Foreign Policy

The Case Against the International Media Reports on Thailand

| by Russell Fine

In the late 1980's, I had the good fortune to live in Thailand for a couple of years and became friends with many Thai people. This morning, one of them forwarded this insightful article written by a friend of his -- a local Thai businessman.


This is going to be a long note, but I want my overseas friends to understand what has been happening here in Thailand. You would only see the soldiers' shooting scenes or injured people being carried away on international TV channels for 30 seconds, but never got to know about the background. The truth is, the Thai government has been too accommodating by withholding the use of force since the rally started 2 months ago (with the exception of 10th April event, when the soldiers were ordered to move in without live weapons and subsequently got slaughtered by unknown gunmen shooting from the 'Red Shirt' protesters).

The majority of us support the government in dealing with the terrorists hidden amongst the protesters. It held talks with the rally leaders and offered peace solutions to them 10 days ago. The Prime Minister publicly urged the protesters to disperse for fear of violence created by the terrorists.  But the plan wasn't accepted. So, it's time to block food and water supplies entering the center of the protest.  If the protesters were peaceful, they wouldn't rush out to throw rocks, firecrackers and even bombs at the soldiers' barricade -- thus, causing the soldiers to defend themselves by firing rubber bullets and live rounds. 

It has been very frustrating for the law-abiding citizen of Bangkok -- we even voiced our dissatisfaction at the government for its failure to uphold the laws. The situation was like Bangkok was being held for ransom.  A lot of businesses got affected because it's right in the middle of the major commercial area.

Again, think what your government would do if there were a large group of protesters blocking all traffic at Orchard Road in Singapore; Times Square in NYC; Ginza in Tokyo; or Knightsbridge in London for two months. They set up barricades to search through personal belongings of everyone travelling through the area.  Also think what it would do if those protesters invaded a nearby hospital, causing doctors & nurses to evacuate patients -- some of whom are newborn babies in incubators and those in ICU -- to other hospitals. And most important of all, think what it would do if the protesters were found to have large stockpile of M79 grenades, M16 & AK47 assault rifles.

Do you think your government would be as tolerant as the Thai government?   

Reungvit Nandhabiwat
Business owner,
Bangkok, Thailand 
15 May 2010