Mellowed version of Red Shirt leader back on TV

Mellowed version of Red Shirt leader back on TV
SYMBOLIC: Mr Jatuporn’s return to television suggests that anti-coup forces are dormant but not dead.

But in Thailand's stifling post-coup climate, the firebrand leader of the once mighty "Red Shirts" welcomes any chance to reach his supporters.

Mr Jatuporn Prompan, chairman of the Red Shirt street movement which backed the toppled government of Yingluck Shinawatra, is back on the small screen after the ruling junta lifted a ban on Thailand's sharply polarised political channels.

For years, his rabble-rousing rhetoric on television was staple viewing in the Red heartlands of northern Thailand, where Ms Yingluck and her billionaire brother Thaksin Shinawatra are adored for their pro-poor policies.

VIRTUES OF LOVE

Rebranded as "Peace TV", Mr Jatuporn's show now espouses, in melancholic verses, the virtues of love and Buddhism. This is a far cry from the tirades against the "ammart", or Bangkok-based elite, and its supporters who loathe the Shinawatra clan.

"The road is not strewn with roses," crooned the 49-year-old in a pre-recorded song between programmes. "But we must continue to dream, no matter how difficult it is."

The channel's studio, which is to be found tucked inside a shopping centre in north Bangkok, is one of the few public outlets available to opponents of the coup, AFP reported.

Anti-coup voices, including lawmakers from the former ruling Puea Thai party, academics and students' groups, have been silenced after the army summoned dissenters, outlawed political gatherings and censored the media.

Mr Jatuporn's return to television is symbolic, suggesting that anti-coup forces are dormant but not dead.

But even he concedes that these days, he can meet fellow Red leaders at only "funerals or weddings".


This article was first published on October 17, 2014.

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