Daily Archives: September 3, 2008

The Pro-Government Rally

These days in Thailand you need to know your colours. As we all know, “yellow” is for H.M. The King as he was born on a Monday. So, we all started wearing yellow in support of the King. Then he wore pink on Tuesday so we all started wearing pink on the next day. On Fridays we wear blue for H.M. The Queen as she was born on that day. Then on Sundays many wear red for the late H.R.H. Princess Galyani Vadhana. I usually wear yellow twice a week as part of the compulsory school uniform, but not this evening. I heard yesterday that the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) were moving their rally site from Sanam Luang to the city hall at Samut Prakan. This was due to the recent emergency decree forbidding five people or more gathering in one place. I decided to go and check them out for myself. But first, I had to make a careful decision on what colour I would wear.

During recent months, the meaning of the colour yellow has been hijacked by the supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). They started wearing yellow to show their allegiance to H.M. The King. But, over time, it has now come to represent the PAD. In the opposite corner are the DAAD, the pro-government supporters who took part in the bloody clash with the PAD protestors the other night. To distinguish between the two, they wear red. These days, there is no way I would enter a PAD rally site wearing red. And at the same time, I shouldn’t really go to a DAAD rally wearing yellow. Therefore I decided to change my shirt tonight from yellow to red. But, to play safe, I also wore a jacket on top just in case I needed to become neutral. In the photo above, the DAAD member is wearing a t-shirt that says he doesn’t accept the new constitution of Thailand that came into affect on 19th August 2007.

When I arrived at the rally site there was already several thousand people in the crowd listening to various speakers on the stage. The banner at the back of the stage is calling for the people of Samut Prakan to rally to protect Thai democracy and to give morale support to Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. In between the speeches, the crowd was entertained with dancers and luktung. It was a party-like atmosphere with people dancing and eating snacks. There were people there from all walks of society including young families. There were also a few people I knew including some older students with their parents. Not everyone was local as there were three coaches of people brought in from other areas.

It wasn’t all fun as everyone stood in silence for one minute in memory of the DAAD supporter who was brutally killed by the PAD during violent street clashes a few days back. Some of the survivors of the street battles came to show their wounds and talk about their experiences on that night. The leader of the DAAD told the crowd that they will soon occupy the offices of the Democrat Party’s head office in Bangkok in retaliation of the PAD’s occupation of government house. It has been widely rumoured that the Democrats are quietly supporting the PAD leaders and in return they will help the Democrats become the next government.

To be honest, before I went to the DAAD rally this evening I was a bit concerned how I would be received. I was also not sure if any PAD supporters would turn up to cause trouble. But, in the end I was made very welcome with people coming to say hello and give me bottles of water. At events like this it is impossible for me to be inconspicuous as I am usually the only foreigner present. But I get used to that now and I just get on with my job and take pictures. If you are in Thailand or planning on coming here soon, I would advise you not to join any of the rallies even though it looks like they are having a party. It can be potentially dangerous.