The redshirt leader and former MP, Jatuporn Promphan, was jailed for defamation of ex-premier Abhisit Vejjajiva in 2017. He struck a pragmatic and responsible tone when he addressed supporters of the movement led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship last Friday. He suggested that, at some point, opposition political parties would require grassroots support and the public to get behind their campaign to have the 2017 constitution or charter rewritten.
The leader of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship addressed his supporters last week and predicted that the new Thai government would not last more than 6 months. He called on redshirt supporters nationwide to be patient and focus their energies on supporting the political campaign being led by opposition parties to see the 2017 Constitution rewritten. He told his supporters that even if the government were to fall, it is likely that General Prayut Chan-ocha will emerge again as prime minister with the support of the upper house of parliament or senate.
A prominent leader of Thailand’s Redshirt movement, Jatuporn Promphan, has addressed supporters in Bangkok and predicted that the new government led by General Prayut Chan-ocha would not last more than 6 months. The Thai cabinet was confirmed on Wednesday when the names of ministers were published in the Royal Gazette after receiving approval for the King.
Red Shirt leader addressed gathering last Friday
The address by the opposition leader occurred at the Peace and Library coffee shop at the Imperial Lat Phrao mall in Bangkok. Jatuporn is currently the Chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship. This is a political movement formed in 2006 in opposition to the yellow shirt movement in Bangkok, which began in 2005. The yellow shirt protests in Bangkok, in opposition to Thaksin Shinawatra, ultimately led to the 2006 coup which ousted the then prime minister.
Dark two months in Thailand’s history
The UDD has a number of prominent leaders who are all loosely associated with the Pheu Thai political party. The movement’s mission is to take on privilege and elitism in Thailand. Jatuporn Promphan was a key leader in the red shirt protests in Bangkok that turned violent in April and May 2010 which saw nearly 90 people in all killed and hundreds wounded in weeks of escalating chaos. The protests began in March in a peaceful fashion. During the crisis, the government found themselves firefighting a mounting series of security incidents in Bangkok and northern Thailand that threatened to spin out of control. It is estimated that up to 100,000 people in Bangkok lost their jobs due to the turmoil. It was a dark time in Thailand’s history.
Urged supporters to let the government work for 3 to 6 months and focus on the constitution
At last week’s gathering, Jatuporn urged UDD supporters to be patient and predicted that the current Thai government would not last more than 6 months. ‘We should let the government work for three or six months. It will not go further than that,’ he told the red shirt supporters gathered to hear him speak.
‘Be patient,’ he urged supporters
He warned them that now was not the time for them to act or agitate. ‘If we step in sooner, they will make peace among themselves sooner,’ he explained. He posited a theory that the MPs in the government ranks in the House of Representatives who had failed to get a cabinet or ministerial position would soon act on their disappointment. ‘Those who failed to get cabinet seats will grow increasingly dissatisfied,’ he said. ‘That is why I am telling you to be patient,’ he urged.
Jatuporn predicts Prayut will be re-elected as PM even if his government falls
Jatuporn also pointed out to redshirt supporters the reality of the situation should the government be defeated or fall apart. In that case, it would be highly likely that General Prayut would emerge again as prime minister or government leader since the Thai Senate under the constitution still has the power to vote in the combined National Assembly to elect a prime minister. This situation exists for five years after the government is formed.
Jatuporn support the campaign of political parties to amend the 2017 Constitution
The UDD leader urged support for the campaigns being launched by a range of political parties including the Pheu Thai and the Future Forward parties, to amend the 2017 constitution. He said that such a push will be difficult to bring about without grassroots support from the public and momentum from the streets.
Jatuporn is a former MP with the Thai Rak Thai party and key leader of the 2010 protests
Jatuporn is 53 years of age and a former MP with the Thai Rak Tai party then led by Thaksin Shinawatra. He has been a political activist since the mid-1990s and is a graduate of Ramkhamhaeng University. He is originally from Surat Thani but has lived in Nakhon Si Thammarat and worked in Chiang Mai before going into politics. He emerged as a more radical voice after the 2006 coup and was seen as one of the key leaders of the 2010 protests. In 2014, he emerged officially as the leader of the UDD when former leader, veteran political campaigner, activist and academic Thida Thavornseth, stood down.
Redshirt leader was jailed by a Thai court in 2017 for defaming ex-premier Abhisit Vejjajiva
The redshirt leader has served terms in prison. In 2011, Jatuporn was charged with terrorism by authorities in connection with the 2010 protests. Following the charges, the political leader had his bail revoked by the court for outspoken comments and went to prison. In 2017, he was handed down a 1-year prison sentence for defaming ex-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva over comments made by him during the 2010 crackdown. Abhisit was Thai prime minister at the time.
The culmination of the protests saw the mysterious killing of a senior army officer, Major General ‘Seh Daeng’ Khattiya Sawasdipol by a snipper while giving a media interview with the New York Times. This occurred on May 13th 2010. The Major General had sided with the redshirt protestors. The Thai army ended the protests on May 19th and successfully restored order.