Even though we have only been writing for New Mandala since June, Andrew and I have both posted well over one hundred pieces to the site. We hope that you are enjoying the content. Of course, if you ever have any suggestions, issues that you would like to see discussed, or anything else for us to deal with, then please do get in touch. Our e-mail addresses are both available from the Reader Contributions page. We do try to be accessible.
Trawling back over the hundreds of posts that we have made, I figured that it would be worth revisiting some of the most important issues and arguments that have emerged over the past months on New Mandala. I don’t plan to make this a weekly contribution to the site but, at least every now and then, Andrew or I might dredge up an old post to see how it fits in the current scheme. Our pre-coup political coverage is particularly interesting in this regard.
Back in June – when a coup was almost unthinkable and when the afterglow of the royal celebrations was still fresh – I wrote my very first piece for New Mandala. It was published on 20 June 2006. I was in Bangkok and had been struck by the yellow shirts that had become a ubiquitous social and political statement by that time.
In conclusion, I wrote:
The celebrations will, I imagine, be wrapped up over the next week or so and many of the banners, posters and lights will be put away. The apolitical practical and moral role of the King will remain. As will the united voice with which he is praised.
Then, the politics of “acting” Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will inevitably come back to the front-page. His polarising figure, and those of the men who seek to depose him, will again loom large.
Today’s unity will not remove their disagreements or unduly change the character of their fight. Nor will it dampen the intensity with which some hatreds or ambitions burn. We are not even half way through this momentous and testing year. The crowds, the passion, the T-shirts, the rhetoric. The politics of 2006, of Thaksin and his opponents, will not be fought in the spirit of harmony demonstrated in this most remarkable Royal anniversary.
I do wonder what colour t-shirts everybody will be wearing in three months time.
In a bizarre turn of events, about which I claim no special insight or voodoo-induced perception, something remarkable did happen almost exactly 3 months after I wrote these concluding comments. On 20 September 2006, Thailand woke to the news that a coup had occurred and a Royalist, military government was in control. Yellow t-shirts were certainly worn that day – exactly three months after my first, tentative New Mandala post.
Back on 20 June 2006, I was merely trying to herald what I then saw as a looming period of instability and uncertainty in Thailand. I would have probably dismissed the suggestion that a coup could happen so quickly or with such cunning or efficiency.
Yellow t-shirts are, of course, still the loyalist uniform throughout Thailand. Some Thais are, however, now starting to wear black shirts to protest aspects of junta rule. The King’s birthday is again just around the corner and more celebrations are, I am sure, being planned for that auspicious occasion. The yellow shirts will again be out in full force. But now some black shirts have come into view…
I won’t even try to speculate on what colour shirts people in Bangkok will be wearing at this time next year.