Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Even Chuan says he has a 'heavy heart'

When Chuan Leekpai, the Democrat Party's chief adviser, says he has a "heavy heart" in getting his party through the legal battle over the proposed dissolution of his party, there are grounds for even the most optimistic observers to take note.

The Public Prosecutors say they have wrapped up the case against the country's oldest political party and will recommend this afternoon to the Constitutional Court to dissolve the party and ban its over 40 executives who held positions in 2004 and 2005 from politics for five years.

This is related to the allegation that the party received illicit donations worth 258 million baht from TPI Polene Plc, a cement giant that belongs to Prachai Leophairatana in 2005.

The case against the Democrats states that the donations had been made through disguised transactions. If that charge is proved right, the party could be in violation of Section 95 of the 2007 Political Parties Act.

Chuan doesn't usually show any anxiety in public when it comes to the future of his own party. But he has said so several times in the past week and disclosed that he will meet PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, the party's leader, to discuss how to consolidate his legal staff to fight the case.

Is there a "Plan B" for the Democrats in case the "worst-case scenario" should come to pass? Officially, Chuan, Abhisit and even the party's secretary-general, Suthep Thuagsuban, deny it. But when news leaked yesterday that a back-up party, known as "Thai Khemkhang" (Thai Strength), has been registered as a possible reserve, the party's leaders say they have nothing to do with it.

I don't believe, for a moment, of course, that there is no Plan B. But I do know that splits without the party are beginning to emerge. And, if the Constitutional Court hands down a negative verdict, you can expect factions within the party to go different ways.

The Democrats are standing at a crucial crossroads. There is no doubt about that.


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