This paper seeks to examine the red shirt and yellow shirt conflict that has affected Thailand in the year 2008 and answer the question as to whether or not the Red Shirts are indeed terrorists as claimed by mainstream media, or are protesting against deeply-entrenched historical grievances…
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It then proceeds to explore why, if the Red Shirts are indeed representative of those who have been oppressed by an elite urban-centric Thailand, support is being given to a leader like Thaksin Shinawatra who, by all showing, is a rent-seeking and corrupt politician. It uses class and resistance as lens by which the red shirt and yellow shirt phenomenon may be understood and seeks to unravel tha complex dynamics that underlie Thai-style contemporary politics. II. Introduction The image is a searing one, and has captured the attention of a global audience. Outside Siam paragon, one of Bangkok’s gleaming edifices, a man stands with his fist clenched. He has the weatherbeaten face of a rural farmer from northern Thailand and he is in a red shirt. The picture captures the audience because of the juxtaposition it presents: the two faces of one country. On the one hand, as represented by the posh mall that is the Siam Paragon, it is a modern and bustling economy, well on its way to Capitalist-style development. On the other hand, it is a simmering hotbed of discontent, with rural labourers coming to the center so that their voices may finally be heard. This contradiction lies at the very heart of the Red Shirt and Yellow Shirt conflict in Thailand. This paper aims to discuss the political conflict in Thailand between the Red Shirts and the Yellow Shirts in Thailand, a conflict that has led to many dramatic scenes being played out before the international media but whose underlying themes and issues remain hidden from the Western spectator. There is much myth-making that has helped both sides along: with one side demonizing the other and glorifying its own, and people seeing only what they choose to see. The conflict illustrates the complexity of Thai politics, and the stark class injustices and inequality that have attended the so-called Land of the Free. On the one hand, there is a group who has long been a victim of historical injustices and seeks to be heard by the center and it does so by supporting a strongman whose political career has been riddled by charges of corruption and misfeasance in public office (see: Chaturon, 2009). On the other hand, is a group affiliated with the “People’s Alliance for Democracy” (PAD) who professes support for the King and who levels on Thaksin the charge of not being respectful enough to the Thai Monarch, but who represent the elite and middle class in Thai society and to the lower classes in rural Thailand (Chaturon, 2009), partially responsible for the gaping inequalities in the political economy of Thailand by protecting the status quo from which they benefit. Andre Vltcheck (2010) puts it succinctly: Imagine that you are Thai and poor, as most people in this country still are. Imagine that you are aware of your social position, as most poor Thais are, and that you are educated and understand the complexities and hidden meanings of political life of your country, which most Thais do not. You have basically two alternatives if suicide or emigration is not the option: to support the outrageously elitist aristocracy and the army (many of whose members now paint themselves
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(“Class, Democracy and Resistance In Contemporary Thailand. What is the Dissertation”, n.d.)
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(Class, Democracy and Resistance In Contemporary Thailand. What Is the Dissertation)
Class, Democracy and Resistance In Contemporary Thailand. What Is the Dissertation. https://studentshare.org/history/1400507-what-is-the-red-shirt-yellow-shirt-conflict-about.
“Class, Democracy and Resistance In Contemporary Thailand. What Is the Dissertation”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1400507-what-is-the-red-shirt-yellow-shirt-conflict-about.
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