Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Press: Red-shirt protest divides Thai society

Thai blood protest
Protesters performed ritual blood-throwing events

The Thai press sees deep-seated rifts in society being blown wide open by the "red-shirt" protest rallies. The protesters - backed by ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - are demanding that the government dissolve parliament and call an election.

Papers disagree on whether or not the decision to splash blood on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's house was wise, but most agree that the reds' protest, backed mainly by rural Thais, has made political gains.

Some commentators say that the red protesters have shown urbanites in Bangkok that they are a non-violent force to be reckoned with.

Lom Salatan in THAI RAT

City people don't seem to understand why a large number of rural people have agreed to leave their hometown for a political rally in Bangkok. The city people seem to forget that these demonstrators voted for their favourite candidates only to see their representatives kicked out by a coup in 2006... These demonstrators have thus clearly seen that the country is undemocratic and that a double standard exists.

Praphat Pintoptaeng in KRUNGTHEP THURAKIT

The red-shirted movement has been painted as a scary movement for middle-class people in Bangkok... but the mass rally of red-shirts has managed to significantly change their perception... The red shirts should recognize an important success. They have managed to restore their public image of a peaceful political movement, and they should try to maintain it.

Kriangchai Pingprawat in PRACHATAI

This political fight has a new and uncommon aspect. That is, the Aphisit government, which was installed by the Bangkok people, may be toppled by the provincial people.

Editorial in MATICHON

The Abhisit administration's insincerity in resolving social rifts and its focus on political games have caused the Bangkok people, the organ that moves the nation's economic wheel, to sit on the fence. They do not support the red-shirted rally, but they do not oppose it either.


It is hoped that the splashing of blood on Government House will make for a poignant, heart-rending image in the eyes of the world, while drawing out [the rally] for another three days will show Thai society that the red-shirts truly adhere to a peaceful approach.

Editorial in MATICHON

The creative minds in the red-shirt movement deserve to get some praise for being able to draw up such an interesting blood campaign. By announcing this move, the red-shirted leaders can quickly gloss over their defeat in the first round. Suddenly, everyone seems to have forgotten that their ultimatum about the House dissolution could not shake the Abhisit-led administration.

Pradit Ruangdit in THE BANGKOK POST

Deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has told the demonstrators their protest must not fail. They must strive to achieve their goal... Thaksin is playing a high stakes game. If the protest ends without the UDD [United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship] gaining any political bargaining power, it would be difficult for Thaksin to mobilise so many demonstrators again.

Sopon Onkgara in THE NATION

The red-shirts are victims of their own failure. They have been criticised and are disliked by city people for the inconvenience they have caused, and because of the risk of violence. They must also realise that it is a no-win situation unless they want to kid themselves and spin tall tales to extract more money from Thaksin.

Editorial in MATICHON

If the red-shirts give up and return home, it won't mean that their movement will disappear... The war between the social classes, which has been incited systematically with the networks of the red-shirted people, will go on.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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