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NEWS IN BRIEF: Red District Movement Expands into Khon Kaen

2012 January 24
by The Isaan Record

KHON KAEN – This past Sunday morning, Red Shirt politicians, DJs, local leaders, and hundreds of villagers gathered in Ubolratana district’s Khok Glang Nong Lai village to celebrate the opening of 68 newly minted Red Villages, as well as the inauguration of the province’s first official Red District.

“I hereby open this Red District, [made up of] Villages for Democracy that are safe from drugs and that have strong community economies,” Khon Kaen MP Thanik Masripitak said to cheers and the nearby boom of fireworks. Mr. Thanik is the Pheu Thai MP spearheading the movement’s expansion into Khon Kaen.

Villagers from Nong Lai Village receive a blessing as they represent their community in a processional that officially marked their village's opening as Red.

Mr. Thanik’s remarks reflect the same platforms that the movement has in its birthplace, Udon Thani. There too, the movement’s chief architect and local Red Radio DJ, Ms. Ratanawan Suksala, began opening Red Districts last year not just as a show of organizational power (as its earlier incarnation, the Red Village movement), but to help fight drug use and to ensure local economic stability.

But where in Udon Thani many of the villages in these Red Districts had been previously inaugurated as Red, in Khon Kaen’s Ubolratana district, prior to Sunday’s ceremony only three villages had been established. This sudden surge of support, Red District Officer and local businessman Sirisak Nojit explains, is a sign of the country’s changing political tides.

“Before people were scared [to show themselves], but now time has passed and people are showing that they’re red,” he said.

Here in Ubolratana, at least, that showing has been quite strong. At least 70-80% of a district’s inhabitants must agree to a Red title before the district can be inaugurated, Mr. Sirisak explained. And in Ubolratana, he said, the figure was closer to 90%, with every village collectively approving the informal door-to-door referendum.

In the coming months, more Khon Kaen Red Shirts will be showing their colors. Phra Yun district is scheduled to be inaugurated on February 19, to be followed soon after by the Nai Muang sub-district of Khon Kaen city.

[Note February 20, 2012: Though Ubolratana was inaugurated as a Red District by MP Thanik, the Federation of Red Villages does not currently recognize the district as Red.]

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Sam Deedes permalink
    January 29, 2012

    Where is there written chapter and verse of how a Red District is set up? What democratic safeguards are built in to protect the non-red minority? Who is monitoring the development of these Red Districts? What are the practical benefits apart from the feel good factor?

  2. September 5, 2012

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  3. September 9, 2012

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  4. The Isaan Record permalink*
    February 9, 2012


    There are no written regulations regarding the erection of Red Districts that have been made available to reporters.
    There are also no democratic safeguards to protect the non-Red minority, as became apparent in the case at Non Reuang in Khon Kaen.
    There is no single person monitoring the development of the Red Districts. Red Shirt representatives from different provinces spearhead the movement in their own provinces.
    The claimed practical benefits are three:
    1. Create a wider, stronger network in which democratic values are more easily spread
    2. Establish a network of guards that help control drug abuse in local communities
    3. Promote local markets that sell one product from each village to promote economic stability and entrepreneurialism at the village level.

  5. Sam Deedes permalink
    February 17, 2012

    Thanks for this. It seems there are a lot of areas here worthy of further study, especially point 2 in the light of Chalerm’s recent comments about the death penalty.

    I wish them luck insofar as they tread a non-violent path.

    I also think that they deserve more attention than they are getting. Why am I the only one writing about this?

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