“Voters’ uprising” and “Cyber army“
even the title itself is very good – because it stresses the main point that it is those very grassroot folks who has finally stepped forward, formed a movement and decided to voice their grievences and protest the abuse of their rights. this is significant development for Thailand, because it is practically first time in its history that farmers, workers and lower mid-class are becoming increasingly politically active and organised, despite continious supression of their efforts by elite, state, army, beurocracy, judiciary and now alihgned with them reactionary middlec-class.
UDD (DAAD) movement known as “Red-shirts” has been denied the right to express their opinion after the events of 8-15 April 2009 – their TV station (D-station aka Democracy-station) has been permanantly shut down by the government with leading Democrat party, their radio stations too, many websites has been blocked, their leaders arrested, the whole Thai MSM was rigidly censored to ensure that there is no support of Red-shirts, some Editors in popular newspapers (as Matichon) were fired for being “pro-Red”, others were branded as “red mouthpiece” (even few blogs too). furtheremore government has officially launched the “Media War” – sort of holy crusade against foreign reporters whom they accused of being paid by Thaksin. Democrat Minister Satit has even expressed “concern” about the usage of SMS as an alternative media by public; according to him is the government’s fear now that SMS can also be used for “distortion of facts” – this has been considered as too blunt admitting that government invades people’s privacy (by checking their private instant messages through mobile phone) and raised a question whether government now will move to censor even this tiny remaining media.
Particular interest for this blog is the mentioning of “Cyber army” as a new generation of fighters for Democracy.
As usual, during times of direct confrontation between the people and their patrons, in April 2009 Thailand’s mainstream media failed to provide the public with accurate reportage on the scale or ferocity of either the uprising or crack-down, and, as usual, in the people’s hour of crisis, studiously side-stepped the real reasons why hundreds of thousands of people representing tens of millions of rural, urban and industrial workers, were demonstrating. In this manner Thailand’s hamstrung mainstream media usually contributes to the confusion and, by default, to the deepening of social divisions.
Beneath the marketed image of Thailand, tens of millions of poor people are being actively, cruelly, and also artfully, prevented from realising their potential as citizens of the 21st century. The ‘surrender’ of the people’s leaders in April 2009 marks not the end but the beginning of a new phase in the struggle of the poor to remove the corrupt hierarchies that block their road to equal rights, democracy, sustainable development and peace…
On the positive side the chaos has served to shake-up the grass-root sectors and the more enlightened sectors of the middle-class. Thailand is experiencing a new wave of farmers, factory workers, students, academics and grass-root movements that are determined to resist being bottled-up as pawns, fodder and bell-boys for the benefit of Thailand’s image, own greedy elite and multi-national corporations…
New wave cyber army
When all media channels were cut or tightly censored in the May 1992 Uprising, it was telephones and fax machines that mobilised people and kept them informed. In April 2009 it was the people’s cyber army that kept information flowing.
Calling for the Government to crush the red-shirts, the chat boards of conservative reactionaries showed their concern for the image of Thailand in relation to economic stability, foreign investment and tourism. With Abhisit doing all possible to control the media, the cyber chat boards supporting the people’s protest played an important role in countering the absurd accusation that the red-shirts were wreaking havoc with Thailand’s fragile ‘stability’. With little or no space in Thailand’s mainstream media for airing their thoughts and feelings, the new wave of people’s representatives in cyber space are working hard to by-pass censorship, and inform and warn their sisters and brothers of the dangers they face and why. Through cyber space the irony of the military crack-down in April is identified as a clone of the 1976 crack-down – 33 years ago…
The cyber army plays an important role in helping to track and inform on the health and whereabouts of arrested leaders, and in the search for the dead and missing. In countering government-controlled misinformation the chat-boards throw up important questions. What kind of government blocks discussion on real issues and permits statements like ‘red-shirts are not Thai, not human and should be shot on sight’?
Thailand’s rural communities and urban poor are just saying that ‘We’ve had enough . . of seeing our lives degraded. We are no longer prepared to vote for the interests and well-being of the urban middle-class. Why should we?’. Too many Bangkokian academics and journalists have become accustomed to imagining that their own voices are the only voices that matter. Why should the rural people tolerate double-standards cooked in Bangkok – by Abhisit and his so-called Democrat Party? Because this party knows it cannot win at the ballot box?
Why should the small farmers, the rural blood of Thailand, and their children who slave in export-oriented Free Trade Zones, allow themselves to be manipulated out of existence in the name of ‘economic stability’?
Who’s economic stability?
The rural blood of Thailand is Thailand. Without healthy, productive, joyous rural communities Thailand is nothing – an empty soap-box tied-up with a yellow band… We all need to protect ourselves from the excesses of the neo-liberal capitalist agenda, which by definition places economic stability above social welfare and is, beneath all propaganda about democracy and freedom, too frequently just waiting to party with privy councils and wink at military juntas.
The current phase of struggle of the rural peoples of Thailand is extremely important, not just because they form the majority of the population, but because the future of the economy of the planet is all about food security and investment in organic productivity. What happens in Thailand with respect to rural cultures and traditions and to the hugely valuable knowledge of Thailand’s small farmers and fisher-folk has significant impact on what happens to cultural and biological diversity across the whole Indo-China Peninsula, and thus also, as one of the most productive and simultaneously bio-diverse areas of the planet, on the future of all humankind..
The days of compromising the fundamental principles of human rights in order to serve fabricated concepts of ‘economic stability’ designed to feed false concepts of progress are at an end. The privileged civil servants and urban middle classes need to understand that they face a choice: share the profits of progress with the farmers and workers (upon the strength of whose backs our life-style depends) or face a civil war which cannot be won…
Democracy belongs to the natural process of the evolution of human consciousness. It is not a product of greed or capitalism… What kind of ‘Thai-ness’ is this that we practice now: this occasional, almost ritualistic granting of permission to occasionally kill a few dozen people on the pretext that this avoids a greater body-count?Is this what Thailand calls democracy? Is this the Thai-ness with which we want to identify, with which we want to be identified? … The current Thai government has no democratic legitimacy. Thailand needs a General Election now, but acting-Prime Minister Abhisit knows he cannot win. He will delay a General Election for as long as possible, in order to be able to take maximum advantage of state-controlled media and all the other subversive weapons that corrupt State administration has managed to accumulate during decades of corrupt power-building. In other words, Abhisit and the neo-liberal elitists are ‘banking’ on their own wishful thinking that time is on their side – that resistance to their collective hypocracy will fade!
This is quite powerful statement I would say, sort of “Manifesto”. Especially good to see the “economic stability” Vs “social welfare” argument, and more than that – the connection to the future of the whole planet as food security, saving enviroment and preserving the bio-diversity. Hopefully Thai “Cyber warriors” (or Cyber army as mentioned in the article) would be able to convey the meaning of these concepts to all their fellow grassroot people who comprise this “Voters uprising” movement.
here is a good illustration of the issues raised by author (“economic stability Vs social welfare”) – an article about Abhisit on Forbes :
The government may have a strengthened hand to crack down on protests, as the middle class loses patience amid worries about job losses and a weakened baht, according to academic observers like Kitti Prasirtsuk, associate dean in political science at Thammasat University, Bangkok…
The economy “remains the No. 1 concern of the majority of Thai people,” said Abhisit…