As yet, the authorities are unsure as to whether the arms are destined for insurgent rebels in the South or to arm the Red Shirts before their March 14 rally in Sanam Luang, Bangkok. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is apparently waiting for 4th Army Region Commander, Lt General Pichet Visaijorn, to report on the arms’ theft and has also issued instructions to tighten arsenal security following the Phatthalung theft.
The authorities are at least pleased to have arrested the alleged bomber of the Silom Road branch of the Bangkok Bank on February 27, one of four hit on the day. However, as yet, no political or other affiliations have been disclosed regarding the arrestee. The M-67 grenades used in the bank attacks were, according to Red-shirt leader Natthawut Saikua, also among the inventory of the stolen arms. A fact which led Natthawut to accuse the military of staging the bombings in a cynical attempt to discredit and blame the Red Shirts for the bank bombings. Prompong Nopparit, Pheu Thai Party spokesman, also noted the convenient closeness of the thefts to the government publicity campaign to blame the Red Shirts for instigating violence.
The million-strong Red-Shirt rally on March 14 – D-Day – has the avowed intent of bringing down the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. 70 per cent of the protesters will come from the provinces and the remainder from Bangkok and its environs. The provincial Red Shirts are expected to arrive in Bangkok one week before D-Day, and the Bangkok brigade will arrive on the day.
The government is currently in the process of ramping up security in the capital and, according to the PM’s secretary general, Korbsak Sabhavasu, the state agencies concerned will implement 24/7 surveillance measures in Bangkok, especially around the homes of prominent figures, with lights and security cameras to be installed in other areas of risk.
However, National Anti-Corruption Commission secretary-general, Apinan Israngura na Ayuthaya, is on record as stating that he doesn’t expect any violence during the upcoming Red-Shirt rally, basing his predictions on the recent non-violent protests by the Red Shirts at the Office of the Attorney-General and the Royal Thai Police Headquarters.
Of a far more insidious nature, however, is the threat posed by world-famous Jetsun Pema, the 69, younger sister of the Dalai Lama, apparently. The Thai authorities refused this champion of educational work and peace building a visa to enter the country to give the keynote speech at a Celebration of Tibetan Culture at Bangkok’s Art & Culture Centre. The justification for this visa refusal, apparently, was at the behest of the Chinese Embassy, whose officials in Bangkok lobbied the Thai authorities to cancel the Celebration of Tibetan Culture, ostensibly for political reasons. According to the BBC, Thani Thongpakdi, the Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman, asserted that the visa application was rejected because Thailand is against people or groups using “Thailand as a base to conduct activities detrimental to other countries.” What this evidently means, stripped of its rhetoric, is that neither the Thai nor the Chinese authorities are keen on the Thai people learning the truth behind the Tibetan saga, told by the Tibetans themselves rather than the account given by Chinese propaganda. This presumably includes accounts of the atrocities committed by the CCP against the Tibetans over the past sixty years; no wonder the Chinese are so reluctant for their dirty washing to be aired in public.