When the military ran its coup in 2014 one of its immediate goals was, along with the Puea Thai Party, to neuter the red shirts. The red shirts were seen as an existential threat having established themselves throughout the country and especially in the Central, Northeast and Northern regions. The red shirt ideology was in support of electoral democracy and its supporters included groups considered willing to oppose the military’s violence with violence of their own.
More than any other group, the military identified the red shirts as political enemies and it put considerable efforts into de-fanging, disrupting and disorganizing them.
Recent media reports suggest that the junta may be congratulating itself on its anti-red shirt efforts and has caused the official red shirts to react.
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) “have slammed suspected efforts by the Sam Mitr Group (Three Allies) to poach their members to support Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha returning as premier after the next election.”
They were reacting to rumors, now confirmed, that Surin’s Theppanom Namlee, described as “a key member of the … Surin red-shirt group…”.
While Nattawut Saikua and other key UDD figures panned the Three Traitors and damned them for underhanded tactics, it does appear that the junta and its allies associated with the hastily manufactured Palang Pracharath Party, with massive state funds and human resources, are having some success in fracturing the coalition that has held through years of political repression and legal harassment.
If the junta is having this kind of (negative) success, no one should be too surprised. After all, the state is skilled at such tactics and has used them for decades to splinter opposition.
What is a fly in the political ointment is the junta’s realization that it can only “win” its own rigged election by allying with people it previously despised as republicans and Thaksinites.