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Go home and come back again with a better strategy

An understanding should have been made among the red shirts beforehand that this is not ‘the last battle’, and the goal should have been to sound out their opponents.   The red shirts should be aware of the fact that their force, which has just been rebuilt after the devastating defeat during Songkran last year, is not yet strong enough to finish the war once and for all.

Good leaders should know when to make a tactical retreat to preserve their strength, and after discerning the strengths and flaws of the opponents, make adjustments accordingly.

This move of the red-shirt army has not yet managed to gain the upper hand over their opponents, but the red shirts have learned a few lessons which are very useful in their proclaimed class war to overthrow the rule of the ammat.  (If what the red-shirt leaders have said is not what they really mean, stop reading now.)

The awakening of the lower classes to injustice is so scary that the higher classes have to come out in denial of phrai and ammat.  The government and its mouthpieces have tried to seek explanations to deny any social hierarchy.  Some have even consulted the dictionary in a desperate bid to refute this.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who will never be able to distinguish grass from rice, showed his ignorance about classes in Thai society when he tried to hit back that Thaksin Shinawatra, whom the red phrai have fought for, was probably more of an ammat than himself.

What the red shirts have said hits hard at the elite.  Their big problem, however, is that they cannot clearly elaborate how the demand for House dissolution can solve the problem of ammat versus phrai.

In fact, the discourse of ‘one man, one vote’ is clear enough, and can help get rid of the ammat from Thai politics.  The red shirts should make their point to society that their right to choose political leaders should be equal to that of the elite.  That means, when the people choose someone through election, the winners, good or bad, should be able to run the country throughout an agreed term.  The use of military power or illegitimate legal power to override the political mandate which the people have given to politicians through the elections is utterly unfair and undemocratic.

This can be explained.  But it is a pity that the red shirts’ speakers on stage have talked aimlessly and wasted time on denunciations.  They should have tried to seek good speakers to refute the discourse of ‘a few good men’ which the ammat have advertised every day.  This will help regarding their relationship with Thaksin.  No one denies that the red shirts and Thaksin are almost inseparable.  Thaksin is as much a liability as an asset for the red shirts.  To stress principles will make Thaksin less of a liability.

The issue of double standards apparently troubles the middle class.  If an alliance with the middle class is to be sought, why not press this issue?  In Thailand, there are a myriad of cases similar to Gen Surayud Chulanont’s Khao Yai Thiang.  To make this point clear will embarrass the middle class in Bangkok for having long been fooled by the elite and supported the wrong cause.

So far, the red shirts have scored some points by not seizing any premises, in comparison with the tactics of the yellow shirts.  Hawkish red shirts may not be pleased, but they have to understand that the space they have to seize is the political space of public perception.

Nevertheless, the red shirts cannot finish the fight at one go.  There are only two groups of people who can bring down the government: politicians like Newin and Banharn, and the military.  As long as they get along with one another, Abhisit will surely stay until the last day of Parliament.  Hawkish means to grab power by force would be suicide.

The red shirts have been in Bangkok for two weeks now, and cannot move further.  Why don’t they consider a tactical retreat to make improvements on a few of the above issues?  Frankly, the red shirts this time have prepared only the numbers, but have not prepared any tactics or strategies.

Strategically speaking, they have not planned what steps have to be taken in overthrowing the ammat.  No one can explain how the demand for House dissolution will overthrow the ammat, or why now.  What is their proposal for an ammat-free political structure?

Now they are clearly at their wit’s ends, as they struggle to keep coming up with something to do every day: blood splashing, moving around Bangkok, head shaving.  On stage, there’s hardly anything new, with the likes of Jatuphorn, Natthawut and Veera coming up several times a day rehashing the same old talk.

Country singers and folk artists are good, because they are not as pretentious as those used-to-be progressive yellow artists.  But there has to be more.  One night it was good for Dao Bandon to come up to sing Man Riding a Buffalo, as it contrasted starkly with a Channel 11 programme about poverty reduction aired at the same time.  Clearly, the song was much more impressive than Abhisit’s speech on Sufficiency Community.

If possible, the parade on the upcoming 27 March [which was cancelled – Prachatai] should be a farewell to thank Bangkokians, who are indeed mostly their fellows from upcountry (no matter how long this taxi driver has been driving around Bangkok, he’s still Isaan.)

And the red shirts should go back to make adjustments to their movement.  They can come back after Songkran with new ideas.

Believe me.  Staying on, you’ll never win.           

P.S. – Enough is enough with the delirious dream about a heavenly power to help.  It does not work and is not worth it.  The yellows have done exactly just that, and dragged the country backward.  Don’t you see? 


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