The current popular uproar manifested in street protests and the countless messages posted in the social media is not just about the blanket amnesty bill.
It is also about the scourge of corruption, with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra the symbol of this crime, because it is widely believed that he is the one who will benefit the most if the bill is passed into law.
Like a contagious virus, the tumult has spread far and fast across the country since last Thursday, when the Democrats led by Suthep Thaugsuban began their protest at Samsen railway station.
University lecturers who are usually cautious about getting involved in a political conflict have suddenly awoken to the adverse consequences of this bill and decided to join the protest against it.
Anti-amnesty protesters led by the Democrat Party seize Democracy Monument in Bangkok on Oct 4, 2013. Bangkok Post file photo.
However, Chulalongkorn university’s lecturers and alumni have gone a step further with a planned march from the campus to the City Hall gallery, just a stone’s throw away, scheduled for 3pm Tuesday as a symbolic show of their opposition to the revised amnesty bill.
White-collar workers joined the protest in Silom road on Monday in an unprecedented show of defiance that surpassed all previous protests held there. A second protest is scheduled on Wednesday and is likely to draw a huge crowd.
And despite the small numbers, the brief protest by some 100 officials of the Commerce Ministry on Monday appears to be most significant. They are the first group of government officials to join the protest. Some of the protesters said they wanted to set a model for their colleagues in the other ministries, to show they that believe what they did was right and they wanted to show it publicly.
I really cannot help applauding the courage of these officials, whose free expression on this divisive issue may offend their bosses. And I hope they will not be punished or reprimanded by their superiors.
Strangely, 40 years after the student-led uprising that resulted to the overthrow of the Thanom-Praphas-Narong military dictatorship and the onset of democratic rule, the current political atmosphere, in which people of diverse occupations have risen up to protest against the amnesty bill, bears some semblance to the atmosphere leading up to the events of Oct 14, 1973.
Whether current protests can bring about the momentum for change is beyond my ability to predict.
Conversely, it is very disappointing that the three leading organisation in business business circles - the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Thai Bankers Association and the Federation of Thai Industries - have choosen instead to be Thai choey, opting to be outsiders, doing nothing and adopting a wait and see position.
The indecision on the part of these three organisations prompted the business oriented anti-corruption network led by Pramon Sutheewong to go it alone and join the protest.
Are you one of those Thai choey, like the three business organisations? One of those selfish people who care only about themselves and don’t mind it a bit if their country is going down the gutter because of the corrupters, cheats and crooks in the political and bureaucratic circles?