Sunday, October 31, 2010

Latest rumour says Mingkwan was talking to Thaksin about the premiership!

I am waiting for a public statement from Mingkwan Saengsuwan on the latest rumours spread by insiders of Pheau Thai Party that he was in Dubai to talk to Thaksin Shinawatr about earlier rumours that he had offered his service to be the next prime minister.

Mingkwan, former commerce minister and before that a PR expert, was said to be one of the six possible candidates eyed by Thaksin to be the premier should Pheau Thai Party wins big in the upcoming election.

But the latest speculation has a new twist: Another candidate has been proposed: Former PoLice Chief Gen Seripisut Tameeyaej.

I am not sure how his name has cropped up. He has not been known to be close to Pheau Thai or Thaksin for that matter. In fact, in the past, Seripisut had clashed with Thaksin on several issues before.

How and why his name has been raised in this context is puzzling indeed.

Yes, I am also awaiting Seripisut's statement in this regard as well.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The new army chief versus the old boss

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, the new army commander-in-chief, doesn't waste anytime to speak out on his concern over groups that he says are detrimental to the monarchy.He took over the position on Oct 1 and has since made no secret of his "mission" to "protect the country's highest institution" in an open, no-nonsense way.

His outspokenness is a far cry from his predecessor, Gen Anupong Paochinda, who preferred to stick to his "no comments" position on any political controversy.

No doubt, critics will soon question his "democratic credentials" as a professional soldier. His tendency to mince no words in public will undoubtedly draw him into new controversies.

Is he more prone to thinking about coups than Anupong? Only time will tell. Is the difference only in style? Or is there a vast departure on terms of substance over the military's role in national politics as well?

Whatever transpires, one thing is sure: There won't be a dull moment in military and political stories in the new year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Abhisit: What if he left politics?

What would Abhisit Vejjajiva be doing if he wasn't in politics?

The question has been posed several times to the premier before. And his answers have centered around being a teacher.

He told the Bangkok Post's "the magazine" that came out this morning:

"Well, I have to think about that pretty soon anyway. But I used to be a lecturer. I have always enjoyed that. And that's probably the easiest thing to think of if I were to leave politics today, but who knows? If I had more time to think and relax, I might find new interests. I think I am young enough to do that."

He was then asked what he would do if his schedule magically cleared and he were free to do as he pleased?

"When does that happen?" was his response.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A radio programme asked its listeners to vote: Do you want us to follow news on the ongoing floods or politics?

The vote: 90:10: Give us the flood stories anytime!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chalerm vs Mingkwan as next PM? Not by a long shot

Two major factions have emerged within Pheau Thai Party, vying for the premiership: Chalerm Yoobamrung and Mingkwan Saengsuwan.

Chalerm spearheads a group that focuses on campaigning for the return of Thaksin Shinawatra as the main theme in the upcoming election.

Mingkwan's supporters want to distance themselves from Thaksin. Instead, the pitch for Mingkwan is to concentrate on pushing for someone with sufficient economic acumen to head the next government.

But then, of course, both camps eventually fall under Thaksin's influence.

Those in the know say neither Chalerm nor Mingkwan is in a position to pick and choose though. The last word will have to come from Thaksin who has made it publicly known that there are six candidates for the premiership if Pheau Thai wins the next election.

None of the six, however, can produce the "wow" effect so far. Thaksin has told his Pheau Thai members: "Don't be afraid to be labelled as my nominee."

In other words, it is no longer possible or credible for anyone in the party to claim to be himself -- or herself -- for that matter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The politics of husband and wife, father and son

This coalition face-off isn't only about "husband" and "wife." It has expanded into a question of "father" and "son."

Bhumjaithai Party leader Chaovarat Charnveerakul has been on the record as saying that he isn't "uncomfortable" with the Democrats in this marriage of convenience. But his son, Anutin, who is close to Newin Chidchob, the de facto owner of the party, has admitted to reporters that he is quite "uncomfortable" with the current state of affairs within the coalition.

When a reporter told Chaovara about Anutin's comment that wasn't exactly in syn with father's public statement, he said: "I will check out my son's feeling about this."

Father and son have yet to come up with a "joint statement" so far on this issue.

Monday, October 18, 2010

PM talks tough: If you are frustrated, get out

Is this a threat or a request or a kite-flying effort?

Nobody is quite sure. But when PM Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters to tell his Bhumjaithai coalition partners to tell him in his face about their "frustration" of sharing the bed with the Democrats, he was as blunt as he could be.

"I am asking you to tell me directly about your frustrations instead of identifying yourselves as informed sources while talking to the Press," the PM said, to no one in particular.

"If we can't get along, we will split," Abhisit declared.

Of course, no coalition partners would want to leave unless there is a new coalition to which they could flee -- which isn't anywhere in sight at the moment.

Abhisit knows it. Newin Chidchob, the de factor leader of Bhumjaithai knows it. They simply can't keep some of their MPs silent for too long.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What would Sanan tell Thaksin?

What would Sanan Kachornprasart, deputy PM and deputy leader of Chat Thai Pattana Party,tell Thaksin Shinawatr if they get to talk to each other?

Sanan, who has been on a "peace mission" trying to convince all parties concerned to come to a political compromise, told an interviewer last night: "I will tell him to forget the past. I have gone through worse fate than he has. Why have I accepted that? Part of his assets may have been confiscated but then we won't touch the rest. Let's put a stop to the conflict. Let him come back to Thailand as an ordinary Thai. He will be much happier than staying abroad. I will talk to him in a frank manner. But first, the Thai people must agree to that approach."

Sanan reiterated that he had embarked on this mission as a personal sacrifice."Mark my word. I don't want to be prime minister, whatever happens."

Will Thaksin talk to Sanan? Nobody knows. Lots of people claim to be the "conduit" for Thaksin wth the powers-that-be but nobody has so far extracted anything meaningful from him, or PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, for that matter.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Is Korn doing things behind the PM's back?

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva says he doesn't know whether his finance minister, Korn Chatikavanij, has been doing things without his knowledge such as contacting
the "3 Ps" to join in an overhauled coalition government in the event that Bhumjaithai Party is kicked out of the current line-up.

"He hasn't told me about it, if he in fact has done that sort of thing," Abhisit told reporters in response to rumours to that effect.

Korn himself hasn't commented on the speculation that he has been trying to persuade the factions led by Preecha Laohapongchana, Pinit Charusombat and Pairoj Suwannachavi, to join a new coalition. In that scenario, Newin Chidchob's Bhumjaithai Party would be dropped.

Abhsit told reporters that no Cabinet reshuffle is imminent. And Korn hasn't reported to him about the rumoured negotiations with new coalition partners. No, he isn't going to appoint a new "government's manager" to replace Suthep Thuagsuban who has quit as deputy premier to run in the Surat Thani by-election.

In other words, he has confirmed nothing, and denied nothing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Who wants to kill Newin?

Who wants to kill Newin Chidchob, the current political "kingmaker?"

The answer came this morning from Newin himself: "My former boss."

He didn't have to name names, of course and reporters didn't press on after he said on his 52nd birthday anniversary today: "I will say it out loud. The only person who can try to hire someone to kill me is my former boss. Others being targetted are the premier, the deputy premier (Suthep Thuangsuban), the defence minister (Gen Prawit Wongsuwan)..."

One newspaper quoted "intelligence sources" as saying that Newin's head carries a prize of Bt20 million. When asked today about that figure, Newin didn't try to correct the number.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A new "peace offensive" from Pheau Thai

Plodprasob Suraswadi, Pheau Thai Party's acting deputy leader, having failed to kick off his previous "reconciliation" campaign, has launched a new "peace offensive" by issuing a five-point "national reconciliation" statement.

There is no new element in the proposal, except that this time he threatens a physical approach. The Pheau Thai deputy leader says he will lead a delegation to meet Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva to discuss his new "peace plan."

It's clear that he hadn't made a prior appointment with the prime minister before he made that public revelation.

PM Abhisit was surprised himself when reporters asked him about Plodprasob's pledge to come and visit him.

"There isn't an appointment yet. But, of course, I am ready to meet and talk if they come. They have their ideas. We will tell them ours," the PM told reporters before he boarded a flight for Brussels today for the ASEM summit.

But isn't he bored with the repeated proposals for peace but none has so far produced any concrete results?

"We have to continue to explore all avenues. We can't afford to be bored," he said.

In fact, talking about reconcilation has become a national pastime. Everybody seems to have pitched in, one way or the other. So, have fun!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Korn: to be or not to be?

Is Korn Chatikavanij, the finance minister and one of PM Abhisit's close friends, gunning to take over the premiership?

Despite what you have heard from the political grapevine, if you pose that question to him, the expected answer is: No, No and No. Of course, you don't think he would ever tell you publicly: "Of course, I'm the most qualified."

His close aides would tell you: Korn is a humble man. He knows his limits. He is, like Abhisit, also a trained British gentleman.

That explains why Korn was at pains to say: "Whatever happens, Mr Abhisit is still the most suitable man as prime minister. And if an election takes place, there is no need to look for an alternative. Besides, I am not hoping to be PM myself."

What Korn didn't address was what would happen if the Democrat Party was to be dissolved and Abhisit is banned from politics for five years.

But then reporters didn't get to pose that question. Next time perhaps.