Is there a split in the Thai yellow shirt movement?
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Is there a split in the Thai yellow shirt movement?

The Bangkok Post:

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University, said that although the latest protest by the Thai Patriots Network (TPN), which he called an extremist wing of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, has been met with relative silence from society at large, their provocation is still disturbing.

“The TPN is engaging in a provocation that is an equivalent to the PAD’s takeover of Government House and Bangkok’s airports in 2008,” he said. “It is bringing Thailand to the brink, hogging the headlines, beating war drums.”

For Mr Thitinan, the nationalistic card being played out is for political gain.

“This is an old issue even if the TPN’s claims are true. Raising it now suggests they want to bring down the government and create conditions for political change that could play in their favour,” he said.

Mr Thitinan’s opinion speaks volumes: “Why is the TPN making all the noises while the PAD appears to be lending some but not complete support? Does the TPN’s involvement in the Thai-Cambodian spat betray internal politics within the yellow-shirt movement?

“The PAD is fragmented but its broad aim is still unified in destabilising the government, stirring up trouble and maintaining friction.”

He said that after their initial anti-Thaksin alliance during the 2006 coup, the PAD felt betrayed by the Democrat Party and the Abhisit government because it has received little in return for its instrumental role in overthrowing the Thaksin administration.

“The PAD and its militant offshoot TPN are a political monster that has been fostered by the powers-that-be. I’m curious to see what the powers-that-be will do in reaction,” he said.

BP: Once you have opened Pandora’s box can you close it again?

No doubt there are disagreements within the yellow shirt movement and these disagreements are likely to come to the fore when the Democrats are in power (when Thaksin/Thaksin allies are in power then they can all be united against the “great Satan”). Nevertheless, is the PAD divided? Or is it because the PAD are trying to become a more mainstream political group as they have a political party now (ie New Politics Party) and so want to be more careful about protesting on the street or the border?

We have Kasit as the Foreign Minister, a former prominent member of PAD, who is offering reasoned responses on TV in regards to the Thais arrested in Cambodia and is trying to calm things down. He and his assistant, Pravit, PM Abhisit, and Defence Minister Prawit have been sharply criticized by both the yellow shirts and the TPN. The TPN have stated they will continue to protest outside the foreign ministry until Kasit and Abhisit resign. They have also accused Prawit of conspiring to get the 7 Thais arrested. PAD/ASTV Manager have implicated the Thai government too. On almost all issues, there does not appear to be any difference on ideology, but is there a difference on what tactics to use? How long will the TPN protests last? Will TPN and PAD join together for the upcoming PAD protest on January 25?