From a New Mandala reader:
A few Sundays ago when there was that day of anti-coup speeches at Sanam Luang, I was impressed by how calm and rationale most people were. There were two kinds of anti groups there: anti-coup/anti Thaksin and anti-coup/pro Thaksin. But even the pro people said: “maybe there are too many loopholes in the law or constitution–let’s fix them. But Thaksin wasn’t any worse than anyone else.” I’d dispute that … but you could still have a civilized conversation.
Also interesting how many pointed out privately that the the royal family’s accounts should be made public or that the family should pay taxes (“Doesn’t Queen Elizabeth pay taxes?” Well, I don’t know but …). Also pointed to Surayud’s declared assets (equivalent to about US$2 million): “How can any army man get that without corruption?” The sum is relatively small by the standards of Thai politicians and elite, but I had thought that Thais generally shrugged off such matters or didn’t realize that these seem live very large sums even to people from rich countries. I noticed this past week that Bush’s brother, the governor of Florida, is woth $1.6 million and Americans consider that family very rich.
Of course the great shame was to see something like The Nation – with a long history of oppostition to military rule, etc. – not reporting who these people were or what they were saying all day. Instead, there was a photo of a crowd and estimates of crowd numbers.
Some of the speakers on that Sunday, btw, were wearing the yellow shirt or orange bracelet (the latter is the weaker gesture, of course) that in the last year has come to symbolize affection or fear or something regarding the king or the royal family. Wearing this is an easy way to stave off accusations of being anti-royal or tiresome conversations or lese majeste charges. I was surprised that some academics posting on your site (or perhaps it was Evans’ review of the Handley book) didn’t realize the social pressure to wear yellow, especially on Monday. Foreigners working in companies here also face that pressure. You really can’t gauge how Thais, especially educated people, feel about the royal family as long as they don’t have a choice whether to wear yellow, stand up at movie theaters or criticize voodoo economics. To paraphrase Voltaire.
The reader also provided a press release from the 19 September Anti-coup Network, noting that getting space in the Thai media at the moment is not easy.