Thaksin's lawyer documents army abuse of Red Shirts - www.abc.net.au, May 20, 2010
[If this were 2006, Amsterdam's approach could have worked. Back then there was little written on Thai politics and very little interest in the country internationally. However, since then huge amounts have been written on Thailand and much effort has been spent trying to understand the present situation.
In the face of thoughtful and detailed articles (such as "Death before amnesty in Thailand" and "Thailand's bitter divisions widened by bloodshed"), it seems insulting and ridiculous for a top-flight spin doctor to think he can reduce these events to generic terms and expect people not to ask why Thaksin is paying him to speak for the Red Shirts.
On top of all this, it is surprising how poor an interviewee he is and how visibly annoyed he quickly gets on camera during questioning.]
...ELEANOR HALL: Now a statement that Dr Thaksin released overnight says he has no authority to negotiate on behalf of the Red Shirts and yet he's paying you to act for them. So what exactly is the former Thai PM's relationship with the protesters?
ROBERT AMSTERDAM: No, no. He's not... I think we're getting confused. That's not what I said. Let's be clear. He sent me to assist them in annunciating and trying to get some third party to mediate. That's not acting for them. That's trying to just help bring them into some form of dialogue. It's very different.
...ELEANOR HALL: Just before we move on to the negotiations or your attempt to work negotiations here I just want to clarify - are you certain that Thaksin Shinawatra is providing no financial help to the protesters, apart from paying you?
ROBERT AMSTERDAM: Again I, look let's be clear. I find all these questions about him and money and everything else frankly ridiculous. I just left a campsite where there were thousands of people who had slept under the stars for weeks and weeks trying to get their message about their desire for some form of democracy out there. They risked their lives. They took bullets for this.
I think you actually, it's a shame on people to try to focus on whether or not he and a number of others may have tried to help in some way.
...ELEANOR HALL: And what's Thaksin Shinawatra telling you about how he feels about the state of his country at the moment? Is he worried about civil war?
ROBERT AMSTERDAM: He is terribly worried, shocked and horrified by what the government has done. I think that you've had a government turn on its own citizens in an absolutely incredible way, with live bullets, killing journalists indiscriminately...