By Attayuth Bootsripoom,
The speech Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra delivered in the Mongolian capital recently has sparked widespread discussions nationwide.
Many have been asking if it is appropriate for the prime minister to cite domestic political conflicts in a speech. Others are questioning her decision to mention the coup that ousted her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, as well as the attack on a “certain group” for blocking Thailand from becoming a full democracy.
Though many of her supporters admire the speech, others say it only told part of the truth. Critics say Yingluck conveniently chose not to mention the corruption that led to the coup.
This dissatisfaction with the prime minister’s speech has led to the formation of a new group called Thai Spring.
Members have been collecting signatures of those who disagree with the contents of the speech, while the group has also published an open letter detailing Thaksin’s alleged misdeeds that they say warranted the coup and.
The letter also attacks the Yingluck government, calling it a dictatorial regime that is perpetuating the power of the Shinawatra family. It also attacked Yingluck personally, saying she was merely a puppet of her brother.
Thai Spring is modelled after the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement in North Africa and the Middle East. The Arab Spring movement spread across the region and dictatorial regimes were toppled in countries including Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. In others, such as Syria, a bloody conflict is still ongoing.
Two founding members of Thai Spring are well-known figures – Kaewsan Atibodhi and former chief of the Royal Court Security Police Vasit Dejkunjorn. They are known to have close ties to the Democrat Party and previously participated in protests against the current government. They are also known to be close to the Siam Samakkhi group, which has held seminars critical of the government.
Furthermore, Kaewsan used to be a member of the Assets Examination Committee and is regarded as an arch-enemy of Thaksin and his allies.
Kaewsan’s involvement has led several observers to believe that the Thai Spring will do more than just gather signatures and express its displeasure in cyber-space.
Kaewsan said the movement had been set up because Yingluck was showing her true colours. He said he had drafted the open letter on April 30, while Vasit suggested that he should provide a channel for people who disagree with the speech to express their opposition. As a result, the duo set up a website for people to sign their names and convey their opinions to the international community.
The campaign kicked off on May 4 and, so far, up to 15,000 signatures have been gathered.
Kaewsan said expressing disagreement on the Net was an alternative method for civilians to show their dissatisfaction with the government. He also denied allegations that he had been hired by someone to organise the movement, adding that he did not care about efforts to discredit it.
“Vasit and I simply want to provide a channel for the people to share their opinion,” he said, adding that this movement might lead to demonstrations in the future but he would not be the one organising any such rallies.
He said he would send the signatures and the movement’s open letter to foreign embassies and international organisations in 106 countries.
The movement will continue gathering signatures, which will be sent to the embassies again in the future.
Kaewsan said the movement’s only aim at present was to show to the world that many Thais disagreed with the prime minister’s speech in Mongolia.
The rest of us will have to wait and see what the Thai Spring does next and if it will grow like the Arab Spring when the controversial reconciliation bill is deliberated in August.