Monday, March 30, 2009

Thaksin" Are you OK? Not really....

"Thaksin: Are You OK?" is the title of a new book by "Jiab" -- the former Channel 5 news anchor who first wrote: "Thaksin: Where are You?" that shot her to fame.

I haven't seen the book. It's supposed to hit the newsstand in a day or two. But Jiab says her boss in the army has already summoned her for a talk about the new book.

The new book, she says, is based on her new interviews with Thaksin who will talk about the "lessons" he has learned in exile.

It's not really the content that is the issue. It's the timing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blood gets into his eyes...

In Thai expressions, when "blood gets into your eyes," it means you have lost control of your own emotions. Your go all out. You up the ante. You go for broke. And you could become very reckless and uncontrollably aggressive. You burn all your bridges. And then you paint yourself into a corner from which you can't get out without getting seriously harmed.

That's what Thaksin Shinawatra did last night when he appeared on the video link (from somewhere in Africa) to name Gen Prem Tinsulanonda as the "person with extra-constitutional power" who was behind his ouster. Thaksin also named Gen Surayud Chullanont as the other main culprit that was responsible for the Sept 19, 2006 coup against him.

Both Prem and Surayud have consistently denied that they were part of the plot to remove Thaksin from his post.

What, then, was the real motive behind Thaksin's "suicide bombing mission?"

My guess is that he was hoping that the decision to go all out against Prem and Surayud would force the powers-that-be to negotiate with him so that he could return to Thailand, with a general amnesty that would put everything "back to square one" --as he put it.

His proposals towards the end of his heated speech were revealing enough. He said the only way out of the impasse is to call a new election and to amend the constitution. "I myself won't run but let the other members of the 111 banned Thai Rak Thai MPs compete."

He began the speech with a bang but ended with a whimper. Now you know why.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The city is no home for elephants, right?

If things go as promised by the new Bangkok governor, you won't see elephants roaming the city any more. But they won't disappear immediately. M.R. Sukhumbhand Baripat says it will take two years before all the estimated 200 "city pachyderms" can find permanent homes outside the capital.

It's still a mystery to me as to why it takes such a long time to solve such a longstanding problem.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Prem on Thaksin: He hears without listening

Gen Prem Tinsulanonda has always made it a point not to comment on Thaksin Shinawatra's public remarks. And when he finally changed his policy yesterday, he did it with style.

He made a forceful comment by saying: "I am not really interested."

Of course, he was very, very interested in what Thaksin has been saying about him and other members of the Privy Council. But the chief privy councillor chose to underline his strong reaction by appearing not to pay attention to those biting words.

When a reporter asked Gen Prem about Thaksin's latest "phone-in" comments that were negative about privy councillors, the response was a cool and calculated: "I am sorry. But I haven't been listening to his speeches, no matter how many times he has spoken."

Another reporter pressed on: Would Thaksin's comments make things worse?

Gen Prem: "I can't really answer that question because I haven't paid attention to what he has been saying."

Does he want Thaksin to halt his activities? Will he give a warning to Thaksin?

Gen Prem responded: "You have already said it."

Does that he mean he wants to warn Thaksin against what he has been saying?

"I have warned him many times already..."

You don't have to be a political pundit to read between the lines and to know why Gen Prem says he hasn't been listening to what Thaksin has to say.

It's hearing without listening.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chalerm: I just don't have the clout to oust Abhisit

Chalerm Yoobamrung, having failed to oust PM Abhisit Vejjajiva in the much-touted no-confidence debate March 19-20, has admitted that he lacks the necessary clout to undermine the government.

"I don't have the political capital to achieve what I set out to do," he said after PM Abhisit and his five other Cabinet members targetted in the censure motion managed to survive the vote. In fact, at least nine of his Pheau Thai MPs either defected or abstained in the crucial vote.

"I will consider resigning from my position as chairman of MPs of the party," Chalerm said.

He apparently failed to live up to his promise with the Big Boss, Thaksin Shinawatra, who had assigned Chalerm to deliver a knock-out blow to the Abhisit government.

Not only was there no knock-out blow. The boomerang effect on Pheau Thai Party was almost devastating.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Not exactly a big yawn

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva didn't really fall asleep during yesterday's censure debate against him. In fact, he put up a fierce counter-attack. Polls say his main rival, opposition leader Chalerm Yoobamrung, didn't really deliver a knock-out blow. Instead, what stole the headlines in the local newspapers this morning was the foul language used and the "middle-finger" gesture by an opposition MP.

Abac Poll said 34% of the respondents thought Chalerm's attack against the PM was credible while 62% tended to think Abhisit was more credible in his counter arguments.

To be fair though, Chalerm did produce 27 copies of the cheques used in the mysterious transfers of Bt258million from TPI to the Democrat Party. Abhisit himself might have been able to detach himself from the case because he was a deputy leader, not the main character, then. But the evidence produced by the opposition did tarnish the Democrat Party's overall image. The debate, while not fatal, would certainly leave a scar or two.

I am closely following today's debate that will focus on Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. The first day's showdown came to an end at around 1.30 am and will resume at 9.00 this morning.

Stay tuned and get my latest thoughts on the debate in this blog.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let the real debate begin

The opposition's censure debate against five Cabinet members,including Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, begins at 9.30 today. Thaksin's Pheau Thai Party will have to prove that it can operate as a real opposition party that can effectively grill the Democrat-led government.

Of course, I am talking about substance, not just hot rhetoric. We shall see what happens in the next 48 hours.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thaksin steps up his 'phone-in' offensive

Thaksin Shinawatra has stepped up his "phone-in" offensive, hoping to keep his chances of returning to power alive. But the harder he tries, the more he seems trapped in his own illusion. His phone calls have all also emboldened his supporters to resort to more violent acts. A ping-pong bomb was thrown in Pathum Thani on Saturday near where Deputy Premier Suthep Thuagsuban was taking part in a local event.

Yesterday, the former premier made at least two "phone-in appearances" at the gatherings of the "red-shirted protestors." In the morning, he was calling into a rally at a temple in Minburi, on Bangkok's suburbs. In the evening, his voice was heard in the eastern province of Chantaburi.

The messages were more or less the same. Thaksin was telling his supporters to cheer up and to come out against the Abhisit government so that he could return to power at home.

At one point, he even played the role of a mob instigator. Thaksin told the protestors to join what he described as a "big rally" on March 29 to demonstrate their support for Thaksin and against Abhisit.

It seems Thaksin is getting more desperate by the day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Now, Thaksin says he should thank the coup-makers

With a tongue-in-cheek tone, Thaksin Shinawatr said today that he should probably thank the military for freezing his assets in Thai banks -- because he could have otherwise made unwise investments in stocks and might have lost all his fortune.

"I don't know whether I should condemn or thank the military junta when they froze my assets in Thailand, otherwise I probably would have invested a lot in the stock exchange and lost it," he said.

Thaksin finally made his long-promoted live televised speech to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong today. The speech was also relayed on to the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand.

But then, he showed his real intention when he added: "I hope I can get it back too because it's my family's money."

That, it seems, is the more difficult part of his struggle with Thai authorities.

It seems to me that Thaksin was reading from a prepared text when he commented on the financial meltdown in the United States. The phrases and expressions he used didn't seem natural to him. He blamed on "financial wizards" and "slumbering regulators"

But when the question-answer session came, the exchange was mostly about his personal life and not about the world recession.

"I wish to see my country back to normal but if you want to (have) clapping hands, you need both hands, not just one. Both sides need to reach an agreement," he said.

Would you want to buy this house?

What if the neighbours say the same thing about this guy?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Should Jiles decide to meet Abhisit in London...

Will there be a face-to-face meeting between PM Abhisit Vejjajiva and Jiles Ungphakorn in London later this week?

Jiles is on the run from an arrest warrant against him on lese majeste charge. He has issued a strongly-worded statement explaining his position on the country's monarchy. PM Abhisit is scheduled to visit England March 13-14 during which he is expected to give a talk at Oxford University, his alma mater.

Acting government spokesman Panitan Watanayakorn said yesterday that he had heard news that Jiles may be attending the PM's lecture.

What will Jiles tell the PM and vice versa? That promises to be very interesting indeed, in view of their vastly divergent stands on the lese majeste law in Thailand and the heated debate that has been going on, both in the open and behind the scenes.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The curious case of a flying sandal

Caught in the act was this sandal which was flying over the head of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday when he was visiting a local health station in the central province of Lopburi.

Bottles and posters were also hurled in the direction of the premier but they all missed him.

The premier could still manage a smile when informed of the incident. "I don't really mind," he told reporters. "All I want is to find out just what the protestors really want."

Well, obviously,they don't want him, that's for sure. As to the reason why, he will have to ask Thaksin Shinawtra.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Yellow Shirts to form party...what about Red Shirts?

I am all for the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)'s decision to set up a political party instead of returning to "street politics" which may have lost its effectiveness now that the red-shirts have virtually copied PAD's every move.

News has leaked that PAD's core leaders have taken the steps to form a political party, tentatively called "Candle of Justice," so that they could pursue "new politcs" in an open, transparent and persistent way.

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva has said he is in favour of more competition in the political arena.

Now the the "Yellow Shirts" have opted to form a party, the "Red Shirts" should do the same, to avoid being called Thaksin Shinawatra's nominee.