Monday, September 28, 2009

If Abhisit had his way...the next election should be held ....

If you put two and two together, the logical conclusion is that PM Abhisit Vejjajiva's grand plan is for a House dissolution to call a new election around the middle of next year.

How do I know? I don't think anyone knows, not even the PM himself, because there are so many variables to be taken into consideration, not the least being his own Democrat Party's relations with the largest coalition partner, Bhumjaithai Party.

And I am not sure that Abhisit's personal ties with his right-hand man, Deputy PM Suthep Thuaksuban, will ever be the same again.

Suthep admitted for the first time publicly this morning: "The Democrat Party is not ready for an election now. We still have many problems to resolve."

As if on cue, PM Abhisit told reporters at a different function at about the same time that he thought if all parties concerned were to work together, the constitutional amendments could be completed in six months -- or nine months at the latest.

At the risk of miscalculating an Abhisit-Suthep close coordination on this issue, I think we can presume that the PM believes he can survive the next six months after which an election would be inevitable, whether his party is ready or not.

And if he had his way, a referendum will be held on the proposed charter changes before the House is dissolved (the PM is the only person empowered to do that) and a new election called.

All this is based on the presumption, of course, that Abhisit is in a position to call most of the political shots from now until early next year.

And nobody can guarantee that either.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who's behind this 'little red book?'

Nobody is quite sure who produced this booklet, entitled: "Bankrupt All Over" as a sort of parody of the red shirts' slogan: "Red All Over."

What is clear is that the author tries very hard to link the red shirts to the "left" movement and you can see the red star all over the hats being worn on the prominent figures on the frontline.

Thaksin Shinawatr has been equally vehement that he is no communist. But he has made no public attempt to rein in Jakrapob Penkhair in his apparently left-leaning pronouncements. Neither has he made any official comment on the obvious split between Jakrapob and the "Red Trio" -- Jatuporn, Veera and Natthawut.

You can say Thaksin, having burned all his bridges with the government, wouldn't want to break any plank crossing the raging river on this side of the divide.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

3 years later, Thailand is stuck in the mud

Another show-down, another tense day. After all, it's the third anniversary of the Sept 19 coup -- and Thaksin Shinawatr has been writing frantically in his Twitter account about democracy, coups and dictatorship.

The red-shirts are gathering today for a big rally as a show of force. Thaksin has said it would be a peaceful gathering but the large contingents of police and troops at various crucial points -- Govt House, PM's residence, Royal Plaza and Gem Prem's residence in Bangkok and Korat -- underline the anxiety on the part of the Abhisit government.

The army chief -- Gen Anupong Paochinda -- has again emphasized that no matter how today's rally ends, there would absolutely be no coup.

But that doesn't answer the more important question: Where do we go from here?

The parliamentary debate on constitutional amendments ended its two-day session, with the government and opposition as divided as before. The PM says he is ready to dissolve parliament to call a new election once the charter changes are completed..but there aren't any clear signs of when that will materialize.

Thaksin continues to back the red-shirts and opposition Pheau Thai Party to disrupt the government's work. The anti-Thaksin elements in society remain robust and active.
The country is stuck in a dilemma. It can't move backward with another coup. It can't move forward with national reconciliation.

Thailand, three years after the coup, remains stuck in the mud.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What's this "new state" all about?

Nobody is quite sure what Veera Mugsikapong, one of the three core leaders of the Red Shirted Movement, meant when he said a "new state" would be created and all we have to do is to follow his instructions.

He has yet to explain how the "new state" differs from the "present state" and whether it has anything to do with what Jakrapob Penkahri had described as a "revolution."

It gets more confusing when Thaksin Shinawatra, the real leader of the Red Shirts, has kept mum of such declarations. He has not made his position clear as to whether he is on Jakrapob's side or whether he still fully supports the "Red Trio."

If the Red Shirts want us to believe that a "new state" will be a much better place than the current state of affairs, then they should enlighten us with a clearer explanation where they are taking us.

They get us all excited about a new destination. But where is it? How do we get there? And where do we buy the ticket to get on board?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gen Pravit is without a doubt his brother's keeper

He is definitely his brother's keeper although Defence Minister Gen Pravit Wongsuwan says Police Chief Gen Patcharawat's resignation won't affect his own relations with PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Pravit denied today that he was quitting his defence portfolio despite rumours to the contrary. But all his earlier statements, official or otherwise, pointed to his uneasiness with the way the PM was treating his younger brother.

Deputy Premier Suthep Thuagsuban also denied that there had been a "gentlemen's agreement" with Pravit to let his brother stay on in the police post until his retirement on Sept 30.

The stronger the denials,however, the more suspicion they touch off.

Things aren't too pleasant for PM Abhisit,naturally, if the defence minister appears disturbed by what he considers "unfair treatment" for his brother. After all, Suthep was said to have approached Pravit to join the government as a "pillar of military support" when this coalition government was formed.

Abhisit has apparently been handling Patcharawat's case gingerly all along -- until he couldn't drag his feet any longer when the National Counter Corruption Commision ruled that the police chief was one of the key people charged with criminal negligence and disciplinary violation over the Oct 7 incident when police dispersed the "yellow-shirted" protestors in front of Parliament Building, resulting in deaths and injuries.

The ruling compelled the PM to either remove him or fire him from the post. Patcharawat reacted by handing in his resignation. The PM refused to sign approval for it, arguing that he had to refer it to the National Police Commission for an opinion.
Patcharawat then submitted a request for an extended leave until his last day in
his job, Sept 30.

The drama is still unfolding. The end is near, but the finale could still be riddled with surprises.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Do they really want to talk to each other? Not now.

During the "Twitter interview" last night, I asked PM Abhisit whether he was willing to join a chat with Thaksin.

The first response was: "But I thought he didn't want to talk to me."

I told him that the ex-premier, in one of his recent statemennts, suggested that he was willing to talk to "anyone."

Abhisit then said: "But you and I are her. He is abroad."

I then suggested that we could chat through Twitter then -- to which the PM countered: "But the 140-character limit could be quite inhibiting."

When I asked whether that meant he wouldn't talk to Thaksin until he came home to serve his jail term, the PM said: "I want everyone to follow the law."

I told him he wasn't answering my question -- to which he said: "The answer was there."

The plain answer was, obviously, "No."

Thaksin emerged just now in his Twitter account to ask: "I have read the PM's Twitter interview. Why wouldn't I want to meet him? But I also understand that he has many problems on his hands. I can wait."

Time passes. Positions shift.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Red station banning Red leader's stories?

The Reds are on the verge of real break-up -- now that Thai Rath has reported that D-Station has banned any report on Jakrapob Penkair's opinions and movements.

Jakrapob has made it known through his articles in the Red publications that he considers the tactics employed by the "Trio Reds" -- Chatuporn, Veera and Nathawut --wrong and ineffective. Chatuporn has hit back with equally vehement statements, accusing Jakrapob of "fleeing the scene" and lacking in the political courage to lead the masses.

Jakrapob has suggested that the three core leaders are probably seeking self-interests rather than fighting for real democracy.

Thaksin Shinawatr has yet to make his position clear on which side he is on.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The sound clip that boomerangs

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva admits that he was "angry" over the doctored clip that portrayed him as having told the military and police officers back in April that he wanted to crack down with force against the protestors.

His supporters point an accusing finger at "people close to the Pheau Thai Party." In fact, police raided the office of SC Assets Co whose manging director is none other than Yingluck Shinawatr, Thaksin's sister, who has been poised to take a leading role in the party.

The company issued a statement saying that the two employees arrested had not been involved in the doctoring of the sound clip. They admitted to police that they had downloaded the clip and forwarded it to other people. That act along, Abhisit has said, is punishable under the new cyber law.

Chalerm Yoobamrung, Pheau Thai's chief MP, hurled a countere-charge yesterday. He said the doctoring might have been carried out by people close the PM himself, either as an act of betrayal or as a political ploy with some ulterior motives.

Some of the PM's men say they are determined to prove that Pheau Thai was behind this move to discredit the prime minister. They want to collect sufficient evidence to submit to the National Election Commission. If it is proved that a political party is involved in such an illegal act, it could face dissolution.

Thaksin Shinawatr is due to speak in his net radio programme this evening. If he makes any mention of that, he will surely deny any involvement. Some overzealous aides had simply gone for an "overkill" that boomeranged.