Thursday, July 2, 2009
Abhisit and his strange bedfellow called Newin
PM Abhisit Vejjajiva was apparently miffed today when a reporter asked him whether he was falling under the wing of Newin Chidchob by making Buriram the first province to visit in the Northeast for the first time in many months.
Buriram, as you know, is Newin's stronghold. And, yes, Newin happens to be Abhisit's government's main pillar of stability.
Brushing aside the critical tone of the question, the PM said: "Nobody owns any particular province. All Thais own all provinces," Abhisit said.
He didn't really answer the question, of course. But it is clear that Abhisit now wants to appease Newin to prevent a split within the coalition government. In other words, no matter how much Abhisit wants to keep a proper distance from Newin, he can't afford to clash head-on with this influential coalition partner.
Abhisit asked Newin to have lunch with him yesterday. That raised some eyebrows. Was the PM trying to pacify Newin after the latter's party lost in the Sakhon Nakon by-election two weeks ago to Thaksin Shinawatr's Pheau Thai Party? Or was the premier trying to prevent a break-up of the coalition because Newin's bloc has been angered by the Democrats' tactics to block several mega-projects proposed by Newins' ministers?
Abhisit tried desperately today to portray his relations with Newin as a normal kind of bond between coalition partners. But political pundits are beginning to suspect that the more they show their close ties, the more likely the tie-up is under threat.