Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nostalgia of failed ex-communists?

At first, I thought it was nothing more than nostalgia. But it seems they might want the public to take them seriously when they indicated that they might return to the way of the guerrillas of the now-defunct Communist Party of Thailand (CPT).

That's probably why Surachai Danwatananusorn (previously Surachai Sae Dan) was dressed in the uniform of an ex-guerrilla of the CPT on Monday when he gave himself up to the local police of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Surachai, one of the red-shirted leaders, has been charged with joining others to violently crash into the Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya two weeks ago resulting in the cancellation of the Asean Plus Six summit.

One of the key red-shirts, Jakrapob Penkhair, who has fled abroad, has said the anti-government movement may have to adopt an armed struggle to overthrow the Abhisit government.

There have been talks from within some red-shirts of returning to the guerrilla warfare of the CPT. Government intelligence sources have also suggested that some of the anti-government elements may be considering employing the old CPT's subversive tactics.

So, why did Thaksin Shinawatr, the biggest red-shirt of them all, came out today with a statement that he would strongly oppose any use of force?

Who's really confused now?
I can't help but think these romantic ex-communists are out of touch with reality.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The mess Thaksin left behind at Manchester City

A blogger at TheSportBlog in the Guardian's website had this to say in one of the latest entries:

"Few at (Manchester) City doubt that Thaksin (Shinawatra) used the club to boost his own standing in Thailand. Thai dignitaries were entertained at matches and the City team taken on a tour of the country -- for which, the accounts who, 47,912 pounds was paid for PR services to a company owned by Thaksin's son, Panthongtae Shinawatra.

The blog continues: "Thaksin's own total contribution has been itemised: 17.5 million pounds to pay off Wardle and Makin's 20 million pound loans, and he also lent the club 21 million pounds, at annual interest rates of up to 11.83%..."

(Manchester City were sold to Thaksin because the former major shareholders, John Wardle and David Makin, could not fund them any further...)

The accounts, covering the year to May 31, 2008, show City lost 33 million pounds up to then under Thaksin...

The blog added: "Thaksin's tumultuous year owning City came perilously close -- as the club's recently published accounts revealed -- to proving the dangers fror Premier League clubs of being up for sale to random rich men.

It was his and City's great fortune to be picked up last August by Sheikh Mansour, who, having spent more than 300 million pounds already, is intent on demonstrating the art of being a good billionaire, the blog said.

Thaksin obviously dumped City like a hot potato when his political mistakes at home finally caught up with him.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thaksin surfaces in Liberia...looking for telecom license

Thaksin Shinawatra has landed in Liberia, western Africa, from Dubai. What's he after? Surprise, surprise. He told Vice President Joseph Baokai that he would like to invest in mining, and a concession in telecommunications as well as Lottery.

Of course, if he reads history, he would realize that Liberia went through a civil war during 1989 and 2003 which had a devastating effect on that country's economy and is only now recovering. Thaksin would do well to read about how Charles Taylor, the former president, had to flee the country when he was charged with serious corruption offences.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let's go colour blind for a while

Red and yellow used to be the most popular colours on the streets. Now, Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva has told his Cabinet to avoid organizing "blue-shirted" people to mark special occasions.

He doesn't want to make blue another "taboo" colour.

The premier told his Cabinet yesterday that it's a good thing that the Interior Ministry is organizing a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King's ascension to the throne on May 5.

"Make sure, though, that they come voluntarily. Don't mobilize them by order," he told his ministers.

When he heard that the ministry's officials were organizing as many as 200,000 "blue-shirted" citizens to mark the occasion, the premier said: "Please, make sure that people aren't told what colour of shirt to wear. Let them wear whatever colour they want. Otherwise, there will be another colour marked as taboo..."

Japan, he said, has already advised its citizens NOT to wear yellow or red when they arrive in Thailand.

I guess our country has plunged into this mess because we have become too "colourful." Let's go colourless for a while.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Look! Sondhi seems ready to bounce back anytime

I can't believe Sondhi Limthongkul, having miraculously survived an assassination attempt in which all kinds of war weapons were used, hasn't made any comment.

This picture from his Manager daily this morning shows him looking good. He seems ready to jump back to an active life. But none of his media outlets has quoted him as saying anything about the biggest story of the week.

But he won't keep quiet for long. With so many well-wishers dropping by to see him at Chula Hospital, Sondhi is bound to make a statement or two about who's behind the move to get rid of him.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Navymen and their secret support for red-shirts

Somkiat Pongpaiboon, a Democrat MP and a core leader of the "yellow shirts," charged last night that some Navymen at Sattahip base had helped guide the "red-shirted protestors" to storm the Pattaya hotel where the Asean Plus Six summit was being held.

"Some police and soldiers were not cooperating with the Abhisit government. The premier couldn't fire some of the officers because of a new law related to the hiring and firing of officers. So, he decided to declare a state of emergency so that as prime minister, he could issue orders to maintain law and order," Somkiat told a gathering of the yellow shirts at a "political concert" in Phuket.

Somkiat also charged that some members of Class 10 of the Army Cadets College -- Thaksin Shinawatr's classmates -- had switched on the "neutral gear" -- meaning that they were not following Abhisit's orders.

Heads must roll now, Somkiat declared, in order to prevent further chaos stirred up by Thaksin and his red-shirted supporters.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thaksin tells FT: Only the King can reconcile the nation

Thaksin Shinawatr continues to talk to the foreign press from Dubai, his latest base before sneaking into Africa. He told the Financial Times that it's time for His Majesty the King to step in -- to intervene "because otherwise there will be more division...and he is the only person who can reconcile the whole country."

Can he see himself as a permanent expatriate?

Thaksin said: "I don't think so. I have the aspiration to go back. But I prefer to go back as a normal citizen."

So no return to politics?

"If the country doesn't need me, or if by going back to politics, it would create more division, I would not. But if I go back and it would benefit the people, I will."

Remember what Thaksin told the red-shirted rally through the video link a few days before the mob ran amok?

He declared: "Once the gunshots are heard (from the military), I will be back to personally lead you..."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Culture of violence deepens

This morning's assassination attempt against Sondhi Limthongkul was part of a growing pattern of attempted assassinations against political rivals. It's gone from bad to worse.

Two weeks ago, police revealed that Chanchai Likhitchitta, a privy councillor and former supreme court judge, was the target of an assassination attempt. A number of suspects have been detained.

Thaksin Shinawatr had claimed all along that his political enemies had attempted to get his life as well.

The Songkran's torching of various parts of the city by the red-shirted protestors confirmed that a "culture of violence" has descended on this country's political scene. And this is supposed to be a Buddhist country where even killing a small insect is against Lord Buddha's teachings.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Whose victory is this?

Cartoonist Chai Rajawat poses this relevant question in his piece published in Thai Rath this morning.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When Thaksin faces some tough grilling from foreign reporters...

Thaksin Shinawatra promised to return to the country from exile if the government moved to crack down on protesters. But when that happened yesterday,
he remained holed up in a luxury hotel in Dubai.

He spoke to Al Jazeera about the situation and his "hopes for a peaceful solution" to the country's political crisis.

Al Jazeera: You said that if force is used against your supporters you would return to Thailand. When are you going back?

Thaksin: Yes, I'm thinking about it and I talked to my supporters; they are now still concerned about my security and safety. I'm thinking about it, I'm not planning yet.

I have to be sure if I go back I should not add to more violence. I should be able to find some peaceful resolution for the incident.

Al Jazeera: You have certainly urged a peaceful resolution to the problems that Thailand is facing and the world is seeing right now.

Yet, it is your supporters that have been out on the streets, commandeering vehicles, setting them alight, pushing them toward security services, setting tyres on fire. You have actually said you want the government to be overthrown and perhaps these actions have incited them.

Thaksin: The prime minister himself gave a speech in parliament when he was the opposition.

He said if there was a protester, he should listen, whether it's one person or a hundred thousand people. And we hope to be the same, and we hope he will remember what he said in parliament.

Al Jazeera: You have tried to incite even the military, and I quote again, you've asked the 'troops to come out and join the red shirts to help us get democracy for the people'.

That's really inciting the military to have a military coup against the incumbent government isn't it?

Thaksin: No, no. I never asked the military to stage a coup.

I said that if they were to stage a coup, the people would fight the coup.

There should be no more coups.

Al Jazeera: Do you condone the attacks that we have seen by your supporters on places like the education ministry or even on the prime minister's car?

Thaksin: The local press cannot provide the true story and the army spokesman is telling lies to the people.

The military came out with M-16s and they shot at the heart of the people.

Many people died and they just take the dead bodies away.

Al Jazeera: This is only your accusation ... made by some of your supporters that can't be confirmed at the moment.

Thaksin: I would like to invite an international independent body to come here to Thailand and look at the whole story.

Do not just go to the government source. You are going to see it.

Al Jazeera: What is the way forward now?

Thaksin: I would like to see a peaceful resolution.

Without truth there is no peace. We need truth, we need justice.

Al Jazeera: Will you talk to the prime minister?

Thaksin: No, don't worry about me, don't talk about me.

I just want to see the situation now ended with peaceful means and I want to see true democracy in Thailand.

Al Jazeera: What is your next step?

Thaksin: I'm monitoring [the situation] closely because I'm worried about the safety of the protesters.

They come and beg for true democracy, they never want to beg for blood but now they get blood on their hands.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bloody Songkran and some tough questions

It's never going to be the same Sonkgran Festival for Thais ever again. The Thai New Year today was marked by clashes between police and soldiers with red-shirted protestors after a state of emergency has been declared by Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The wounds will be deep and far-reaching. Thai society will have to find answers to a host of tough questions: Why can't we,despite six decades of "democratic rule," find a peaceful way to resolve our conflicts? Why do we allow politicians to plunge the country into an unfathomable abyss? Why hasn't the premier acted more decisively? Why does Thai society tolerate such anarchy?

Unless we find some concrete answers to some of these questions, Thai society will be one step closer to being labelled a "failed state.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Defeat at Victory Monument...

It was a tactical nightmare when the red-shirts decided to "take over" the Victory Monument in the heart of Bangkok Thursday afternoon in an attempt to pressure the Abhisit government to back down.

The location is undoubtedly "strategic" for the protestors. And because of that, it boomeranged. The estimated 100 taxi-drivers who used their vehicles to block traffic around that intersection probably didn't realize that several leading hospitals are located nearby. And once traffic came to a standstill there, hundreds of patients and their relatives were stuck either on their way to see their doctors or heading home.

Old, sick patients on wheelchairs were seen suffering in the heat. Others were forced to walk. Reporters started to interview the stranded patients and their handlers. Doctors were complaining that the vital medical supplies, including oxygen, were running out because of the traffic snarl-ups.

The red-shirted protest leaders apologized, citing "the need to close the roads in order to open up the avenue of democracy." That, however, didn't help matters. The public outcry was deafeanig.

When Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva appeared on TV last night to declare that the protestors were breaking the law and law-enforcement officials would take action, it was clear that the red-shirts were cornerned.

It was just announced that the red-shirts will leave the Victory Monument at 5.00 pm -- and come back sometime after Songkran.

A tactical retreat in the nick of time.

Morals of the story: Never demand democracy by infringing on others' rights.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Newin: April 8 March goes beyond toppling Abhisit

Nobody can demolish Thaksin Shinawatra more effectively than Newin Chidchob, his ex-right-hand man. That's because nobody knows Thaksin better when it comes to political manipulation.

That's why when Newin decided to go public with "everything I know about Thaksin" this afternoon, it was more than just a bombshell.

Newin says tomorrow's planned demonstration goes beyond toppling the Abhisit government, of which Newin is now a part. "I suspect that the red shirts want more than just getting rid of this government. They have been talking about creating a new Thai state. What's wrong with the current Thai state under parliamentary system with a monarch?" he asked.

Newin was fighting back tears at intervals during the press conference. It was clear that he wanted to tell the whole world that he had not stabbed Thaksin in the back by joining Abhisit Vejjajiva to form the current government.

The real betrayal, he said, had come in the form of Thaksin's deciding at the last minute to back out from supporting Samak Sundaravej to return to the premiership.

Newin said: "At first, Thaksin called me to say that we must vote for Samak to return as premier after the court verdict. He used the word 'at all cost' but then he backed out and dumped Samak...It was then that I knew that it could happen to me too..."

By deciding to "tell all," Newin has burned his bridges with Thaksin too. It's probably this veteran politician's decision to put the brakes on tomorrow's red-shirted march that brought about today's sensational revelation.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thaksin bets on his April 8 March

When Thaksin Shinawatra made another "appearance" through the video link last night, you could feel that he was desperate for lots of his supporters to come out on April so that he could "create history."

He repeatedly appealed to the red-shirted protestors to come out in full force to
put an end to coups, once and for all." You could also sense that he wasn't really confident that the crowd would be huge enough to make a real impact. That's why he kept coming back to: "You have to come out on April 8...Please come out...Make sure you are out on April 8."

The more he repeated the request-cum-command, the more you could detect his sense of uncertainty. If the April 8 campaign doesn't deliver the final blow, Thaksin knows that he is headed for oblivion and more trouble.

Last night's theme was a replay of his earlier attacks on Privy Council President Gen Prem Tinsulanonda. But to the list of "unelected PMs," he added Anand Panyarachun as well, piling up more enemies along the way.

Where is Thaksins? "I am definitely not in Cambodia as alleged. I will be on the road again tomorrow. So, I won't be speaking to you through the video link," he told the red-shirted crowd.

He wouldn't say where he was or where he was going. One thing is sure, he said, he isn't in Cambodia or headed towards that way.

Catch me if you can. That seems to be his buzzwords.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

An old man's mid-summer night's dream?

Chai Chidchob, Speaker of the House of Representatives, celebrates his 81st birthday anniversary on April 5. Today, when he received well-wishers, Chai said, out of the blue, that he believes the ongoing political conflict could be resolved after the upcoming Songkran during April 13-15.

"I believe there will be someone with charisma and clout will step out to mediate the situation so that reconciliation could be achieved," Chai said.

Don't try to press him to tell you more. He wouldn't budge.