Growing anger at leadership a threat to unity of red shirts

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Conflict among red-shirt leaders and MPs from the Pheu Thai party, the front party of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has emerged since the Songkran mayhem.

The so-called “trio of buddies” – Veera Musikapong, Nattawut Saikua and Jatuporn Promphan – are reported to have upset party members, as well as Thaksin.

The trio face allegations they show off too much, never cooperate with MPs and – most importantly – are accused of skimming Thaksin’s money.

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Jatuporn Promphan, Veera Musikapong and Nattawut Saikua

Somchai Wongsawat

Somchai Wongsawat

Complaints reached the ear of Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, who later called Jatuporn and Nattawut and reprimanded them.

“You called press conferences and said you would do this and that. We learned afterwards about those things, and we [had to go along with] the plans you had announced. It is not the right thing to do. Lately, why have red-shirt activities been organised so frequently?” Somchai was quoted as saying.

Somchai said the MPs were fuming about the trio to Thaksin, who was very angry and refused to pay for their activities. The former premier used Jakrapob as his mouthpiece instead.

Jakrapob wrote an article in “Naew Ruam Red” magazine attacking the submission of a royal pardon for Thaksin by the red shirts as “a dream that never comes true”. Jakrapob also exposed other behaviour of the trio, especially over money issues.

Now, it appears the trio and Jakrapob have gone their own different ways. Jakrapob has joined forces with “Red Star” (a symbol of Communism) led by ex-Communist Surachai Danwattananusorn.jakrapob_surachai1

Many observers may have difficulty believing the four leaders would break up their relationship.

Back to 2007, the four joined forces to fight against the defunct Council for National Security. They founded People’s Television and the pro-Thaksin Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD) to fight against authoritarianism and Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda.

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They later ended up in jail after being charged with holding an illegal gathering of more than 10 persons, leading to disturbances in the capital, instigating unrest and obstructing police following violent clashes between unarmed police and demonstrators at the home of Prem.

However, things are getting blurred about their real relationship. Some may believe Thaksin is the man behind the breakup. In this case, Thaksin may kill two birds with one stone.

First, distancing Jakrapob from the red-shirted protesters could calm down or persuade some Pheu Thai MPs not to jump ship. Some wanted to leave the party, as voters did not appreciate a red-shirt move to submit the royal pardon. The number of their protesters decreased after they launched the petition campaign.

Second, distancing Jakrapob could avoid involving the monarchy in the red-shirt campaign. If Jakrapob -dubbed a person holding “dangerous attitudes” facing lese majeste charges – remains fighting for Thaksin it is unlikely if the ousted prime minister will return – especially as Thaksin has been questioned about his loyalty to the monarchy.

If that is true, the breakup could be revealing in terms of the numbers of protesters. The true picture remains to be seen, but perhaps it will become clear when the next rally is staged.

 

By Piyanart@nationgroup.com
Published on September 2, 2009

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