There’s a funny story in the Bangkok Post this morning about Thailand’s so-called “watermelon soldiers” and their voting pattern during Sunday’s general election.
For those not in the know, a watermelon soldier is someone in the Thai military who is green on the outside (military uniform) and red on the inside (supports the anti-Abhisit government red shirt movement).
Historically, the Thai military has always supported the Democrats, with its top brass not only supportive of Democrat policies but willing to go on national TV to tell their recruits how they should vote (and it should never be Pheu Thai).
So, it must have been a big shock to the Royal Thai Army this weekend, when it became obvious pretty quickly most of the lower-level military staff had voted for Pheu Thai and not the Dems. Ignoring what their superiors told them to do, of course.
Actually, for many in Thailand, this probably isn’t as surprising as it was to top military officials.
During last year’s massive red shirt anti-government demonstrations, I spent several days in the midst of red shirt protests and red shirt camps, talking not only to red shirts but also to the soldiers patrolling there.
At the army base Abhisit fled to when the red shirts first arrived, I asked several soldiers who were guarding the base from the ‘red hordes’ who they supported, Thaksin or Abhisit. Out of at least ten soldiers I asked, only one had no comment. The other nine had no problem telling me, regardless what their superiors told them they should believe, they supported the red shirts and Thaksin.
Maybe the Thai Royal Army’s military brass should start talking to their lower ranks to find out what they really believe, rather than talking at them. There’d be less misunderstandings that way.