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"White Shirts" take stage as Thailand remains divided

A new group of demonstrators, calling themselves the “White Shirts”, have emerged in Thailand’s colour-coded street politics.

BANGKOK: A new group of demonstrators, calling themselves the “White Shirts”, have emerged in Thailand’s colour-coded street politics.

With their chants of "we want to vote", the White Shirts have been holding candle-light vigils around Bangkok and several other provinces daily.

Their number may not be as big as other groups and they do not have prominent leaders or fancy protest stages, but their message is simple: they want the February 2 election to go ahead.

This is because they believe the ballot box is the best way forward for the country.

"We believe in democracy and the election is an important democratic process,” said Ms Morragotwong Phumplab, university lecturer and White Shirts supporter.

“Why do I come out to light candles? I don't usually engage in political activism, but sometimes I publicly express my views. I feel that the candle vigils will help bring about peace."

Some have accused the White Shirts of being closet Red Shirts because of their pro-democracy stance.

However, the group itself argues otherwise.

Some White Shirts even share views similar to the wholesale political reform aspiration voiced by Suthep Thaugsuban; yet ultimately the differences lie in the fact that the group is pro-election.

"People are making you take sides. If you aren't ‘Yellow’ then you're ‘Red’. Everyone thinks that ‘if you aren't with us then you're with the other side’. And this makes things difficult,” said Mr Sujane Kanparit, columnist and White Shirts supporter.

“There is no longer a space for us to stand. If I don't agree with one side, they'll push me to the other side. And the other side doesn't agree with me either."

As tension remains on the streets of Bangkok and the validity of the vote is put under the spotlight, some Thais are finding it increasingly difficult to take sides. It is clear that many Thai citizens want to bring stability back to the country.

The White Shirts claim to symbolise peace -- a prospect that remains a distant one while political polarisation remains. 

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