m guessing the army is ready to roll. We’ll find out any moment…
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”