The drama of democracy

gas

Mai chawb UDD!

This declaration of dislike came loud and clear, first from the people in Din Daeng community, worried their homes were going to be blown to kingdom come when the red shirts threatened to set fire to an LPG tanker they’d parked right in front of the old Din Daeng flats (which months ago had been slated for demolition by the government for safety reasons, but from which the community had demonstrably won a reprieve).

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When it became clear the military wasn’t going to take the initiative, the people started their own offensive against the reds to stop them from setting fire to tyres just feet away from the tanker; they began by throwing bottles and assorted missiles from the height of their buildings and then a group ran out to chase away the bewildered reds: “But you’re supposed to be with us, on the side of prachathipatai!” What democracy, mate? You’re trying to get us killed here. Nu mai ow! And so the pracha tipped the scales and scorned them off; even the local Batman joined in, black cape and all, much later of course when it was safe and the soldiers were towing the tanker away.

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After the many oh-ho’s, ai-yaah’s and assorted exclamations at each sign of possible calamity – especially when one of the reds was tinkering with the gas valve on the tanker – one could actually hear the collective sigh of relief emanating from homes around town wherein sat captive audiences with eyes glued to their TV sets, watching the entire proceedings.

And as we all saw, there was this woman in red who was screaming at the top of her voice, bansheeing away at a group of residents: “Don’t you care for democracy? We’re fighting for you all. Whose side are you on. Theirs (the military) or ours…” Thwack! One chap punched her smack in the face. Democracy or misogyny in action? Whichever, that shut her up for sure.

And as the reds were soon to find out, the silent majority in Bangkok didn’t care much for their cause, not when they were wreaking havoc on private property, smashing ATMs and bringing grief to various neighbourhoods.

After Din Daeng, the next to actually clash with the reds were the Phetchaburi and Nang Lerng communities, each of whom banded up to make sure the reds stayed out of their areas. One somtam vendor was in tears – not from the chilli she was pounding – as she watched on her little TV set the scene unfolding at the Interior Ministry; she was crying for the PM: Phi Mark khaa, she sniffled, telling those around her how awful the reds were, trying to kill the prime minister.

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In hindsight, one feels things might have progressed in favour of the reds had they followed the yellow path of resistance and gone for the airports, instead of blocking off roads and railway lines, creating trouble for the decent people of Bangkok who, in this horrible heat, wanted nothing more than to play with water, not fire. This, of course, was the reds’ major miscalculation.

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Having unceremoniously seen off the foreign leaders from Pattaya without the soldiers lifting a finger, they thought the army wouldn’t dare touch them in Bangkok. Wrong again. The security forces no doubt did their bit to quell the rioting, but it was the residents of Bangkok who really took up the fight against the reds, much to their woebegone surprise.

And what of our man from the North who calls himself South, and who of late has been writing his writ on the sands of Dubai, doubtless ensconced in the mile-high Burj, spouting bedlam via satellite link? “Bring your look-laan out,” he said, exhorting his supporters to bring their progeny to the protest, as if inviting them to the Red Cross fair instead of a cross, red rebellion. His own children, naturally, had safely left the country days before the final countdown.

His fortune-teller had warned him not to bank on his billions under such dim stars, and his bank-teller had intimated his fortunes would remain in deep freeze till the stars dimmed. So, what was a man in such straits to do? He lashed out, crossed the line, no turning back, with or without passport. He fooled the western media with his talk of democracy, lying till he was blue in the face that he was subservient to blue blood, all the while hitting out at that which was closest to royalty: the privy council; claiming, hand upon heart, that he was loyal to the highest institution of the land…

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The government is now estimating the cost of all the damage caused by the red rebellion, which clearly was instigated by the “Grinch who stole Songkran” (as Myrtha Leo wrote to Postbag), and when all is toted up, the figure will likely be (holy mackerel pla thu!) exactly 69 billion baht, which of course would cancel out the frozen billions.

And they’ll post the receipt to Dubai, with a note stating: Yoo dee dee mai chawb!

By: Thirasant Mann (sub-editor, Bangkok Post)

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