Apart from the obvious entertainment value of public incompetence and elite hypocrisy, I am finding it hard to see the point of the Thai government’s faux outrage at the financial backing allegedly received by the red shirt protesters.

Does anyone still think that mass political campaigns don’t cost money? Does anyone think that thousands of protesters can mobilise out of thin air – without publicity, printing, transport, food, water, equipment, entertainment and medical support? Does the fact that some protestors receive financial assistance to leave their homes, farms and jobs really shock anyone? Has anyone tried to calculate what the red shirt rally might reasonably have cost? Is it illegal or immoral to financially support political protest?

On the issue of the cost of the rally, let’s try out some rough figures. Let’s say, very conservatively, that 10,000 people were at the rally for 70 days. What would be a reasonable per head cost, that wouldn’t send the moral guardians of the nation into a panic? 100 baht per day? Surely that would be pretty tough going. So how about 500, just for argument’s sake?

500 baht x 10,000 people x 70 days = 350 million baht!

That’s a lot of money. But it was a very complex public event. (In fact it’s about the same as the amount the government was reported to have spent on Princess Galyani’s funeral in 2008.) So is it really so strange that associates of the red shirts, or the leaders themselves, would have had millions, or even tens of millions passing through their accounts?

(Thanks to Pink Floyd for the title.)