Monday, June 28, 2010

Kasit's election road map: Is it the same as the PM's?

Foreign Minister Kasit Biromya's time frame leading to an election and a new government sounds more definite than anything that Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva has told the Thai people. Is this Kasit's own calculation? Or is it the grand plan that has yet to be told to the Thai people?

Go to to get the full story.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mark-Newin = Marx-Lenin?It's not funny. It's hilarious

I am not sure how "Mark" and "Newin" become "Marx-Lenin" with "Suthep Mao" thrown in for good measure. But the cover picture of Manager Weekly did make me laugh this Sunday morning.

The cover story has nothing really to do with political ideology, though. It's a piece highly critical of the fact that PM Abhisit Vejjajiva (nicknamed "Mark") has allowed his coalition partner Newin Chidchob (his first name probably rhymes with "Lenin") to have his own way on many a questionable policy matter. Deputy PM Suthep Thuagsuban, according to this article, is closed allied with Newin and the two have been colluding on a number of unsavoury activities while Abhisit, while playing up the image of "Mr Clean," has deliberately turned a blind eye to all those alleged undesirable actions.

Would Marx turn in his grave?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Now, Col Sansern in on fashion magazine cover!

He might have asked himself the same question that some of us have posed: How did I get from being a military spokesman to become a cover figure in a social magazine?

Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman for the CRES, was talking tough on TV throughout the crisis as battles raged on during April-May. His wit and straight-talking skills perhaps won him the "heart-throb" label. And once he got to be known as a "star," there was no stopping him. First, the political magazines put him on the cover. Now, fashion and women publications want to "sell" him as perhaps the most popular military officer in the news these days.

Before he is attracted to TV's game shows and movie offers, perhaps the young army officer may want to remind himself that he is after all, as he put it the other day, "just somebody assigned to do a job in a difficult time."

Friday, June 18, 2010

The '3 Ps' who may decide Abhisit govt's fate

These three "Ps" in the "Phya Nak" faction of Pheau Paendin Party may hold the key to PM Abhisit's coalition government's survival.

From left, Pinit Charusombat, Pairoj Suwannachawee, and Preecha Laohapongchana jointly have 18 MPs under their control. If they join forces to cast their votes one way or the other, the government's do-or-die chances will sway accordingly.

The next test will come when the second reading of the 2011 Budget comes up for a vote in the House.

The three factions within Pheau Paendin Party that haven't joined the reshuffled Cabinet this time officially say they won't rock the boat. But nobody can be sure what will happen from now until the day the Budget comes up for the crucial vote.

According to some published reports, the coalition government's total votes now stand at 260 in the House while the opposition (Pheau Thai plus Pracharaj) has 197.The difference of 63 votes should give the government a comfortable margin. But that's not what most observers think would be the case.

For the Budget to pass in the second reading, the government needs a simple majority -- that means 238 out of 474. But there is a constitutional stipulation that Cabinet members who are also MPs can't vote. Officially, there are 24 who fall into this category.

That means Abhisit could, if things don't go the way he wants, depend on a very slim majority of one or two votes. And that is probably too precarious for him to sit still.

Don't be surprised, therefore, if you detect some heavy lobbying from both the government and opposition from now on!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thaksin will do anything to topple this govt...Democrats say

Thaksin Shinawatra will do anything to topple this government. That's the conclusion of some of the rulign Democrat Party's executives.

Concern is growing in the ruling Democrat Party that ex-premier Thaksin may make offers to MPs to vote down the 2011 fiscal budget bill - a move that could threaten the Abhisit government, as the government has just a slim majority according to a count of MPs.

Democrat Party executive member Satit Pitutecha warned the government not to be careless since it was possible that Thaksin would do that.

"Thaksin could do anything to topple the government,'' he said.

He said Pheu Thai Party had been open about attempts to attract government MPs from the Democrats and other junior coalition parties.

However, Deputy Premier Suthep Thaugsuban, who is Democrat Party secretary general, dismissed the concern.

Responding to reports that Democrat MPs from the North and East may defect to join the Opposition Pheu Thai Party, Suthep said the public should not take Pheu Thai Party seriously because the party kept changing its statement every day.

He insisted the government was stable and would not have problems get all coalition parties to vote for the budget bill, which needs more than half of total MPs to back it in the second and third readings in August.

Suthep said not counting ministers' votes, the government had more than 250 votes in support of the bill.

Sources said the government's instability had become an issue after PM Abhisit decided to remove ministers from the Korat and Wang Payanak faction in the Puea Pandin Party, who led MPs to vote against two ministers from the Bhum Jai Thai Party.

As a result, the government had lost the support of 18 MPs and had to bring in six MPs led by Chaiyos Jiramethakorn another faction in Puea Pandin party, to support the government, plus three MPs from Matubhum Party.

The government is made up, in effect, of six parties and two factions with a total of 259 MPs, including 171 of the Democrats, 32 of the Bhum Jai Thai Party, 25 of the Thai Chat Pattana, nine of Ruam Chat Pattana, five from Social Action, three from Matubhum, seven from Ban Rimnam and seven from the Dao Krachai faction.

The total number of MPs in Parliament is 474. The opposition has 197 MPs in total, 189 of whom are Pheu Thai Party MPs, while eight are Pracharaj Party MPs.

This means the government has MPs more than half of total MPs in the House by 22 votes. But more than 20 ministers who are MPs are not allowed to vote for the budget bill, this means the government has less than half the total MPs in the House to vote for the budget bill.

Thaksin may yet respond with a direct counter-attack. He doesn't have to do anything. The coalition government is quite capable of self-destruction anyway.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Here come Anand and Prawase, the 'Reform Thailand Commission' co-chairmen

A high-level, powerful "Reform Thailand Commission" is to be formed today, co-chaired by former PM Anand Panyarachun and senior citizen Dr Prawase Wasi.

It won't be a direct appointment by PM Abhisit Vejjajiva -- lest it be seen as a government-controlled panel.Not that Abhisit can order Anand and Prawase around. But the committee will have to get things done in such a way that the action plans will have to go beyond the term of this government. It will be part of the bigger national reconciliation process and the co-chairmen will have to make sure that they reach out to all sectors of Thai society to ensure credibility and effectiveness of the commission.

PM Abhisit himself will be releasing a "Letter from the Prime Minister" this evening to all the 63 million Thais. My guess is that he will try to sound all-embracing and all-inclusive, reaching out to the red shirts, yellow shirts and all shades of the political spectrum. He will, I believe, emphasize the importance of taking seriously into consideration the calls for bridging the rich-poor gap and getting rid of the image of "double standard."

Of course, the opposition Pheau Thai Party will try to cold-shoulder the government's grand plan. But in the end, the real proof would be in whether the PM can convince the rest of the country that he is serious, sincere and determined to pull it off.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What if Pheau Thai Party is serious about the 'Pojaman rumour'?

Black May in Bangkok as seen first-hand by Nation reporters and cameramen

A special publication written by Nation's reporters and photographers covering the "Black May" events hits the street today.

It's a record of frontline encounters of the excitement, sadness, panic,anxiety and cheer sense of overwhelming feelings of Thai journalists having to cover street violence by Thais against Thais.

Pick up an issue for yourself and posterity today from any bookshop.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cambodia says it again: We won't extradite Thaksin

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Manhong says it again: We won't extradite Thaksin Shinawatra even if the Thai government sends another request to that effect.

"I would say we are too lazy to answer to Thailand because we have said many times already that we would not extradite Thaksin," he was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

The minister said that since Thaksin had been appointed an economic adviser to the Cambodian government in October, he can travel to Cambodia , adding that he knew of no immediate plans for a visit.

Thaksin made several visits to Cambodia late last year, sparking a prolonged diplomatic standoff between the two countries.

Thai observeres noted that Cambodian Premier Hun Sen has kept quiet about Thaksin in the past few months and has refrained from expressing hostile views on the Abhisit government so far.