Sunday, October 4, 2020

Failed SCB/Shopee/Mulan Boycotts Reveal Unpopularity of Thai Protests

How foreign funding and dishonest media made the protests look "popular" and how the reality of lost elections, failed rallies, and ignored boycotts have exposed just how unpopular they really are. 

October 5, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - Thailand's so-called "pro-democracy" protests - led by the billionaire-led opposition and backed by the US government - claim to represent the majority of Thais. Yet in the 2019 general elections, several local elections since, and now through a series of failed boycotts and even flopped rallies - it is becoming clear that the "pro-democracy" movement was little more than a heavily funded but otherwise artificial influence operation. 

SCB "Boycott" Ignored by Entire Nation 

It was during the "major" September 19, 2020 rally in which not even a third of Sanam Luang park was filled by protesters that calls to "boycott" Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) were made. 

Bangkok Post and its Western partners at Reuters in their article, "BoT not worried about banking liquidity amid SCB boycott call," would claim: 

Student leader Parit Chiwarak spoke on the stage on Saturday, urging people to withdraw money from SCB due to its link with the monarchy. His Majesty the King is the biggest shareholder of the bank, according to the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

The protest itself was a flop - with "hundreds of thousands" expected to attend but less than 20,000 actually showing up - and most of them visibly billionaire fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra's paid and bused-in "red shirt" protesters rather than "students" and "youths" as the Western media and its Thai partners had claimed for months.  

READ MORE: "Major" US-Funded Anti-Government Rally FLOPS in Thailand

The boycott was even more futile. 

Even SCB stock shares - a metric that represents often volatile investor confidence - was unaffected. Massive withdrawals and account closures never happened and the bank continues doing business as if nothing happened.

Despite obvious evidence that the Thai people do not support the protests or their calls for boycotting SCB - hashtags calling for the boycott "trended" on Twitter as if the public did somehow support it. This is because the protests are essentially an artificial influence operation - not a genuine popular movement - with "popularity" simply paid for and carefully crafted by its sponsors through their control of key media platforms including social media networks like US-based Twitter. 

"Ban Shopee" Also Flops

Another one of these "trending hashtags" on Twitter was "BanShopee." 

Op-eds by regularly dishonest writers like Paritta Wangkiat of Bangkok Post - and a regular contributor to the Washington Post - claimed: 

Overnight, the #BanShopee hashtag climbed to the top of Thailand's Twitter trends. The virtual turbulence came after a core member of the Progressive Movement complained that its online shop was banned on Shopee, one of the leading e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia.

The ban was called by Thailand's billionaire-led opposition via Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit's "Progressive Movement" after Shopee refused to allow its platform to be used by them to promote sedition in Thailand.  

Shopee is how tens of thousands of Thais make a living by hosting their online stores there. The app itself used by consumers and merchants alike has over 200 million downloads and is used by people all across Southeast Asia. 

Despite the "virtual turbulence" created on US-based social media network Twitter - the "ban" itself had zero impact on Shopee's daily business. If people couldn't be bothered to travel 10-20 minutes to join the protests at the center of Bangkok - why would they close their bank accounts or online stores - two things their daily lives depend on? 

Each call for boycotting is meant as an attack on Thailand and the nation's most important institutions, businesses, and its economic stability. But each call for boycotting has instead backfired as very visible indicators of just how unpopular the protesters themselves are.  

Shopee made the right decision. The protests are clearly unpopular and the continued disruption of the entire country by a loud, unpopular minority openly backed by foreign interests and corrupt opposition groups will only hurt Thailand and its economy - particularly as Thailand and the rest of the world struggles to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. 

Shopee - which depends on the economic stability of not only Thailand but of Asia as a whole - does not benefit from allowing protesters to use its platform to destabilize Thailand or the region.

When considering these protests are US-backed and ultimately aimed at spreading unrest across the rest of Southeast Asia to undermine China - Shopee and other local businesses stand nothing at all to gain by allowing their services to be abused by these opposition groups. 

"Ban Mulan" vs. Mulan Being Thailand's Best Performing Movie of the Year 

Illustrating how Thailand's fake "pro-democracy" movement is in fact a US-backed regional movement aimed at China - was efforts by the opposition to "ban" the Disney movie Mulan in Thailand - a ban called for in "solidarity" with US-funded opposition groups in Hong Kong. 

READ MORE: US-Funded Agitators in Hong Kong Back Thai Protests

Calls to boycott the movie also "trended" on Twitter yet even Khaosod - a media organization owned by the corrupt billionaire-led opposition - admitted in an article titled, "What Boycott? 'Mulan' Becomes 2020's Top Box Office Earner," that: 

Box office report on Wednesday said Disney’s “Mulan” grossed almost 50 million baht in less than a week after it opened to Thai cinemas, securing its place as the biggest silver screen earner this year. 

Major Cineplex and SF Cinema, the two dominating theaters in the country, posted on social media that the live-action remake was their highest-earning weekend opening in 2020, in spite of the attempts by some activists to boycott the film to show solidarity with the protests in Hong Kong.

Again - if losing multiple elections and failing to fill up moderately-sized public areas with protests wasn't enough evidence of how unpopular these protesters and their demands are - their failed "boycotts" utterly ignored by the public despite what Khaosod itself admitted was "extensive coverage by multiple Western news agencies" fully reveals what is portrayed as a "popular movement" to be instead a poorly executed influence operation. 

Giant Foreign-Funded Influence Operation, Not Real Protests 

Protest leader Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak  - who called for the SCB boycott - had been revealed to have visited the US Embassy on at least two occasions where he admittedly discussed Thailand's internal political affairs with US Ambassador Glyn Davies - a US diplomat trained specifically in the use of "non-military instruments in persuasive, inducement, and coercive strategies." 

READ MORE: Thai "Student" Protest Leader Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak Visited US Embassy At Least Twice

Virtually every aspect of the protests people like Parit claim to lead are funded by the US government via its notorious regime change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) with everything from core leaders, to media organizations, to groups petitioning for the rewrite of Thailand's constitution, to even groups bringing physical protesters to rallies - all receiving US government money and support. 

READ MORE: The Complete Guide: US Government Role in Thailand's "Student Protests"

Also behind the protests are Thailand's corrupt billionaire-led opposition. This includes not only fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party, but also Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his Future Forward/Move Forward and Progressive Movement. Both billionaires and their respective political organizations are not only linked to each other, but also receive significant support from the US government and the Western corporate media. 

On US-based social media networks like Facebook and Twitter - accounts that attempt to expose or challenge US-backed protests are regularly purged, deleted, censored, shadow-banned, or buried by deliberately manipulative algorithms.

Coordinated inauthentic behavior carried out on behalf of anti-government protests including through the use of bots and sock-puppet accounts to regularly get Twitter hashtags "trending" is protected rather than prohibited by Twitter. Additionally, entire articles and op-eds from the Western media and their local Thai partners are put out to portray these manipulated trends as "metrics" of the protest's popularity.

The fact that calls to boycott banks, businesses, and even movies can trend so widely on Facebook and Twitter and receive so much media coverage by the West and their Thai partners - yet be so completely ignored by the general public illustrates just how inauthentic the protests themselves are and exposes them as an influence operation rather than any sort of genuine protest.  It also exposes how dishonest the media organizations attempting to promote these protests are. 

The Thai government for its part - despite being accused of being a "brutal dictatorship" by the opposition - has demonstrated extreme patience in dealing with what by definition is sedition, treason, and foreign interference. This patience has allowed the protesters themselves to reveal their true nature, agenda, and methods - all things that are entirely unappealing when the mask of being "pro-democracy" and "progressive" falls away. 

It is a mask that cannot be put back on. 

No matter how poorly things look for the protests at the moment - there is still no room for complacency. 

Media must be created and supported to expose not only the protests but the methods used by the protest's sponsors to build up the illusion of their popularity and to manipulate public perception. At the same time, efforts must be made to drain the swamps of poor education, poverty, and ignorance the opposition breeds what little public support it has in. 

Nations like China have proven that economic progress is an essential ingredient to not only social stability, but also the greatest protection against malign foreign interference.