Red Shirt pacifists?

From Thairath, December 1, 2020
Jatuporn: Holy fucking shit!!!
Phi Nooring: Today’s amazing story.
Mouse: Who’s more handsome.

[Here, former Red Shirt leader Suporn (left) is in the mirror. Suporn has switched sides to support PM Prayuth.

Jatuporn (right) has been criticized for not strongly supporting the student protesters. While he has made supporting statements, it is noted that Jatuporn has kept relatively quiet, at least for him, in contrast to his previous fire-brand image where almost no statement was out of the question.

Despite foreign and even some local media outlets that seemed to indicate the Red Shirt movement had joined with the protesters, this is not true.

Since September, when a rally commemorating Thaksin’s ouster was converted to a rally demanding a reform of the monarchy, the party has undergone a purge of executives to ensure that it is not ensnared in court cases related to the protests that might disband it. Donations were also made to the royal family after the September protests when party members were seen among the crowd.

Red Shirts were the political muscle of Thaksin’s political parties when he was attempting to return to power. His present party, the Pheu Thai, has given lip service to the students to ensure the Pheu Thai is seen as the most consequential part of the opposition, but it has also made sure that it is not seen to be directly involved in the protests.

Previous violent and provoking protests by Red Shirts, stretching over months, failed to shake the previous government. The present government was able to write its own charter and thus would seem even more unshakable. The thought may be that these limited and peaceful student protests are not going to be enough, considering the previous Red Shirt experience. (For more on the “unusual tactics” of peaceful Thai protesters, see here.)

With the departure of outsider Sudarat, the Pheu Thai shifts firmly back into the Thaksin camp of control. However, it could also be argued that the party’s main MP blocks, controlled by rural kingpins, are looking to also wrest the party from Thaksin-family control.

Whatever the internal dynamics, it seems that the party is positioning itself to be the more reasonable opposition, at least from the military view, and will let the firebrand elements of the former Future Forward Party continue to cheer-lead the demonstrations, while the Pheu Thai awaits an opportunity to swoop in during a crisis situation.]

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