The Thai monarchy is very, very rich and owns a lot Thailand. (How Thailand’s Royal Manage to Own All the Good Stuff )
Some 69% of Thailand's population are rural dwellers.
Around 29.9% of the population are desperately poor earning 44 US dollars (1,606 baht), or less, per month. (Thailand - Population, Poverty and Prostitution)
In Thailand, it looks as if there is a divide between (1) the mass of the people and (2) the Monarchy, the Military and various other members of the rich and often corrupt elite.
In Thailand, a bunch of 'fascist' thugs called the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) managed to topple the popular Prime Minister.
Well fed, wealthy PAD. Photo by Craig Martell - originally posted to Flickr as Bangkok Protests on 26 August 2008
The BBC's Jonathan Head, 0n 3 December 2008, asks: How did Thai protesters manage it?
Jonathan Head makes the following points:
1. Thailand, a country that is relatively advanced and that is dependent on exports and tourism, allowed Bangkok airport to be controlled by a mob that never numbered more than a few thousand.
2. The local governor asked the army for help. The army failed to help.
3. One of the many retired generals supporting the airport occupation stated that PAD should be seen as a military organisation.
Behind the public face of PAD are "squads of hoodlums, armed with batons, metal spikes and hand-guns who man the barricades and hunt down intruders."
Jonathan Head relates: "One morning I followed them as they dragged an alleged government spy off to an undisclosed location, kicking and punching him...
"Some of these thugs are members of private armies run by retired generals."
4. Who is behind the PAD?
"Thai businesses are widely believed to be financing the movement, including at least two national banks."
"There are also plenty of former military commanders offering their help to the PAD - people like General Pathompong Kesornsuk, who has openly urged the army to launch a coup against the government."
"One of the top PAD leaders is Chamlong Srimuang, a former general with close ties to Gen Pren Tinsulanonda, the king's most senior advisor."
"Senior figures close to the palace have openly supported the movement."
"The queen offered to preside over the funeral last month of a PAD protestor."
"The government and its rural followers believe there is a palace-army-elite conspiracy to rob them of their electoral mandate."
What is the CIA's interest in Thailand?
Paul De Rienzo, 23 October 2008, interviewed Alfred W. McCoy, professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Wisconsin (The Politics of Heroin; CIA Complicity In The Global Drug Trade)
According to McCoy:
"Mike Levine said that he wanted to go up country to Chiangmai, the heroin capital of Southeast Asia at that point, the finance and processing center and hub of an enterprise.
"He wanted to make some major seizures.
"Through a veiled series of cut outs in the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, instructions were passed to his superiors in the DEA, who told him he couldn't go up and make the bust.
"He was pulled off the case.
"He said it wasn't until he read my book a number of years later that he understood the politics of what was going on and he realized why he had been pulled off.
"All of the upland drug lords that were producing the narcotic, the heroin, were in fact CIA assets."
September 2006: Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled in a miliary coup.
1. Helped the poor
2. Clamped down on drugs (although there is evidence that some of the people shot by police were innocent - Cached)
3. Been friendly to China.
February 2008: Samak Sundaravej sworn in as prime minister
August 2008: PAD protesters occupy government buildings, demanding the government step down
September 2008: Mr Samak dismissed 'for violating conflict of interest law'. Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin's brother-in-law, becomes prime minister
26 November 2008: Anti-government protesters take control of Bangkok's main airport
2 December 2008: Thai court rules that PM Somchai should be banned from politics, and his party should be dissolved
3 December 2008: Protesters vacate Bangkok airports