Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bangkok's new police force


IT IS early Tuesday afternoon and a pickup truck packed with government supporters is stuck in traffic near Government House in Bangkok.

Not the safest place to be caught in a jam if you’re wearing a red T-shirt with the slogan “Choose Samak, Love Thaksin” as Government House is PAD territory since the People’s Alliance for Democracy evicted the Thai prime minister from his office on Aug 26.

What do you think happened next?

According to the Bangkok Post, a scuffle broke out between government supporters and PAD guards manning a nearby security checkpoint.

Subsequently, the guards “arrested” the five passengers and hauled them to a PAD stage in Government House.

There they – four women and a man – were paraded to a jeering PAD crowd and identified as supporters of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship’s (or UDD which is a pro-government movement).

The PAD crowd, the Bangkok Post reported, “reacted with fury and tried to grab the five before the guards hustled them out of the grounds.”

“During the chaos, a male guard reportedly punched one of the women, Sombat Khayanchoom­noom, 53, in the face. She fell to the ground with her face bleeding,” the report continued.

(The PAD guards alleged Sombat and the others were carrying petrol, a knife and an axe and intended to attack PAD protesters while the UDD members denied the allegation.)

Introducing Bangkok’s new police force – the thuggish-looking PAD security personnel who are detailed to patrol and protect Government House from an invasion from the police or pro-government supporters.

Inside and around the Venetian-styled prime minister’s office, the guards are the security enforcers – frisking those entering their territory, guarding the PAD leaders and arresting suspicious characters.

There are, according to PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila, up to 1,500 volunteer guards patrolling Government House.

And to enforce discipline, he said, those allowed to carry weapons such as batons and sharp-edged metal sticks have to wear a PAD-issued badge.

For the neutrals and those fed up with the PAD, the security guards behave like the title of a Steven Segal movie – Above the Law.

And negative media reports on the guards do not help improve their thuggish image.

On Oct 25, The Nation reported that six PAD guards kicked, punched and threatened 39-year-old Khao Jaengsuk because they suspected him of being a member of an anti-PAD group.

“They tried to force a confession out of me. But I am not in an anti-PAD group. In fact, I had been attending the PAD rally at Government House since early September,” Khao said.

On Wednesday, The Nation reported, PAD guards assaulted Am Daosing, a 39-year-old motorcycle taxi driver, after spotting his vehicle sporting a “Fed up with PAD” sticker.

However, on early Thursday morning some PAD guards found themselves on the receiving end.

A hand grenade was lobbed at a PAD’s checkpoint near Government House, injuring 10 security guards.

Before the bomb attack, PAD guards detained a man, who was carrying a petrol-soaked rag, as he walked to Government House. Shortly after the man’s detention, a motorcycle pillion rider threw a bomb at the guards.

Later, Kattiya Sawadiphol, an anti-PAD army general who advises pro-government protesters, denied that he was behind the attack.

He, however, warned that the PAD would face more attacks and PAD guards would be killed every day if it continued to occupy Government House.

In the future, Kattiya cautioned, the anti-government group might be attacked with heavier weapons such as M79 anti-tank rockets.

He said many groups were dissatisfied that the PAD had become blatant and armed its guards as well as showing disrespect to many senior persons.

In a posting titled “Tit-for-Tat Gang Warfare”, posted: “To me this is part of the escalating tit-for-tat gang warfare (does it not resemble what criminal gangs do?).”

“PAD first ‘started it’ and were seemingly successful so the anti-PAD groups (who seem more disparate than the PAD, but are uniting more against the PAD) are now getting in on the act,” wrote the anonymous blogger who operates Thailand’s prominent English-language political blog.

In an immediate response to the attack, the PAD beefed up its security at Government House to brace for guerrilla attacks from forces, known and unknown.

(Published in The Star on Nov 1, 2008. Photograph courtesy of Club Siam)


Anonymous said...

I am so sick of PAD.
I want Thaksin back.

ChrisIPS said...

....Berlin, 1930, gangs of Brown Shirt thugs, take the law into their own hands, intimidate all who disagree with them, act as cultural and ethnic bullies, their leader writes in his infamous book that Parliment is a sea of corruption, democracy a farce, that only a dictator can save Germany, etc., etc.......

Anonymous said...

Hello? but i am not surprised that PAD has its own security guards to provide protection given the history of violent attacks against them. The following statements by Human Rights Watch summarizes some incidents prior to August 2008 (so doesn't include the September attack and the latest bomb attack):

The following from HRW:

"On at least 11 occasions in Bangkok, Udorn Thani, Sakol Nakhon, Chiang Mai, Sri Saket, Chiang Rai, Mahasarakham, and Buriram provinces, pro-government groups that are often associated with members of parliament from the ruling party have attacked PAD supporters, causing scores of injuries and damaging public property. In one instance, at a PAD rally in Mahasarakham province on July 23, former senator Karun Sai-Ngarm was on the stage when he was hit in the face with a marble from a slingshot and had to be rushed to hospital."

"On July 24, Kwanchai Praipana and Uthai Saenkaew, the younger brother of Agriculture Minister Theerachai Saenkaew, led some 1,000 members of the pro-government Khon Rak Udorn Club to forcibly break up a peaceful rally of about 200 PAD supporters at Nong Prajak public park in Muang district, Udorn Thani province. Local radio station FM 97.5 reportedly urged pro-government supporters to carry out violence against the rally. Pro-government supporters were armed with swords, axes, knives, iron clubs, wooden clubs, and slingshots."

"To date Thai authorities have failed to take action against those responsible for the attacks. In some cases, local police and provincial governors have promised to investigate the attacks and arrest those responsible but there is no evidence that this has occurred."


One Other ... said...

Yo Phillip! I thought your name sounded familiar. Checked back my email inbox from ages ago and thought, yep it's him. Hahaha. Glad ur into blogging. Small world. :-)

ChrisIPS said...

As much as I don't like John McCain, his concession speech was in striking contrast to the posture taken by the Thai Democrat Party and other losers in the last several Thai elections, that despite losing those elections by wide margins, there were no concession speeches and no acceptance of the democratic process, only rejection, disenfranchisement and endless clinging to old ways and old ways of thinking. While PAD leads Thailand backwards into a darker time, America, in contrast, is now moving forward.