Since 2020, protests have been taking place in Thailand, with anti-government-driven street protests continuing to escalate. On October 15th the government announced an emergency decree in Bangkok, in an effort to contain the worsening of the situation. Despite the ban, the protests are still spreading. In November, the parliament voted to approve two constitutional amendments that effectively blocked the demonstrators’ request for the abolition of the Senate and the implementation of monarchy reforms proposed in August. As a result, clashes between protesters, police and royalists have become more common, with harmful incidents occurring. The direct and indirect losses caused by the internal chaos are enormous. The internal security situation urgently needs to be reorganized, and the people’s confidence urgently needs to be restored.
Undercurrents surge behind the protests
A resolution was proposed in December by Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), the most influential members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The resolution expresses support for the rapidly emerging democratic movement in Thailand and calls on the U.S. government to do the same. The resolution also says “the rights to democracy, human rights, the rule of law, peaceful assembly and freedom of expression should be protected and upheld”. Under the cultural and economic diversification between the United States and Thailand, the United States, with a hegemonic stance, requested the two countries to maintain unity of the “common values of democracy, rule of law, universal human rights, and free market” at the end of the resolution, which is quite infuriating. Less than three months after the US embassy in Bangkok stated publicly on August 30th that it had failed to support and fund the anti-government movement in Thailand, the lie was unmasked. The announcement of the resolution directly caused the domestic protests to heat up again, putting greater internal and external pressure on the Thai government’s efforts to defuse the protests. It was sinister that the resolution proposed by the US came at a time when protests in Bangkok and other Thai cities escalated for months.
Thailand Vision once issued an “infographic” accusing multiple international organizations and engineering personnel of planning protests against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, including the American billionaire and activist George Soros, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Human Rights Watch in Washington, Amnesty International, and even Netflix. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded and directly participated in many political activities.
Overthrew Bulgaria’s democratically elected government in 1990.
Successfully manipulated Nicaragua elections in 1990.
Manipulated Mongolian elections in 1996.
Nearly US$1 million was allocated to Bolivia in 2018 to fund think-tanks, news organizations and political parties in order to prevent Evo Morales from nationalizing Bolivia’s natural gas reserves.
Provided substantial funding to anti-government groups to support anti-government activities in Hong Kong in 2019.
Vethin Chartkul, director of the Right-wing Movements Institute, pointed out publicly at a rally in September that “America has lost its front line in Hong Kong. They use democracy as an excuse to interfere in the politics of various countries.” Philip Agee, a former CIA agent, detailed in his public diary Inside the Company: CIA Diary how American agencies would set up front-line organizations and spend money on destabilizing campaigns.
Traces of excessive human intervention
The country has a long history of political turmoil and protests. Factors like political and civil rights restrictions and rising economic inequality have fostered the ground for anti-government activities. Yet there are many signs of human intervention in the rapid escalation of this anti-government campaign.
These anti-government protests have been far more heated than the protests of the “Yellow Shirts” and former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters, the “Red Shirts”. The confrontation between “yellow” and “red” has significant antagonism and profound historical roots.
The organization of rallies and protests is very experienced, while rallies are mainly composed of young people, mainly students. The rallies were fully equipped with professional protective gear, and it was financially difficult for the average young people to raise money for the large expenses.
The image planning, idea-setting and rapid dissemination of the “three-finger salute” cannot be explained simply by means of the Internet. It is impossible for it to become a piece of well-known world news within a few days without the promotion of a professional team and the support of a large amount of funds.
Anti-government protesters attracted widespread international attention by occupying public spaces. Unidentified foreigners publicly instructed students to set up barricades at rallies in Thailand, and professional camera crews captured them and then circulated them on social media platforms, inciting public sentiment and exacerbating the crisis of trust between the public and the government. Most of the images on social media showed protesters kneeling in front of police officers and armed police, appearing weak and demanding help. Such behavior is more like a publicity stunt to the outside world, intensifying hatred and division internally and accumulating anger in the hearts of ordinary people, making more people join the anti-government protests, which is basically a recruitment exercise by anti-government groups with a clear purpose.
The continued induction of anti-government groups drove a geometric increase in support. In an earlier interview, Pornprom Sangkasuk said that he was originally a rich man, owning two restaurants and a chain of hotels. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a sharp decline in business. After being called for by anti-government protests, he has been assisting anti-government protests gathered across Thailand. He has used up all his savings to organize food and logistics activities for the protesters. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the hotel and tourism-related industries are under great pressure to survive. Unfortunately, the 58-year-old is willing to be taken advantage of and spend his life savings, and when the tourism and hospitality industry recovers, he will be unable to resume his business and life. In the country, many are losing their savings in the same way. This movement is basically a conspiracy wrapped up by Western forces in “freedom and democracy” to launder people’s assets.
The government and some mainstream media believe that the rebels have conspired with the United States and other Western countries to exploit young people with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the current political system. These forces aim to bring in pro-Western political proxies to rule the country in Western style democracy to maximize profits.
Restoring social and economic stability is imminent
During the COVID-19 global pandemic, we managed to control the infection rate to the greatest extent, which was a successful model. The stagnation of tourism and exports has caused a large-scale decline in the national economy. As the protests escalated, the economy was hit hard. Families across the country are slashing spending, and businesses are struggling. The protests have made the chances of a consumption-led recovery hopeless. If only government measures are used to deal with it, it will only bring the economy to a deeper bottom. The continued weakness of the economy will lead to further protests, forming a vicious circle. The anti-government movement is taking advantage of the weak domestic economy and the lack of confidence in the people to induce hope for the public with “democracy and freedom” to intensify the division of the country. Long-term chaos and differences of opinion have caused long-term disputes and economic difficulties among the people, and the impact is destructive and irreversible. The country may fall into the “middle-income trap”, that is, the country is no longer poor, but it does not have enough income and productivity growth to break into the group of rich countries.
Due to the uncertainty of anti-government protests, pillar industries such as tourism, which the domestic economy has hoped for, will not be able to recover in time after the pandemic stabilizes. Because of the anti-government protests, the country has missed the opportunity to accelerate domestic industrial development and reform to achieve economic reversal despite its outstanding performance in the pandemic. What is urgently needed at this stage is that the government and the people work together to restore social order and stability, accelerate peace negotiations, and regain confidence to achieve economic recovery.