There is now little doubt that in the campaign for the up and coming Thai general election the performance of both incumbent Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his Democrat Party has been nothing short of useless.
Harried and heckled, laughed at and derided, the Democrat Party is leaking potential voters at an astonishing rate as the opposition Pheu Thai Party – led by Yingluck Shinawatra, the photogenic sister of Thailand’s former PM Thaksin (he was ousted in an illegal military coup in 2006) – soar in the polls (fellow Asian Correspondent blogger Bangkok Pundit offers in-depth analysis of the most recent polls here).
With a planned Democrat Party “rally” to be held at the Ratchaprasong intersection this coming Thursday (a site associated with the deaths of the Abhisit-ordered Bangkok Massacre), something many consider an act of deliberate provocation not befitting a party of government or the kind of statesman Abhisit is often claimed to be, it seems like things can only get worse for Thailand’s unelected, and seemingly unelectable, party of government.
But what is really irking Thailand’s incredibly privileged, elitist, Eton and Oxford educated Prime Minister? Enter a Suphanburi-born female trade union leader who was raised without any of the privileges handed out to Abhisit.
To those who follow the grassroots activists of the progressive, non-Pheu Thai, non-Thaksin aligned Red Shirt movement, Jittra Cotshadet needs no introduction. After leading her co-workers out on strike at the infamous Triumph clothing factory she then went on to form the successful Try Arm workers co-operative. Present at and involved in every single major Red Shirt protest in the last two years, Jittra once told me in graphic detail how she helped clean up the brains blown out of the skulls of her fellow Red Shirts by Thai Army snipers at Kok Wua. She is as passionate and committed an activist you could wish to meet. And Abhisit is terrified of her.
“This person who accuses me – how dare she!” This was the whining statement Abhisit placed on his Facebook page last night – as petty and pathetic as it is possible to imagine and a comment that formed one part of a lengthy, thin-skinned, disjointed rant that only adds to the speculation that Abhisit could actually be losing more than just the election. Readers must now be wondering what is the terrible accusation that Jittra has “dared” to utter.
Back in March, at a forum held at Thammasat University to celebrate International Women’s Day, Jittra silently held up a series of hand-drawn placards while PM Abhisit delivered his speech (she received a death threat just after that event and has more recently been subject to a hate campaign by the notoriously fascistic Social Sanctions cybergroup). The statement that has since gone on to be so irksome for Thailand’s Eton/Oxbridge-educated PM was a devastating one-line put-down “He’s only good at talking.”
Unbeknown to many foreign-media commentators this simple phrase has now become one of the key election slogans and memes for the anti-Abhisit camp. It has caught a distinct mood amongst the Thai public, appearing on banners, T-shirts, websites, etc etc. And Abhisit’s incredibly poor reaction to it has only stoked the fires of its use – he has repeatedly whined about it (here, here and here are just three examples). In the last 24 hours even a new twitter hashtag has appeared (#HIOGAT) and it seems Jittra’s effective little statement could now be the epitaph to Abhisit’s declining political career.