Bangkok, March 10, 2010…….You’ve got to love a family who, while more than 1 million poor Thai people are heading towards Bangkok to fight for them during anti-government protests this weekend, have boarded planes and left Thailand fearing what will happen during the planned protests. This is just what the ex-wife of exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his son and two daughters have done this week. While over 1 million ‘red shirts’ (UDD – United Front for Democracy) are getting ready to descend on Bangkok this weekend in an effort to overthrow the current Thai government and reinstate PM Thaksin, Thaksin’s family have abandoned them and fled Thailand.
According to Thai television and the Bangkok Post, Thaksin’s former wife Potjaman na Pombejra and their son Panthongtae Shinawatra flew out of Bangkok for Hong Kong on Monday. Thaksin’s daughters, Pinthongta and Paethongtan went to Berlin.
For those of us watching these events on a daily basis, it’s not surprising really. The last time Bangkok saw massive demonstrations supporting Thaksin and against the current government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thaksin family were nowhere in sight. They seem happy to let the poor of Thailand fight for them and risk their lives, while making sure they themselves are safe out of the country and protected from any negative outcome. They always have an excuse and, this time, it’s that they fear being taken hostage by the opposite side.
While more educated people might say, “What the heck? Why am I fighting for people who won’t even stay in Thailand and fight for themselves?”, the ‘red shirts’ (UDD), who are largely made up of uneducated poor Thais, seem to believe what ex-Prime Minister Thaksin tells them from his safe harbor abroad. They truly believe, if they fight for him, he’ll come back to Thailand, be reinstated as Prime Minister and make the lives of the poor people better. Right. And, if you believe that, I have rice fields in Isaan I’ll sell you.
With less than three days left before the 1 million Thai march, embassies from all over the world are warning tourists to stay away from Bangkok and head to places like Chiang Mai or Phuket instead. If in Bangkok, avoid the Grand Palace area (Sanam Luang) and any other area where red shirts may congregate. The situation is likely to be volatile and could be dangerous