(28 September 2006)“We’re already challenging the system by being here tonight,” Professor Somchai Prichasilpakul of the Chiang Mai University Law School told some 100 university students last night who gathered outside the grounds of Faculty of Social Science to have a “social dialogue on the military coup”. He said this as some 10 police men came and other men in civilians with a video camera started taking shots of the circle of people sitting on the grass. The students and the professors seemed unperturbed by the men in uniforms. One of the professors even invited them to join the circle.
While there were two public actions staged in Bangkok in the last 9 days of Martial Law in Thailand, this was the first in Chiang Mai to defy the military order of non-assembly of more than 5 people for political discussion/action. Chiang Mai is the hometown of the ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the bailiwick of his Thai Rak Thai party. The dialogue was organised by the Chiang Mai Students for Democracy Network. While the Chiang Mai University students were double the number of those who attended the gathering at the Thammasat University last Monday, there was a difference in the atmosphere between the two meetings. Those who were in Thammasat University, the seat of student movement in the 70s, were mostly wearing black shirts – a symbol of their mourning for the death of democracy in Thailand; while the Chiang Mai students and professors were wearing different shades of gray, so to speak. It was clear that they were there as an act of defiance, a brave act indeed, given the increasing presence of the military day by day on the streets, in the markets; but there doesn’t seem to be a strong united position of condemnation of the military coup.
Associate Professor Tanan Anumanrajatan said that “Thaksin is out. A lot of us have worked hard together to oust him, and now we did.” (For a while it confused me if he is in the military, because he was saying “we” ousted Thaksin, but no, he is a civilian university professor.) Tanan’s main message throughout the dialogue is that the Thai people should be able to call for and assert their right to speak and to assemble. This, under martial law. Tanan spent some time reminding the students of Thaksin’s corruption, and his control of power when he was still the prime minister and his party Thai Rak Thai (Thai loves Thai) were ruling the government.
“Thaksin and his clique are gone – but what else is?” asked Professor Attachak Sattayanurak. “Nothing has changed but the people in power.” Attachak, a known progressive professor of History, close to the people’s movement in the North, said that the Thai people should have a clear vision of what kind of society they want. “Did we solve the problem of our society with the military coup? Or did it just deepen the crisis? Is our society better without a constitution?” Attachak said that now military men are seen at almost every junction in the city. “Is this to make us feel safer?” Attachak think otherwise.
One of the students expressed discomfort in seeing people having their photos taken with the soldiers, climbing up the tanks and posing. There was even a couple who had had their wedding picture taken in front of a tank with a soldier on top. Professor Somchai said that this is indeed dangerous – the acceptance of some people with such casualness of the symbolism of violence. “Tanks are for killing, not one person, but many, many people.” Somchai said that there should be more public discussion on what it means to have the military rule. People who have accepted the coup as it removed Thaksin from power should understand the implications. One of which is the fact that today there is no parliament, which is the democratic space for different voices to be heard. “The military coup is not a democratic alternative.”
(September 23, 2006) In solidarity with the Thai democracy lovers who braved the martial law yesterday, and held a protest action in Bangkok, activists and friends from different countries based in Chiang Mai held their own version of a protest action. Some 12 foreign activists and friends gathered, mostly wearing black, and wrote their condemnation of military rule and call for democr acy in sheets of paper and had their photos taken.
Author/ Ah Yeah
The issue of legislation on minimum wage has drawn people's attention after a series of activities organized by the Civil Alliance for Minimum Wage. The alliance launched a 30-hours hunger strike in Causeway Bay last week. On Sunday, University Student's Grassroots Concern Group went to Sun Hung Kai Centre to protest against the contractor of cleaning services who exploited janitors. The alliance held a forum on Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok on Sunday afternoon (September 17). Speakers from different sectors discussed the problem of legislation on minimum wage.
Today, 1st of October, marks the last day of the 2 week time-frame of the military coup leaders, headed by Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, in the Thai government. Or at least that was their promise on Sept. 19 when they went on air and announced to the Thai people that they have taken over the Thaksin government, and well, taken over the freedoms of the Thai people as well.
The cartoon on the right hand side was one of Liao Bing-xiong's (廖冰兄) piece in criticizing the Cultural Revolution. It shows how the political campaign, which targeted at a fly, ended up killing thousands of people. Lao Bing-xiong passed away on September 22, 2006, taking away with him a Chinese political cartoon tradition.
Lao started to draw political cartoon since 1932 when he was 17 years old. His early works (1932-36), which criticized feudalism were published in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangdong's newspapers. During the WWII, he left Hong Kong and devoted himself to anti-war propaganda(1937-44).
Public service broadcasting or Public Broadcasting Service is common all over the world. In Hong Kong, the only publicly owned media "Radio and Television Hong Kong (RTHK)" is tightly controlled by Hong Kong government. The management of RTHK is composed of government's administrative officer and civil servants.
In the past seven days, Chinese fellow citizens in Mainland China have emptied their banks with an amount of 300 billion yuan or US$38 billion, a year-on-year rise of 14.5 percent and each contributed a per capita holiday spending of 250 yuan to celebrate the country's 57th anniversary.
The 7-day May and October holiday initiative triggered by then Premier Zhu about 10 years ago has proven a simple principle right - the total is much bigger than its arithmetic sum. The central rulers must now be happy as a bird. Curding bank loans to discourage such capital investment projects as real estate and infrastructure has to be compensated by an expansion of domestic consumption. Otherwise Premier Wen might not be able to deliver a soft touchdown report of the economy next year.
In 1995, during the 4th World Conference of Women in Beijing, the World Rural Women's Day was launched. Since then, October 15 is celebrated as World Rural Women's Day.
A decade after, who is celebrating?
Not the wives, mothers and daughters of those activists and community organizers who have been victims of political killings under the Arroyo government in the Philippines. Nor those women human rights defenders working in the communities who are living a life of uncertainty of when and where their own death would come.
In Umberto Eco's novel, The Name of the Rose, the blind librarian Jorge committed a series of murders in order to hide the secret of Aristotle's Book of Comedy, Book II of the Poetics because he regarded laughter as the most threatening heresy. The story shows the fragility of authority / truth.
Russian Journalist Ana Politkovskaya was murdered in Moscow on Saturday October 7, 2006. This was her last article published in her lifetime, by her newspaper, the bi-weekly Novaya Gazeta.
Translated by Agatha Haun and revised by Vera Reider (originally published at TLAXCALA)
The majority of Kadyrov’s, Yamadaev’s, and Kakiev’s followers are waging war on the side of the federal forces in order to escape from a blood feud or to take revenge.