Saturday, November 1, 2008
Red rally, yellow rally
As I write this at around 8.00 pm, the "Red" rally at the Rajamangla Stadium (capacity 49,000 seats) is in full swing. The "Yellow" rally at Government House is also gathering momentum. Thaksin Shinnawatr, believed to have flown from London to Hong Kong yesterday, was supposed to make his "phone-in" at 8.00 pm. But the organizers just said that would be postponed until 10.30 pm.
No reason was given for the delay. Originally, Thaksin was to call in "live." But later reports suggested that he had decided to tape it in advance -- and it would be a 8-minute clip instead of the earlier scheduled 20-minute live talk.
The pro-government Red speakers (United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship or UDD)were apparently encouraged by the big turnout. They called for the ouster of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) from Government House and the shutdown of ASTV, which has served as PAD's mouthpiece.
The huge poster at the stadium declares: "We fight against coup..."
The anti-government Yellow movement leaders, boosted by a much bigger turnout than any other of the past 160 days of the occupation of Government House compound, declared repeatedly: "The Red gathering is not our competitor....they are just Thaksin's lackeys."
Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat told reporters this morning that he was "concerned" about the rising tension the new confrontation could bring about.
Military leaders say they are on alert to prevent any possible clashes between the Red and Yellow members.
I expect no clash tonight but that doesn't mean the PAD and UDD won't raise their stakes in the next few days to step up their respective bargaining powers. No solution is in sight.