NYT Reporter FELT Bullet Fly By His Head – Bangkok

Now, was this memory created for sensationalism, or, did it really happen? We’ll never know. Apparently he isn’t injured, so he might have felt the air from the bullet whizzing by his head. That would be scary enough.

(CNN) — A journalist who was interviewing a key political protest leader in Bangkok said the sniper bullet that struck the man came so close that it “felt like it grazed my head.”

Describing a chaotic scene on the streets of the Thai capital Thursday night, Thomas Fuller of The New York Times described to CNN how Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head as he was interviewing the opposition figure.

“I was facing him, he was answering my questions, looking at me and the bullet hit him in the forehead, from what I could tell,” Fuller told CNN’s Michael Holmes. “It looks like the bullet came over my head and struck him. I don’t have any way of confirming this beyond what I remember from the scene but it felt like it grazed my head.”

Any bloggers want to play reporter in Bangkok and cover the Red Shirt violence?

Not me my friends. I don’t need to make myself famous by reporting what’s going on there. I found it strange that so many foreigners have this curiousity about it and go take photos of the whole scene… New York Times reporters – sure, they have to go. They don’t have a choice. That’s their life.

By the way – wasn’t any video rolling?

Thailand bloggers going to cover the scene from the inside? Is it worth the pageviews? The amateur want-to-be reporters are way too close to the action. Even if there is NO action at the present, it erupts anytime. Like during an interview! I don’t need bullets flying over my head for excitement. I’ll just watch it on the web.

Stay safe out there Stickmanbangkok, Richard Barrow, and the rest of you…

I’ll be watching the thailand.alltop.com to see what bloggers continue to think it’s a good idea to go do on-the-scene reporting. I’ll bet there’s not a lot after this incident!

Bangkok Sees Red! Bangkok Not Safe – Again

The Red Shirts in Bangkok have vowed to fight to the end. The end of what? Their demonstration? It’s sad because they had an opportunity to get what they wanted – all except for the time frame that Abhisit steps down and dissolves the ruling government. Elections in November now is anyone’s guess. I’ll guess they still happen, or soon afterward because Abhisit must accept the fact that a good portion of the country – probably a majority, want elections soon.

Apparently the rogue leader of the red shirts was shot in the head and is critically wounded. Just one injury, I’ve got to read up on that to see what happened. Was it a sniper? I’m curious how this went down – and usually I”m not all that into what’s going on in Bangkok.

Oh wow!

I just read how it went down… this from WorldBulletin.net:

Several Thai and foreign reporters said Khattiya was shot while being interviewed by them.

“It’s a clear attempt to decapitate the red shirt military leadership,” said Anthony Davis, a security consultant with IHS-Jane’s.

“It’s a smart tactical move that will cause confusion in the red shirts’ military ranks and send a message to the leadership that if they don’t want to negotiate and come out, they can expect extreme consequences.”

Can you imagine being one of the reporters – you’re thinking up the next question to ask him and suddenly his head explodes in front of you? Jesus…

Will this kill the entire Red Shirt movement?

Oh, here’s more news I just read, Maj-Gen Khattiya Sawadipol, (Seh Daeng), is in stable condition at the hospital.

Thaksin Coming Back?

I did what I really hate to do… I read some of the political commentaries on the situation in Bangkok with Thaksin and the Red Shirts and the Thai Government and Military just a few minutes ago to see what the predictions are for the future of the situation.

I read some of the Bangkok2, BangkokPundit, TheNation, and something else I can’t remember.

Apparently the violence levels reached the other day were higher than the all events for the past 2 decades. Wow. I didn’t realize that. That’s meaningful.

It seems as if there is little for the government to accomplish by keeping PM Abhisit on. The Red Shirt protesters are still making Bangkok their home, and it seems as if they’re in a stronger position now that the military fired on them. Regardless what instigation led to it.

Will Abhisit step down and new elections be held within the next year?

I’m going to repeat my prediction… well, wait, I need to find out what it was first – something about Thaksin coming back and being Prime Minister again before long. I think I said this year – but, maybe now I’ll have to revise and say that he’ll come back and be PM in 2011.

Kind of a humorous moment this morning… my wife was telling me about an interview with Thaksin on Aljazeera network. They were asking him lots of questions he couldn’t answer – they were doing it on purpose, obviously.

One of them was – When will you leave for Thailand? You said before that when the first bullet is fired toward the Red Shirts you would be there fighting alongside them.

Thailand’s Red Shirts, Thaksin, Military

I spent today with the TV running – which, though I hate it – I’ve found it invaluable to keep up with what’s going on with the red shirt protests in Thailand. TV news here has been dumbed down and is on a serious delay – hours or tens of hours in some cases.

Some say that the media is controlled by the Yellow shirts – who don’t have a real interest in reporting the red shirt protests except in a negative way – biased. I can go for that. The news I”m able to see on Thailand TV on ASTV, Asian News Channel and other Thai channels are pretty lame.

If you’re very interested in what’s going on in Thailand or even anywhere in the world you best shot at this is Twitter. Now is the time to get to know Twitter because it’s a hell of a news source. I’ll create another post somewhere and link to it from this one to show you how to use Twitter to follow the goings on – breaking news in Thailand -and you can generalize the info to apply it to finding out about ANY breaking news event in the world. It’s an AMAZING tool. The entire world should be using it. Anyway, more on that later.

Red Shirts
So – recently the red shirts have crashed the Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya and caused the leaders of Asian countries to escape by helicopter from the rooftop. They’ve parked gasoline trucks in residential areas with the idea that they would blow them up – I heard. Not sure if that’s true. If true that is more akin to terrorism than just protesting the government and wanting it to change.

They’ve hijacked about 30 city buses and parked them places to block the roads and set their tires on fire – some say to negate the effects of tear gas police might fire, others say – which I find much more likely, they ignite the fires to make it much harder for the police to move the buses.

Rumors run crazy in times like this – on Twitter I heard that the Thai government was ORDERING Americans to leave the country immediately. This same idiot on Twitter also said there was mass food poisoning in Singapore – though I found nothing about that on CNN, BBC, or elsewhere. I didn’t look again – that was about 6 hours ago.

So, everything that comes across Twitter is not the complete truth – like no news source is.

Thai Military
The military was promising to keep control of Bangkok, and so far that’s not been realized at 6:30pm Monday evening, the first day of Songkran, Thai New Year 2052.

The military was videotaped shooting at protesters – and military authorities said they were using blanks – packed paper bullets in that case. They were also seen firing their automatic weapons into the air – and they say – these were real bullets. Then there were seen on tv and in photos online (linked to from Twitter users) that show clearly some red shirt protesters with serious wounds – some said they were absolutely bullet wounds.

Expats in Thailand
Many foreigners have taken sides in the situation – most, surprising to me – seem to favor Thaksin and the red shirts. Apparently they can overlook everything that’s been said negatively about the guy. Corruption seems to be embedded in the government – no matter who is in charge. There may be 50 more years of corruption here before that kind of thing changes.

Anyone think it can happen sooner?

The current government may or may not have a right to be in power. Another election isn’t going to resolve anything at all. There is no good alternative, nor will there be – for about 50 years in my guess. Why 50? I’m not sure, I think when the current crop of politicians all die off and the next generation, or the next is growing up in this amazing place – someway, somehow it’s all going to move toward less corruption. Maybe they’ve got another 100 years or more.

Thaksin was rumored to be staying in a resort on Ko Chang. I think that’s a rumor, who knows. I’d believe anything about him – he’s pretty resourceful. I think it’s more likely he’s pulling the strings from far away until he knows whether this red shirt effort will be successful. Most Thais I know and have talked to about this believe Thaksin is pulling out all the stops to try to save his 2 billion USD locked up in Thailand by the current government. Sounds like a good reason.

Will the country be better under Thaksin? The country is pretty seriously divided between those that hate him and those that love him. Way too divided to ever agree he should rule – even if by majority of the voting population he’s elected. The group that hates him wouldn’t let that stand. Looks like the group that loves him won’t let Abhisit stand as PM either. I’ve no affinity toward either one. Educated Thais seem to have taken the yellow shirts side, and support Abhisit. Many think he’s the best chance for the country. Maybe he’s the better choice of the two – but, in an election – would he be chosen?

It’s amazing to me that Thaksin, with more money than god – can have the poorest people in the entire country fighting in his name. The wrongs don’t matter to those that love him because he DID make their lives better. For once someone seemed to care about farmers and poor in the northeast region. They didn’t forget it – they’re ready to die for this cause – many are saying on TV.

You can be sure that, if Thaksin gets another chance at an election and actually WINS – he’s going to solidify his position there. The guy is a brilliant player in Thai society – you’ve gotta give him that.

So – that’s the situation. I don’t side with either group – any group. I don’t see anyone that deserves to rule the country at this point. I don’t see anyone – any person or any group that has Thailand’s best interests at heart. That’s what Thailand needs. Not more of the same corrupt politicians.

Do you see anyone that’s fit to rule Thailand?

Suvarnabhumi Airport Closed and Bombs Exploding

Apparently 3 or 4 bombs have gone off (conflicting reports) at the airport and there are still 3,000 travelers stranded at the airport, some 7,000 of them being transferred to Don Muang Airport. Numerous reports of grenades being thrown into the crowds of protesters are also being reported.

Australia, Malaysia and Russia are the latest countries to issue travel warnings for Thailand. Singapore Airlines have canceled all flights to TH.

The current Thai PM is said to be in Thailand already by some, and others say he’s arriving this evening by Peru, flying to Chiang Mai, and then back to Bangkok in a military jet where he’ll hold a meeting to declare the state of emergency. He will declare a state of emergency because PAD (People’s Alliance for Democracy) is shutting down the country, as he called it.

When that happens the police and military will be mobilized to take control of government buildings taken over by PAD. Military leaders have continually denied plans for a coup.

I’d say today wouldn’t be a good time to come to Thailand. Arrivals are being taken at Don Muang Airport, after being redirected from Suvarnabhumi. There are no flights leaving Suvarnabhumi as far as I’ve heard this morning.

If you’re still coming to Thailand – and some of you WILL, I know… be prepared for lengthy delays, and possible danger in the streets as the people of Bangkok that oppose all the commotion caused by PAD may begin fighting back. PAD may also step up the drama before the state of emergency is declared.

Meanwhile Thaksin has been “banned” from calling in during this crisis, but vows to return to politics because the people need him to get Thailand back on track! That’s what he said anyway.

Is that what Thailand needs, Thaksin to return to get the country going again?

I think he’d need to worry about someone taking him out as the opposition is furious at him (finally) for corruption displayed on so many levels and his refusal to even acknowledge that he did anything wrong.

What do I think will happen? Hmm. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that in the next few months – Thaksin returns, the economy gets better – a little better, and then nearly everyone overlooks his transgressions in the short-term because the country is doing better economically and he’s playing it pretty straight from now forward. I think he’s had a good scare being in the UK and then being rejected. He’s living in Dubai for god’s sakes. I think when he comes back – and he will, that he’ll be Thailand’s savior… at least in the short-term and at least according to appearances.

Thais don’t have this strong idea that people need to really pay for their transgressions – once they’re known to the public the charges – the implementation of any punishment usually just sort of goes away – unless you’re a drug dealer. So, unless Thaksin brings back a planeload of cocaine I think he’s going to be the leader again and not suffer and real consequences for his past actions at all.

What do you think?

(anonymous comments not published)