Thaksin Restructures the Red Shirts

Thaksin restructures red shirts - Bangkok Post, February 19, 2010
SPECIAL REPORT: People's armies flourish as MPs told to hold rallies in their provinces
...Information gathered from Feb 1 to Feb 10 showed that 18,346 people took part in rallies in Bangkok and the provinces and that Thaksin phoned in seven times to address his supporters, according to a security source quoting a report by security agencies.
Thaksin repeatedly stressed the need for the red shirts to join the rallies in Bangkok.
...Thaksin had changed tactics by making Pheu Thai Party MPs responsible for holding rallies in their respective provinces.
Key UDD figures would be asked to appear as "participants" only to address supporters...

[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from just a few years ago, this article is no longer online as link structures are changed month to month and entire years of stories unceremoniously dumped to save database space. Below is the complete text of the original article.

The article details the reorganization of the Red Shirts in the lead up to the 2010 siege of Bangkok with the twin goals of punishing the establishment for Thaksin's asset confiscation and toppling the Democrat-led government.
The main intent of the reorganization was to ensure the Red Shirts remained politically linked to the Pheu Thai (and thus Thaksin's agenda) and did not become an independent force capable of their own side negotiations with the sitting government or military.
Such a linkage never really took hold as many Pheu Thai factions were hesitant about being too closely linked to Red Shirts threats and activities. This would leave them open to possibly being banned from politics or otherwise sanctioned in the future by an activist judiciary.
However, the nearly complete silence from the Red Shirts after the 2014 coup (after months of posturing and threats) did demonstrate that the movement is still firming acting as a political lever for Thaksin.

There is a skeptical tone to the article, as Thaksin's previous attempt to occupy Bangkok and destabilize the government in 2009 was handily put down. What the establishment did not know at the time was that the 2010 occupation of Bangkok would be much different than the 2009 attempt.
In 2010 the protest would settle in the heart of modern Bangkok where it could not easily be isolated and ignored. The tone of the protest would be different too. In 2009, Red Shirts took hostages and displayed them on their stage and Thaksin spoke to the crowds via large screens, urging Bangkokians to take to the streets and topple the government.
In 2010, Thaksin kept a much lower profile. Where the 2009 protest was angry with leaders warning reporters and foreigners to stay away, the 2010 siege would be inviting to a new generation of social media-equipped reporters and tourists who could spread the word that the Red Shirts simply wanted democracy and new elections.]

Thaksin restructures red shirts
SPECIAL REPORT: People's armies flourish as MPs told to hold rallies in their provinces

Published: 19/02/2010 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has restructured the red shirt movement in preparation for a major rally in Bangkok ahead of the court verdict in his 76 billion baht assets case.

Security agencies have monitored the red shirt rallies led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) in various locations this month.

Information gathered from Feb 1 to Feb 10 showed that 18,346 people took part in rallies in Bangkok and the provinces and that Thaksin phoned in seven times to address his supporters, according to a security source quoting a report by security agencies.

Thaksin repeatedly stressed the need for the red shirts to join the rallies in Bangkok.

The source said the UDD would hold a rally in Nakhon Sawan tomorrow and then one in Bangkok from Monday to Friday, after which it would gather in Sukhothai's Muang district on Feb27.

The court is due to bring down its ruling on Feb 26.

Thaksin had changed tactics by making Puea Thai Party MPs responsible for holding rallies in their respective provinces.

Key UDD figures would be asked to appear as "participants" only to address supporters.

The source said Thaksin had also revamped the structure of the red shirt movement.

The restructuring involves the setting up of a "people's army" with a ratio of one "army" personnel to 10 red shirt supporters.

Many of the UDD's local chapters have established such units. In Udon Thani, the pro-Thaksin Khon Rak Udon Club has recruited about 200 men to act as security guards wearing military-style uniforms, while in Chiang Mai about 100 similar security guards have been recruited.

Army specialist Khattiya Sawasdipol, widely known as Seh Daeng, is in charge of putting together a similar unit made up of about 150 security guards.

The source said Maj Gen Khattiya had tried to seek Thaksin's backing to manage and supervise spending on the guards.

The security source said this had caused a rift between Maj Gen Khattiya and a faction led by Veera Musikhapong.

The UDD was already split between Mr Veera's faction and a faction led by Jakrapob Penkair.

Differences are also emerging within Mr Veera's own faction as Natthawut Saikua felt Maj Gen Khattiya should be allowed to play a more prominent role.

The source said security guards were paid 1,000 baht a day at the rallies.

If a rally is held in Bangkok, money spent on security operations amounted to about 2 million baht a day, the source said.

The source said Thaksin's plan to restructure the red shirt movement also involved the setting up of a group of red shirt civil servants, now with a membership of about 2,000.

Some feel this was a move to chip away at the established UDD support base.

Thaksin asked his Class 10 fellows from the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, retired police officers and retired civil servants from the Interior Ministry who were loyal to him to establish the group of red shirt civil servants.

The security source said the UDD's rally preparations were not going smoothly.

A group of politicians led by former Thai Rak Thai Party acting leader Chaturon Chaisaeng plans to travel to meet Thaksin at an undisclosed location to propose that occasional small protests be held to pressure the Democrat Party-led coalition government. However, the source said Mr Chaturon's proposal was unlikely to appeal to Thaksin, who favours a more forceful approach to gaining victory.

The source believes the UDD's rallies in Bangkok might last only a few days, and would be held at various locations in Bangkok.
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