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Turn Left Thailand

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Thailand: Who killed Aa-Kong (Ah Kong)?

The arrest of Aa-Kong.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 9, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The death in prison of the poor odd-job man Aa-Kong (also known as Ah Kong) is an outrage and it is yet another indication of the barbarity of the lèse majesté law, the injustice of the Thai legal system and the brutality of the Thai ruling class. The fact that he was refused bail to get medical treatment, and the fact that the prison authorities waited three days after he became ill before sending him to the prison clinic, is an indication of the terrible conditions in Thai prisons. He was convicted of lèse majesté for supposedly sending an SMS message to ex-prime minister Abhisit’s personal secretary. The evidence given by the state proved nothing.

In Thailand, generals and politicians who ordered repeated killings of unarmed demonstrators on five occasions since 1973 have never been charged and never been punished. But criticising the ruling class is considered to be a “grave offence”. Long prison sentences are handed down for lèse majesté.

Two sides to Burma's elections

Aung San Suu Kyi.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Turn Left Thailand

April 3, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Elections under capitalist democracy never lead to state power changing hands because many important elements of the capitalist state are not subject to elections or even accountability. For example, we never get to elect capitalists who make important investment decisions that affect millions of peoples’ lives. In addition to this, judges, military and police commanders, top civil servants and those who control the media are never elected. But that does not mean that we should ignore elections.

Elections are important political events that can be used to advertise policies, can often give encouragement and can be used to mobilise activists outside parliament. For these reasons the elections in Burma in early April were extremely important for the democratic movement. They were an opportunity for thousands of Burmese, and other nationalities in the country, to show their dissatisfaction and opposition to the military dictatorship by voting for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and other opposition and ethnic parties.

Thailand: In 2012 lèse majesté will be litmus test for democracy

Yingluck Shinawatra tours flood-ravaged areas with army commander-in-chief General Prayut Chan-ocha.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 2, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In July 2011 millions of Red Shirts turned out to vote for the Pheu Thai party, headed by Yingluck Shinawatra. The party won a landslide majority despite various attempts by the military, the media and the elites to place obstacles in the path of the party's victory. The election result was a slap in the face for the military and the “party of the military” (the mis-named Democrat Party).

But the signs were bad for the Red Shirts from the beginning. The new government did nothing about the Red Shirt political prisoners and the important issue of bringing ex-prime minister Abhisit, his deputy Sutep and the military generals Prayut [army commander-in-chief Prayuth Chan-ocha] and Anupong to justice for their key roles in gunning down nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians in 2010.

Thailand: Yingluck Shinawatra's government lines up with the military

Protesters gather outside the criminal court in Bangkok December 9, 2011. Protesters wore masks and hold pictures of Amphon Tangnoppaku, dubbed "Uncle SMS", outside the court protesting after he was jailed for 20 years last month for sending text messages deemed to have disparaged Thailand's Queen Sirikit. Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 11, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the July 2011 election we have seen Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's Pheu Thai party government and the conservative elites move towards a settlement in the interests of the elites and at the expense of democracy and human rights.

This is a serious betrayal of the Red Shirts who fought and sacrificed for democracy over the last few years. In many ways this “sell-out” by the Yingluck government was hardly surprising. The vast majority of Pheu Thai politicians are not at all radical. Most never took part in the Red Shirt protests. Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai party always made it clear that they were royalists as well.

Lèse majesté

Thailand's flood crisis: neoliberalism is not the answer

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

October 27, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The serious flooding in Thailand has affected millions of people. Houses, property and infrastructure have been seriously damaged. Factories and workplaces have been closed and hundreds of thousands of people have become temporarily unemployed. Agricultural land has been flooded, leading to further loss of incomes. Millions of people who are living modest lives will see their incomes and savings drastically lowered and the economy can only be dragged down. The waters are now predicted to remain high for at least a month.

The longer-term effects of the flood damage will become a real test for the Peua Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra. If this crisis is not solved to the satisfaction of most citizens, the government risks losing long-term public support.

Thailand: Why aren’t the generals in jail?

Thai soldier during the September 19, 2006, coup sports the monarchy's colour, yellow.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

September 19, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the fifth anniversary of the September  19, 2006, military coup in Thailand, General Sonti Boonyaratgalin should be facing charges for staging an illegal coup and tearing up a democratic constitution. General Prayut Junocha should also be facing charges for ordering the killings of nearly 90 unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators last year. But this is not happening because we do not have equality, freedom and justice in Thailand, and we do not have a government that respects the Red Shirts who voted for it in the first place.

The Pheu Thai Party may have won the election in July, but the repressive ruling class is still all powerful. The army continues to intervene in politics and society, the judiciary has not been reformed and the king still acts as the figurehead to give legitimacy to those opposing real democracy, with the draconian lèse majesté law as back-up. Pheu Thai is clearly in the process of reconciling its differences with the military.

Thailand: A new 'settlement' between Yingluck Shinawatra's government and the elites?

Thai MPs elected Yingluck Shinawatra on August 5 as the country's first female prime minister.

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

August 14, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We are starting to see the results of a “new settlement” between the Pheu Thai party [led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra] and the elites, in order to “resolve” the Thai crisis in the interests of the latter. This may or may not be a formal agreement, but we are already seeing the effects.

Following the last crisis during the Cold War conflict with the Communist Party of Thailand, the elites crafted a settlement in which parliamentary democracy was tolerated so long as elections could be dominated by money politics and there was no challenge to the ruling class. Today’s “settlement” is designed to allow the Pheu Thai party to form a government and to bring its leaders, including deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra, back into the elite’s exclusive club. We must remember that previous to the 2006 crisis, Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai party were a recognised part of the ruling elites.

Thailand: Red Shirts and the new cabinet

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.] 

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

August 11, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Most politicians in the Pheu Thai party no doubt believe that having Red Shirts in Yingluck Shinawatra's cabinet would create a “bad image”. This is true if you believe that a “good image” is one of doing absolutely nothing to solve the crisis of democracy and social justice in Thailand.

The new cabinet contains people like Chalerm Yubamrung, a thuggish politician who sums up the term “legal double standards” from when his son was charged with murdering a police officer in a pub brawl. He is also
suspected by some of having profited from drug dealing. This is a “good image” for the new government.

Thailand's election: A slap in the face for the military, Democrat Party and royalist elites

Thailand's new prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

"This election is only one step towards restoring democracy. It will take mass participation of the Red Shirts in order to strengthen and speed up the process."

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

July 4, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The results of Thailand's July 3 general election are a slap in the face for the dictatorship. They prove without any doubt that the majority of people have rejected the military, the Democrat Party and the royalist elites. Pheu Thai, the party closely allied to the Red Shirt movement, has won a clear majority. The result is all the more remarkable, given that the election was held under conditions of severe censorship and intimidation of the Red Shirt democracy movement by the military and the military-installed Democrat Party government of Abhisit Vejjajiva.

(Updated July 3) Malaysia: Protests demand release of democracy activists

Made with Slideshow Embed Tool

July 1, 2011 -- Emergency protest outside Malaysian Airlines offices in Sydney to demand the release of 30 Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) detained since June 25 and accused of waging "war against the king"... the "evidence" a few political t-shirts in their posession! These arrests are part of a crackdown on oppositionists in the lead up to the July 9 Bersih 2.0 democracy march in Kuala Lumpur. Photos by Peter Boyle.

See "Malaysia: Government arrests socialists ahead of Bersih 2.0 pro-democracy rally" for the background to the arrests.

Why socialists in Thailand call for a vote for Thaksin's Pheu Thai Party

Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, leads the Pheu Thai.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Turn Left Thailand

June 16, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Normally, no socialist should ever call for a vote for a capitalist party in any election. To do so would risk making the kind of mistakes that the Stalinists used to make when they adopted the Popular Front strategy, building alliances with the bourgeoisie and making anti-working class concessions. But it is my opinion, that in the July 3, 2011, general election in Thailand, socialists have no choice but to call for a vote for the Pheu Thai Party [also spelled Peua Thai Party]. Pheu Thai is a thoroughly capitalist party.

Thailand: Lèse majesté law cannot be reformed, it must be abolished

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 27, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The lèse majesté law [making it illegal to "insult" Thailand's royalty] cannot be reformed into a democratic law any more than a military dictatorship can be reformed or amended into a “democratic military dictatorship”. The lèse majesté law is fundamentally against the freedom of expression and Democracy. It cannot be reformed. It has to be abolished.

Thailand: Lèse majesté, the monarchy and the military

Giles Ji Ungpakorn.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Paper given to Pax et Bellum, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, University of Uppsala, Sweden

April 29, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There is a common thread running through the political crisis in Thailand and the regional political crises that exploded earlier this year in the Middle East. In Thailand, Egypt, Tunisia and many other “developing nations”, societies had been rapidly urbanising and changing over the last 30-40 years. Yet the ruling elites and the power structures which dominatethese societies, have not changed. Different events triggered uprisings and struggles, but the underlying tensions remained the same. Another appalling common thread that links Thailand to the Middle East is the way in which ruling elites are prepared to use live ammunition against pro-democracy demonstrators in order to cling to power.

Thailand: Military makes threats against pro-democracy Red Shirts

Thousands of Red Shirts commemorate the April-May 2010 killings of pro-democracy protesters by military forces.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

April 12, 2011 -- Red Thai Socialist -- One year after Thailand's military gunned down nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians in Bangkok and in the run-up to the promised first election since the 2006 coup, the military have been very active in increasing the obstacles to a free and fair election. They are seriously worried about the outcome of this election.

Thailand: Why the lese majeste law is an abomination

Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul (`Da Torpedo').

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

March 3, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The lese majeste law (which forbids "insulting" the monarchy) in Thailand represents a gross attack on the freedom of speech, freedom of expression and academic freedom. It is a fundamental attack on democracy carried out by the military, the palace and the elites. The practical impact is that Thailand has struggled for years to achieve a fully developed democracy, a free press and internationally accepted academic standards in our universities.

Today, Da Torpedo, Red Eagle, Surachai Darnwattanan-nusorn (Sa-Darn) and many others are in prison in Thailand for merely expressing their beliefs in a peaceful way. In recent days arrest warrants have been issued for five more people and the police have a list of 30 more people who face arrest.

Thailand: Royalist right, ultra-nationalists want war with Cambodia

Made with Slideshow Embed Tool. Anti-war rally at Victory Monument, Bangkok, on February 7,2011. The more or less spontaneous protest was held between 5pm and 7pm.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Thailand, South Korea: Solidarity with Egypt's struggle for democracy

February 1, 2011. In front of the Egyptian embassy, Bangkok. Made with Slideshow Embed Tool

On February 1, 2011, about 100 members of Thailand's mass democracy (Red Shirts) and student movements gathered outside the Egyptian embassy in Bangkok to send solidarity and support to the people of Egypt fighting to rid their country of the dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak. The protest was organised and supported by the Student Federation of Thailand (SFT) and member organisations, Thai Youth for Democracy, 24 June Group and other democratic networks.

Egyptians and Koreans stand with one voice to denounce the Mubarak regime

By Roddy Quines, Seoul

Thailand bans Giles Ji Ungpakorn's `Thailand's Crisis and the fight for Democracy'/วิกฤตการเมืองประชาธิปไตย เราจะโค่นอำมาตย์อย่า

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 18, 2011 -- After struggling to read my book for more than a year, the Thai police have finally banned Thailand's Crisis and the fight for Democracy. No one is allowed to import it. But I have nearly sold out! What is even more amusing is that there is a Thai version which is available on the internet to download for free.

Anyone who wants a copy of the Thai version can just e-mail me at, or read or download below.

You can also read excerpt's from Thailand's Crisis and the fight for Democracy at ("Behind Bangkok's war in southern Thailand") and ("Class and Politics in Thailand).

Philippines: Successful Asian regional conference discusses socialist strategy

Delegates and international participants. Photo by Macario Sakay.

By Partido Lakas ng Masa international desk

December 11, 2010 -- A successful "socialism conference" was held in Manila from November 27 to 28. The conference was organised by the socialist Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM, Party of the Labouring Masses) and the socialist-feminist regional network, Transform Asia. The conference was attended by 100 delegates, leaders of the PLM from Metro Manila and other leading socialists of the Philippine left, as well as 13 international guests.

The international organisations represented were the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM); People’s Democratic Party (PRD-Indonesia); Working People’s Association (PRP-Indonesia); Political Committee of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD-Indonesia); Left Turn Thailand; Socialist Alliance (Australia); the Left Party (Sweden); the General Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (Gefont); the Vietnamese Union of Friendship Organisations; and the Centre for Environment and Community Asset Development (Vietnam).

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