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Opposing sides can, and must, take steps to rein in this crisis

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 2 - 2013

Both sides of the ongoing political conflict are allowing Thailand to slide further into destructive turmoil, without any obvious attempt to avoid it.

The clashes between some government supporters and student protesters in and outside Ramkhamhaeng University on Saturday – and between police and anti-government protesters outside many government offices in the capital yesterday – indicate that both the authorities and the protest leaders have broken their vows not to resort to violence.

Shots were fired into Ramkhamhaeng University on Saturday night and yesterday morning, leaving at least three people dead and more than 50 others injured. Red-shirt leaders also claimed there were casualties among government supporters gathering in the adjacent Rajamangala Stadium in support of the administration.

Police protecting government offices, including Government House and the Metropolitan Police Bureau, fired many rounds of teargas at protesters attempting to force their way into the compounds.

These ugly scenes do not bode well for our country. And the chance of seeing this new conflict resolved any time soon has been shattered.

It is also nonsense, and even deplorable, for protest leaders to demand that key television stations – namely Channels 3, 5, 7, Modernine, NBT and Thai PBS – broadcast live an announcement by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who is also secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee. This can be construed as intimidation of the media and as a threat to media freedom.

It was reminiscent of coup-makers in the past making their announcements to the public after seizing control of state media.

Although all stations refused to completely follow the demand, the protest leaders acted against democratic principles by making such an order. The protesters, particularly Suthep, had accused the government of intervening and influencing the media, but now they were doing just that. It was the pot calling the kettle black.

However, there is still a slim chance of avoiding further bloodshed. The protesters should restrain themselves within legal boundaries and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government should seriously consider solutions proposed by business circles and academics on how to get out of this crisis – such as stepping down or dissolving the House of Representatives.

This may not completely solve the country’s problems, but should help defuse the current crisis.

Nevertheless, there is also a need to rewrite the Constitution in order to pave the way for eventual political reform acceptable to all parties involved.

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