The UDD have a new and very different kind of leader in Thida Thavornseth, the wife of Dr Weng Tojirakarn.
It’s a new era for diehard UDD supporters
Thida Thavornseth, having weathered the 1973 and 1976 bloody protests, says she is confident her leadership of the UDD will quell any further violence. ANUCHA CHAROENPO
Red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship supporters have opened a new chapter in their fight against perceived injustice and inequality by appointing Thida Thavornseth, the wife of Dr Weng Tojirakarn who is one of the detained former red shirt leaders, as the new UDD leader.
Lecturer-turned-political activist Ms Thida is widely known among red shirt supporters as a moderate who does not support violence in solving problems. Instead, she believes in reason, knowledge and peaceful means in pushing the UDD’s cause.
Under Ms Thida’s leadership, the UDD will upgrade the people’s fight with knowledge. They will not act on anger and hatred that will destroy their principles and image.
The UDD has been viewed by the public as being a hard-core political organisation. It has been blamed for the violence during the anti-government protests from March 12 to May 19 this year.
‘‘I have to accept this position. I have no choice,’’ she said.
‘‘I have been with them [the UDD members] since the movement was formed to fight against the coup four years ago,’’ she said.
‘‘They know me and they pin their hopes on me to lead them in the fight for justice. I can’t let them down.’’
Ms Thida is no stranger to the democracy movement. She has been on the political battlefield since she graduated from Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences more than three decades ago.
She joined a student movement to oust the government of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn on Oct 14, 1973. And on Oct 6, 1976, she also took part in the students’ protest against Field Marshal Thanom when he returned to Thailand to enter the monkhood at Wat Bowon Niwet. The protest at Thammasat University was crushed by government forces and extreme right-wing elements.
‘‘I remember I was still working as a lecturer at Mahidol University at the time and was about to study for a doctorate degree in the United States,’’ she said.
‘‘After I saw many people and students being shot and killed by the military during the protest in 1973 at the foot of Pin Klao Bridge, I told myself that I had to stay in the country and decided to join the student movement to fight against the dictatorial regime of Field Marshal Thanom,’’ Ms Thida said.
Ms Thida said the October 1973 student uprising had completely changed her life from a woman who liked travel, fashion and entertainment to someone with a passion for politics and social issues.
And again, when Gen Suchida Kraprayoon took up the premiership in May 1992, Ms Thida joined her husband Dr Weng in a street protest to demand his resignation. Shortly after the end of the Suchinda regime, Ms Thida and Dr Weng founded the Campaign for Popular Democracy to educate people about democracy and their right to freedom of expression.
The new chairman of the UDD said she visited her husband and other former red shirt leaders in prison every day.
Everyone was still hopeful that more red shirt supporters and other people who saw injustice and inequality in Thai society would join the UDD to renew the fight.
She said even though these people were still imprisoned, they have continued to give useful advice for the red shirt supporters to fight for justice.
With the UDD announcing their renewed campaign against what they term ‘‘double standards’’ in the judiciary system, Ms Thida, as the new leader of the movement, will play a key role in leading the red shirts to get their voices heard.
era – a period of time that has a particular quality or character ยุค, สมัย
diehard – strongly opposing change and new ideas หัวดื้อ, หัวรั้น, ซึ่งไม่ยอมเปลี่ยนแปลง
weather – to come safely through a difficult period or experience รอดพ้นจากอุปสรรค
quell – to cause a violent situation to end ยุติความรุนแรง
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) – the group originally formed to demonstrate against the 2006 coup and which supported the Somchai Wongsawat government against the PAD and which is now leading the fight against the current government. They are known for wearing red shirts แนวร่วมประชาธิปไตยต่อต้านเผด็จการแห่งชาต
chapter – era; a period of time in a person's life or in history ยุค, สมัย
perceived – thought of or understood in a particular way ได้รับการมองว่า
injustice – failure to treat someone fairly and to respect their rights ความไม่ยุติธรรม
inequality – a situation in which people are not equal because some groups have more opportunities, power, money etc than others ความไม่เสมอภาค
appoint – to choose someone officially for a job or responsibility แต่งตั้ง,ตั้งให้เป็น
detained – kept in a place and not allowed to leave กักตัว ควบคุมตัวหรือฝากขัง
activist – someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation นักกิจกรรม
moderate – a person who has opinions, especially about politics, that are not extreme ผู้ที่มีความคิดไม่รุนแรง (โดยเฉพาะทางการเมือง)
violence – physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง
reason – a fact that makes it right or fair to do something; the power of the mind to think in a logical way, to understand and have opinions, etc ความมีเหตุผล, การใช้เหตุผล
means – methods; ways วิธี, วิธีการ
cause – movement; an aim, idea, or organisation that you support or work for วัตถุประสงค์ อุดมการณ์
principle – a basic rule or belief about what is right หลักการ
image – an opinion that people have about someone or something ภาพลักษณ์
hard-core – of people who have extreme ideas and who are not likely to change them ยึดมั่นในหลักการ
protest – a meeting or rally, sometimes forceful or violent, of people who strongly disagree with something ชุมนุมประท้วง
movement – a group of people who share the same aim and work together to achieve it การเคลื่อนไหวเพื่อวัตถุประสงค์ทางการเมือง
coup (d’etat) – the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces รัฐประหาร
pin their hopes on – to depend on someone or something to succeed ไว้วางใจใน, เชื่อใจใน
justice - fairness in the way people are dealt with ความเป็นธรรม, ความถูกต้อง, ความยุติธรรม
let down – to fail to do what someone who trusts you wanted you to do ทำให้ผิดหวัง
no stranger to – to be familiar with something because you have experienced it many times before คุ้นเคยกับ
pharmaceutical – connected with the production of medicines เกี่ยวกับเภสัชกรรม, เกี่ยวกับยา
decade – a period of ten years ทศวรรษ
oust – to force to leave a position of power ขับออกจากอำนาจ
crushed – defeated using force or violence ปราบให้ราบคาบด้วยกำลังทหาร
extreme – considered unreasonable by many people ที่สุดโต่ง
right-wing – the part of a political party or group whose members are least in favour of social change พวกฝ่ายขวา,พวกอนุรักษนิยม
elements – sets or groups of people องค์ประกอบ
doctorate degree – the highest degree or qualification from a university ปริญญาเอก
dictatorial – using power in an unreasonable way by telling people what to do and not listening to their views or wishes อย่างเผด็จการ
regime – a government that controls a country, especially in a strict or unfair way รัฐบาลที่ขึ้นมาปกครองโดยการยึดอำนาจ
uprising – a political situation in which a large group of people opposes and tries to defeat the government or a ruler การลุกฮือขึ้นก่อการปฏิวัติ
passion – a strong enthusiasm or interest ความชื่นชม หลงใหล
issue – matter; a subject that people discuss or argue about ประเด็น
resignation – the act of leaving a job permanently ลาออกจากตำแหน่ง
found – to start an organisation, company, political party etc สร้าง, ก่อตั้ง, สถาปนา
expression – things that people say, write or do in order to show their feelings, opinions and ideas การแสดงความคิด, การแสดงออก
renew – to start something again เริ่มใหม่
imprisoned – punished by being put in prison จำคุก
campaign – a series of actions intended to produce political or social change การรณรงค์
double standard – a rule or standard of good behaviour which, unfairly, some people are expected to follow or achieve but other people are not สองมาตรฐาน
judiciary – the part of a country's government which is responsible for its legal system and which consists of all the judges in the country's courts of law คณะตุลาการ, คณะผู้พิพากษา
key – very important ที่สำคัญ
play a role – to carry out a particular function or duty มีบทบาท