Guns for Hire: Democracy Thai-style
When Prime Minister Abhisit called a general election the House was dissolved. That was on May 10th. It didn’t take long for the guns for hire to sprint into action. That same day a gunman sprayed the car of one candidate with bullets. The victim escape with minor injuries.
Police inspect the car. Photo from The Bangkok Post.
On the 13th a bomb was thrown into the car of a canvaser.
A week later a politician and his wife were shot dead whilst driving their pickup. That happened not far from where I used to live in Ayutthaya.
Even closer to home was a gun attack on the home of a canvaser in the district of Bangkok next to where I live on the 26th. Thankfully, there were no injuries. Equally fortunate was a politician who was subject to a similar attack two days later.
On the 29th a canvasser and a politician were both gunned down in a single incident.
On the 31st a bomb was thrown at a rally. Two injured – one seriously.
June 3rd brought another gun attack on a canvasser’s home. No injuries reported.
A canvasser was stabbed to death on the 12th. And on the same day there was yet another gun attack on a canvasser’s home. Again, no injuries.
In short, assassination and intimidation of politicians and canvassers is a key factor in Thai election campaigning. So, what are the police doing about this? Well, just after the House was dissolved they issued a list of 112 known hitmen and offered a substantial reward (equivalent to about £2,000) for anyone providing information leading to an arrest. “Most Wanted” posters, with photographs, were issued for 50 of the men.
But why haven’t the police been able to arrest these murderers? It seems that many of them are kept in training camps under the protection of powerful individuals – untouchable. The police actually know of 100 such camps, but any attempt to investigate is thwarted by those powerful individuals.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald allegedly said “The rich are different than you and me.” And it’s not just because they have more money. Here they’re beyond the law, too.