Throughout the day, UDD co-leaders engaged with 2,000 local grassroots activists on the core beliefs and principles of the Red Shirt movement. While the day’s most pressing issues of amnesty for political prisoners and amending the constitution were discussed, the school focused on the movement’s long term goal of overcoming the amaat power structure that continues to undermine democracy in Thailand.
The amaat system is based on an old elite network of patronage that survived the abolition of the absolute monarchy in 1932. It comprises Thailand’s old moneyed elites, military generals, and high-ranking civil servants.
UDD leader Tida Tawornseth explains,
The amaat system depends on military and economic power to protect the interests of the few. The system holds back economic and technological developments, and hinders social mobility. The amaat are stuck in the past.