Friday, January 29, 2010

Gen Prayuth: The Next Guy?

Gen Prayuth Chan-oja is supposed to be the No 2 at the Army. Why then is he picked by the Red shirts to be the target of grilling about a possible coup?

Matichon Weekly puts him on the cover today with the headline: "The Next Guy?" without providing an answer.

Prayuth is of course tipped to succeed Army Chief Anupong Paochinda on Oct 1, this year. But if there were to be a coup, why isn't it led by the army chief? Why the No 2? Only the Red shirts can say.

In fact, very few political analysts would even suggest that a coup is possible at all at this time.

As Anupong once said: "We soldiers aren't smart enough to run the country. Staging a coup may not be that difficult but running the country after the coup is the real problem."

Prayuth has so far sealed his mouth. He hasn't uttered a word since the Red shirts have "honored" him with the suspicion that he is now "the man in charge."

Or is he?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thaksin's govt-in-exile threat just a bluff

Thaksin issues new threat: Govt-in-exile

Thaksin Shinawatr has come up with the latest threat: If there is another military coup, "I am ready to set up a government-in-exile to recoup democracy."

He was speaking on a video link to the red-shirt rally at Khao Soi Dao last night.

What he really meant was difficult to fathom. He already has Pheau Thai Party in the House. He also runs the red shirts who hold rallies on his behalf. Now, if he wants to set up a government-in-exile, it would be another grouping to handle and justify.

Which country would allow him to set up a real underground government? How would he handle the opposition party and the red-shirts in relation to the new government-in-exile?

Of course, it's only a verbal threat as th Feb 26 assets seizure verdict draws near. So, you just have to put your feet up and play it by ear. You haven't heard the last word from the fugitive yet.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What are these guys up to? Something naughty...

These three gentlemen aren't supposed to be involved in anything political since the court had found them guilty under the Political Parties Code. Their parties had been disbanded and they are still stuck in the five-year ban.

But who cares? Banharn Silpa-archa was leading the charge. He invited Newin Chidchob (extreme right) and Somsak Thepsutin (centre) to lunch yesterday to declare their joint stand to propose amending the constitution so that a single-seat-constituencies system could be brought back and they stand a better chance of winning more seats.

Banharn "owns" the Chatpattana Party and Newin is the real head of Bhumjaithai Party while Somsak is the chief of a main faction within the latter.

Are they, as coalition partners, trying to put pressure on PM Abhisit's Democrat Party to go along with them with the veiled threat that if their demand wasn't met, they might leave the coalition and thereby bringing down the government?

Banharn, as expected, denies that. Everybody else in the know, of course, thinks otherwise.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cartoonist's view of Thaksin and his Cambodia base

Former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra is due to return to Cambodia later this month -- the third time in the past three months -- and this cartoon by my favourite political cartoonist "Stepff" caught my attention once again.

Thaksin is appparently using Cambodia as his base to "coach" his Pheau Thai MPs in preparation for political activities, including a series of public rallies, in the wake of the upcoming court's verdict on Feb 26 over his Bt76 billion frozen assets.

It's going to be, to put it mildly, a very interesting next few weeks indeed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Veera: This is the last battle...again

This perhaps isn't the last time he will declare the campaign "The Last Battle." But Veera Muksigapong, a red-shirted leader, made that declaration again in an interview published in Matichon today.

Veera will probably join the red-shirt protestors at "Khao Yai Tiang" in Korat today to pressure Privy Councillor Gen Surayud Chulanont to quit over the possession of a piece of land in a forest declared reserved for the poor.

But he gave no new clues in the interview as to what he meant by "the last battle to overthrow the Amartya..." -- a loose Thai term meant to disparage privy councillors, advisers to His Majesty the King.

Veera said he had called it the "last battle" because the current government was so overwhelmed with serious problems that "we can't along them to drag on any longer."

He stressed that the red-shirts weren't resorting to violence. But he did say that Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, the privy council president, is the "chief amartya" who represents an obstacle to democracy.

"In England and Japan, the people and monarchy don't need to have amartya in between them. Why then in Thailand do we have the amartya giving instructions?" Veera asked.

No doubt, the attack on Surayud is a direct hit on Prem and so on....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The power of Twitter on Children's Day in Thailand

Check out The Nation's Jan 9 edition to mark Children's Day and how Twitter got hundreds of celebrities and non-celebrities together with their childhood pictures.

Power of Twitter!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

If he follows the PM's 'iron rules,' Manit will have to go...

Manit Nopamornbodi, the deputy health minister, has refused to quit despite the fact that he was named together with his boss, Public Health Minister Vitthaya Kaewparadai, for being responsible for suspected malpractices in spending money on a number of projects.

Manit's party, Bhumjaithai, has ruled that he doesn't have to resign just yet. But PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, is putting pressure on him to "follow the ethics of new politics." It's a big test for the PM who has to show that he is really in charge. There cannot be two different standards for two Cabinet members even though they belong to different parties.

After all, PM Abhisit has set down his 9 "iron-clad rules" for his Cabinet. And one of his no-no's is for any Cabinet to be involved in any scandals.

The PM has rejected Manit's request for a 30-day leave of absence.

My guess is Manit will hand in his resignation in the next few days -- in time for the premier's Cabinet reshuffle that includes the new education and public health ministers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Abhisit, Sukhumbhand engage in a Cold War

Their rift hasn't come into the open. But M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Bangkok governor, has been less reluctant to take PM Abhisit Vejjajiva to task on a number of issues.

His latest statement to he Bangkok Post published today: "The prime minister has so much work hat he may have forgotten the BMA exists."

Earlier last month, he criticized he government's handling of economic and security matters.

Then, the Bangkok governor dismissed his secretary, Jivavej Vejjajiva, one of PM's cousins, on grounds that they couldn't work together anymore

Jivavej hen complained that the boss had not given him any meaningful assignment.

M.R. Sukhumbhand hs complained that the government has failed to support his proposal to extnd the Geen Line electric railway network.

Thw governor has also said the government has delayed the funding of 40% of Bangkok's Bt6.7 billion fire truck procurent project.

Interestingly enough, though, Abhisit has kept quiet.Sukhumbhand has not targetted the PM for any direct criticism, at least in public.

So, it's a Cold War that the PM and Governor, both staunch Democrats, are quietly engaged in.